Another great challenge in exploring the whole mountain is skiing steep terrain.
A competent skier on an intermediate groomed trail can quickly get out of their comfort zone trying to make a turn on steep terrain….unless they learn to fight their instincts.
Yes, your instinct is likely to fight gravity, using your downhill ski to brace as you turn – but this is wrong, hard on your body, and will likely lead to a fall. Indeed, you need to go against every bone in your body and let gravity help you through your turns – fast as it may seem at first – and slow down later. As Ski Magazine puts it, think: Green Light, Red Light, Green Light, Red Light.
Just like turns on a less-steep slope, in which you speed up through the fall line, then use your turn across the hill to slow back down, you do the same on the steeps, though in an amplified, and perhaps more confined scenario (especially if you are skiing something like a chute).
5 Tips to Ski the Steeps
1. Keep your upper body facing downhill. This is a standard rule for all types of terrain, but becomes more important to remember when the skiing gets difficult. Keep your hands reaching down the hill and your upper body calm and steady.
2. At the top of each turn, fight your instincts and let your skis go with the flow of gravity. Always point both ski tips in the same direction; it’s important not to “brace” with your downhill ski when starting your turns, but rather let both skis point down the fall line before coming out of the turn.
3. Slow down as you finish your turn. As soon as you feel yourself rushing down the fall line, turn your skis back across the hill and slow down before starting your next turn again.
4. Don’t lean back! Intimidated by the steep terrain, many skiers also lean back, but this will only make you go faster and/or lose control. Keep your body weight alined: Shoulders over hips over ankles.
5. If the steep terrain is also narrow, all the above applies. But now also make your turns quicker and more concise. You can’t traverse back and forth if you’re skiing down a narrow chute. Reiterate to yourself: “Green Light, Red light,” as you alternatively speed up and slow down, entering and exiting the fall line. And, as always, stop and recuperate if you find your head getting fuzzy or you simply need to take a breather.
Watch this quick How-To from Ski Magazine: