Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Blame the Boots!

I have always been fascinated by the skier who always blames their equipment for any fault in their own performance.  I have watched people flop down the Powerline, getting tossed backwards by an unnoticable terrain change only to have to them swing their arms wildly forward, resulting in some kind of fore and aft struggle.  Or how about the skier who slaps through the moguls, skis slamming into each mound of snow like they were giving it five.  My personal favorite is the groomed trail skier who, if only they had the precision boot fit, would have been able to more easily maneouver down that 'poorly maintained' section of trail.  They all come skiing up to the group, barely having noticed their arms and legs flopping around them, and proceed to blame the failure to perform on the quality of the boots.
Summit of Mt. Adams, Presidential Range
White Mountain National Forest, NH
It seems to me that these people would much more benefit from redirecting their attention from this year's hottest trends in metal and plastic and would instead focus on what is actually happening when they ski.  The lack of a properly fit boot is not the reason for your lack of balance and control in variable terrain: it is your body's complete and utter lack of awareness of what is happening and how to resolve the imbalance.  A good, balanced skier doesn't get thrown off balance because they are not stagnant.  Instead, they are aware of their body's every movement and are constantly evaluating the terrain and determining its probable effect on the skier's body.  Once the body is awake and functioning, only then does the fit of the equipment even factor into the sitiuation:  you have to know how to use your body before you can use your equipment!

Over the years, I have found that pilates has helped me to understand how my body works.  While Yoga introduces us to the presence of our body parts, Pilates can show us how these parts function during movements.  Variations of a single movement have exposed me to the minute adpations which my body can perform and the ability to control these movements.  This awareness has helped me to make preventative rather than reactionary movements while skiing, biking & trail running.  I can understand how to use core muscles to maintain stability of the upper body, can adjust the flex and angles of my ankles to account for variances in terrain, make minute lateral movements of the femur in the hip socket to adjust my turn radius on demand.  Control over both big and small muscles in the body have provided me with a more stable platform from which to approach the mountain, and have given the opportunity for increased grace of movement.  If we truly wish to become great skiers, we must turn away from this dependency upon external sources and instead focus on our ability to perform through the control of our own bodies.


  1. This. Saw it all the time when I was teaching riding... see it in life...

  2. I have been wondering if this is just an American trait, or if it is something that is catching on worldwide...