Thursday, March 27, 2014

Steeps Technique Development

After weeks of unseasonably hot weather we are now back to winter temperatures at altitude. The sun was out but it remained cold at even 2000m.

Twenty years ago I heard about how Silvain Saudan used jump turns from the uphill ski when on steep terrain. Being brainwashed like everyone else my attempts at experimenting with this always meant trying to get onto the inside edge of my uphill ski – and it never worked.

Over the past several years I’ve been developing pivoting techniques from the uphill ski – but on the outside edge. Some of my exercises for developing better skiing mechanics in general also involve standing up on the uphill leg and the outside edge prior to starting a new turn. From all of this it dawned on me that Saudan must have been jumping up from that outside edge! Trying this out on relatively steep ground this does appear to be the case. It feels weird at first but the steeper it gets the more natural it feels. It makes more sense than jumping off the extended lower leg and allows you limit the height you drop down the mountain better.  Normally such turns are done by jumping from the lower leg – but with the legs being independent and apart on the steeps this changes the possibilities.


Of course all but the steepest slopes with modern skis can be skied without losing snow contact – but there are situations where this is not the case! Some people do like to keep speed down through turning and do not feel obliged to tear around like freeriders at high speed. I’m fairly convinced that the popular tendency to ski fast off piste on wide skis is what caught out Michael Schumacher. I had been in the same ski area as him on the same day – but when going off piste kept it very slow and careful – focusing on turning and technique as there were rocks everywhere!

Here’s Silvain Saudan himself practising on rocks (no snow) – with no crash helmet - and no injury due to controlling his speed… (practising his jump turns from the top edge of the top ski!)

Empty dam exposing the old Tignes village and bridge over the Isère on the road to Val d’isère…


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