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When skiing, how far apart should your feet be? Close together or a bit farther apart? There are several reasons to keep good symmetry with your feet and some good exercises to help you practice.
Keeping your feet facing the same direction is key to parallel skiing. Keeping your feet together is an important part of maintaining smooth turns BUT, keeping your feet closer together can be more dangerous and a bad habit to pickup.
Maintaining the best symmetry of your legs during turns enables you to manage the changing forces you experience and keeps both your skis working in unison.
The symmetry of your legs in this context means the attitude and shape of your legs you maintain during turns. Losing good symmetry in skiing is a common problem. Luckily several exercises have been devised to help you focus on good practice and ensure you have the best symmetry.
There is no advantage in trying to ski with your knees and skis completely together. In fact, it is more dangerous. If you catch an edge when your skis are close together you will have much less chance of taking corrective action. We evolved to walk on two legs, kept apart, and it’s best to approach skiing with the same mindset, with the skis parallel and fairly close together.
It’s easy to fall out of the habit of having good symmetry, especially when the uneven surface of the snow drives your skis apart. When you are making turns you concentrate almost exclusively on the outside ski, where the action is happening.
Consequently, the posture of the inside ski can get neglected, and left to trail to its own devices. Symmetry entails all parts of the body taking an active part and working in harmony. However, symmetry doesn’t mean the legs doing the same movements.
Aim for Symmetry but keep Independence
In aiming for symmetry independence is key, including independent legs and feet, independent movement, and independent absorption over bumps. Often, it’s the inside ski in turns that is the symmetry culprit. With all the attention on the powerful outer ski, the inside ski can wander outside of its natural symmetry.
Luckily, problems with skiing with the feet together is a common problem and it has consequently attracted a lot of consideration. There are now numerous easy and practical exercises, which will help to steer you in the direction of better symmetry.
Practice these simple techniques to naturally bring your feet together, so it becomes a habit instead of an aspiration.
Inadequate Outer Leg Extension
If you have a weak stance with little power going down to the outside ski then the knee will naturally turn inwards creating instability
Remedy – Use a Power Snowplough to bring the Legs under Control
A faster version of the snowplough technique we all started out with is also a simple method of drawing your legs and feet into symmetry. As you progress through a turn all the emphasis is on the outside ski, but with the power snowplough, you can effectively practice tucking in the light inside the ski, so it’s parallel with the outer.
The action of tucking in the inside ski comes from the heel. With practice, this action becomes fluid and continuous, something you will probably not even be consciously aware of. As you practice faster turns on wide-open runs with the power snowplough, tuck the inside ski in parallel with the outer.
Loss of Width Control
If you are using the incorrect muscle groups during turns, the width between your knees and feet will be constantly variable, causing instability. To ensure you use the correct muscle groups, practice the following exercise a few times on a simple, wide run and then transfer the same action to your normal skiing routine.
Use the Correct Muscle Groups
As you slide forward down the run pull your feet together slowly but keep your legs slightly bent. As you put the tension on the leg muscles you will feel a shaking sensation in your legs as your feet come together. Repeat the exercise when you’re out on runs to remind yourself of the feeling when the correct muscle groups in your legs are working.
Slow Inside Leg
With all the attention being focused on the outside ski, the inside leg can be neglected. This can lead to random symmetry, where the inside leg doesn’t have an active role to play and certainly doesn’t match the symmetry of the outer leg. This imbalance and loss of symmetry will equate to a loss of control over your skis.
Do the Charleston
At first, practice on a wide, flat run and, without poles, place your hands on your knees and notice how the inside ski actively matches the outside ski. After trying it slowly on gradual runs transfer what you have learned to a steeper run. This exercise enables you to monitor the alignment of your legs through turns.
Having the best fitting ski boots is fundamental to having good symmetry when skiing. The boots must fit correctly, be appropriate to the level of skiing you do and ideally adjusted to consider the shape of your lower body
Ski Boot Alignment
As humans, we are all formed individually, with different ways of standing and moving. Some skiers having bought new ski boots find that standing in their natural posture the skis don’t lie flat on the snow. One edge or the other will be raised. To even out the posture the cuff alignment of the boot needs adjusting. Modern ski boots often have cuff alignment adjusters but not all, so if it’s a problem you are aware of choosing boots that can be adjusted.
A similar problem with ski boots is canting, which is often confused with cuff alignment. Canting refers to the necessary tilt of the ski boot to achieve a flat stance. Remedial action includes planning the sole of the ski boot or inserting wedges under the ski bindings when the boot is mounted. The first solution is preferable as the corrective boots can be used with any skis.
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