March 20-21, 2007 – AWD vs FWD vs RWD

A little spring weather report. A Level 6 lesson overview, and how to go from a Rear-wheel or Front-wheel drive skier to become an All-Wheel Drive skier.

The temps have remained warm. Monday was certainly a case in point. 8am = high 20’s with firm snow. 10am = 30’s with sunshine. Noon = 50’s with very soft snow. 2pm = snow. 3 pm = temps in the 40’s. It was entertaining to be sure.
The class was lots of fun. Level 6 was the group of the day. The topic? Balance while skiing faster down the hill. Going fast is such a relative term. What is one persons death defying run for glory is another person’s green run. I equated the ability to increase speed and balance as the car which shimmies and shakes at 60 versus the car which travels well above the speed limit without any hesitation. (If you are a teenager or just drive like one, Click Here) The difference between the cars starts with alignment and balance. Beyond that, it is the driver’s skill and experience. Gaining that experience quickly became the focus of the lesson.


However ,where do we start? From the beginning of course. Some people (me included) taught drive the knees forward to gain shin contact. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) driving/bending the knees forward, tends to drop the hips back. This puts the skier slightly back. 2) The experienced skier may attempt to not flex too much at the hips to compensate, although this will put the skier too far forward. It is the equivent of front wheel drive, with a light tailend. Check this out for the article of AWD vs FWD vs RWD. It is quite good.
In short, on slippery surfaces FWD is better than RWD. AWD or 4-wheel drive is best. What does that mean? Being centered on the ski allows the skier to use the front of the ski and the rear of the ski simultaneously. Because we are skiing on a slippery surface, I prefer this AWD method of skiing.
Carol Levine (former PSIA National team member) shared a simple way to feel “homebase” with balance:
EXERCISE: Lift your ski off the snow, pull up the toes to flex you ankle. When you do this, you should feel your shin contact the tongue of the boot. Take note of the pressure. Then do the same with the other foot. As you ski on that run, try to maintain the same amount of pressure on both shins throughout the run. To do this the skier must be accurately moving in the ankle, knee, and hip joints.
Exercise 2: As you ski, have the sensation that as you start the turn, the outside leg’s hip socket is over the outside foot/arch. This will give the skier the feeling of balance and a “stacked” alignment from the beginning of the turn.
We headed over to P7 (Wirepatch/Lincoln Meadows) to play with our turns without crowds. These runs are a simply the two best runs in Breckenridge to work on your intermediate groomed run skiing.
We introduced the triangle of balance on the foot. The points of the triangle being: Ball of the foot on the big toe side; ball of the foot on the small toe side; and just in front of the heal. Most people move from one lateral side of the triangle directly to the other side. I encouraged a smoother transition across the middle of the triangle. In many conditions, especially on blue runs and slow to moderate speeds we do not even need to make it to the outermost boundaries of the triangle.
Later we added the “Big Toe” to assist the transition of the turn. Once we added that piece it was time for practice and some coaching.
We played with tactics as well as technique during the course of the day. And we skied on Peak 7, 8, and 9. I look forward to skiing with several members of this group on Wednesday.
thank you to our skiers,
enjoy the photos,

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