Contributing Editor for the Master Skier
Mike is an information technology manager from Wixom, MI (near Detroit). He struggles to get higher up in the rankings on the racing circuit and writes about juggling work, family, training and racing on NordicSkiRacer.com
The number one reason people fall on downhills: Letting a hand get behind you.
If your hand goes back, your body twists. If your body twists, you loose pressure on the front of your skis. If you loose pressure, your skis go out from under you. Crash!
Keep the hands in front of you at all times. Keep them in sight. They can move up and down or in and out depending on how much balance you need - but keep them in front!
On turns, it's the outside hand that's important.
Face in the direction of the turn with your chest and hips square with the turn. By putting your outside hand in front of you, you guarantee and that your shoulders and hips will be in the right place. If you let your outside hand lag behind, so will your shoulders and hips.
A dryland demonstration
Stand up facing forward, feet about shoulder width apart. (Yes, right now!)
Twist your shoulders and hips as one unit to the right. Notice what your feet do: they roll on edge to the right.
Now twist your shoulders and hips as a unit to the left. Your feet roll on edge to the left.
If you did this on skis going down a hill, your skis would automatically turn in the direction you're facing and they'd be on the correct edges.
What happens if you’re outside hand goes back? Pretend you're turning left. Twist to the left - your feet roll to the left. Now throw your right hand back behind you:
Your shoulder twists back to the right, pulling your hips with it
Your "edges" release
There's no longer any edge pressure forcing the ski to turn
You're probably leaning back slightly, taking weight off the front of your foot
If you're on skis, you're in a very precarious position indeed! There's a tree with your name on it just waiting for you!
If you get in the situation where your hand is too far back, there is only one way to recover - if you have time: Punch your hand forward!
Turning in a Tuck
Want more speed? Get into a tuck. The rule of hands forward applies even more. Being in front, they pull the shoulders and hips in line with the turn, allowing you to keep pressure on your edges.
The direction your shoulder and hips face determines what edges your skis are on.
Use your hands to control the direction your shoulders and hips face. Where your hands go, your shoulders and hips follow.
Hands-in-front keeps your weight in a neutral position over your skis. If your hands go back, so goes your center of gravity.
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