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Keeping Up in Steamboat

Jan 14, 2007  ·  06:45 PM  ·  permalink

Although the powder was not as deep as predicted, for me the weekend was about pushing myself to keep up with two much better skiers, Mother Nature’s perfidy notwithstanding.

Lionel and Jason have been skiing together for years and both are terrific—fast, smooth, and relaxed. When I skied with them the first time last season, the intimidation factor was high as I watched the two of them attack a 50-degree pitch with applomb. But striving to keep up with better skiers is a great way to maintain objectivity about your own abilities and to spur growth.

This weekend we played mostly on Steamboat’s black and double-black runs and I found it relatively easy to keep up. Jason is expert at picking lines, so he generally leads the way, and I made it my mission to stay on Lionel’s six as they smoked through the aspens in Closet and Shadows and made kick turn after kick turn down the chutes in Christmas Tree bowl. But where last season’s runs with Jason and Lionel help me build power and quickness, I learned this weekend that I need to work on finesse, efficiency, and suppleness: I kept up, but it wasn’t always pretty.

As we made runs through the trees, I watched Jason and Lionel for lessons. While I was worrying about the immediate turn, Jason was looking one or two turns ahead while keeping his legs supple and his torso rotated to control his edge and carry just enough speed into the next turn without expending too much energy. Lionel’s elegant pole technique was a lesson in control and balance—each plant forming the apex of the coming turn and keeping his balance steady—and drew my attention to the importance of planting.

By Saturday, my body was starting to learn these lessons and I could almost double the number of turns I made before my legs started to scream for a break. A few days struggling to keep up is a great way to spend a weekend.

Update: A couple of interesting articles I found on pole plant technique. The Pole Plant: Part One and Part Two.

other posts tagged: colorado, steamboat

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