Over the years, I received a lot of questions about mounting bindings and the best placement of the mono / sitski on the ski. Over center, a little forward or a little back? The good news is that most of the skis these days have integrated binding systems. These systems allow for some adjustment but not enough to get you in trouble.
A binding mounted 3” in front of a normal mount point will initiate very easy (often too easy) but the problem will be uneven weight distribution over the ski through the turn. This will cause you to load up the tip too much and not weight the tail at the end of the turn. This will result in over turning, losing the tail, and falling over into the hill, typically on the up hill side. The closer over boot center you are, the better you will distribute the weight to the active edge of the ski through out the turn. This will help you be a more dynamic skier. Remember, skiing is managing the pull of gravity with some basic moves and skills. You will use a rotary move combined with some pressure to start a turn then you will bring some edging into the mix maintaining flow through the turn while staying in balance. Too much rotary causes someone to over turn, go up hill and fall or make a real bad turn. Not enough pressure will cause you to pick up speed. Too much speed and you can get to aggressive on the edge. Too much edge we check our speed and maybe get thrown off balance or at least produce a classic “Z” turn which looks and feels very static. Remember, there is nothing wrong with taking a lesson or two to refine some skills.
The key and goal for us using the mono-ski (and stand up skiers) is to move from being a static skier to a dynamic skier. Static is more mechanical, robotic. Its cause and effect, skiing from turn to turn. We move, the ski does something good or bad, we react and try to compensate. It is not fluid. Let’s look at making a turn for instance. We make some moves to initiate then react to the result. If we stay in our initiation move too long, we never setup the middle of the turn and get a good platform by setting the edge. As a result, we skid the tail (cause) then react to that by catching the edge in the bottom of the turn and check the speed (effect). We don’t get clean arched turns. We can get pretty good at managing cause and effect. The skills needed for skiing are there but not working together in concert.
Our goal is to move into the realm of dynamic skiing. Not from turn to turn, but from trail to trail. Like a ski racer, the winner is not the one who skis great turns through each gate. But the one who skis a dynamic flowing line through all the gates, focused on the goal, the bottom or at least a few turns ahead. We want to do the same. As we initiate a turn we are already several turns a head. Consider the following flow … moving into initiation and feeling the ski hook up … moving into a countered centered position weighting the ski through the middle of the turn and the tail at the end of the turn … being fluid and dynamic moving right into the outrigger lead change and initiation of the next turn … your eyes are looking 50+ yards ahead. We start to ski runs from top to bottom scribing our line in the snow in stead of from turn to turn or a group of turns to a group of turns. Once we move into this dynamic realm we can really feel the performance of the ski. We can feel it arc and bend under us and all the cool performance designed into the ski and binding system makes sense.
You really want to be over the center of the ski with your sit equipment so you can get the best performance out of your skis. Sometimes I mount a ½ inch or so forward for quicker initiation depending on the ski. But nothing too far out of the boot center mark. Every ski has a “sweet spot” and when you find it you know why they call it the sweet spot. Once you get dialed into your equipment, things will progress. It is so important to be balanced and centered, RELAXED and COMFORTABLE for things to start flowing. It is also important to keep your head up and look down the hill. I know it is hard at first, but you can do it. Its a comfort zone thing but you can break out of that comfort zone of looking at the snow right in front of you. The reality is that you can’t react fast enough for the stuff right in front of you anyway so we make a reaction move and that throws our flow off. Now if we are looking way down the trail we are reacting to the whole trail. One thing I like to do is follow a good skier and try to stay in their line. The good skiers typically ski a long fluid line and react to the whole hill. Keep your eyes in the middle of their back and follow at a safe distance. You might not match them turn for turn but you will pick up their rhythm.
Try this … Have a buddy ski down the trail 50 or so meters and stop but they must stay in your view. Look at them and ski to them with out taking your eyes off them. Have them raise one hand then the other and randomly alternate. As they do you shout out what hand they raise. RIGHT! … Right! … Left!… and so on. This exercise will do wonders for your skiing. It will force you to keep your eyes down the hill (where they should be). Your turns will become tighter, more in the fall line, much more fluid and dynamic. Mark my words. Try this and the first time you do it, you will start to feel what it is to ski dynamically. It will be uncomfortable at first because you are not concentrating on the next turn, but getting to your buddy. That is where the magic happens. All the turns blend together to get you to your target. Your turns will not be pretty or symmetrical at first, but they will be linked and more direct. Then comes the fun part … Practice! Practice! Practice! I practice this all the time on every run. I still look down as I ski. I find myself drifting into the old comfort zone. We all do. Try it with a buddy on a long green trail for a few runs. Then move to a blue with some pitch. You can also just use things on the mountain. I will spot a lift tower, snow gun, tree or person half way down the trail and keep my eyes on it or in that general area for two thirds the distance. Then as I get closer, in the last third, I pick a new object further down the trail. I like hitting all sorts of little jumps and what not so I am always scanning the terrain out a head of me for jumps and bumps to catch some air. Have fun but challenge yourself to improve. If you are really beat at the end of the day, you are working too hard. That is a hint that you need to refine some skills. If you do, you will be less fatigued and more fluid.
Before you go, check out Voice-of-Truth. In the beginning you will see from the sitskiers point of view skiing some bumps. Mind you this is the first run of the season and is some what extreme for a warm up run. What you will notice is tentative static movement, some side slipping and speed checks. Don’t get me wrong. It’s all good. It’s nice to have a bag of tricks to pull skills out of when your first run of the season is a mogul feasted nightmare. But as the video continues you will see more fluid and dynamic skiing, some jumps, bumps and carving. It’s a good way to get pumped for the 05-06 season.