By Dan Egan EBS Contributor
What is old is new again, and skiing with your legs together is back in style. Wide or “fat” skis have brought us many benefits and they’ve made more of the mountain accessible to more skiers. When it comes to skiing powder, cut-up snow and steeps, fat skis are magical.
However it’s important to keep in mind that as ski technology changes so must our ski technique.
Wide skis are not skied like the “shaped skis” of the mid-90s. When shaped skis came onto the scene our skiing stance changed, widening our feet and requiring 60 percent of pressure on the downhill ski and 40 percent pressure on the uphill ski. All over North America instructors and coaches were chanting, “Get your feet further apart!”
The second part of the shaped-ski technique revolution was, “Don’t stand up, keep your hips low, and move them forward and through the turn.”
But that was then and this is now—times have changed and so has ski shape. If you’re on skis that are 94 millimeters or wider underfoot, bringing your feet together and standing tall in transition will benefit you by yielding smoother turns, more control and less fatigue.
When your feet are wider apart in a more traditional stance, you’ve probably experienced some leg wobble as you finish your turns, usually with the inside leg. This wobble is a direct result of a wide ski and its surface area overwhelming your body position. Not only is this inefficient, it can also drain the energy from your legs.
Wide skis provide a large amount of surface area under your body causing your skis to shoot out in front of your body at the end of the turn. I call this the “inside leg wobble” because the amount of surface area has overwhelmed the uphill leg when your hips are “aft” of your inside foot.
To correct this, simply let your inside ski slide close together to the downhill ski and stand tall during this process. Combining the width of the two skis will create a wide and stable platform, and as you stand tall you will have the leverage to take advantage of the surface area under your body.
You may have also noticed the wobble while you’re coasting on cat tracks and during this traditional time of rest the wobbling makes your legs tired. Again, this is a result of the amount of surface area under your feet.
Remember to stand tall and make slight snakelike turns from edge to edge. This will engage the skis, and by creating edge pressure you will have more control and not have to work as hard.
Skiing with your feet closer together and standing tall will reduce fatigue and increase control. Remember to bring your feet together at the end of the turn for smoother turns. For “old school” skiers like me, this is the best news of all: it’s finally cool again to ski with your feet together.
Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching March 2-4 and March 9-11, and throughout the season (contact Big Sky Mountain Sports for availability). Find more ski tips from Dan Egan at skiclinics.com/education/skitips.
A version of this article first appeared in the Dec. 22, 2015 issue of Explore Big Sky.