In skiing, as in most other sports, the right way is the easy and simple way. In the game of golf the unconscious, easy natural swing of the caddy boy is the despair of more than one perspiring, hardworking golfer. So, in skiing, the tendency of most beginners is toward work -instead of ease. Skiing is essentially a game of skill, not muscle. The average skiing beginner seems to think that he has a pair of snowshoes attached to his feet. At any rate, one of the first movements he is likely to make-preparatory to pushing the ski forward is that of lifting it completely off the ground. Upon which one is prompted to ask, why this unnecessary labor? Surely, it is much easier to push the ski ahead without raising it. During the skiing glide, the ski should never leave the snow.
The beginner presently sees the wisdom of this and lifts his skis no more. But the motion through which his legs and skis are going is not the skiing glide. It is more of a stiff-legged shuffle. Perhaps his skis, properly enough, are close together and maybe falls are becoming less frequent, but with the stiff-legged shuffle he is making slow progress; in fact, barely more than crawling along.
Perhaps quite by accident during this motion he happens to bend his forward knee and lunge his weight forward on the advanced ski. Something happens which has not occurred before. This ski glides ahead, seemingly without any added effort on his part. And thereby he has discovered the correct skiing glide.
With the nicety of balance and general sense of control which come from diligent practise of the skiing glide one can tackle hill coasting with reasonable assurance that he will make an uninterrupted, through trip from the top of the slope to the bottom. For coasting is essentially a matter of balance.
The skis should be kept close together, the point of one advanced about a foot beyond that of the other. The body should be inclined forward, so that it is at right angles to the slope. The knees may be slightly bent, but not the body. During the course of the coast one sways the body forward or backward as the contour of the slope dictates. All this, of course, is only the beginning of ski wisdom:
An open, unobstructed slope can be easily negotiated in this way. But it is a long hill that has no turning, and presently you will encounter obstacles, such as a tree or rock, which necessitate either an abrupt halt in your merry coast or a quick swerve to one side. Herein enter the elements of braking and steering, further stages in the education of the skier.
The most simple and obvious way of slowing down or coming to an abrupt stop when part way down hill is that of straddling the ski-pole. Altho this tactic may sometimes be used in an emergency, it is darkly frowned upon by all well brought up skiers, mainly because the skill of skiing plays no part in its operation. All sports have their unwritten laws, and some of these can be broken on occasion without any harm being done. One of the unwritten laws of skiing is that a man shall use other means of braking than that of straddling his ski-pole. But this law is occasionally broken.
When coasting straight down a slope, the best braking method is one known as the “snow-plow.” This name fairly well indicates the operation. The points of the skis are brought together and the rear ends are prest outward so that the skis form a letter V. At the same time the outside edge of each ski is slightly raised so that it forms something of a wall against the snow, similar to that of the bow of a snow-plow. The wider apart the rear ends of the skis are and the more perpendicular the wall, the more abrupt will the stop be. A ski-pole dragged directly behind adds to the braking effect. Throughout the proceeding the body should lean forward.
When coasting down hill in a diagonal course, the favorite braking method is “stemming.” This is sometimes known as the “half snow-plow.” Here again the name happily indicates the operation. This differs from the full “snow-plow” in that only the ski on the down-hill side is prest outward. The other ski glides straight ahead in its usual course. The speed is regulated by the amount of snow-plowing which the stemming ski performs. As before, the wider the angle and the straighter the wall of the stemming ski, the slower the speed. When a ski-pole is used with the “half-snow-plow” method, it should be dragged outside the ski which is gliding straight ahead, not between the skis, as in the case of the “snow-plow.”
Some skiers get along in good shape as long as the skis run parallel in a straight line, but they are unable to manage coasting turns. Vivian Caulfield and Arnold Lunn, European skiing experts, point out that skis turn much the way a boat does. One ski may be regarded as the boat and the other the rudder. This is a good pointer to keep in mind. When the skis are running parallel, there is a complete absence of any braking or steering effect. But immediately the skis form an angle, you stop or turn to the right or left.
The knack of coasting down a long hill, making a series of graceful serpentine curves, is by no means difficult, provided one is entirely familiar with the “snow-plow” and “half-snow-plow” braking methods which I have just described.
Source: The Literary Digest for February 18, 1922