Previous articles touched on the reasons we love this great sport and on aspects of physical preparation.
But what about your equipment?
If you want to make the most of your current abilities and open the door to continuing development, you will need to
use well-tuned, well-fitted equipment that leaves you free and agile.
This is a critical factor. Most skiers would make progress by attending to the issues below.
Here are three key issues to consider. Getting each one right gives you a real opportunity to move forwards to a new quality of performance.
1. Is your basic stance flat and free of strain?
You need to be able to relax with an efficient posture in your basic stance.
The combination of your stance width and the geometry of your equipment can induce strain, both in the lateral and the fore/aft planes.
If this is happening to you, and it happens to most people to a certain extent, then much of your effort is spent overcoming deficiencies in your set up.
Here’s a simple test: a good set up leaves you feeling free and agile, while a poor set up leaves you feeling clumsy and restricted.
These factors can also prevent you from having both feet flat in the snow, in your neutral, basic stance.
A flowing, effective performance is elusive if you’re fighting with your equipment.
The ideal situation is to achieve a fit that allows you to have both feet flat on the ground and your body free of strain when you are in your neutral, basic stance.
There are expert boot fitters who can fit your equipment to you, reducing strain and increasing freedom.
It is worthwhile finding out about this and making sure that your equipment is adapted to fit your body in all three planes of movement.
2. Is your equipment flexible enough for you?
That is an important issue when considering the choice of ski boots and is a consequence of the rapid development of equipment over several decades.
Along with the development of plastic boots and increased lateral stability, came the problem of reduced flexibility. That affects your ankle joints, laterally and in the fore and aft planes.
At the same time that the lateral rigidity gives rise to some of the problems discussed above, (“Is your basic stance flat and free of strain?”), the restrictions in the fore/aft plane cause more complicating factors.
Many skiers use a limited range of flexion and extension movements because their boots block their ankle joints in the fore/aft plane. Moving beyond this limited range will cause loss of balance fore or aft, which will misdirect the forces of the performance.
Accepting a restricted range of movement seems to be the lesser of two evils, and so many skiers accept this restriction.
The real solution is to liberate your range of movement by choosing boots that are not too stiff for you.
If your equipment blocks your movements, it’s not helping you. Do you really need those race boots, or have you been hyped?
3. Are your edges and bases in top condition?
Simply put, for a basic set up for your skis, you need flat bases, with great glide qualities. The old school setup of smooth, well formed, sharp edges at 90 degrees to the bases has been improved by introducing a base bevel (perhaps half a degree or one degree) and side bevel (cut back to 89 or 88 degrees).
Some specialised ski shops offer a hand finished tuning service that achieves this, but you can also learn to do it for yourself. There are great hand tools available to help you get the job done.
Yes, it does take practice, like everything else, but
using well-tuned equipment is an absolute joy. Using poorly tuned, or un-tuned equipment is not.
Yes, it does make that much difference. You’ll feel it, on every curve.
We can combine the issues raised above into one solution:
Use well tuned, well-fitted equipment that leaves you free and agile.
Your performance will flourish, and you will enjoy this great sport even more!