By Dan Balkin
Hmmm. This topic on Wall Street can get a little precarious. That is why I avoided using the phrase “insider trading” – which is something people in certain professions sometimes do so that they can afford to take private ski lessons in Vermont. But now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk about what skiers mean by tips for insiders.
You don’t have to have mastered Einstein’s physics to understand that the downhill ski is where skiers place most of their weight during a ski turn. This is correct for many reasons – but mainly because putting most of our weight on the uphill ski while making a turn is a sure-fire recipe for falling into the slope.
That could be useful as an evasive maneuver if one of the millions of drones doled out to gleeful children this Christmas crashed in front of you. But – as a normal ski technique – we put most of our our weight on our downhill ski so that we can stay upright and not fall over. So far, so good.
Before we go any further, let’s clarify our “ski speak.” When you turn left, your downhill (aka the “outside” ski) is always your right ski. When you turn right, your downhill ski is always the left ski. Conversely, your uphill ski (aka the “inside” ski) is always your left ski when you turn left and your right ski when you turn right. If you lead yourself through an imaginary ski turn, all of this will make sense.
Please look at the two skiers in the illustration. Both have most of their weight on their downhill ski. The skier to the right, however, is exhibiting a classic fault. He is not properly using his uphill (or inside) left ski.
Let me give you the layman’s version of how your ankle joint works. The “upper” part of your ankle allows your ankles to flex forward as you walk or ski. Below your ankle, however, is the subtalar joint. This joint allows your feet to roll from side to side.
Try it – please. Flex both ankles forward and roll both your feet to the left and then to the right. You just found your subtalar joints.
One key idea while skiing is symmetry. Because our weight naturally drifts to our downhill ski while skiing, we often create more angles on our downhill ski while neglecting our uphill ski. This creates the dreaded A-Frame.
The Bottom Line: Think about tipping both your feet from your subtalar joints as you enter a ski turn. This does not mean weighting your feet equally – it means tipping your feet equally. Again, in a ski turn, most of our weight will naturally drift toward the downhill ski because Einstein’s theory of gravity said it would – and we don’t argue with Albert.
The Line Below the Bottom Line: Try this exercise to get the feeling of activating the uphill (inside) foot and ski.
With both skis on the snow and both your ankles flexed, ski ten short turns with 90 percent of your weight on your left ski and then another ten short turns with 90 percent of your weight on your right ski. Repeat – often.
While doing this it is easy to tip the right foot while turning left – this is the feeling we are accustomed to because the right foot is the downhill foot. The trick is getting used to tipping and turning the right foot while turning right – when the right foot is the “inside” or “uphill” foot. The reverse is true with the left foot.
Remember – this is just an exercise to get you to feel new sensations of symmetry – we are not saying that you should normally put most of your weight on the inside or uphill ski in our standard ski turns.
Warning: Watch out for rogue drones and remember that you always have to flex both your ankles forward before you can efficiently tip your subtalar joints to make your feet and skis tip. It is a one- two punch: Ankles flex (forward) and then the subtalar joints tip from side to side. As they say at my favorite greasy spoon – Tipping is not a city in China – it is a means to avoid A-Framing.