How To Ski In A Straight Line (Flat Line Skiing)

by Anthony Schwabe | Updated On: May 11th, 2022
girl skiing

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Have you ever wondered if there is a way to ramp up the adrenaline levels when skiing, to push the limits of how fast you can go downhill? If yes, then straight-line skiing is the answer you’ve been looking for.

To flat line, get your body into a tuck position to reduce drag and increase stability by bending at the knees and hip to keep your center of gravity low while keeping your back straight. Bring your hands in front of your face and tuck your ski poles under your armpit. Choosing the correct slope and terrain before you try to straight line is hugely important in preventing a nasty crash.

What Is Flat Line Skiing?

Flatlining, also known as bombing, is the act of skiing straight down the slope to reach incredibly high speeds of up to 64 km/h or 40 mph for a recreational skier. This technique can be used for a number of reasons, from reducing the risk of avalanches to the simple enjoyment of high-velocity skiing.

Straight lining can be done on both a snowboard and skis, but of course, there is much more technique when it comes to skis. Let’s go over some of the best practices for flat-lining. 

Anyone who has seen any kind of downhill ski sports event will be familiar with flat-lining. These pros are typically showing how to straight line ski throughout their runs. Except of course slalom skiing where the goal is to zig-zag through the course (they hit the flags for maximum efficiency).

How Do You Flatline Ski? 

The position is the most important part of straight-line skiing. There is no fancy footwork technique required as you’ll be going straight down, so it all comes down to how you position your body. 

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The position for downhill bombing is essentially a tuck. The tuck has the two huge benefits of increased aerodynamics and increased stability as your center of gravity is lower.

You want to keep your body as compact as possible by bending your knees and hips, keeping your back straight, and bringing your hands to your chin or in front of your face. This small surface area means less wind drag at high speed. 

Bending your knees will allow your legs to act as shock absorbers when going over small bumps at high speed. It will also give you a lower center of gravity, which increases stability hugely. 

Your feet need to be positioned just outside of your hips. This lets you evenly distribute your weight on both skis and keep your center of mass directly over the skis, which will give you much more control at speed.

Do’s and Don’ts of Flatline Skiing

skier-going-downhill

There are a couple of important things to remember when you want to flatline ski. The very high speeds mean these are things that will keep you from a potentially painful crash. 

Do:

  • Keep your knees bent, your back straight, and your skis just outside your hips.
  • Commit. There is a point of no return in bombing where you have reached a speed where you cannot stop yourself and you just have to wait for the terrain to flatten. 
  • Lean forward as the slope flattens. This moves your center of balance and gravity over the middle of your skis, keeping you in control.  
  • Choose where to flat line carefully. Make sure you only flat line on a slope with a long enough space at the bottom of the slope to let you slow down.
  • Check your ego at the door. Not knowing your limits can get you hurt.
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Flatlining isn’t the only way to increase your speed though. For those after even more speed, there are several ways besides the tuck that will get you there. 

Don’t:

  • Lean back. This could cause your skis to lift and you to crash.
  • Try to slow down after the point of no return. 
  • Attempt quick turns. Your forward momentum will cause you to topple if you attempt to make hard changes in direction too quickly.
  • Ski over very uneven terrain. Any bumps your bent knees can’t absorb have the potential to cause you to fall.
  • Flatline on a busy ski slope. 

Pros and Cons of Skiing in a Straight Line 

Now that you know what flat line skiing is, you might be thinking, “Why do people flat line ski?” There are a number of pros and cons to skiing in a straight line that we’ll cover now. 

Pros of Straight Line Skiing

1. Straight line skiing is fun

As you can see and hear, flat-lining or bombing a slope is extremely fun. The rush of wind on your helmet as you fly down the slope is one of the best experiences you can have while skiing. 

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, this is pretty much the ultimate way to go about it. 

2. Adds variety 

If you’ve mastered the more relaxed styles of skiing or want to take a break from the more technical runs, straight-line skiing is another skill you can spend your time practicing. This is a great way to stay on the slopes without it feeling repetitive. 

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3. Flatlining is a useful tool 

The high speeds reached when flat line skiing means you have a reduced footprint on the snow. This means it can be a great tool to glide over less than ideal conditions like avalanche-prone snow. 

Cons of Straight Line Skiing

1. It can be dangerous

There is always a level of risks with sports like skiing and snowboarding. Pushing speeds to their upper limits only increases the risk. 

Inexperienced skiers should avoid straight-line skiing until they have developed a solid base of the basics. It’s incredibly important to know your limits when it comes to high-speed skiing to avoid getting hurt.

2. You can miss out on other aspects of skiing

Adrenaline can be addictive. If you get a taste for the speeds you can only really get from straight-line skiing, you run the risk of missing out on the countless other aspects of skiing.  Be sure to mix it up on the slopes. 

3. You’re going to be using the ski lift more often

This one might be the worst of them all. Flying down the slopes at incredible speeds means you’re going to reach the foot of the mountain much more often.

And usually, the only way back up is the ski lift. This means you might spend more than half of your day catching rides on the ski lift, only to speed right back down to the bottom again. 

Summary 

Alpine Skiing
Photo by specialolympicsusa licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Straight-line skiing is one of the most exciting ways to ski because of the immense speeds you can reach. It certainly isn’t the most technical of skiing, only needing a good tuck position to start. 

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There are a number of important things to remember when going in a straight line down the slopes. These are things like keeping your center of gravity directly above your feet at all times, keeping your feet about hip-width apart, and keeping your body tucked and leaning forward. 

It’s also really important to be able to identify when and where it is appropriate for flat line skiing. You need to be careful of things like very busy slopes where you could hurt others if you crash, as well as the terrain of the slope to keep yourself from crashing because of an unseen bump or rock

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