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Brilliant Skiing, Every Day
Introducing the Sports Diamond ™
By Weems Westfeldt

“ I don’t teach people to ski. I teach them to be skiers.
~ Squatty Schuler, trainer, examiner, ski pro, counselor, and my ”
pet redneck in The Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen

Learning how to read (an ebook)
To Keep Things Simple:
Download it… (which you’ve obviously done. Duh!)

print it out (double sided!)…

read it…

* Tree-Saving Option: (a very wise decision!)
Just read it on the screen, and then tell all
your friends about

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day

This is a short ebook with a lot of stuff in it.
It contains pointers, information, advice, stories, photos, thoughts,
and philosophizing about one of the most magical sports of all time.

And most importantly, it introduces the The Sports Diamond —

an easy path to creating your own best days in any sport.

If you read it and learn it, you will be able to ski better, self coach
with confidence, and improve in all sports.

Furthermore, if and when you make the big step and come out
to Aspen/Snowmass to ski or ride with us—you will also have
some big fun!

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day

A Note To Beginners: Welcome to a sport and a lifestyle that will delight. likes to announce that he is on this planet to have fun. you’ll need a little interpretation so that the vocabulary has some meaning. This is not speculation. based only on your openness to new experiences. This is a Brilliant Skiing. and transform you. w w w. inspire. There are a few ski concepts you may not have acquired yet. if you have.edgechange. who teaches for the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass. Good news! Everything in the first nine chapters of this book will be directly applicable to you—only you should be experimenting at slow speeds and on gentle terrain. Or. However. there is a good chance that you haven’t gotten them exactly right!) Y Skiing is about more than fun. and he is deadly serious about that! That’s a good description of what ski- ing can be. skiing is about fun and more. (Or. My friend Paul McKinnie. Every Day .

edgechange. m w w w. Y Rent skis from a reputable shop. These skis will always give you a distinct advantage in your learning curve. It’s usually best to rent at the ski area itself. Get The Right Gear: Y Do not buy skis until you have become a lower intermediate skier or have experienced about two weeks on skis—whichever event comes Brilliant Skiing. Every Day .) Y Rent skis no shorter than 110cm (unless you weigh less than 90 pounds) and no longer than 130cm (unless you weigh more than 250 pounds). etc. in case you need to adjust your gear (switch sizes. performance level.

He has taught and managed in ski schools all over the nation and the world. Every Day . w w w. manager. In 1986. and New Zealand for 40 years Y An examiner for Professional Ski Instructors of America Y The former Director of Operations for Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass Weems has been in the ski teaching world for more than 40 seasons. New Mexico.edgechange. What’s a Weems? Weems Westfeldt is… Y An ancient ski pro from the Stone Age when skis were chiseled out of very long rocks Y A fanatic skier who loves to teach Photo©BrianPorter Y A traveler who has taught skiing in Brilliant Skiing. New Hampshire. and trainer. he settled in Aspen/Snowmass as an instructor. Maine.

keep the ones you like. Try them all.edgechange. Y Above all. though. the ones that really work when I’m teaching students. After all. y The second section is an inventory of my favorite skiing pointers. y The two sections are first integrated in Chapter Five. don’t get hung up anywhere. Every Day . and toss the others into your mental “recycle bin. Y This book is really two books in one. Some words about the material Y Who’s it for? It’s for all skiers and all sports people. the whole point of this story is to keep your focus shifting so you don’t get stuck in the mud. This is simply a framework for moving forward in your development as an athlete and having fun along the Brilliant Skiing. y Thefirst section explains the Sports Diamond ™. w w w. Even beginners and nonskiers will get it if they combine the Sports Diamond ™ with lessons from a reputable Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) ski school (such as the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass). Not all of them work for everybody.” y The essence of both sections is described in Chapter One.

Y I love ski racing. y Many of the great stars of modern skiing and teaching will attribute their present-day skills to their earlier training as racers. safety. This does not mean that everyone should go faster. and beliefs change. and delight at any speed. with the advent of the nearly magical (and don’t-do- it-in-your-living room) new school of freestyle and big-mountain skiing. Y There are a lot of ways to ski. y As beautiful and elegant and stylin’ as new-school skiing is. This way I—and you—can remain flexible and agile as styles.edgechange. w w w. However. It does mean that ski racers are true masters at efficiently harnessing speed and momentum to achieve control. The best racers can more easily acquire the skills of the other ski disciplines than the champions of the other disciplines can step into the boots of the racers. The transition between turns is really the center- piece of what we all do as skiers. about turning left on the left edges of skis and right on the right edges. What we can learn from ski racing will be very obvious. without getting lost in the chaos of too much material. there is one unifying element: All skiing is about descending a slope while making turns and. My personal biases Y I dogmatically reject dogma. techniques. especially these days. and you will see a strong bias towards this idea in the pointers in this book. This approach is carefully crafted to include diverse points of view and many types of approaches. Every Day . the best skiers in the world are still rac- ers—men and women. Brilliant Skiing. so that I/you don’t get rigidly fixed in one place. y Skiracers also produce the best model for recreational skiers of all levels and physical abilities to emulate. specifically.

and Rich Burkley.Pat Westfeldt Sr. Loris Werner. and Tom Crum for the Brilliant Skiing. John Armstrong. and website. most important. I’m also very proud to be one of the 30. Horst Abraham. Sherm Carson. Every Day . Y My teachers. Rick Vetromile. Gunther Rädler. Sugar Robinson. Squatty Schuler. Cal Cantrell.edgechange. and Eric Smith for the inspiration. Ben Weems. Rich Burkley. Jerry Berg. Buddy Werner. Mike Leahy. y Thanks to the late Betty Weems. George Ostler. Megan Harvey. I owe an enormous debt to liter- ally hundreds of people who have mentored me along the way. Doug Mackenzie. PSIA is the organization and family of ski instructors in charge of developing methodologies of ski teaching as well as training and testing ski and snowboard pros throughout the USA. Joan Rostad. Michael Ericksen for the cartoons. Curt Chase. marketing expertise. Marcus Knodle for the design. y And. Knut Strömstad. Katie Fry. Nancy Westfeldt. Victor Gerdin. Cindy Hirschfeld for the editing. Gordon Briner.000 members of PSIA. Ernie Blake. Jean Mayer. Sepp Kessler. Brian Porter and Ron LeMaster for the photos. I’m proud and honored to be able to call them colleagues. Katie Fry. Dadou Mayer. thanks to the students who have taught me so much and who have kept me from having to get a real job. Rip McManus. (I didn’t make up all this stuff!) In addition to Ahmed Yehia. Curt Stewart. My sources Y The Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass.. y Thanks to all the ski pros for the friendship and the weirdness. A partial list goes something like this: y Thanks. Mike Kaplan. Fred Iselin. Phil Clark. Tricia Hohl for the website and marketing collateral. My resources Y Thanks heaps to Bill Blitz for the strategy. Harry Baxter. Y Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). Julie Bennett. and Geneva Templeton (all of the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass) for the company support. w w w.

..................................................................... 60 Y C H A P T E R S E V E N Purpose.... 135 Y w w Brilliant Skiing................................... Every Day .... 10 Y C H A P T E R T H R E E The Sports Diamond ™ ....................... Contents I N T R O D U C T I O N ................................................................................... 86 Y C H A P T E R E I G H T Touch ..... 2 C H A P T E R T W O The Plateau Challenge ................. 114 Y C H A P T E R T E N Advanced Brilliance ..... 42 Y C H A P T E R S I X Power ............ 20 Y C H A P T E R F O U R Holding Polarity............................... 1 CHAPTER ONE Y What If ? ....................................................................... 102 Y C H A P T E R N I N E Will ............ 32 Y C H A P T E R F I V E Master Pointers ........................

com Brilliant Skiing. you can create your own brilliant days—every day. and more information as we grow. only I can choose to make it brilliant. Every Day 1 . I invite you to open up your awareness and expand your thinking about what you do to have a great day of skiing because there will be more pro- duct offerings. I also invite you to stay in touch with us via our website www. Once you learn how to use this powerful tool. and observing to help my own development as an athlete. Weems Westfeldt w w w. Likewise. only I can crash my day.edgechange. (the Leadership Diamond ® is a model that helps one enhance leadership skills by draw- ing on the four basic orientations of Courage. (Besides. what you do to sabotage your skiing on a bad day. Introduction T he Sports Diamond ™ is the tool that I’ve developed over a lifetime of skiing. Ahmed and I found that performance in sports and performance in leadership follow essentially the same principles. Dr. I’m really not sure that I know how to do anything else!) I hope you will find this book of value not only for your skiing but also for other sports. great photos and cartoons. and Reality.edgechange. Ethics. my research has been integrated with the work of my friend and colleague Ahmed Yehia and one of his great friends and mentors. in contrast. Their work has mostly focused on business philosophy and leadership. Vision. No matter how bad the situation is. teaching. However.) In this. our first book together. discussions. In the pages that follow. We believe that both fields are described and framed elegantly and effectively by the Sports Diamond ™ and the Leadership Diamond ®. Peter Koestenbaum. we approach the world of skiing because that’s my first love and main field of understanding. In the last few seasons.

edgechange. the big secret of skiing. yet interdependent. Every Day 2 . and Touch (which comprise the four corners of the Diamond). Purpose. if I could also offer you the “one great move. would you use it? If this tool could show you how to feel great every time you went out on the ski slope—even when you’re not skiing at peak performance or having a breakthrough—would you want it? How would you like to be able to also apply this tool to golf? Or tennis? Or cycling? Furthermore. Will.” the mother of all pointers. w w w. CHAPTER ONE Y What If? Two Big Ideas for Your Skiing If I could offer you a tool that would help you banish your learning struggles Brilliant Skiing. would you focus your time to learn it? The tool is the Sports Diamond™ The Sports Diamond ™ is a model for achieving brilliance in skiing (or any sport) through the use of four opposing. resources: Power.

creativity. momentum. the physical forces (such as gravity. Photo©BrianPorter Riding switch makes your pants get lower! Purpose refers to tactics. and what you wish to accomplish. It also encom- passes your strategy. your body’s own Good technique can put bugs in your teeth! fitness level and equipment. results. and biomechanical elements of a sport. and cetri- fugal force). the movements and techniques you use in skiing. what types of turns or descents you make. w w w. and turn Brilliant Skiing. for example. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Here are the basics: Power refers to the technical. Every Day 3 Photo©BrianPorter .edgechange. or intentions. mechan- ical. such as how your skis move in the snow.

act. or the course in golf).edgechange. being present. feel the mountains. and love of the sport. It also involves rhythm. managing anxiety. timing. and balancing—physi- cally. the wave in surfing. You can only make your move when you elicit the will to initiate. intensity. feel the speed! Photo©BrianPorter Will refers to commitment. awareness. and spiritual relationship with the medium or field of your athletic endeavor (e. Will is about sustained initia- tive. feel the ski. mentally. feel. and emotionally. Feel the snow. fun. Brilliant Skiing. the snow in skiing.g. Every Day 4 Photo©BrianPorter . flow. mental. centering.. Dropping in! w w w. and choice. action. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Touch refers to your physical. and take the risk.

rather than merely parking yourself within your preferences. What holds back athletic performance are the inevitable negative conse- quences of an excessive preference for one or two—or only parts—of the four resources. the shine abruptly and inevitably disap- pears. Here is an easy and powerful goal for you as an athlete (don’t you love it when people tell you what your goals are?).com Brilliant Skiing. the result is brilliance. by holding polarity among the corners of the Sports Diamond ™. Purpose. Touch.edgechange. What moves your performance ahead is the ability to use them all in equal measure (over time). When you hold polarity. think of holding polarity as alternat- ing. with frequency and agility. You can achieve brilliance. each day. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Use the Sports Diamond™ as a strategy for “ sustainable progress in any sport you choose. It’s that simple—once you learn how. and Will can coexist in dynamic balance through a process called “holding polarity. among these four resources without exces- sively emphasizing any one.” For now. w w w. When you fail to hold polarity. ” Power. Every Day 5 .

enlightened. Before you start to panic. followed by an immediate and efficient engagement of the downhill edges as you move through the turn. “How do I ski well?” this is it: Complete commitment to learning and practicing a smooth and simple release of the uphill edges of the skis as you initiate a turn. big kahuna.edgechange. and sacred mission of great skiing. boss hog. and sometimes it won’t. Merely having the intention to make a perfect edge change corrects all sorts of problems in an instant. dharma. Sometimes perfect will be different for one set of circumstances than it will be for another. Every Day 6 . know that “perfectly” is more an expression of intention than it is a requirement for success. essential. end of the day. The Mother of All Pointers is to change your ski edges perfectly. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? The Brilliant Skiing. w w w. Sometimes it will be perfect Daron Ralves tipping it over. It’s the bottom line. Photo©RonLeMaster If there is a single answer to the question.

You can unweight or pressure the skis. You can turn on the uphill. the edge change is the ONLY technical move that you MUST do to turn—every time. and finesse creates the criti- cal linkage between turns that makes skiing fluid and beautiful and master- ful—or not. com- mitment. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Whether you are a first-time or a life-long skier. But you cannot turn right while standing on your left edges.edgechange. Julia Mancuso: a perfect edge change over a bump. Every Day 7 . You can brake or accelerate. It is no accident that the largest body of technical knowledge put out by ski instructors focuses on edge-changing. or guide them. or outside ski. Changing edges with purpose. Everything that happens throughout the rest of the turn is influenced by how well the skis (and you) change edges at the start. Photo©RonLeMaster w w w. It is the very life-breath of the turn. downhill. You can Brilliant Skiing. pivot. inside.

yet with consistent benefit. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Making the perfect edge-change is considered The Mother of All Pointers because: Y It is a perfect cue. Every Day 8 . by dif- ferent people with differ- ent problems. simple idea that expands into a whole constel- lation of great movement patterns. Though mainly found in one corner (Power). Hermann Maier’s version of splitting the uprights. It blocks out a whole raft of mis- takes with just one sim- ple idea. Y It touches all the corners of the Sports Diamond ™. It is a very small. Y It is preemptive. Photo©RonLeMaster w w w. It blocks out all the stuff that can make my eyes bleed when I watch another skier. it fully embraces all the Brilliant Skiing. It launches a host of great movements just before the launch of a thousand sinking ships. Y It can be interpreted and used differently.edgechange.

to manage anxiety. shift among the Diamond corners. Chapter 1 ~ What If ? Different people at different levels will use this pointer differently. and to connect effortlessly to the snow through the dynamics and engineering of the skis. and gain job promotions with higher salaries as well as attract the lover/partner of your dreams. and use the dozens of pointers offered to transform yourself into the brilliant skier that I already know you are. to taste. But I don’t guarantee any of that! m w w Brilliant Skiing. All will enjoy (even when perfection is elusive) the opportunity to feel the skis come alive. Every Day 9 . remove unsightly wrinkles and blemishes. In fact.edgechange. to be totally focused on the moment. this stuff is so good that it will also help you lose weight. and I guarantee it. lower your cholesterol. This is a hefty promise. to float and fly down the mountain. So there you have it: the two big secrets to brilliant skiing in one chapter! Now I encourage you to dive into the rest of the book to discover how to become “unstuck” from whatever plateau you may be on. All will learn to relinquish the grip of the old turn (the past) to ready themselves for the new turn (the future). hold polarity.

depicted as a flat line. The real challenge is how to escape the illusion that you’re stalled just because you’re not in the middle of a breakthrough. acts as a metaphor for a perceived stall in progress. My friend and partner Ahmed Yehia calls it “surfac- ing the model. and performers throughout my life—is a fine lens through which to view. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: Believing you’re stuck on a plateau effectively puts you just where you think you are. understand. Furthermore.” The pieces are already there in your tool kit.” This fixation is nothing but a bogus excuse and a bad place to hide. and act on this prior awareness. w w w.edgechange. everything you read here you will recognize as stuff you already know but perhaps couldn’t quite see. The plateau. What I have discovered—in collaboration with students. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . That is the substance of the Sports Diamond ™. E v e r y D a y 10 . and it then takes on a ridiculous life of its own. CHAPTER TWO Y The Plateau Challenge You’ve nothing to lose But Your Plateaus! One of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated on the world of sports is the “learning plateau. The Sports Diamond ™ helps you organize and quickly retrieve the right tools for the right job.

and regression during what should actually be an exciting time in the learning process. and regression. I also understand that this processing is often perceived as confusion. Peak Performance. frustration. Joan Rostad (a well-known ski instructor and trainer in Montana) has a great expression for teachers who undermine the period of processing. This perception distorts the process. w w w.edgechange. The word plateau has come to imply that you’re stuck in a bad place from which you must break through or out. She calls it “stealing the learning. & Brilliance My rejection of the plateau is partially tongue-in-cheek. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Choosing Our Metaphors: Plateau. huge learning is being anchored at that time. when.”and I agree. I understand that plateau is an effective word used to describe that place where we process new informa- tion and possibilities into our behavioral inventory. My intent in reframing the idea of a plateau is to reject the inevitability of confusion. E v e r y D a y 11 . in fact.

fluidity. It evokes the luminous brilliance of a diamond. Long term and short term. radiant results using an inspiring. tactics. E v e r y D a y 12 . my goal and my processes are about brilliance. But I can be brilliant each day I go out—in my manner. I can’t shoot my lowest golf scores every day or beat my opponent in tennis every day. if I look at them through the right lens. and a feeling of dancing with the elements. peak performance is a hard thing to get your mind B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . training. I choose a different state. awareness. attitude. it seems as ephemeral as plateau seems eternal. I look at peak ” performance as the counterpoint to plateau. They are fragmented ways to look at one phenomenon. poise. engage- ment. Relative to the Sports Diamond ™ brilliance is simply achieving sparkling. attention. “ Similarly. even if it’s a brilliance that only I notice. I can’t make the best turns every day. Instead of riding the junkie’s roller coaster between plateau (or worse) and peak performance. and my will to shine.edgechange. This approach evokes energy. centering. feeling. one that I can achieve every day and that keeps me engaged and fascinated. These metaphors—plateau and peak performance—are not reality. Both of them distort my awareness of the true shining moments that are available to me all the time. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Minimize your struggle by widening your definition of success. sense of humor. Furthermore. w w w. compelling process.

as well as recover more quickly from poor ones? ♦ If there is such a framework. with grace and B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g .edgechange. will it apply 2 to other sports and to life in general? Can what I do and learn in skiing make me a better golfer? Can I improve my cycling skills while skiing. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Why the Sports Diamond™? Four burning questions that created it. or my tennis skills while golfing? Can I become a better guitar player from my ski lessons? Can I better access my personal potential through how I grow in sports? w w w. E v e r y D a y 13 . we make thousands of decisions: Short turns or long turns? Bumps or groomed slopes? Faster or slower? This move or that move? Drop shot or top-spin shot? Fastball or curve? Ski with your husband or ski with your boyfriend? Can we uncover an underlying framework that will help us make better decisions. in sports. ♦ How do we make decisions? 1 Each moment.

edgechange. so don’t tell me anything. Why don’t I equate my bad skiing with a bad day? For me. Otherwise. I once had a really bad day when I got knocked out cold on Aspen Mountain. When a pro in any sport asks me what or how I want to learn. it can also act as a barrier to keep me from accessing a vast collection of other learning resources I might also own. My preferred learning style may have served me well on many occasions. w w w. sometimes it’s easy. I’m a skier. even when my skiing was not so pretty. Just show me. although I've had many.” All of these statements limit what I can accomplish. I just say. the moment I click into my bindings. It doesn’t matter how well I’m doing it—only that I’m doing. 4 I've never had a bad day on skis. many days when I've skied very badly? Okay. However. it’s been very fine. Give me your best shot!” I want to learn his or her beliefs and moves and patterns. this is not exactly true. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge ♦ How can I become less discerning about how I learn? 3 How do I call up all of my resources instead of just the ones I’m used to? It is so easy to get caught in the trap of drifting to a favorite prejudice: “I just do this for fun.” “I’m B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . ♦ Why is it that in my more than 50 years of skiing. E v e r y D a y 14 .” “I only like to ski groomed (or bumps).” “Teach me only this technique or that technique. Sometimes it’s hard. and the adventure is on. “It doesn’t matter.

Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Who is the Sports Diamond™ for? You. In Richard Bach’s Illusions. and surely your learning will decelerate. We are all learners. you’ll experience the value of all three modes. Experts. and surely they will be yours. doers. Teaching is showing others that they know as well as you. but only want to do it. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. intermediates. Argue that you don’t care about the teaching.” Argue that you don’t enjoy the learning. doers. and teachers. will surely condemn you to an endless plateau. or in one place or another. The Reluctant Messiah he writes. “Learning is finding out what you already know. As we move through this material. E v e r y D a y 15 . w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . On the other hand. Everyone. and teachers. Bach also writes. and beginners. Learners.edgechange. and surely you will limit your role as an effective self-coach. doer. “Argue for your limitations. trapping yourself in one role or another.” You assume the role of learner. and teacher in order to achieve your daily dose of brilliance.

and made a little In one of these sessions I had the opportu- nity to ski with Tony Robbins. (www. A very little progress. A really very little progress. “Jeesh. Tony informed us that he had had a terrific day on skis. He remarks that the look of joy on the face of a toddler falling down as she learns to walk is as powerful as the one she wears while trying to stand up. Mistakes are new distinctions. w w w. I hadn’t thought it possible to work that hard on skis with less real success. Tom emphasizes that it is even more than interesting. His skiing was…like… B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . thinking. (I was shocked.”) He then said something wonderful that I will always remember and be grateful for. “ The pre-breakthrough universe is magical. E v e r y D a y 16 . Struggles are too.edgechange. At the end of the session. the evangelical lifestyle guru. ” Diamond Story: New Distinctions I regularly work with my friend Tom Crum in his Magic of Skiing program in Aspen. during a debriefing with several other ski groups. and I think you ought to be as well. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Not knowing is really a good place. I’d hate to see what a bad one looks like. He struggled and struggled. Tony said that he has a great day when he makes new distinctions. His reason- ing is that they are interesting.aikiworks.

Diamond Story: Knowing Nothing Last season I was standing at the top of Aztec on Aspen Mountain—a precipitous section of the downhill race course—looking hungrily at a per- fectly groomed. I spit on your trivial B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . dropping in and making exquisite GS turns with a dazzling. high-speed light touch to match the snow and the pitch. E v e r y D a y 17 .edgechange. a “presence” on skis floated over the lip and into the snow. I’m a learning master. His skiing was so perfect that I was suddenly struck with that amazingly liberating awareness that I know nothing about skiing. (I informed him that he put too much weight on his left leg. He replied.S. dry Colorado powder. It was Chris Puckett. “Bah ba ma mammmm ahh!” which means. a former U. Ski Teamer. you have set yourself free. where is the judgment? What I presume to offer here is an adult’s path to becoming that brilliant child learner—every day. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge I have recently seen this to be true while watching my grandson learn to walk.”) If your mistakes and struggles are compelling and interesting. w w w. In a flash of movement. Where’s the plateau? Where’s the stall-out? Where’s the pain from the struggle? Above all. deliciously steep slope covered with about five inches of fluffy. “I’m making many new distinctions very fast.

Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge This spring I took a guitar lesson from a virtuoso classical guitarist and professor. I blew past my previous level. so subatomic. compared to all the knowledge in the universe. Not knowing is really a good place. and it made him realize that he knows nothing about anything. w w w. As for Tom. Within two weeks of my new guitar regimen. I knew in that moment. E v e r y D a y 18 . He was suddenly face to eyeball with this gentle monster. In a few moments he transformed my playing and set me on a path to start over from the beginning to develop the pieces I had missed learning over my years of B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Within an hour of Chris Puckett’s dropping in. he sums it up it with a wonderful awareness that the amount of knowledge we have as individuals. that I knew nothing about playing guitar.edgechange. Tom Crum tells a story about being confronted by a charging mother whale off the Hawaiian coast. The pre-breakthrough universe is magical. I was skiing better than ever before. also. Ricardo Iznaola. is so tiny. that it is truly a wonder that we all struggle so hard to be so right about so little.

all failures teach. and work and come out to Aspen/Snowmass to ski or ride with us. therefore. those are more often the results of many smaller. Y Learning new stuff is always a good thing. or on waves in the water. it's time to start over with the fundamentals—just at that moment before you realize that. we will remix your skiing or riding for you. On the eighth day. country. shifts of awareness.edgechange. consider the following propositions that drive my worldview. (A big promise. but what the hell? You've got nothing to lose but your plateaus. even when it's difficult. Y Learning includes failing. Y We are meant to use the energy of gravity to ride various platforms down mountains on snow. We'll also show you how to use the Sports Diamond™ to coach yourself to the top of your own game in any sport. Failing is useful. In fact. And they’re not the same thing. God went skiing and surfing. E v e r y D a y 19 . Y Meaningful improvement does not always happen in great. Y It is really good just to be able to get up in the morning. Y If you can get away from your trivial obligations of family. Y Some of it is just magic. Chapter 2 ~ The Plateau Challenge Finally… …to help open the door to the B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . and some- times barely perceptible. Y When you get to the point where you really think you've got it.) Good luck!m w w w. big breakthrough chunks. you know nothing. in fact. Y Peak performance is not as important as brilliance.

Little changes lead to great moments. Though the area to be lever- aged may only be a small part of the whole package. Although this idea is normal in sports Brilliant Skiing. You don’t have to be a master of the system. there are usually several areas. students mistrust progress if it is easy—as if it were supposed to be difficult. more versatile base by moving within the Diamond’s possibilities. It doesn’t matter what resource you shift to—what corner of the Sports Diamond™ you try to leverage—as long as you move away from where you’re stuck. it is often the key piece. CHAPTER THREE Y The Sports Diamond ™ The Good News You’ve got leverage. and working with any one (or two) breaks up the logjam. This simply requires temporarily giving up your focus for perfec- tion in only one area. w w w. This means that small adjustments or improvements in a weak area can lead to massive improvements throughout the system. Oddly enough. Although it is better to identify the real leverage area. Every Day 20 .edgechange. they rarely challenge their own observations about how easy the experts make it look. You can come back to that area later with greater ability to master it because you will have developed a wider.

Use the little mottos to sense intuitively the distinctions between the corners. Touch means to feel what you are doing. You’ll never get stuck. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond When in doubt.edgechange. Power means to make the right move. Brilliance is the bright shiny you! w w w. Think of the corners being like four buckets (or folders. shift to another corner. And Will means to make a B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . E v e r y D a y 21 . Purpose means to see the intention. if you like) into which you put ideas and activities so that you can access them as you need them. “ ” Seeing the Sports Diamond™ If you develop a mind-diagram like the one below to manage the Sports Diamond™ you will be able to access it as you need it.

Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond The Sports Diamond™ Brilliant Skiing.edgechange. Every Day 22 . Feel it! TOUCH POWER Know the PURPOSE See it! right move! WILL Do it! w w w.

or Brilliant Skiing. Every Day 23 . Feel it! TOUCH POWER Know the PURPOSE See it! right move! WILL Do it! w w w. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond The Sports Diamond™ dynamic balance between and among the corners.edgechange.

edgechange. I may think about line. this moment. terrain Brilliant Skiing. and strategies for descent and for shaping my turns. primarily gravity. How do I change edges? How should I pressure my skis? How should I turn my feet? How do I make the right move? Power also invokes the external physical aspects of the sport. Every Day 24 . this day. or is it a day to just be mellow and have some fun? What is my vision for myself and for my skis. Finally. and centrifugal force. how I travel through the arc of the turn. where I examine and perform with an eye toward refining technique. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond The Resources In Detail PURPOSE This ultimately addresses my intention relative to what my skis do in the snow. right now. momentum. this descent. it is about my equip- ment system—both gear and body. this week? How can I be creative on my skis? POWER This involves the technical world. Purpose is also about ultimate goals: Why am I doing this? Is today a day for discipline toward improve- ment. Do I have the right skis for the task? Are they safe? Am I physically fit? w w w.

Here. The Will is me being accountable. being tenacious. Every Day 25 . It’s me falling down. and balancing myself in motion. saying that I am going to ski down the hill. and center myself. WILL It’s hard to overstate how much good skiing starts or ends here. breathing is just as important as edging is in the Power zone. aligning my Brilliant Skiing.edgechange. learning. and going again. Touch also includes the fine-tuning of move- ments: duration. It’s me skiing in bad weather. getting up. I feel rather than think. manage my anxiety. rate. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Small adjustments in a weak area can lead to “ massive improvements throughout the system. in the world of commitment. ” TOUCH This refers to finesse and sensitivity. intensity. The Will is about choosing brilliance—each day. and timing. What do I feel in and on my skis? How does the snow feel? What am I aware of on all levels: Speed? Cold? Fear? Joy? Fun? Love of skiing? The skiing comes from rhythm and flow rather than technique. w w w.

I must also have the ability to center myself to make it happen (competency).com Brilliant Skiing. For example. w w w. But that isn’t enough. Every Day 26 . they are what I do. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Two Levels of Each Resource It may also help you to look at these corners. the equipment I use (including my body) is a fundamental characteristic. Competencies are about doing. They are basic requirements for each resource to be effective.edgechange. The moves I make with that equipment are competencies. it is who I am on the snow. They are skill sets developed around each resource. or resources. For example. in the Will resource. My goal as a skier is to develop both competencies and fundamentals in all four resources. and what I bring to the game. Y Fundamental Characteristics: These are based on fixed possibilities created in advance of the game. on two different levels: Y Competencies: These are based on relationships and patterns that vary infi- nitely according to the situation. Characteristics are about being. I may have the under- lying commitment to become a great skier (fundamental characteristic).

and you know what is next. you can self-coach and take lessons better. If you’re moving well within the Diamond. and agility. perform better. above all. experience. If you understand the elements of the corners of the Diamond. practice better. and. and where to go next at any particular moment. Brilliant Skiing. enjoyment. You know where you are in your process. better execution. Every Day 27 . Rather. the Sports Diamond ™ offers: Y The ability to make better decisions with speed. you won’t have time to get stuck. the ability to make decisions. what’s missing. Specifically. a productive state of mind. then you can quickly understand where you’re stuck. Y A new lens for your perception and a roadmap to guide you. In this way. w w w. it serves as a door to acquiring and managing skills. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Finally… …the Sports Diamond ™ is not a “progression” for learning skiing or any other sport.edgechange. or teach better. because you’ll never get stuck in a dead end.

w w w. while ignoring the others. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Y Leverage—making small adjustments in a weaker corner to deliver brilliant results in all corners.edgechange. Y Creation. Most so-called plateaus are a direct result of getting really stuck in one corner. Y Self-coaching skills. I even use it for playing my guitar or riding my bicycle. Won’t it be nice when you can move through a mistake rather than subjecting yourself to a self-slugfest? Y A thorough. Every Day 28 . Y Adaptability to every sport. maintenance. The Sports Diamond ™ contains and empowers the entire spectrum of your Brilliant Skiing. and expansion of your personal brilliance—every day. global approach.

It was spring and one of those weeks where the snow up at the top was perfect. And the incredible athletic body/mind/spirits of young people AUTOMATICALLY find all the pieces. wet. “Don’t tell them. heavy. “How do they go through that garbage as if it were nothing?” “Shhhh.” I admonished. icy—you name it—it was all there. They don’t know that it’s bad. aced it. I took my kids on a helicopter/skiing trip in Canada. having been raised on all kinds of snow in all kinds of terrain. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Diamond Story: Diamond Kids Recently.” Why wouldn’t they know it’s bad? Because they have the best bad-ass diamonds around. The kids. and they’re almost as good lookin’ as their dad. “How do they do that?” exclaimed my adult friends on the trip. Every Day 29 . Their internal (non-verbal) discussion is about what they need to make it happen. Sure they know it’s bad.edgechange. w w w. but there was a “rain line” below which the snow was way funky—soft. but that’s not the issue. They skied and rode as if the snow at the top was the same as at the bottom. hard. The goodness or badness is not in their internal Brilliant Skiing.

And I guarantee you’ll have a better day than if you focus on thinking. the Purpose (great turns and vast joy). too whatever. the Power (their fitness and technique). because I worked my own Diamond. too sticky. I don’t guarantee that you will ski as well as the kids did in the tough snow conditions. Brilliant Skiing. too bumpy.edgechange. I do know that this approach will enable you to think past your performance level. Now. You can do this. However. too wet. Every Day 30 . because you’ll be having so much damn fun getting better on all levels. and the Will (they were totally engaged and committed in being there and doing their dance).” The snow is what it is-each day. w w w. I wasn’t any less happy than them. The difficulty of the snow—which was beating up the adults—was irrelevant to the kids. too icy. “The snow’s too deep. I didn’t. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond In this case they easily found the Touch (the rhythm and feel for the snow). You can’t change that. too white. But you can change how you deal with it and still grow as a skier by shifting around within the Sports Diamond™. too heavy.

and each time he found a “new” type of snow for them to experience. so Squatty euphemistically described the skiing as “athletic. Did they ski all of the runs well? No. Squatty and his group did run after delightful run. Last season. but that would inevitably improve their skiing just the same. E v e r y D a y 31 . The only tough part was scraping the rime frost off their goggles!m w w w. out of the trickiest visibility and snow conditions imaginable. and about 30 centimeters of windblown snow had fallen.edgechange. Did they remain fascinated with what they were doing? Absolutely. you know that somebody’s working the Diamond. he skied on a regular basis with a group of locals. Chapter 3 ~ The Sports Diamond Diamond Story: Tough Conditions My friend Squatty. also teaches skiing at New Zealand’s Mount Hutt in the southern winter. When people come off the hill. and they are smiling and laughing. At Mount Hutt there are no trees for visual B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . On one of those days the fog had set in. Squatty provided a pathway to brilliance for each of them that was not dependent on their performance level.” While almost everyone else returned to the base lodge. one of the top trainers in the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen.

interdependent imperatives in order to achieve the purpose that each pole shares with the other. that contribute to the final purpose.edgechange. My friend and colleague Ahmed Yehia introduced me to the idea of holding polarity. He defines it as follows: “Holding polarity is the art of maintaining dynamic tension between opposing. The resources we need to hold in polarity are companions.” This is a mouthful! So … read it again. but they’re also in a paradoxical relationship. there can be three or more poles. Power. The concept is actually very simple and elegant. w w w. In this chapter we’ll exam- ine the methodology that illuminates the Diamond—holding polarity. in many structures. Every Day 32 . such as the Sports Diamond ™. each other. or resources. and Will are interdepend- ent imperatives that must be held in polarity to create their shared purpose: brilliant skiing. Touch. where they appear to be fighting. CHAPTER FOUR Y Holding Polarity In Chapters 5 to 10 you will be able to deeply immerse yourself in the resources of the Sports Diamond ™ through dozens of specific ski pointers. Although the use of the word “pole” usually implies only two positions. or opposing. Purpose. In the Sports Diamond ™.com Brilliant Skiing.

Should I carve or skid my turns? Should I just go out and have fun skiing or should I work on my skiing and do the drills? Should I ski bumps or groomed slopes? The answer is Brilliant Skiing. both fun and technique are essential to brilliance.edgechange. This both/and mindset of holding polarity between interdependent options is fundamen- tally different from problem-solving (which requires either/or choices between substantially independent options. Overall good health (a shared purpose) can be said to depend on a balance among mind. all are imperative for brilliant skiing. They are also imperative in that the shared purpose cannot be achieved without the contribution of each of them. three resources). And being able to ski both bumps and groomed terrain is part of being a rounded skier. Similarly. None of these options is a solution by itself. body. Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity These resources are interdependent in that they constantly inform and support each other. you’ll invariably experience negative consequences. the United States Congress (shared purpose) operates more effectively when made up of both Democrats and Republicans (the two poles—its primary resources). Every Day 33 . Both carving and skidding are required techniques for brilliance. and spirit (in this case. or poles). Great skiing (shared purpose) cannot be developed unless the skier knows both carving and skidding (two technical resources.) w w w. and consequently overemphasize it at the expense of the others. For example. If you grasp only one resource as your focus or solution.

if I focus entirely on exhal- ing. I slip into the negative conse- quences of over-relying on one resource. In this case. truth. I’ll meet the same consequences. It’s Brilliant Skiing. These two resources are clearly in opposition to each other. And they are just as clearly impera- tive. both inhaling and exhaling— when I hold polarity between the two—do I Photo©BrianPorter truly breathe. Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity The simplest example of holding polarity is breathing. w w w. Likewise. Inhaling is where it’s at.edgechange. and the American way. The more capacity we have for both. and it’s just not any fun. Every Day 34 . Yet they are also clearly interde- pendent. life-giv- ing air. The moment I make that decision. Say I decide that I believe exclusively in Power inhaling. takes my air away. Without the capacity to both inhale and exhale. Only if I have fully committed to Rocket science? Maybe on one level. One without the other is not breathing. Inhaling is beauty. I die. we lose our vitality. because we cannot breathe. the more vitality we have in our lungs. since they require entirely different and opposing muscles and processes. Breathing consists of inhaling and exhaling. Exhaling sucks. From now on I will inhale exclusively. because I don’t blow out the toxic air to make room for the new.

In skiing. If we “just do it” too much. We all know the results of doing either to a fault. carving produces a beautiful. If we think about our sport too much. and uses the ski according to its design. usually at higher speeds. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. both drives and putts. If I attach myself to one option too fiercely. allows you to go slower and feel more in control of your speed. or fighting my equipment because I’m skidding too much. the keys to success are both com- peting to win and playing to have fun. and bored.edgechange. both Purpose learning by watching and learning by doing. of course. both backhand and forehand. we become exhausted. Depending on the Brilliant Skiing. become frozen and ineffective. both taking a chance and playing it safe. will be most appro- priate. or combinations of both. on the other hand. inefficient. Skidding. each resource on its own. Every Day 35 . In sports. such as skiing beyond my skill level because I’m carving too fast. And then I would invariably experience the negative con- sequences of over-attachment. Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity Each resource. we Sometimes it’s just about flyin’ and spinnin’. The polarity of both thinking about it and just doing it is particularly interesting for recre- ational athletes. has its benefits. both taking lessons and solo practice. controlled turn. I would carve or skid to a fault. at the expense of the other.

I. On the other hand. myself.edgechange. every turn) is unique and distinct and. therefore. ideas. Convening really closely with nature. many skiers are acutely aware that every day (every mountain. situational set of patterns to negotiate it. for instance. clear set of techniques. Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity Two Key Sports Diamond™ Polarities Clarity <——> Flexibility Many athletes look for an absolute. I myself am one of those. Every Day 36 . Many experienced skiers. and progres- sions that work every time in all circumstances. am also one of Brilliant Skiing. I want both a reliable system and set of rules to take me where I choose to go and I want to be able to apply them flexibly—in such a Touch way as to manage the nearly infinite vari- ables that come my way Photo©BrianPorter w w w. say with all sincerity that they only ski one technique in all situa- tions and in all conditions. every trail. requires a flexible.

sprinkled with a touch of stupidity. my results are unreachable. the journey itself is the real Brilliant Skiing. my process lacks meaning and purpose. Without results. I maintain. To hold one or the other is inherently limiting. Without process. coaches. Every Day 37 . and breakthroughs are everything. again. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. We are all constantly manipulated by teachers. friends.edgechange. peak performance. that both are equally important. and parents toward one or the other. To hold both is powerful. Others contend that it’s all about the journey. and it has to be lots of fun! This is a hard polarity to hold for many athletes. Will Anxiety and commitment. Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity Process <——> Results Many athletes are taught that winning.

Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity

Holding Polarity in the Diamond
Power is an umbrella term that describes “ski technique,”or the moves of skiing—
edging, unweighting, steering, etc. Purpose is an umbrella term for “tactics,” or
the moves of the skis (the vehicle)—what you want your skis to do and where
you want them to take you.

Many skiers (and too many ski instructors) find themselves focused in the
Power corner to a fault. Tactics are not only ignored, they often aren’t even
part of the package. Few skiers have a clear idea of what they want their skis
to do, but most are very precise about what they think their moves should
be. They know that they want to get down the hill, be safe, turn, and look
good. What they usually don’t know is exactly how the ski should travel in
the snow to create the most fun, most exciting, and safest turn. These skiers
don’t know the line of travel. They don’t have an idea of the importance of
line. They don’t know the concept of slicing forward with the edges of the
ski in order to create a narrow line, where speed itself is the means of
control. Their skiing really sucks, and I don’t want to talk about it any-
more, because I just get angry. (Sorry. Am I being hypercritical? Must
hold polarity!)

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 38

Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity

Yet such skiers spend a ton of time learning the moves. The problem is that the moves they
are learning are not compatible with the tactics they intuitively use. But if they rearrange
their purpose, then all of a sudden the moves work. Matching tactics (Purpose) to tech-
nique (Power) is the process of holding polarity between the two. A skier who holds
polarity will rarely have an off day—even when he or she is not skiing all that well.

Both Competencies and
Fundamental Characteristics
I must manifest each resource with awareness of both competencies and
fundamental characteristics. It is no good for me to focus on what I do
without also being aware of who I am. I may have all the technique in the
world (Power/Competency), but my body has to be fit enough to use it
(Power/Fundamental Characteristic) One of my sons once received an
interesting evaluation from his ski coach, Casey Puckett, a four-time
Olympian, and incredible master and student of skiing. In a nutshell, he
explained that Patrick couldn’t produce the technique he needed until he
developed his core strength to the point where he could support the pres-
sures this technique requires. In other words, he had to hold polarity
between competency and fundamental characteristic—who he is and
what he does. As a result, Patrick did an enormous amount of off-slope
work on his core strength, and the change in his skiing was stunning.

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 39

Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity

The secret to holding polarity: opposition is resource.
“ ”
Diamond Story: Playing Guitar
When I was very young I wanted to play the guitar. So I took a few lessons,
learned a few chords, and sang a bunch of folk songs. Eventually, I stalled.
The guitar fell by the wayside, and I stopped singing—much to the relief of
all those around me, since my singing voice is only slightly less melodious
than a crashing train. Years later, I took up the guitar again. But this time it
wasn't only to play it. It was to learn it and to study it. Once I shifted from
my locked-in, limiting point of view, I achieved both goals. These days I
have no bad sessions on the guitar-although I often play it badly (like my
skiing). As I child I had wanted to play guitar, as distinct from wanting to
learn it. Later I wanted to both learn it and play it. Now I'm committed for
life as a guitar player/student because I finally drew the balance between
process (learning it) and results (playing it).

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 40

the famous French philosopher and mathematician.”m w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . once said. but rather by touching both at once.edgechange. Blaise Pascal. “A man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity. E v e r y D a y 41 . Chapter 4 ~ Holding Polarity Finally… …the most powerful part of holding polarity is the shift in your mind to a new and broader understanding of what it takes to approach brilliance.

in turn. cues. TO WORK Brilliant Skiing. Y It is a cue for a single movement that. (A note on word choice: Although there are subtle distinctions. But call it whatever you like—it doesn’t matter to me!) w w w.edgechange. Pointers or tips are more commonly used in sports terminology. Y It lives in one or more corners of the Sports Diamond ™. CHAPTER FIVE Y Master Pointers Pointers ~ The Teacher’s Art A POINTER (OR TIP OR CUE) IS A STRATEGIC PLAN THAT YOU ACTIVATE FOR RESULTS. I have cho- sen to use the terms pointers. triggers a series of complex movement patterns in a way that bypasses thought. Every Day 42 . and tips as synonyms. but the word cue is much more accurate. IT SHOULD HAVE THE FOLLOWING QUALITIES: Y It’s simple—both in its explanation and the action it calls for.

“That’s some SERIOUS heavy thinking!” Illustration©MichaelErickson w w w. which are mostly considered “breakthrough” pointers— the kind of stuff that gets me past my so-called plateau.edgechange. Ever y Day 43 .com Brilliant Skiing. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers Most people agree that they can generally retain about three things from any lesson that they can later articulate. (Interesting. since it is also clear that you can’t start any movement in sports without having at least 600 things to think about at once!) These “things” that students take away are pointers.

and nuances. they make you feel great. The rest of the process is the guidance and the practice necessary to anchor and explore the applications. Every Day 44 . Do not mistake the finger for the moon. effective thoughts or patterns that tend to work in most situations. “My teaching is like pointing my finger at the moon. interactions. Above all. usually in the form of a progression and often in the form of several thematic movement patterns. Others write about skiing in terms of a central Brilliant Skiing. the cue itself is neither the lesson nor the learning. They’re little gems that actually shift the way you look at your movements. However.” A cue is only the spark that ignites the learning. w w w. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers Pointers are short. The Buddha said.edgechange. The Book of Pointers Many people who write about skiing lay down a system for performing the sport. where one trick solves all problems.

so that you can always find what you need or hear about the latest tips without having to “deconstruct” your- Every Day 45 .edgechange. On our website ( Brilliant Skiing. Sometimes it changes dramatically and seemingly overnight. while sometimes the changes are subtle and creep into the picture. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers In the real world. Wouldn’t it be useful to have a framework that not only contains all the point- ers necessary. Furthermore. purposes. in any way you and/or your coach/teacher see fit.EdgeChange. people learn better when they receive and perform the right series of cues at the right time—regardless of the system or the main move. we will regularly update and upgrade these pointers as skiing changes. the sport of skiing changes. attitudes. though the pointers and their associated techniques. and then invites the user to select from all of the pointers as needed? I’ll be that useful. timeless advantage. The same prin- ciples will be true years from now. but also allows the creation of new ones. I offer the framework—the Sports Diamond ™—in a way that will allow you to know what you need and select from the menu of pointers that follows. and sensations may change dramatically. The Sports Diamond™ has a global. w w w.

They need nourishment. Although the specific nature of it has changed. In the future. In subsequent chapters. even those enmeshed in the Diamond. so learn to do it perfectly. It works for every level of skier and. Most I’ve stolen shamelessly from my colleagues. to some degree. in all skiing environments. we’ll find and identify them. don’t work unless you allow them to act like seeds that can become full-grown plants. Every Day 46 .edgechange. Some I’ve made up. All have a primary home in one corner of the Sports Diamond™. they just embody the potential. and making distinc- tions—but they drive the learning. I suspect there is an equivalent mother pointer in each sport. (To refresh your memory: Every turn needs an edge change. They’re not the answer to good skiing. observing. the idea has always been around in one form or another.” given in Chapter One. The “mother of all pointers. w w w. Overall. Pointers. as we explore other sports with the Sports Diamond ™. through Brilliant Skiing. stands at the entrance to the Pointer Hall of Fame. failing.) It’s both current and classic. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers So this is the book of pointers. you will learn how to create and select the right one for the right moment. though all are supported and informed in some degree by all four resources of the Diamond.

If you fully grasp these four ideas. versatile skier. E v e r y D a y 47 . Two important notions: Y All of these pointers will work as well for skiers on their first day as they do for experts. Y If you find yourself temporarily stuck in one. you will become a strong. forget about it and shift to another. The leverage gained from the shift will eventually bring you back to success in the stuck area. And don’t panic if it takes you a bit of trial and error to grasp each one. and each is also leveraged strongly B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Have fun with them. the other corners. and the nuances of how their primary corners interact. Each is drawn primarily from one of the Diamond resources. If you pay even just a bit of attention to these four. and your skiing will become outstanding. you will have a powerful toolbox to work with. and fully leverages.edgechange. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers The Master Pointers These are the big four—the ideas that connect all the aspects of the Diamond. w w w.

com Brilliant Skiing. In fact. rigid ski boots amplify small. we turn to the larger upper-body muscles for the power we need. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ Ski With Your Feet & Legs (POWER) 1 A poor move from the feet is actually more effective than a good move from the torso.edgechange. So move your feet. weak foot movements and translate them into powerful results at the ski. Imagine boots and feet disconnected to understand what they are together. move your whole damn leg. w w w. Rather. so we don’t normally think about using them when we seek power. The feet are not a great source of strength. However. Every Day 48 .

Centered. (If you aren’t familiar with this idea. This is also how to acquire effortless. This refers to your center of gravity. Park your mind there. try to imagine it. Happy. but it also refers to the ener- getic center or inner core that martial artists use. Move with it. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ Center Yourself (WILL) 2 Be aware of your center. Every Day 49 . Photo©BrianPorter w w w.edgechange. This is how dynamic balance is achieved. Flying. fearless commitment.) Breathe into your center while you ski. and how you can find awareness of the present moment. Brilliant Skiing.

com Brilliant Skiing. German ski racer. Martina Ertl getting her skis 'round it. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ Make Round Turns (PURPOSE) 3 Whatever “round turns” may mean to you. we routinely put up with that kind of crap on skis in the name of slowing down. A car usu- ally makes round turns. the term also connotes an arc in which the tail of the ski more or less follows the tip of the ski (rather than trying to pass by it). Every Day 50 .edgechange. and you feel out of control when the back tries to “overtake” the front. However. Photo©RonLeMaster w w w.

E v e r y D a y 51 . other skiers. Let the snow caress the feet. Feel it. Notice this stuff. or your mood. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ Feel The Snow (TOUCH) 4 Every moment. listen to it. weather. groomers. Be aware of all the nuances of the medium you’re working in. the snow changes. on every run.edgechange. observe it. and just “sense” it. whether from B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g .

Just move the boot how and where you want to by moving the foot against the boot shell. If you want to pivot or rotate. then rotate the foot within and against the boot shell. you can enhance pressure to the feet by extending the knee and ankle joints. press your shin against the front cuff. For example. plaster the sides of your feet to the sides of the boots toward the center of the turn. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ How To Ski With Your Feet And Legs 1 Connect the foot to the boot and don’t think about the skis. Living in the boots.edgechange. If you want to engage the edge of the ski. Photo©BrianPorter w w Brilliant Skiing. Or you can combine all three. Enhance forward movement of the shins by moving the hips forward. Search for support of the foot movements by using leverage from the mus- cles and bones of the legs. Every Day 52 . If you want to move forward on the ski. Note how this master pointer in Power is sup- ported and informed by the other resources.

just move your foot toward it. w w w. and the center. WILL Balance yourself over different parts of the feet: the front. and commit to them. leverage with them. as if your eyes were closed and you needed to feel your way along the surface. Foot sensitivity is one of the primary differ- ences between life-long skiers and new skiers. You can profit enormously by spending a whole run. or even a whole day only being aware of the feet. Do I want to pivot suddenly to slow down? Do I want to “arc” the foot through the turn? Do I want to pass over the top of this bump or down through the valley of that bump? One of my important teachers. a whole morning. The connection between your center and the snow interfaces through the feet and the gear.” When you see a place you want to go. Be sensitive to the snow through your feet. Wake up your feet. be purposeful with them.edgechange. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers PURPOSE I can very powerfully drive my intention to move the foot in the boot by my purpose. Every Day 53 . Jean Mayer of Taos Ski Valley. used to tell me that skiing is simply “eye-foot coordination. Ground yourself through the connection of your feet. the back. the Brilliant Skiing. sensitize them. Notice every nuance of the snow. TOUCH The foot is also the critical tactile connection to the snow. Think about them.

imaginary point about one and a half inches lower than the navel. Occasionally. Re-centering on the fly in order to find the present moment and to balance dynamically. The wild chaos we encounter underfoot as we careen down a mountain on snow is dramatic. Centering is a powerful act of the Will. centering is so important and powerful that you could just as accurately place it at the center of the Sports Diamond ™ in place of Brilliance. and a goal of great performance. It is done with great intention and commitment. On another level. Imagine it as a source of energy that flows down the legs into the skis and then into the snow. Centering helps you find the calm within that storm. as you will often be distracted from it. It is at once a precondition. Then gently focus that awareness on your balance point—your center of gravity—an internal. and disorienting. Then push off to start skiing.edgechange. Photo©BrianPorter Breathe as if you could send your breath to that place. Remain aware of that balance point for a moment. Every Day 54 . Centering is also informed and supported by the other Brilliant Skiing. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ How To Center Yourself 2 Stand quietly for a moment and bring your mind to a calm awareness of your body. a definition. w w w. and gently. Since you’ve now changed your dynamic relation- ship to gravity. re-center yourself while mov- ing. bring your mind back to center while skiing. fear instill- ing.

this allows me to feel skiing— the snow. When I center myself. Specifically. (Trust me on Brilliant Skiing. the skis. TOUCH Just as centering is created from awareness. it also creates awareness. but all the martial arts guys say it’s so. through a similar arc. as the skis respond with comfort and liveliness underneath.edgechange. My moves and responses gain a fluidity and naturalness that entirely bypass technical thought. w w w. I gain strength without rigidity—a prerequisite for real power. The simple way to look at this—especially for those with some anxiety—is to think about moving the center down the hill at the moment of edge change. PURPOSE One of the critical purposes is to move the skis through the arc of the turn and to move the body. while balancing with the moving skis. and they can break bricks with their hands!) In your mind’s eye. The connection between the center and the skis is manifested in the way they move together with direction and purpose. This brings everything into service of the magic arc. If I center myself. direct that energy down your legs and into your skis to load the pressure into them (pressuring the edges makes the skis turn). As a result. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers POWER Centering almost magically provides mechanical alignment. the speed—at a much deeper and more immediate level. I don’t know how it happens. then I can move my body from center in a very clear path through the arc. Every Day 55 . I increase my connec- tion to all that is around me. the body tends to give up the odd muscular compensations that lock me into contorted and inefficient positions. When I calm and align myself through my center. The center is also the center of energy in the body.

Photo©RonLeMaster w w Brilliant Skiing.Hermann Maier goes full circle. the round turn cre. is the centerpiece of tactical ski- ing. depend- ing on the conditions. The round turn is supported and informed by the other resources in the following ways. or some semblance of it. Every Day 56 . fun. When you decide to make your turn round—creating a curved and relatively narrow track in the snow—you opt to manage speed. As a clear purpose. It is all about what your skis do on the snow. ates progressive. Or the skis may go in opposite directions with no direction from you at all. connected movements that are easy. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ How To Make Round Turns 3 Direct or guide your skis along a descending arc in the snow. the pitch of the slope. This round turn. Sometimes the curve will end earlier and sometimes later. and under your control. as the skis first curve down the hill and then progressively move across the hill to slow down. This is the simplest of ideas.edgechange. The most common alternative to moving forward through the arc is to pivot the skis across the direction of travel in order to throw on the brakes. or your need for speed. fluid.

The goal is to progressively (not suddenly) steer the skis and/or pressure the edges through the turn until the skis are pointing back across the hill. So many parts of a round turn seem counter-intuitive that you must decide this Purpose will supersede all others and carry it out with single-minded commit- ment. Power gets transmitted to the skis when the skier resists that pull. However. you physics freaks who will say it’s something else. a slightly insane maneuver that can feel a bit like bungee jumping without a chord. just back off!) The feeling of this turn reinforces it powerfully. TOUCH The feeling of a round turn is exquisite.edgechange. Then steer. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers POWER The skis are designed precisely for round turns. It is marked by the sense of forward flow through the arc and by the wonderful sensation of centrifugal force. like a ball on the end of a twirling string. The main interference comes from the fact that you must first drive the skis and body down the hill. So. what it feels like is what counts. pressure. WILL Underlying every Purpose must be the Will to perform it. if the commitment is 100 percent (99 percent being woefully inade- quate). but this is at the heart of their design. They will do other things. then the joy and control experienced during the round turn will be instantly delivered. (I define centrifugal force as that feeling of pull to the outside of the turn. and the sense of making the movements smoothly and pro- gressively is central to performance. What really happens doesn’t matter. or that it doesn’t exist. 90 percent of instruction and theories are dedicated to driving the skis through a round turn (including my emphasis on edge change). E v e r y D a y 57 .com B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Furthermore. w w w. and edge in the new direction.

the way the skis glide Magic immersion! across it. Watch the variations in the surface structure and pitch. is crucial to achieving success. Feeling the snow is fiercely supported and informed by its connections to Purpose. I can power on the edge with confidence. If the snow is hard. If the snow is smooth and strongly resilient. Awareness. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers ♦ How To Feel The Snow 4 Wake up the feet! Imagine feeling every little bump and Photo©BrianPorter ridge in the snow all the way out to the ends of your skis. Take it all in. not just lots of repetition. Most important. the starting point of each day on skis is the moment I push off. much more than just repe- tition is involved. In this man- ner. Every Day 58 . Feel the texture of it. the speed it gives you. I need to edge with much greater care and finesse. and the way the ski edges penetrate it.edgechange. Power. and Will. Listen to the sound of the snow brushing against the ski edges. All of this allows you to process and respond to real stimuli while avoiding thought and language. as if your nerve endings extended through them. you begin to trust your body’s intelligence and understand that it is fed as much by awareness as it is by thought. Brilliant Skiing. Life- long skiers develop a feel for the snow that seems to put them at a tremendous advantage. w w w. feeling the snow as if it were alive. For me. Partly it’s due to the literally millions of “remembered” interac- tions they’ve had with the snow from a very early age. the soft- ness or hardness of it. your feel for the snow is going to tell you how much of what movement possi- bility or pattern to apply.

intuitive sur- vival mechanisms and ego investments to the contrary. while backing off from trying to steer the skis against the heavy snow resistance. To feel the snow-while relaxing the muscles and making great technical choices-you must choose to stay loose. ready. Or if the snow is very hard. today. what kinds of movements of the ski in the snow I will make ( Brilliant Skiing. For example. POWER The best technique for increasing sensation is to relax the muscles-especially those in the legs and the feet-as much as possible. m w w w. You must choose to feel the snow exactly as it is right now. braking? carving?). You’ll encounter a lot of interference. If the snow is soft and deep. we often try to be active and aggressive in search of yesterday’s success.edgechange. Or the anxiety you may feel as you accelerate into a turn can overpower you. for example.g. Rigidity. and what kind of terrain I will seek. your big gun is going to be working your edges. and sensitive in the face of powerful.. From awareness of what I feel. on the other hand. I can decide (often intuitively) how fast to go. WILL Committing to feeling your way along the snow is challenging and impor- tant. All of these are informed by the sensory information that travels from the snow to the skier through the skis and boots. causing the body and mind to become paralyzed. Chapter 5 ~ Master Pointers PURPOSE Awareness of the snow-as it is that day-drives my vision of how I will ski. blocks sensation. Every Day 59 . And as the feel of the snow becomes more notice- able. your body/mind system will make great intuitive choices about what movements suit the situation. you may focus on flexion/extension. Being relaxed allows you to stay upright and keep the skis turning on their edges. what kind of turn to select.

as reflected by your fitness. and the internal and external forces they use and create. making a perfect edge change under the watchful eyes of seventeen AspenSnowmass Ski Pros she hired to help her race. agility.edgechange. Tanja Poutiainen. and biomechanical forces. is also an important element. “How many ski instructors does it take to analyze a light bulb turning?” She was criticized for not getting close enough to the blue Brilliant Skiing. It includes your movements and your ski gear. mechanical. Photo©RonLeMaster Hot Finn ski racer. w w w. Your own physical power. Every Day 60 . CHAPTER SIX Y Power Within the Sports Diamond™. Power refers to the arena of technical. and coordination. It is the definitive answer to the question.

tip both edges from one side to the other at the same B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . and all are effective. Y Change both edges at once. This is. smooth. You choose. The body wants to “walk”—using one foot. and connect. Chapter 6 ~ Power Power Pointers 1. E v e r y D a y 61 . Each serves as a different cue to evoke a different awareness in the body. w w w. until you’re changing both edges simultane- ously. What follows are several ways of thinking about edge change.edgechange. then the other. or vice versa) is the critical move at the critical moment that determines whether you will make. Most of your Power/technical work should focus on how to change edges well. Then make it the first one you change. after all. Changing Edges This is the foundation of great technique. Changing edges (from the left edges of the skis to the right edges. Discover which of your edges you normally change last. fluid turns—or whether you’ll be taken over by alien beings bent on destroying your dignity (and your body). the definition of “parallel” skiing. Resist the bipedal urge! Instead.

This clears the way for the uphill ski to follow suit. Y Let the hips float across the skis. Only your resistance keeps it from happening. Every Day 62 . So let your hips move from the old turn into the center of the new one. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Tip first. Tip your boots progressively—like you’re dialing up the volume—so you don’t over-tip and tip over! Y Make the edge change quickly. The actual change from uphill edge to down- hill edge should happen quickly. only that it feels right. Feel the tip from the toes. Very scary! It can feel like you’re falling off the mountain. w w Brilliant Skiing. and/or hip. knee. but it’s also one of the best feelings in skiing.” Only when the ski edges are working the snow can you make effective turns. This does not mean you should change edges suddenly. Your boots are naturally tipped uphill at the end of a turn. foot. minimizing the time your skis are parked in neutral. tip both of them downhill. Before you try to change direction. It just means you shouldn’t loiter in the “dead zone. It doesn’t matter which one. where nothing happens. or with high pressure or a high angle. then turn. They kind of want to anyway. ankle. The uphill ski won’t tip unless the downhill one goes with it or before it. Y Tip the downhill ski first. as grav- ity and centrifugal force pull the center of mass (the hips) to the outside of the turn. Tip them downhill before you try any other move.edgechange.

Both pointing and bending the inside knee are prerequisites to a good edge change. the inside leg will often interfere with your attempt to increase the edge angle of the ski. It is incredibly powerful and really challenges the paradigm of the old “up-and- down” method of Brilliant Skiing. (While you pedal. if your legs are too close together.edgechange. baby! And keep your legs wide throughout the edge change. 2. Spend some time with this pedaling idea on slightly steeper terrain. So spread ’em. The idea of charging acts as a trigger to create the new angles. (It’s the same idea as the previous tip. and the right knee for a right turn. keep both skis in contact with the snow. there is only one short moment when both legs are equally flexed. Aggressively pointing that knee down the hill will change the edge of the ski and bend that knee relative to the other one. Every Day 63 . This gives you a point of reference to feel if you’re tipping inside the turn or not. If you don’t want to carve. Shorten the downhill leg relative to the uphill one by pulling it upward toward your torso. w w w. However. Y Move your hips directly over (or even to the inside of) your inside knee. Y Pedal. This brings the body from the inside of the old turn (uphill) to the inside of the new turn (downhill) and makes you change the edges. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y “Charge” the turn with the downhill knee. with few exceptions. in good skiing. General Edge Work Y Stand wider than you think you should if you really want to carve. don’t bother—nobody’s forcing you to. This would be the left knee for a left turn.) Just as in pedaling a bicycle. just a different take).

Great skiers (like you!) manage this pressure with great effectiveness. Know which you’re doing primarily—carving or skidding—and what the trade-offs are of each. I have no idea what I’m talking about—and Ron does. That force gets transmitted to the ski as pressure. and in this arena. Every Day 64 . w w w. But that doesn’t mean you have to drift mindlessly through the turn either. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Slice. If you stand on the edges without increasing their angle to the snow.edgechange. You can still control your arc via the edge and side-cut of the ski by skiing on the sides and adding some steady torque with the feet and legs.) On skis. If you do it. and the pressure comes from the muscles and centrifugal force. Pressure Skis are meant to bend while tipped on their edges. dialing up the edge of the knife is a beautiful Brilliant Skiing. This is the choice between using the flat blade or the sharp edge of a knife. you’ll be able to turn at slower speeds than carving requires—but still not lose the overall sense of an arc. Most skiers do a little bit of both. Y You don’t have to carve. (There are wonderfully complex arguments about the physics of skiing. Great skiers dial up one or the other movement according to the need. For great skiing on intermediate because in the world of physics. you will be admired and even worshiped. I defer to Ron Lemaster (www. That bend comes from pressure. look at centrifugal force as whatever it is that seems to throw you to the outside of the turn.ronlemaster. don’t smear. 3. and it bends the ski and enhances the turn.

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Hermann Maier, getting loaded.


Y Load the ski. If you’re able to build pressure onto the edge of the ski, it
will bend into the turn. So do whatever it takes to load (and then unload)
the skis. There are two power sources for this necessary pressure:
y Your muscles, which straighten the leg against the ski. To understand this,
straighten your arm against something or somebody, and you’ll feel that
you’ve applied pressure.
y Your speed. Gravity > Speed > Momentum > Power—applied against the
ski—makes the ski bend into the turn as long as the edge remains
engaged in the snow.
y Use both sources, but use speed first, because you’ve already bought
significant quantities of gravity through the purchase of a lift ticket.
(Or maybe you’ve earned it by hiking up the mountain.)

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 65

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Y Move forward. Move more than you think you should, more than you think is necessary,
and more than you think is safe. At the start of the turn, move your shins against the front
of the boots. This pressure will transfer to the front of the ski. Your goal is to make the edges
bite into the snow by putting pressure on the shovel of the ski at the moment of edge
change. On modern skis, the front of the ski absolutely drives the turn. Furthermore,
since the skis accelerate at the moment of edge change, you need to accelerate with
them, and in anticipation of them, if you have any intention of maintaining control.
Avoid the tendency for the hips to drop back and down as you press the shins for-
ward by tightening the stomach and pressing the hips forward as well. (For a
reality check, notice whether your big thigh bones are more or less vertical, or
more or less horizontal. If they’re closer to vertical, you’re probably moving
forward pretty well.)

Bode Miller: One brilliant diamond—They ought
to give medals just for making turns like this.


w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 66

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Y Maintain resiliency as you work with the snow. Ski/snow contact is a really good
thing. Only when the skis are touching the snow can you work with it and the ter-
rain to create control and comfort. The changing pitch of the terrain and your
changing angles of approach cause dramatic changes in the resistance pre-
sented to the skis. Your body is an intelligent, active suspension system con-
sisting of a whole string of interactive joints—ankle, knee, hip, waist (lower
spine), and neck (upper spine). Think of yourself as a spring with conscious-
ness. The legs and torso retract and extend to absorb and apply pressure at
will. Use this ability to maintain your resiliency—extend to keep the pres-
sure up as the terrain drops away and flex to absorb overloads of pressure.
If, however, you get to the very top of the spring (i.e., your full body length),
you’ve lost its tension, and likewise if you “bottom out.” The capacity to
maintain resiliency will be doubly useful when the terrain changes radi-
cally, as it does in bumps. Finally, the spring works better when the coils are
in alignment; that is, when the body segments are in balance.

w w Brilliant Skiing, Ever y Day 67

they must bend each leg a differ- ent amount to keep edge angle and pressure consistent. Say you’re turning left—increasing the angles of the left edges of both skis. Every Day 68 . Don’t let it creep. As this hap- pens. the left foot will want to creep ahead relative to the other one in order to make room for the right leg.” This was actually a wonderful piece of wisdom that lost its impact as it became an instructor cliché. if I want to make a left turn. The idea behind it is that stiff legs decrease resiliency and readiness.) Y Pull back the inside foot relative to the outside foot. There will always be a natural tendency for the inside foot to advance (relative to the outside one) during the turn. and it’s fundamental.edgechange. You bend your knees in all sports. The classic skiing mantra is to “bend the knees. Minimize it by bending the ankle of the inside foot fiercely against the front of the boot. Hold it Brilliant Skiing. (This is also related to pedaling in the “Changing Edges” section. and moving the hips in (and forward) toward the center of the turn. What’s rela- tively new in skiing (more noticeable in the past 25 years or so) is the understand- ing that. I need to bend my left leg more than the right one in order to maintain the correct amount of pressure and edge angle on each ski. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Use differential leg bending. and this tendency will increase throughout the turn. w w w. The result will be better focused and more effective turning pressure to the edges of the skis. inevitably shortening the left leg relative to the right leg. For example. since skiers use the edges of both skis. it’s the athletic stance.

though it is by far the most overly and/or poorly used. w w w. Don’t get it. It remains the dirty lit- tle secret of the ski world. Crank Crank is the term I use to describe all movement—circular or rotational— around an axis.” Full-body rotation (FBR) is a contagious. It is an enormous part of good skiing. disease not yet recognized by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. It’s also the most natural (but not the easiest) of all the skiing movements. Most of the pointers regarding it are designed to diminish the normal crank that occurs from movement of the big muscles in the body. Chapter 6 ~ Power Brilliant Skiing. It’s an ugly. but curable. Instead … Photo©BrianPorter Photo©BrianPorter Unwinding Winding up. Every Day 69 . horrible thing. too.edgechange. Don’t do it. which results in the dreaded “full-body rotation.

Photos©BrianPorter w w w. Chapter 6 ~ Power Winding it out.edgechange. Ev e r y D a y 70 .com B r i l l i a n t S ki i n g .

confidence-building turn. Y Steer both legs toward the turn. being extremely intelligent. This is a powerful antidote to FBR. it is natural to use the big torso muscles to rotate the skis. It is either impossible or very hard to do if you don’t. Instead. Hmmm … it must be important. Y Squatty’s move: Twist the inside of the thigh toward the turn at initia- tion. This is both possible and easy if you follow the two previous pointers. Keep it up. The boots are so responsive that even a small amount of twist will be enough to make them turn the skis. Does this sound like the “ski with the feet” pointer from a previous chapter? It is. and the right thigh toward the right turn. When used with a clean edge release. But you don’t realize the power of your feet. Therefore. w w w. this offers a very powerful. You try instead to over- come the apparent resistance of the boots and skis with big torso moves. Y Keep the torso from initiating steering.edgechange. It also brings the rest of the body into excellent alignment with the turn and completely cures the dreaded FBR. twist the feet against the sidewalls of the boots in the general direction you want to travel. since they are encased in stiff plastic boots. The body wants to/needs to/is driven to twist in the direction of desired travel. will automatically pick up on the good results and increase the crank of the feet for whatever effect desired. twist the left thigh toward the left turn. In other words. E v e r y D a y 71 .com B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Steer the boots by turning your feet against the boot shells. Does it feel like you’re already doing this as you steer the feet? Good. The body/mind.

Mogul Dancing. (In the air.) As you crest a bump. If you delay. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. the front of the ski juts into the air. but not their direction of travel. E v e r y D a y 72 . When you get the ski to make contact with the snow again. you’ll travel quite a ways without being in the driver’s seat. immediately following the edge change. This is essentially the same move as “dropping in” in surfing or half pipe riding. you can work it. they can change their B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Therefore. Skis don’t turn unless they’re in con- tact with the snow. life will get really good if you slap the ski tips down the bump’s downhill side. Terrain-Specific Work FOR BUMPS Y Drop the tips down the backside of the bump. Chapter 6 ~ Power 5.edgechange.

unsuspecting. the sensation will be like you’re “hand-walking” down the hill. In the undulating terrain of a mogul field. then retract as the pressure builds. E v e r y D a y 73 . into the air. exaggerated way. A great tool for moving your torso downhill is to reach. The bumps seem to have minds of their own. and skiing them can be like riding a wild horse. with the pole hand. and you will be totally ready for each successive turn. Use your resiliency in a massive. it’s quite a challenge to extend and retract. Yet the fluid linking of turns that results from this move is what makes good bump skiing happen. w w w.edgechange. and other places where the bumps seem to rush up to smack you in the face. and I’ve heard them laugh hysterically as they launched me. straight down the hill towards the next turn’s pole plant while you’re still in the previous turn. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Reach for the pole plant. The toughest (read. Y Extend into the valleys between bumps. scariest) thing for many skiers to do is to move the torso down the hill into the next B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . as the bumps create massive variations in angle and speed. This draws on the resiliency skill suggested in the section on pres- sure. If you reach early enough. (I’ve actually seen moguls move from place to place as I approach.) In every set of bumps are places in which the world just seems to drop out from underneath you.

without turning—either straight down a shallow hill or traversing across a shallow mogul field. Chapter 6 ~ Power For example. making the edge change at the moment of maximum retraction (when the ankle. Y There are two critical points to making the system work: y Keep your head up. and hip joints are all flexing deeply) and then extending the legs into the “valley. This blocks the absorption at the right place. y Go through the whole range of movement smoothly and with the terrain. This extension movement keeps the skis in contact with the snow and prepares the body for the next impact. pull your knees up toward your B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . while keeping your hands forward.edgechange. Practice on very small undulations of terrain. so you don’t get whiplash and you can stabilize the torso to prepare for the next bump.” w w w. knee. This retraction movement allows you to absorb the shock of the impact. and how the feet drop away as you pass over the crest. as you approach the steep lip of a bump (and your skis are actually going upward). straighten your legs and move your hips and hands forward. feeling the resiliency of the body and the change in pitch of the surface. E v e r y D a y 74 . This way you can feel how you should pull up the knees as the terrain rises. Then try it with a turn. As you pass over the crest of the bump and into the gaping canyon below.

quickly pivot the feet underneath the legs. It’s a nasty. y Plant the pole for the imaginary next turn. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y The big crank. loose snow. The skis just end up getting caught in the valley and bounc- ing around like a pinball. The all-mountain fats. In B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . deep. as the skis exit the valley and come out underneath the previous bump. y Don’t count on it looking good. depending on the nature of the emer- gency. to stabilize your torso. E v e r y D a y 75 . You no longer have to have the touch of a goddess to ski it.edgechange. ugly thing. there is really no room to move the skis that way. which is actually way too early to be effective. You can do this progressively or suddenly. To really dump a lot of speed in a hurry. and obese fat powder skis currently available are spectacular in soft. you can even ski powder really badly and still have a wonderful time. w w w. except that you dump all your speed. It’s the 21st century. mid-fats. but it works. This is an emergency stop! y Do it at the end of the turn. Yet at turn initiation. This is the same as the big crank. This classic move brings the skis quickly across the hill and throws on the brakes nicely. Y The big stop. y Do it suddenly. Now there is lots of room to crank and dump speed. the more aggressively you’ll have to start the next turn. Their intention is to slow down the turn before it really gets moving. The best place to throw the big crank is at the end of the turn. skiers often throw the big crank very suddenly at the moment of edge change. But the more speed you dump. With these skis. FOR POWDER Y Use the new skis.

The skis begin to flee in opposite directions. As they dive. This is not a pretty sight. or uphill. the snow offers huge resistance. E v e r y D a y 76 . but if one ski has little to no pressure on it. But if you keep driving the hands forward—especially the inside. The skis don’t have to be weighted evenly. Think of this movement in terms of the ankles and feet: As the skis come to the surface. Y Always keep the hands moving forward. the snow will deflect it while the other ski stays on task. Y Porpoise. w w w. Because of the extra turning power made available by the more resistant snow. then let them dive back into the snow while going down the fall line. catch up to (but don’t pass) the B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Y Pressure both skis. advance the feet. with lots of retraction (or flexion) and extension. the resistance is small. This is just another way of looking at flexion/extension. The pres- sure requirements are the same for bumps and powder: As the skis come across the hill. an excellent maneuver and lots of fun to watch). hand—you will correct an imbalance that causes 72 percent of falls in powder (based on a famous study that shows that 83 percent of all statistics are made up). as the skis go downhill. torquing you back up the hill and into the inevitable over-the- handlebars shoulder roll (admittedly. the body often tends to turn too far. Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Ski it like the big bumps.edgechange. Absorb the resistance by pulling up the knees (retraction) and make contact with the snow again after the edge change by extending the legs into the turn. Pull up the skis to the surface of the snow at the edge change.

) FOR STEEPS Y Reach down the hill for the pole plant. Instead of crouching.) Y Make the perfect edge release. then your torso will be ready.edgechange. just pull up the knees at the fin- ish of the turn for a brief moment. as they search for muscles to crank with. If you let go of the edge at only 80 percent. If you get too tall. waiting for your friends to come back and tell heroic stories of their exploits. But doing so will wear you out after one run. If you plant the pole down the hill early. elegant stance. keep the hips slightly flexed. and you will be forced to spend the rest of the day skulking about the hot tub. Skiers have a tendency to crouch in powder. Ev e r y D a y 77 . Chapter 6 ~ Power Y Stand tall. you will accelerate. The tendency is to hesitate at turn initia- tion. w w w. B r i l l i a nt S ki i n g . before you re-acquire a tall. (This is the same principle as for bumps. since each bump has a small steep on the downhill side. Even 99. you may interfere with migratory birds or let those long legs get reeled out too far.9 percent edge release is too damn little. the acceleration will be uncontrol- lable. You must be ready to make a 100- percent-committed move with the torso in order to keep up with and con- trol the accelerating skis. (There is an exception for very long-legged skiers. and because you’re not fully in the turn.

windsurf. You can certainly find deals out there. it’s time to realize that this is a sport and your body is your biggest investment. but it also really works. Just a little bit helps. play soccer. ride horses… do anything that makes you happy. and be somebody! And it’s really time to give up the most widespread of all American pastimes: eating stupidly. swim. E v e r y D a y 78 .edgechange. Gravity. And tell ’em Weems sent ya—I’m jonesin’ for a new setup this year! Y Trust the forces that are out there. and Marker bindings. surf. You’d have to be a moron to build bad stuff with the technology that we now have. w w w. and centrifugal forces are fine friends. then find a pro to show you how to use it. But make sure to find the gear that is right for you. do pilates. Very little out there is not good. but don’t shortchange quality for price. Do anything you want: walk. And good gear will even do most of the work for you. bike. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . tested and retested. Great skiers make skiing look effortless. And it is effortless for them because they let external forces do the work. put the video controls down. Y And while we’re talkin’ gear… Buy Völkl skis. momentum. Chapter 6 ~ Power ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS Y Buy good gear—and trust it. Y Get fit. Tecnica boots. Good gear can do a lot to overcome bad tech- nique. spin. This stuff has been designed and redesigned. But get up off your butt. play ping-pong. and they can pretty much take the place of 80 percent of your muscle power. skateboard. Read the annual ski magazine tests and demo gear to find out what you like. It doesn’t matter how you do it or how fit you become. C’mon. This stuff is really expensive.

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Leon’s Diamond Story
Read and memorize this exquisite creation of Leon Joseph Littlebird. He is a very fine
ski instructor and trainer in Summit County, Colorado, who uses this example to
show ski instructors what we sometimes sound like when we’re stuck in the
Power corner. Other than that it has no earthly use and, therefore, is truly a
work of art.

A state of flux in the angular valving of gravity is achieved by counter-rotic-
ipational polarity on a reverse lateral base minimizing outward torsional
thrust, while anticipating compound peripheral extrusion and avoiding the
counter-intuitive occurrence of socassic resonance, while enhancing articu-
lated, forced, dynamic struts with alta-gyrometric, balance-articulated,
solid unobtanium parameter enhancers.

(By the way, do you know how hard it is to find unobtanium?)

w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g , E v e r y D a y 79

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Power is a big part of the brilliance of your day. The Power corner is where most ski
instructors (and sports teachers) hang out professionally.

Power is not only about technique, but also about natural forces, your body, and
your equipment. It contains your menu of moves, and the muscles and body struc-
tures that create and allow them. Power also includes the environment beyond
the body: momentum, gravity, centrifugal force, inertia, and the snow.
Furthermore, it involves your gear: skis, boots, poles, bindings, clothes, gog-
gles, helmets (wear one!), and sunblock (put it on!)—all those amazing
designs that interface between skier and snow, allowing us to truly tran-
scend ourselves.


The Forces
The natural, external forces, or principles, described by physics are funda-
mental to all sports. The most important ones in skiing are gravity, friction,
momentum, and centrifugal force. You don’t have to be a physics major to
understand their importance.

Just realize that the energy of skiing that does not come from you comes
from these external forces. And because of this, skiing is often a free

w w Brilliant Skiing, Every Day 80

Chapter 6 ~ Power

Y Gravity is the big motor that runs the show. Most of the other external forces result from
the speed and momentum that gravity enhances as friction between the skis and the snow

Y The other big player is centrifugal force … or centripetal force … or cencuealoozal force
… or whatever it is that wants to throw your coffee all over your passengers when you
try to turn the car with one hand and drink it with the other. In skiing, we turn. In
turns, we must manage centrifugal force. Ignore this stuff at your peril!

Here’s the sequence again: Gravity > Speed > Momentum > Energy. Energy
that is applied to steer, bend, or edge the skis is what lets you master control.
There’s an interesting paradox that all skiers know, either intuitively or con-
sciously: It is precisely the speed attained from the pull of gravity that allows us to
turn the skis and, thus, stay in control of our speed.

The Gear
This refers to the platform and/or the tools we use, the interface between
the player and the playing field. In skiing, you don’t ski. You operate your
boots. And your boots are connected to the skis through the bindings. The
skis are designed to make some pretty energetic moves in relation to the
snow and the physical forces, as a result of the energy you transmit through
the boots and bindings. You gotta live with those results, so you better pay
attention to what you tell your boots. Furthermore, are they the right
boots? Are they custom-adjusted for not only your fit, but also for your
structure? Are your skis up (or down) to the tasks you set for them
with your moves? Are the skis wide/narrow, long/short, or
light/heavy enough? Are they good looking? Do they match your

w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g , E v e r y D a y 81

bindings. and twisting or counter-twisting. and critical. and awareness.edgechange. part of the Brilliant Skiing. bone. and skis. the mountain. our decision-making skills. It includes your biomechanical abilities. and the function. We can get so caught up in the gear. and fashion of ski clothing are all fabulous. ligament and muscle. or the snow that we forget that we ourselves are the finest piece of equipment of all—although often poorly main- tained. It’s about bending the knees. the skier. w w w. The fit and interface capacities of boots. or rather we built the sport to suit us: our structure of skin. So many people whine about how counter-intuitive skiing is. our sen- sory capacity. Technique is about the moves: edging. or the pilot. Every Day 82 . Ridiculous! Skiing is perfect for us. You’re one hell of a piece of integrated pilot and equipment. the player. The Body. as well as all sorts of cool accessories. and torque. The world of technique is where too many athletes and sports pros live too exclusively. This is the best time ever to buy new boots. It’s really cheap relative to what it is and does. your structure. learning ability. the shape and dynamics of skis. and keep- ing the hands forward. This is about you—the driver. So act like one. pressuring. We’re built for it. and your health and fitness. COMPETENCIES Technique. protection. Buy the stuff. Chapter 6 ~ Power It is astonishing how many wonderful athletes can’t realize their potential because of their refusal to be at least semi-gear freaks. because it is an excellent. But it shouldn’t be ignored altogether. our energy producing and nervous systems—skiing perfectly complements all of these.

Yet technique also relates to the pointers that help you achieve enlighten- ment—the magic move that leverages everything else and gets happily mistaken for a breakthrough. boot fit is fairly generic. Every Day 83 . Yeah. while people’s body and foot structures are not. And Yet More on Gear Boots: Feet are weak. Chapter 6 ~ Power It’s about the pointers that drive you crazy—put all of your weight on your outside ski while moving your inside hand forward and pointing it at a 20-degree angle to the body. Boots are also incredibly expensive. into their component parts. great at transmitting power to the ski while providing increasing comfort and warmth for the skier.edgechange. we overdo it. w w w. via lan- guage. and dropping the outside shoulder one inch and sliding the foot back while moving the hips forward. and just because we can make it complex doesn’t mean that we can’t make it simple. break them down. it is actually quite an amazing human capacity to take movement patterns. Good technique has one great result: the use of one’s body/equipment in harmony with the natural forces to apply power efficiently and effectively. The best of the best use natural forces and equipment when they can and muscle power when they have to. a small movement within the foot can be trans- ferred quite powerfully to the ski through the boot’s leverage. with relatively little muscle. and then put them back together. Ski boots are strong and amplify the feet. Nevertheless it’s a magical Brilliant Skiing. The boot is an amazing piece of equipment. This capacity for analysis and synthesis is unique to our species. However. Although many regard tech talk as nothing more than babble. Technique is how you ski. yet worth every dime. Therefore.

There are. They all apply power to the snow in such a smooth and fluid way that they make skiing totally easy. make sure to spend that extra bit to make sure that they work well for you. do-anything models that favor packed slopes but are pretty good on loose snow. I buy a seat for my boots but ship my kids with the luggage. and Marker bindings—my beloved sponsors who see to my safety. through footbeds. such as big-mountain skis. A bad ski with a good tune will ski better than a good ski with a bad tune. and the result is that they are perfect on the hill.) w w w. higher and lower performance levels within these basic types as well as spe- cialized versions. In fact. If you’re going to invest all that money in buying boots. Buy what feels good. Chapter 6 ~ Power Most people just want to put on their boots and go skiing. But well-performing boots must be customized. too). Match them to your outfit. or race skis. (And this section is kindly brought to you by Völkl skis. Tecnica boots. and alignment. I spend hours getting my new boots worked on. There are basically two types of skis to consider: all-mountain (go-any- where. skis for very deep snow. soft snow but also ski well on packed surfaces) and carving (go-anywhere.edgechange. I am such a whore. and efficiency every day as I go out to risk life and limb. flex adjustment. ramp adjustment. Nobody makes bad skis these days. they are so perfect (and therefore hard to replace). effectiveness. that when I travel by plane. do-anything models that favor loose. One caveat: Make sure your skis are tuned well. of course. Every Day 84 . Choosing skis requires little brain Brilliant Skiing.

is not an easy chore. They’re like skiing with chains around your body. Chapter 6 ~ Power SOME PHILOSOPHIZING ON POWER Power is highly technical and often verges on the scientific (and the pseudo-scientific).com Brilliant Skiing. taking it apart. So in this sense. Nevertheless. They are critical and useful when held in polar- ity with the other resources. understanding it. the more it becomes metaphor and cue. and making choices about it. Teachers. They are worthy of attention. but not simplistic (or trivial). developing a cue to launch the correct movement pattern is a daunting task. Furthermore. and performers have a huge responsibility to simplify effectively. On the other hand. On the one hand. To make a complex pattern simple. Simplicity and accessibility are key. It can easily become too simple to be useful. It is the resource corner in which most people (teachers and students alike) think teaching and learning to ski takes place. it can be paralyzing. beautiful techniques—movement patterns and sequences—are the central themes of the Power resource. It is also the corner in which most people flounder. learners. (This is taken from Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain: knowledge/comprehension/applica- tion/analysis/synthesis/evaluation) (This is also the limitation of Power: it can be too complex to translate the thinking to the doing if the skier is over- loaded with information. one of the goals of the Power domain is to achieve techni- cal awareness in such a clever way that we can go smoothly through the development levels of knowing it.edgechange. when you really aren’t. if technical information is too complex. putting it together. using it. Every Day 85 . the more simply something is stated. m w w w. rather than actual description.

and shape of the turn) as well as conditions and terrain (what do they require? How shall I approach them?) The Purpose resource is about small and large. It is also about Brilliant Skiing. In skiing. where to turn. tactics. which precedes and supercedes the use of Power.edgechange. and results. Purpose has a lot to do with line (where to go. Photos©BrianPorter w w w. goals. practical and philosophical purposes. short-term and long-term. Every Day 86 . CHAPTER SEVEN Y Purpose Purpose encompasses strategy. Different strokes …for different folks.

This enables you to bypass technique (and thought) and create clarity about what you want your skis to do in the snow. Do it everywhere. Every Day 87 . You can read the history of your line by looking at the tracks you’ve left in the snow. Now do it on skis. Move your feet and skis along the snow just as you would move your hand when making a curved path along a flat surface. with both feet. Stand with weight on one foot.edgechange. Mostly people focus on line only in bumps and steeps. You don’t need technical instruc- tions for this! Just let the heels follow the toes through the arc of a turn. Old-time instructors call these “foot arcs. w w w. downhill. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Purpose Pointers 1. but focusing on line is like seeing those tracks before you make them. It’s that simple.” and you can even do them in the snow without your skis on. trac- ing as closely as possible the same arc. while you trace a forward arc through the snow with the light foot. supporting yourself with your poles. Line is so important that a good one alone often creates great Brilliant Skiing. Tactics (Line) FOR TURNS Y Focus exclusively on your line. Y Move the skis through and along a curved line.

Once more. flex the leg you’re standing on as you create the arc with the other foot. This time. This movement is a very powerful simulation of a great turn on skis. Direct the skis into the turn by turning the toes down the hill rather than brushing the heels uphill. standing on one foot (with skis off) and supporting yourself with your poles. Most skiers improve dramatically with this simple change in perception. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. trace an arc through the snow with the light foot.edgechange. (Remember Squatty? He’s one of my great teachers—an awesome pro with the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen/Snowmass). however. Flexing aligns the body with the arcing foot and allows the hips to move through this “vir- tual turn” effectively. Every Day 88 . Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Y Squatty’s foot arcs. Squatty’s arc Brilliant Skiing. Y Feed the tips to the fall line.

Is yours a precise. Slicing. graceful slice into the snow? That is skiing.” Smearing. Brilliant Skiing.edgechange. Or is your line a wide. Line is your signature. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Y Trace a thin line through the snow with your edges. smeared sideways swath? That is braking—or “not skiing. Photos©BrianPorter w w w. Every Day 89 .

maybe. busy turn will give you a reli- able short turn for steeps as well as develops great technique and rhythm.. if people make several runs on the same trail. at least four every day.g. ski trails in sections demar- cated by changes of pitch or turns in the trail. (This big rule actu- ally applies to many situations: Develop new stuff in a familiar location. So.) w w w. your technique always improves).edgechange. offer yourself variety within a familiar landscape. Most people. or eight if your ski area is Brilliant Skiing. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose FOR DESCENTS Y Ski nonstop runs. however. and the benefits of developing different tactics won’t be overwhelmed by adjusting to a new location. This kills the rhythm and character of the mountain and blocks you from really understanding it. yeah … nonstops. It doesn’t matter if they are great short turns or not. Y Change the size of your turns and change the part of the run you ski on (another great one from Squatty). Adding the element of a complex. They will improve with practice because the body is smart enough to figure it out. shut up and ski! Nonstops are a great example of how changing your idea in one corner (e. they won’t vary more than two or three yards from where they skied at any other time. As the saying goes. and Power (through uninterrupted skiing. If you’re fit. Let the body dance. Get your mind out of its way. Purpose) leverages results in the other three: Touch (developing a real feel for the mountain). Will (the courage to push through a little fatigue and take on the whole hill). there is no reason to ever stop skiing until you get to the bottom of a lift—unless. you’re waiting for your boyfriend. and they’ll make exactly the same type of turn all the way down. Y Ski nonstop runs making short turns on groomed blue slopes at least once a day. Instead. Usually. Every Day 90 .

But this is the time to wait. If you do it at precisely that moment. Terrain-Specific Work FOR BUMPS Y Make the edge change at the crest. Remember. Wait until the crest is directly underneath the arch of the foot. For my money where the edge change takes place is the number-one issue that throws off bump skiers. This line closely matches the feel and rhythm of the terrain as well as the design of the ski. And it’s easy and really fun! w w w. For most skiers. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose 5. At that very moment—not an inch earlier or later—make your edge change. You will feel the tips want to drop down the back side.edgechange. the place to begin a turn (or make the edge change) should be right at the crest of the bump. the high point where the skis begin to jut out into the air. And like all great cues. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . They start so early because of abject fear that they won’t be able to get those unwieldy skis around in time to keep from slamming into the bump below. E v e r y D a y 91 . one inch too early is way too early! Y Ski most bumps by going over the crest at the exit of one “valley” (like a waterfall) and into the trough. Your skis will seem no longer than your boots and can be edge changed and steered effortlessly. most new bump skiers start their turns too early (starting too late is rarely a problem) and either catch their tails on the preceding bump or have to hop their tails to clear it. will be easier mechanically. At this point. or outside wall. Wait until the skis travel farther out over the crest. Purpose. nothing in skiing. and Will as it is about Power. dancing skiing. it’s as much about Touch. of the next. creating beautiful. including green terrain.

while realizing that some will be truly masterful and some will be very funny. some carved. It doesn’t matter. then back to the Brilliant Skiing. you rust. If you stop. Some turns will be rough. Whichever line you choose. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Y Learn how to improvise your line. and attempt uniform radii of turns no matter what the shape of each bump. instead of straight down the fall line. Loose. pull moves out of your back pocket that you thought you didn’t have. w w w. So don’t panic when the line doesn’t work. This will force you to turn in many other places than at the crest and. face your torso down the hill. y Widen your stance. If you don’t carry enough speed to overcome that. then turn on every bump for ten turns. therefore. Every Day 92 . y Turn the skis through half a left turn (straight down the hill). Y Never stop—until you run out of bumps or oxygen. FOR POWDER Y Go faster. In this drill. This will bring you diagonally across the hill. Instead.edgechange. your skis will bog down and your muscles will end up doing the work that momentum could have done (for free). The following drills will help you improvise: y Turn on every other bump for ten turns (traversing across the hill at the end of each turn). it is the intention that teaches. soft powder snow offers more friction than packed snow. I guarantee you will not be able to stick to it more than 50 percent of the time. some edgy. some skidded. widen your repertoire enormously. Just keep turning. and some will be monuments to futility. Trust them.

Y Control the turn finish. because you don’t need that kind of speed to overcome friction. not at the edge change. engage the Will. The unpredictability of loose snow combined with its friction causes many skiers to turn much too quickly. But do it! (You’ll note that this pointer is repeated nearly verbatim in the Will description. For speed control. Likewise. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Y Drop in. You may feel as if you’re truly falling off the edge of the world. Just like anywhere else. dive deep. At turn initiation your center of mass must travel in an instant from way up the hill (relative to the skis) to way down the hill. FOR STEEPS Y Drop in.edgechange. if you’re afraid of it. the edge change is a moment of acceleration. the edge angles required are far more dramatic than those on shallower terrain. Every Day 93 . However. On steep terrain. Shape your turn so that you descend down the fall line a bit longer than usual—so that you actually lose some altitude—and you will manage your speed beautifully. “Drop in” to the turn like a surfer does to catch the wave. Though this movement mainly belongs in the Purpose resource. Drop in deep. the speed control is at the end of the turn. in order to counteract the downhill pull of gravity.) w w w. You can probably drop in less than you would in powder. you will need a little momentum to bend the ski enough to drive you out of the turn. Let the skis run down the hill before you turn them back across it. bring the skis back up the hill and even skid them a bit if you want. the distance the body must travel across the skis to apply such an edge must also increase dramatically. Y Fling the body down the hill at the edge Brilliant Skiing. staying in the fall line for only a split second.

edgechange. forward. and backward. One of the most powerful strategies for creating brilliance every day is to not expect very much. be aware of your line while letting your technique support the Purpose. downhill. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose MORE FUN STUFF ON PURPOSE Y Don’t work on technique while playing the game. you’ll always be available to move toward your Purpose without ever getting thrown off track. Obviously. but be prepared to achieve it in very small increments. be aware of your technique. That way. Every Day 94 . I can choose to make the skis drift. They can go uphill. When you ski for improvement. slice. and even retreat. there is overlap but don’t mix them up. Is it work or fun? (Either or both are all right). smear. Purpose awareness is for playing the game. Am I here to improve? What do I want from skiing? What are my technical goals? What are my social goals (chicks dig guys that can ski!)? Am I here for the scenery? Or the action? Or the exercise? Y Lower your criteria for success. Choose clearly. Make choices about how the ski stirs the snow—choices that give you clear. Y Choose your goals. I will ski differently than if I were search- ing for adrenaline. When you ski for skiing. Technique awareness is for practice. Be clear about your desired turn type and shape: Short turn? Long turn? Fast? Slow? Steep? Flat? Round? Pivoted? If I’m searching to achieve disciplined technique. Y Choose your motivation. Why are you skiing? Be clear about your goals. desirable results. w w w. Technique and Purpose are different. Y Direct your skis through the snow. You can be very sure of what you Brilliant Skiing.

edgechange. you are amplified and transformed into something else—a different realm of relationship with your universe. awareness. a turning machine. With your technique you become unrec- ognizably distinct from your previous self. and fitness in order to excel in a game.or herself through the combination of gear. One is fluid and graceful and flies. and it creates a new Brilliant Skiing. you step out and become more than you were. Amplify. Every Day 95 . When you ski. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Diamond Story: Transformation—My Real Purpose Extend. As a skier you transmute into a master of controlled free-fall. you are such a stud-muffin! w w w.” I’d be comfortable defining an athlete as someone who has acquired the means to extend or amplify him. Go farther. An empty-handed person on a tennis court becomes a different creature altogether when the hand acquires a racquet. you harness all the power available to you. Dude. attitude. The difference between a skier hurtling down a mountain and a lesser human walking is the difference between perhaps a fish and a crab. When you put on the skis and boots. In a literal sense. sport. a terrain dancer—totally at home and in control of your destiny. physical skill. Get stronger. or physical activity. while the other just sort of scut- tles about along the bottom—presumably shopping. since you’ve harnessed the wild forces of nature to do your bidding. That person becomes a “player.

” or mixing it up? The type and direction of the power I bring to a turn depends exclusively on what kind of turn I’m making. Sure. I have a basic turn that is my Purpose. In slope-style and big air comps. too. or in the bumps? Y Goals and motivation. comparable to the shot in golf or basketball. but in what ways must I tweak it on the steeps. for example. They are what keep me in the game. it’s going to be awfully tough to improve. (Am I stretching it here? Perhaps. We tend to look at and describe skiing in terms of what we like the most—bumps. “shmediums. What are the basic elements of all turns? What is different for different types of turns? Are we doing short turns. whatever. groomed. Every Day 96 . But terrain choice must change continually if I’m going to grow my skiing. the motivation must ultimately come from the self. But not as much as those crazy people are. And. the skier’s body turns and twists throughout its flight. But without any goals or motivation. This is the indispensable unit of performance for skiing. I’m outta here. Even extreme. Improve what? For what? I don’t have to have a great or noble purpose. long Brilliant Skiing. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose DIAMOND TALK ON PURPOSE FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS Y The turn. That’s where the magic is—without exception. If I’m not too clear on why I’m skiing in the first place. Just goofin’ around is plenty.) Y Terrain. w w w.edgechange. big-mountain skiers are almost always in an arc while on the snow. We can all agree that the arc is fun. powder.

About twenty years ago. When talking to race coaches. Ever y Day 97 . or flip—in general. These people taught them- selves to carve. drift. Should I ski bumps all day? Work on nonstop runs in the bumps? Ski one bump run and one groomed? Should I just go straight into the bumps. or should I work on my short turns on groomers for an hour before I hit the bumps? w w w. which is Brilliant Skiing. I’d ask what a student wanted the ski to do in the snow. I went backward and started with tactics and strategy. I decided to experiment and stop teaching tech- nique first. with our hands. both Power and Purpose. You presume technique.) Y Strategy. slide. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose COMPETENCIES Y Line and tactics. your body. hop. but that we would all make the skis scribe arcs in either direction. and with our skis on. The lesson here is that if you are clear about what you want your skis to do on the snow. will invent what you need to do the task.edgechange. I have since evolved to believe that one must focus on both tech- nique and tactics. cut. what line should the ski trace down the mountainside? I started with the idea of connected round turns and told people that I didn’t care how they did it. in our imaginations. We did it with our feet (out of the skis) on the snow. carve. (This relates to the classic “form versus function” argument: Technique (Power) should often serve the tactical needs (Purpose) just as much as Purpose is influenced by available Power consid- erations. This area first led me to discover the Diamond. This is the big brother of tactics—the overall plan of descent. Should it skid. For exam- ple. and you focus on tactics. Guess what? The technique appeared on its own to support the tactic. I noticed that they would often remark how racers need to forget about technique on race day and just concentrate on course tactics. And not only that. Instead. but a damn good technique appeared. slip.

because it means I’m willing to accept some difficul- ties without surprise and work through them. and quicker. longer. number of hours. that’s cool. deeper.edgechange. however. it’s a strategy for learning to react and cope.) w w w. Y Gear interface. the benefits of really understanding the gear interface are often Brilliant Skiing. Y Achievement. and amount of time in a racecourse. that can actually be a pretty good strategy. I want to keep score: number of runs. much of this understanding comes from Touch. I want to excel. If I decide to not think and let the skis take me where they may. the day. This is always underneath the surface of Purpose. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Should I work on my short turns on blues before I try them out on blacks? If I just launch into skiing with no strategy for the run. If that’s my goal. (And. How do I want my skis to move in the snow? What should I do to keep my windsurfer from skipping through the chop? What do I want my racquet to do when it touches the ball? How much energy do I want to get out of my skateboard as I transition up the vert? Contrary to the dangers of overachievement. I want to ski faster. or the segment. achieving fun performance will be a crapshoot. I want to ski well. Every Day 98 . better. number of vertical feet.” I must be ready to downplay the tendency toward overachievement because it can really get in the way of other viable Purposes. The achievement drive can be as vicious a place to get stuck in as “tech-head world.

this was the only move you needed. that the secret to skiing was a move in which you drive your chest downhill. Squatty. He once had a student who was totally convinced. or technique. Every Day 99 . Would you show me that?” Photos©BrianPorter w w w. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Diamond Story: Squatty’s Chest Hurl A wonderful example of an excessive focus on Power. through all of his reading and all of his ski lessons. “Wow! I’d like to see that. comes from my friend Squatty. in his inimitable bedside manner said.edgechange. Brilliant Skiing.

“Well. maybe that’s not your best side. toward the front of the skis.edgechange. rather than having to develop a whole new move. Show it to me in the other direction. Instead of giving the guy another technical piece to screw up. Squatty. the guy was able to take what he had and redirect it tactically for great and instant suc- cess. From a traverse. a reasonable application of Power.” In this way. he hurled his chest down the hill. he shifted—to Purpose: “Let’s direct the chest a little more toward the arc of the turn.” The guy took off traversing the other way and hurled himself onto the snow again. E v e r y D a y 10 0 . so we don’t have such a hard landing. falling flat on his face and torso. being the consummate pro (and chewing blood from his lip to keep from giggling) said. He had had an okay move but a bad B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Chapter 7 ~ Purpose And the guy did. but cluelessness about Purpose. And this is where Squatty’s genius in using the Sports Diamond™ really stood out. w w w.

during a thin snow year. “That’s great. but were often only about five to ten feet wide. But … you must stay right behind me. By the fourth day. I said. These could reach as long as fifty or more feet down the hill. I said. so we started with trepidation (and me giggling) toward the ice patch. That’s all for B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . and they insisted on really skiing the damn thing. I rev- eled in the sudden increase in rebellious tension. and then we quit. No more ice. everyone’s skis clattering loudly. m w w w. The third day. we did two. but I insisted. The group did exactly the same. Chapter 7 ~ Purpose Diamond Story: Skiing On Ice Years ago. I had totally lost control of the group. E v e r y D a y 101 . and as we approached it I stopped my group and told them we were going to ski it.” Disappointment showed on some of their faces. One year we had an ice patch like that at Taos Ski Valley. I reached the patch and traversed across all five or so feet of it to the snow on the other side.” They all agreed. the next day I allowed one turn on the patch. I will refund your entire ski week package out of my own pocket.edgechange. “I guarantee that you will do this just fine. When we were all safely and easily across. small surface springs in the mountains would bubble up over the snow and sometimes form gnarly ice blisters. and if I’m wrong. To shorten the story.

It’s both the playing field and the Power-filled inter- face between the player and the game. CHAPTER EIGHT Y Touch Touch is about the subtle responses to the question.edgechange. Touch relates to me personally as a player and as an artist on the snow. It’s what we are immersed in. creative skiing? The answers to that question relate more to awareness and presence than to concrete solutions. It’s where we live. E v e r y D a y 10 2 . fluid. Touch is also about the medium and one’s con- nection with it. how? It’s more about applying finesse than it is about mechanics. Our medium as skiers is the snow on the mountain. joy- ful. (Power in skiing comes from the way we work the snow—the way we squeeze the juice out of it—and the way it talks B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Photo©BrianPorter w w w.) More touch than I need. It could just as well be the ocean or the golf course. How do I manage my moves to achieve beautiful.

ice. Sing a song. through all the pitfalls. It’s hard to frown inside when you’re smiling out- side. E v e r y D a y 10 3 . etc. Remember. Let skiing be an elegant.edgechange. Y Smile while you ski. your body shuts down. especially in challenging situations (bumps. Rhythmical breathing creates awareness beyond thought. count the turns. w w w. artistic dance with the snow and the mountain. and self- critiques that often derail nonrhythmical skiing. The rhythm will create it. mistakes. there are a lot worse things you could be doing right now. Y Look ahead and down the hill. Let your gaze bounce down the hill ahead of you. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Touch Pointers 1.) The eyes really direct the path your body takes. And if you’re frowning inside. steeps. Rhythm will carry you smoothly from turn to turn. Awareness Y Breathe while you ski. trigger the rhythm with the poles—it doesn’t matter how you do it. Y Put rhythm into your skiing. drawing you with B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g .

and you’ll figure it out. Experiment. (Hint: Quieter. Timing Y Learn to sequence correctly. but it is huge. In slower turns. It takes a lot of experimentation and feel to develop. You’ll soon be able to identify the sounds that show up when you’re skiing well and those that occur when you’re not. At the same time it evokes the living stillness of the mountains.edgechange. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y When you move. the maxi- mum edge angle should occur in the fall line. Y Listen to the snow. Ski whole runs. engage the maximum edge angle a touch later. Moving forward too long after the edge change creates havoc. E v e r y D a y 10 4 . In high-performance B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . This means putting together the parts in the right order at the right time. Many different sounds are created by your skis touching the snow. When you know your moves. This is my favorite tip from one of my favorite teachers. Touch the pole during the edge change. For example. This is one of those won- derful pointers where if you don’t know what it means just pretend like you do. Your body/mind will then help you find the right sounds more of the time. change edges before you turn. It implies the fluid nature of skiing. When you are still. Tom Crum. They vary according to technique. play with the sequences. the act of being quiet and calm without being rigid. be still like a mountain. w w w. just listening. and snow and terrain con- ditions. effective skiing!) 2. softer sounds indicate more efficient. and on steeper slopes. tactics. the flowing down the hill. move like a river.

but. E v e r y D a y 10 5 . it’s there to help balance and time your turns. Even when we get good at looking downhill in most terrain. we tend to lose that ability in bumps. Touch it to the snow. for sure. then hang on to its handle so that it doesn’t drag back. If you’re going to make a specific move.” movements always disrupt the harmony of skiing. Y Touch. don’t plant. Yes. or a safety bar. Allow the pole to swing forward with the centrifugal force at the end of the turn. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y Make your movements progressive. don’t do it like you’re flicking an on-off switch. Enlist Will to keep the eyes trained downhill so you can develop the awareness of your possi- bilities in the bumps. The idea is to be in the present and the future at the same time. Y Look ahead. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Tony Sailer. And don’t load the pole. as opposed to “quick. dial it down. Dial it up.edgechange. Your line will then appear as if by magic. a brake. w w w. a handle. but ski one turn at a time. Terrain and Soft Snow FOR BUMPS Y Look downhill (again!). you’ve gotta love the turn you’re in. the pole. look ahead to develop awareness of what’s coming. 3. Look directly downhill. It is not there as a pivot point. A jamming pole disrupts rhythm. I gleaned this wonderful idea from an arti- cle on the great Austrian ski racer of the 1950s. developing tunnel vision and banishing peripheral vision.

Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y Breathe. w w w. Powder requires the ultimate economy of motion. If you do. and you will see them whispering to each other. FOR POWDER Y Move smoothly and efficiently. and each turn becomes more difficult. Y Accept and enjoy that bumps are a chaotic. smooth moves in soft snow are amplified to create big results. the feeling of rebounding rhythmically from one turn to the next is the most critical— yet also the easiest piece to develop. Breathe consciously. at Aspen Highlands. Do not allow yourself to ski across the hill for any distance. fun. more than anywhere else. even after a few falls. Big. E v e r y D a y 10 6 . If you develop a rhythm. the inhalation takes care of itself (thanks to instructor March Henley. If you exhale effectively. Exhale loudly at the end of every turn.edgechange. jerky moves are amplified to create very amusing results. planning traps and surprises for you. They are the mountain rascals. Y Connect the turns rhythmically. it will carry you through. Small. and funny B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . the rhythm dies. Watch carefully. Don’t even worry about the inhale. You will never ski them without mistakes. In powder. for this tip).

com B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . The deceleration at the end of the turn is exaggerated in powder. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y Short count the turn finish. The rhythm is like one-twoooo. with the one coinciding with the finish of the turn and the twoooo with the initiation from the edge change on. Powder is not the kind of snow for digging into. It’s really not that much of a risk when you aim for the feel of the skis floating. For those of you into classical music. This is also related to rhythm. or hanging on. E v e r y D a y 10 7 . STEEPS Y Free-fall into the turn. My rhythm is a short count coming out of the fall line and a long count going in. the end of the turn should be of shorter dura- tion. w w w. grinding into. Be soft and delicate and light on your feet— even when it feels like you’re taking a risk. On steeps you’re literally falling off the side of the mountain. with almost a pause in the fall line itself. You will experience a little bit of extra comfort if you just enjoy the elevator ride. The only question is. so you have to develop the faith that your edges will catch you as the skis come around. one-twoooo. how did Johannes know? Y Float through the snow.edgechange. therefore. the first move- ment of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony was clearly written for powder skiing. You need to feed the skis quickly into the next turn so they don’t bog down. It’s like the feeling you get when you jump of a small stool or a stair step—everything is committed to the drop.

but that doesn’t mean they’re dangerous (if you choose them carefully. the movement through it is seamless. Look down the hill and allow yourself to be amazed at the angle of the pitch (even if you’re a beginner. Jean Mayer of Taos Ski Valley. Only through such con- tinuous. anticipating. Y Move fluidly through the turn transition. you can feel this). then releasing the pressure. (Thanks. When we don’t per- ceive of a turn “finish” at the transition. My old mentor. and connecting to the forces gener- ated by gravity. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y Enjoy the intensity of the adventure. Packy Westfeldt!) Y Feel like you’re a falling leaf. Sure steeps are scary. It’s one of those rare moments when you seem to be more alive than ever. Then you must make the effort to start the fall again. as well as tip them inward and outward. responding. because of its angle to the cushion of air beneath. w w w. talked about applying pressure. It is unique. it stalls. And don’t lock up your legs.edgechange. It’s the same for your skis: They accelerate. momentum. and turns flow together effortlessly. as the edges begin to grip. and centrifugal force. In this way he would “caress” the mountain as he skied. and slows. and ankles. E v e r y D a y 10 8 . hips. MISCELLANEOUS TOUCH POINTERS Y Keep the legs in motion to manage the pressure to the edges of the skis Continually flex and extend the knees. they stall the fall and bring you across the B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . . and then. A leaf falls for a moment. It’s the big wow. Enjoy the thrill of adrenaline. fluid movement can you really keep your skis moving the way they should. flattens out. and then. Realize you’re skiing down it and feel the delight of that. that is).

finished off with a foray into the bumps. You don’t even have to think of technique. Skis are not meant to burrow. w w w. swooping turn with a nice hop over a bump. They’re designed to glide over and in it. for exam- ple. Make it interesting. Y Think “link.” Always link your turns. insisted that “skiing is a symphony. A single turn is the analyzable unit of skiing. dig. Think of balance as a verb. one of my great heroes from the early (early!) Aspen days. always staying active and never holding one position.edgechange. Y Be creative. Conduct your own symphony. of a few short turns followed by a long. Make it a dance. not as a thing to “be in. Y Glide. then a dive into a gulley. E v e r y D a y 10 9 . but it’s not actual skiing. A run should consist. Fred Iselin. Mix up your B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Just make your skis fly over the snow.” He got tired of watching all the “itsy bitsy” turns of the early 1960s. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Y Balance while in motion. or grind in the snow.” You move to balance.

My descent down the east side into the arctic temperatures near Leadville was another story. The cold. proper speed at turn entrance. up Independence Pass outside of Aspen. as they scurry into your light. w w w. and all the other varmints who often inadvertently commit suicide (and take down the bike riders with them). E v e r y D a y 110 . The first leg. The usual search for the right line. I was dressed very well. a relatively balmy 35ºF wasn’t too bad. was in the predawn. and I had just the spread of my headlight to identify deer. marmots. acceleration to exit the turn—all that was meaningless compared to shutting down speed and searching the roadsides through my peripheral vision.edgechange. and the Aspen side of Independence Pass is sort of tropical. I was clearly going to die from B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . at first. raccoons. Chapter 8 ~ To u c h Diamond Story: On A Motorcycle I once rode my motorcycle from Aspen to Arapahoe Basin—a distance of about 150 miles over a couple of beautiful Colorado mountain passes. inward tip of the machine. The concern for deer gave way to the understanding that. as my speed increased on the straight road across this freezer of a high moun- tain valley. tire grip on the road.

Chapter 8 ~ To u c h

I don’t know the math of this, but I do know that when you add 70 mph to 35ºF, the chill
factor is brutal. As my core heat began to plummet, and I realized that the bike’s heated
grips were not keeping my fingers loose and warm, it was clearly time to pull over to a gas
station, go inside, and raise my body temperature to a survivable level.

After thawing out a bit, I continued on over Fremont Pass, where I ran into a thin glaze
of ice on the smoother portions of highway. Once again, I had to dump speed, float my
feet close to the pavement, and stay loose. After awhile the road seemed drier, and I
plunged into the dark, cold valley leading to Frisco and Lake Dillon.

I finally broke into the sunshine at Frisco. The heat from the sun as it began to
warm my fingers, arms, and legs was like bathing in the warm water of the
tropics. My God! I thought, the temperature is almost up to 40ºF. Maybe I’ll
even take off my shirt and relax for the rest of the trip. But, no! The early sun
shone directly in my eyes as I rode the along the lake toward Arapahoe

There would be no mercy on this ride!

This was clearly one of my most brilliant rides ever—one I will remember
with pride, humor, and humility. Yet technically I didn’t ride very well—
just well enough to make it to the ski area. So how could an event so dan-
gerous and cold end up so excellent? It’s because I deeply touched the road,
the weather, the mountains, and the motorcycle. My journey was well sup-
ported and informed by Power, Purpose, and considerable Will. But the
sense of Touch, in particular, was transformative, and the memory of it
will remain with me for life.

And, if I ever try a stunt like that again, somebody stop me!

w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g , E v e r y D a y 111

Chapter 8 ~ To u c h


Y Sensitivity and awareness. All the parts of Touch are available to you through
awareness and sensitivity. You must feel, and truly experience, all the elements
of this sport while rejecting the notion of judging any of them. This rejection
extends to you, too. Approach skiing as if it isn’t just about you. Approach it
with wonder and fascination. What’s that sound? How cold is it? What does
the snow feel like underfoot? After fairly intense technical sessions, many of
our instructor-trainers at AspenSnowmass will say, “Okay, time to dial down
the think meters and go get some wind in our faces.” What they mean is that
it’s time to go take a run, but they purposely shift their language from the
technical to the elemental—speed, cold, wind, etc.

Y Presence and poise. When you’re connected to everything around you at
the moment—the mountain, the snow, the air, the people, the gear, and,
above all, yourself—you can find the confidence that you belong there, that
you’re a part of it, even that you’ve earned it. If you don’t know how this
feels, just imagine what it would feel like if you did. You’ll understand.

Y Emotion. Joy, fear, elation, delight, anger, frustration, love, hate, angst,
humor (and maybe more humor). All of that is out there and a part of
this game. Let the bad stuff just pass through and appreciate and
acknowledge the good stuff. It’s all good.

w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g , E v e r y D a y 112

Chapter 8 ~ To u c h


Y DIRT (duration, intensity, rate, timing). To make a move is not enough—it has to be
made in a certain way. In skiing, the snow and the pitch are rarely uniform, so the move
has to be made in an infinite variety of “certain ways.” Every move takes place over a dif-
ferent time span, with a different intensity, is repeated at a certain variable rate, and
begins and ends at a unique moment relative to other movements. This is indeed
Touch. So much of skiing is repetition and practice, yet so much is also instinct. I not
only own the move, I own the ability to improvise its application to suit the
Purpose. Sometimes I practice a specific and appropriate dose of DIRT for a cer-
tain situation. Other times, I just make it up. Of course, “making it up” might
technically be called a “recovery.” (Thanks to renowned skiing biomechanics
professor George Twardokens and Aspen instructor Megan Harvey for this

Y Rhythm. “Boomalackaboomalackaboomalackaboom” carries me through
times of bad technique better than good technique carries me through times
of bad rhythm. You gotta pretend like you can dance!

Y Expression. I recall (sort of) a drunken friend exhorting a crowd of row-
dies by saying, “Hey, let’s all take off our clothes and jump up on the table
and BE SOMEBODY.” Now that’s expression! Expression is also my “writ-
ing” my signature in the snow with the edges of my skis. It’s play and joy
and fun and imagination. It’s creating my personal relationship to the
mountain—and it is very beautiful within each skier. I will never forget
how when my son Ben was quite small he would be skiing along, and
suddenly he would stop, seemingly going into some strange, concen-
trated state. Overhearing him one time, I realized that he was imag-
ining himself at the start gate of a racecourse and giving himself a
countdown. The kid was about to win the World Cup! He was
gonna BE SOMEBODY. m
w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g , E v e r y D a y 113

CHAPTER NINE Y Will Will is about commitment. w w w. and growth. It is the base platform for the Sports Diamond™ and draws deeply on your courage to create change—to transform yourself. The Will corner also addresses choice: You use your will to make choices and then carry them out with accountability for both the process and the results Photo©RonLeMaster Hermann Maier. to thrive. It addresses your determination to achieve.edgechange. to transcend. sustained B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . less than two years out of a motorcycle crash that nearly took his leg off. or merely to stay upright. E v e r y D a y 114 . to survive. They said he’d never ski again. balance. This is not about technique. This is about Will.

You may be concerned about something that might happen in the future based on a story or experience in your past. Anxiety Y Experience it. Choose to look it squarely in the face. According to Tom Crum. In some ways fear only exists in the past and future. y Pinpoint the source of your anxiety. Is it fear of failure. fear of injury. Chapter 9 ~ Will Will Pointers fear of ridicule. a level 3 and a level 10. aikido mas- ter and life coach (see www. or fear of a particular section or even a single bump? y Rate your anxiety’s size or power on a 1 to10 scale. or even fear of fear? Is it fear of the whole mogul field. The more you are in the present. E v e r y D a y 115 . say. Greet it. the less you suffer from fear. y Note the difference in feeling fear at.edgechange. w w w. fear operates through oscilla- tion between past and future. fear of B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . And take the follow- ing steps to cut your anxiety down to size rather than allowing it to expand into a paralyzing agent. fear of the unknown. Y Be aware of the present moment.aikiworks.

but I don’t like to take risks. Snow is usually soft. therefore. you instead reach over and pat yourself on the back). Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Advance your level of terrain or speed in tiny increments. Y Enjoy your fear by separating it from risk. If you like to ski fast. check your bindings before you start out. and as he goes for your hand. then find one at a level 4. I won’t tell you what they are. the perception of risk is higher than the reality. and. Push your envelope a small bit. In skiing. (No. How simple is that!? w w w. with a rep- utable company. acknowledge your achievement. and you can still enjoy the abject fear (read adrenaline rush) of skiing at high speed. In this way you can tap into adrenaline that fear generates while eliminating your anxiety about potential injury. I discovered that I like to scare myself. For instance. choose an empty trail. too. ski one bump that gives you anxiety at a level 3. Bungee jumping. There are certain sports I don’t do. Then stop. Ski another similar bump. The search itself is a fear B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . I learned how to do this while bungee jumping.edgechange. because the perception of risk is low while the reality of it is high. because my own perception may be flawed by my lack of experience!) So take steps to diminish risk. for example. then go back to where you are comfortable. and give yourself the instructor’s handshake (That’s where you reach out to shake hands with a friend. and wear a helmet. E v e r y D a y 116 . very few falls will actually hurt you. has a high risk perception and virtually no risk reality. Your risk reduction will be enormous. ski in the middle of it.

2. Chuck Appleton. describes the same process. astonishingly little attention gets paid to the act of balancing by snowsports teachers (or teachers of any sport. In skiing. I have learned that the presence of anxiety is a cue for me to drop off my edges into the turn. You can’t get very far if you fall down. In his won- derful autobiography.edgechange. are totally hardwired to try to muscle our way through damn near anything! w w w. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Reduce your fear through sequenced procedures. Let the presence of fear cue a drilled response. the test pilot. Balance Balance. and my fear disappears entirely. was an officer in the Massachusetts State Police. as an act of B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . “How do they make it look so easy?!” Normally. My brother-in-law. I asked him how people in his profession deal with the fear of confronting dangerous situations. Chuck Yeager. In general. right? Balancing yourself is also the secret to efficiency. We men. for that matter). At that moment the skis are committed and turning and in control. of course. is so critical that I originally located it as an entire resource in the Sports Diamond™. and effi- ciency is the secret to answering that age-old question. Furthermore. E v e r y D a y 117 . a lack of balance comes from being either too strong or too defensive—under the false belief that you can muscle your way down the mountain or that you’ll encounter real danger. women are beautifully free of the first belief but often succumb to the sec- ond. He answered that they drilled their procedures so effectively that in each situation the responses were automatic. It’s time you paid attention to balance.

neck. My rule of thumb is that once you’ve been in a position long enough to recognize it as such. Many of the pointers that follow can just as easily go into the Power resource. and even painful. and elbows (did I miss any?)—allows you to make the tiny adjustments that are consistent with balancing. easier. I have placed them here to underline their critical relevance to balance as opposed to their use in making turns. or it will leave you behind. and so you must move and adjust with it. w w w. hips. E v e r y D a y 118 . or to be efficient and effective. knees. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Balance is a verb. and accurate that you’ll be delighted if you just “give it up. Staying loose and fluid in the joints—especially the ankles. Long-time skiers will find much in this section that seems heretical. and the change has been exquisite. snow con- sistency. and angles to the surface all create challenges that you feel as speed and pressure changes of varying degrees. is some- thing you must continually commit to. or you’ll suffer the consequences of your neglect. In skiing. Get over it! This is new-school ski technique. more functional. Y Keep moving and stay loose. The joints and muscles are per- fectly designed to adjust to these changes if you are willing to allow them to function smoothly and efficiently. The changes in pitch. you’ve been there way too long! Balance is an act of Will because to stay upright. and it is so much better. Chapter 9 ~ Will Note that balance is not a position.” I’m 160 years old. It is something you are doing in motion. it involves realizing that you are on a surface that seems to be moving and changing rapidly.edgechange. waist.

I haven’t taught the old approach of balancing on the edges by leaning downhill in more than twenty years. Holding them at higher than waist level. And. and at waist height for balance. outward. If you hold them rigidly. Most skiers balance beautifully relative to their edging skis if they maintain a vertical torso and level shoulders. and poles held loosely. The angle will be formed at the hip and knee joints when the torso is more or less vertical and the legs are more or less tipped to the inside of the turn. it B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . I recommend that long-time skiers lose the habit of angu- lating by leaning the torso to the outside of the turn (with the exception of turn initiation on very steep terrain). long-time instructors.edgechange. Imagine you’re carrying a giant beach ball. Hold your torso vertically while edging. but it’s just extra “stuff. The outside hand/arm should rotate through the turn arc at the same speed as the legs. Having your hands lower than waist height is okay as long as you don’t let them drop back significantly. Yes.” y Position the hands and arms forward.” w w w. is a “de-balanc- ing” move. Y Angulate. y Let the hands and arms float. palms facing and tipped slightly upward. I recommend you lose the habit of teach- ing this movement. Lift and spread the arms using the shoulder joint. E v e r y D a y 119 . with elbows bent. the whole balanc- ing system will fall apart. however. y Move the hands with the turn. Push the inside hand/arm ahead to keep the inside half of the body strong and aligned. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Work on your “hand jive.

and preadjust for the balancing mechanisms that each requires. or drop the hips down and back. If the skis are going to accelerate when I release the edges from the old turn. The knees and ankles—along with the waist—are the mas- ter joints for skiing. You can really help your balancing by keeping the hips forward. more or less square to the ski tips. The nearly irre- sistible tendency is to rotate. Keep them working for you. When the slope gets flatter. w w w. and level. More often than not. Chapter 9 ~ Will And today’s shaped skis are so effective on their edges and so quick into the turn initiation that it’s no longer necessary to heave the torso to the outside of the turn for balance. much pressure builds and I stop—badly. E v e r y D a y 12 0 . Y Flex and extend the legs. the skis go slower. When the slope gets steeper. Y Keep the hips quiet—in all three planes. Keep them loose—able to extend and flex constantly and smoothly while skiing. When I collide with another skier. and. therefore. If you keep looking B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . The balance-upsetting changes in speed and pressure are predictable. then driving the hips forward will balance me on the sweet spot of the accelerating skis. The hips act as a sort of univer- sal joint—where the major power transfer takes place—between the torso and the legs. In fact. Y Anticipate and preadjust. you may find that a little inward tip of the torso is not such a bad thing. you can anticipate these and other situations. the skis go faster. must move only minimally. tip. so I go faster. the angle of flex in each of these at any one time is equal to the angle of flex in the others. When I start a turn. They work together to manage the pres- sure changes that challenge balance. the pressure builds. When I begin an edge change.edgechange. the platform I’m riding on gets steeper. as your performance level rises.

Y Ground yourself. Imagine that you can sink roots into the snow through your feet. and stability relative to your boots. I can’t overstate the importance of alignment. pressuring both skis (rarely as much as 50% on each ski) creates great turns in great balance. Though this concept is related to centering. Would you buy a fancy new Porsche and take it out on the road without getting the wheels balanced and aligned? No.) Awareness of the body’s center creates a nearly magical feel for balancing and is one of the primary commitments in all motion. E v e r y D a y 121 . Y Balance your gear. find a good boot fitter and spend some money and time on getting your boots dialed in. you just wouldn’t do that. Both skis turn well on both edges. You wouldn’t even do that with your Mini- Cooper! w w w. Just the intention to do so will “connect” you in a very direct and comfortable way to the changes in the snow. Even if you are a fairly new B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . arch. heel—to find the best connection for each part of the turn.edgechange. it’s not quite the same. creating powerful balancing skills. (See Chapter 5. Although the outside ski should still be dominant throughout the turn. Your boots are an essential component of balancing on snow. Doing so will also connect you to the sweet spot of the ski. Y Be aware of your center. Experiment with different parts of the foot—forefoot. Focus especially on the forefoot during the edge change (and generally avoid the heel at this time). Grounding refers more to the location of your commitment to the snow through your feet (and is deeply informed and supported by Touch). too. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Pressure both skis. fit.

Both are monster commit- ments that produce instant and perfect results. Both attack and surrender must happen at the edge change.edgechange. of course. these two ideas are the same. The surrender is the passive part. Photo©BrianPorter w w w. where you give in completely to the pull of gravity that wants to take you down the hill from the relatively safe perch of your edges. is the active part. where you not only give up the safety of standing on your edges. Will is more than making the face. likewise. You gotta make the move. Attack. Surrender! And Attack! Oddly. Chapter 9 ~ Will 3. All of these tips are different ways of accomplishing the same idea—both attacking and releasing. E v e r y D a y 12 2 . but also launch into the gravity stream with full com- mitment. depending on how you look at B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Only by using these two compo- nents in concert will you be able to drive the skis into the turn.

E v e r y D a y 12 3 . skiing is con- trolled free-falling.edgechange. This will bring the hips across the skis and to the inside of the B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . as if you were falling off the mountain and leaving the feet behind. Imagine that your center is more than just your bal- ance point but also a source of energy that can move your body. There is a point of diminishing returns where you will lose contact with the skis and fall downhill—go just less than that. But. you’re knocking on the door to the new turn. The control comes from doing it with enough commit- ment to re-engage pressure to the edges on the downhill side of the old turn. Move the center of the body quite far down the hill. At the end of the turn. Direct it or let it flow— over the skis and down the fall line. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Extend your energy down the hill. you’re usually slightly crouched from edging effectively. Standing up (and away from the hill) will release the edges. this idea is about more out and less up. Similar to standing up and out. w w w. Y Stand up and out. ultimately. Y Free-fall toward the valley. as you initiate the next turn. allowing you to line up against your turning skis so that you can work them. Once they’ve released.

and the center of mass will readily move into the next turn. for example. My friend Squatty achieves the same thing by twisting the femur (left for left turn. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Charge with the downhill knee. Y Collapse the downhill knee. right. It’s magic! w w w. Y Move the hips aggressively forward and downhill. but you will also connect the edges to the snow at the tips. E v e r y D a y 12 4 . You’ll know it works when you feel the downhill edge of the tip of the downhill ski start to bite into the snow early in the turn. for right turn) toward the turn. this is what he or she is referring to. This directly tips the skis toward the new turn and opens the door for the rest of the body and gear to follow. the left knee must first drive downhill as you come out of the right turn. Not only will you get the skis onto the new B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . If you ever hear an instructor talk about an active inside ski. If the downhill knee collapses.edgechange. To start a left turn. which is where the excitement of the turn really starts. This is the passive version of the preceding tip. its resistance to gravity ceases.

paradoxically. w w w. If that were so. You achieve control by turning the skis back up the hill at the end of the turn. never in a traverse. Do this. When you stop. If you’re scared. E v e r y D a y 12 5 . regain con- trol of your balance and line. Control is the ability to keep moving. Only then can you follow the rhythm of the bumps and. Y Always start straight down the hill. turn the skis. Y Control is not necessarily the ability to stop quickly at any moment. Terrain and Soft Snow FOR BUMPS Y When in doubt. the turn you make will always suck. turn the skis down the hill. Why even bother caring about it? The show is over by then. or just plain discombobulated (which may be the perfect word!). and you will attain the life-giving speed that turns difficult skiing into easy B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Think about the use of Power (speed and momentum) to apply turning energy to the skis. Y Regain balance and speed in a series of turns. Don’t insist on the ability to have both at any moment in one turn. going too fast. Y Don’t stop. we would always be out of control in our cars on the freeways. out of balance. Balance and speed control are not achieved at the same point in the turn. You achieve balance during the accel- eration into the new turn. Chapter 9 ~ Will 4. to change direction and manage upcoming events and obstacles.edgechange.

in order to counteract the downhill pull of gravity. Y Keep driving the inside hand forward. as well as the major myth of powder skiing. FOR STEEPS Y Fling your body down the hill at the edge change. it’s a sim- ple statement of Purpose. Otherwise. The edge angles required on steep terrain are far more dramatic than those on shallower ter- rain. It truly feels like you’re falling off the edge of the world—horrify- ing at first and then very beautiful. At turn initiation. Chapter 9 ~ Will FOR POWDER Y Balance on the middle of your skis. Sitting back is a major dumb human B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . the dis- tance the body must travel across the skis in order to apply such an edge increases dramatically. Likewise. E v e r y D a y 12 6 . The friction from this kind of snow is very tricky so be intensely aware of your speed—drive the skis around before you pick up too much and start them back down the hill before you lose it all.edgechange. Going too slow is just as bad as going too fast. I don’t even want to talk about it. The idea is to maintain the same speed all the time. If you’re afraid of it. If you keep your inside hand ahead of your hips. That hand wants to drop back and down. you will recover from 90 percent of potential falls (no exaggeration!). your center of mass must travel in an instant from way up the hill (relative to the skis) to way down the hill. this move- ment belongs primarily in the Will resource. Whichever … just do it! w w w. Y Be a speed merchant. as the snow’s resistance tends to overturn the skis and the body goes with it.

Enlist your agility to regain your balance. presence. work on one specific idea. Doing so requires that you trust the future. To some this seems obvious. knowing that improvements will come with repetition and precision. look down it. say. Y Practice. E v e r y D a y 12 7 . w w w. Look at practice in the way you would look at. Instead of connecting Will to Touch. MISCELLANEOUS WILL POINTERS Y Go skiing in all weather and all conditions. Y Link turns. it connects Will to Purpose. those who go out often and whenever become great. This will have an amazing effect on your versatility and self-respect. Y Recover. Focusing on practice is entirely different from going out for fun (although it doesn’t preclude fun). Don’t stop until you’ve made at least ten turns— even if they’re terrible. this is not so easy. Mentally. Each has its chal- lenges. with no hesitation or flinching. the bad. Time and again. Great skiers make great recoveries. You would do it with attention. This does not mean that you should struggle hopelessly on a turn that is doomed to end in a fall (that’s the kind of stuff injuries are made of). for the entire run. There are no bad conditions. You’ll have to accept the good. Just don’t give up too eas- ily. you must absolutely. and you will be amazed at how good you are at doing it. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Look down the B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . but to others (and you know who you are!) this seems insane. and the ugly—giving time for the body/mind to find what works. In order to fling the body down the hill. such as clean edge release. practicing yoga. So instead of just taking a run.edgechange. it is an act of pure Will. and each has its rewards. and power- ful intention.

but it relieves you of the wasted energy of too many false distinctions. In skiing it has two components: one that pulls you into the mountain and one that pulls you down the mountain. The trick is to be aware and appreciative of it. This is the you that is prealigned and preconnected with the pull of gravity into the Earth. The reward is being a master of all positions. It’s the key to never getting stuck on the plateau. In this manner. feeling the snow).com B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . This is much more natural to do than people believe. It requires abandoning the ego’s need to hold position. having fun. being brave. Y Holding polarity. w w w. Holding polarity between and among the corners of the Diamond is a bright path to brilliance. is an amazingly graceful and elegant way of being. It’s about the refusal to be limited in scope. you are always in some sort of relationship with gravity. To move with agility to a new place. There is another kind of centering that is fundamental to who you are.edgechange. E v e r y D a y 12 8 . Chapter 9 ~ Will DIAMOND TALK ON WILL FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS Y Centering. without getting overly hung up on having invested your identity in just one corner (great technique.

that’s fine. (In my entire career. You should be holding polar- ity between and among the three poles of mind. remember that everybody has it. You may initially prefer to work from one or the other of these capac- ities. You’ve transcended your old self. All three parts are available to you all of the time. Y Integration of mind/body/spirit. You’ve become an amazing. in being too physical or too unfit. body. magical mountain dancer. Even if you’re not great at it. However. don’t allow yourself to become fixed on one at the expense of the others. The Will to be more than you thought you were is very strong. but I don’t think she ever fully enjoyed it. you’re awesome for even doing it. and spirit. I think she actually had a toxic chemical response to adrenaline. and that is fine. She still skied.edgechange. in being too emotional or too disconnected. w w w. second. but it can be obscured by competitiveness and ego issues in skiing. and. but they feel like they are. When they work together. I’ve met only one student who couldn’t manage anxiety at some level. and quite B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . Anxiety and fear are not the biggest deals out there on skis. understand that anxiety is not a bad thing. and. And then you go up and do it again. The trap is in thinking too much or too little. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Managing anxiety. She’s a wonderful woman who just found excitement to be painful. to do so. E v e r y D a y 12 9 . you are not required to be or act braver than you actually are. First. you become a better athlete and a better learner. Any separation between the mental. not eliminate it. physical. but negative self-judgments about having something so normal as anxiety are a waste of time. The goal of the Will is to manage it. and emotional parts of you is false. If it does disap- pear in the process.) Y Transcendence. Take a moment to appreciate what you’re doing: controlling a free-fall while balancing on a plastic/metal/wood platform down a frozen. tilted surface. The good news is that everyone can manage anx- iety.

at enormous expense. How ridiculous! Years B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . give it to yourself! w w w. Hell. yet. I already know that I have them. I’d say no. Find instructors who know how to give it. by the way.” Any dog trainer worth her salt knows that positive reinforcement is what makes behavior both predictable and fun for the dog. Positive reinforcement is more about the stu- dent/dog and the utter joy of learning new stuff. And. We all need positive reinforcement (which is not the same. just so that he can list my failings. Knowing what you do wrong is not going to help.edgechange. instilling such things as fear of failure and rigidity. I used to play this game in ski lessons: When somebody asked me to tell them what they were doing wrong. If I watched. I’d say. learning to ski or to ski better has been about the sorts of movements you do wrong. as lying about how good we are). for sure. Think of positive reinforcement as marking and rewarding the movements that approximate the behavior you desire—even when they don’t fell great. corrective stuff sometimes works. Traditionally. Negative rein- forcement is more about the instructor/trainer and our insatiable appetite for power and control. Negative. I don’t even watch you ski. ‘no’?” the student would respond. but too often it takes away from other performance aspects. let’s focus on what to do right. If you want to ski better. Knowing it is the same thing as rehearsing it. (“What would you like to learn in your lesson today?” “I just want to find out what I’m doing wrong. Ignore friends who don’t. I am presenting myself before an instructor.”) Where do people get that stuff? Imagine what it means. I just want to be accurate with my list. E v e r y D a y 13 0 . you would just give me bad habits. “What do you mean. I don’t know what you do wrong. “No. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Positive reinforcement.

As I look ahead. E v e r y D a y 131 . Most often. This way. It is the sustained ini- tiative to stay upright and at ease through making constant. Agility and recovery. Anticipation and adjustments. small and large move- ments designed to reaffirm our commitment to being a skier instead of a collapsed heap in the snow. or enough. It is the commitment to embrace change and move with it. w w w. I need to move quickly and with B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . The agile movements of balance are really about rejecting posi- tion and staying in motion with the moving environment. I end up in the balanced mid- dle. which will natu- rally shift my weight forward again. When the shift in environment is dramatic. I need to move in odd directions and move often. I can see how the surface changes and intuitively plan my own changes to match. Balance is often mistaken for hold- ing position. This is the story of anticipation and recovery. So I shift my weight slightly to the back in anticipation of the sudden slowing.edgechange. I require agility to recover when I haven’t anticipated well. If the snow goes from packed to deep and loose. the skis will slow down. Chapter 9 ~ Will COMPETENCIES Y Balance: the verb. my agile recoveries are the epic achievements of my Will to balance.

w w w. In other words. you should usually have all the joints slightly flexed. All the stories that have prevented you from reaching your finest brilliance evaporate and become irrelevant. and you fly. Chapter 9 ~ Will Y Balance: the place. You dive down the hill. It allows you to really perform at your best and B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . bend your knees. You make your move. I advocate centering before you start any movement. In spite of balance being primarily about movement. spiritual. I seek effective starting places—positions to move from and through—in order to gain the best use of my body/mind system within the snow. you careen.edgechange. elegant. E v e r y D a y 13 2 . you hurtle. off of the old edges onto the new ones. my general stance and posture go a long way toward determining how agile and adjustable I can be. you’re really missing out. and energetic centers. or “get ready. It’s about putting you into a relationship with all that’s around you and beyond. You bungee jump. and joyful—all at once.” Y Centering. You launch. This creates an ongoing balancing that is peaceful. To achieve this. and more. You commit. If you haven’t attended one of his Magic of Skiing courses in Aspen or elsewhere. I view this wonderful practice through the elegant work of Tom Crum. Consider your wrist to have been soundly slapped—a really uncentered thing to do! Centering is about all of the above. Y Commitment. with the torso slightly rounded but mostly upright. as well as being completely and fully in the present moment. Then I advocate re-centering at least once after you’ve started so that you reconnect with the new dynamic state. It’s about simultaneously connecting to your physical.

edgechange. First I stood on the rail sideways in the stance he advised. The Will to learn. w w w. I had had enough of watch- ing all these magic kids in the terrain parks as they hopped onto the metal rails and slid sideways to the end. My skis accelerated sideways so fast that in an instant my feet were above my head and my body slammed ignominiously across the metal rail. Next I stepped from the snow to the rail with one foot and slid. This was followed by a quicker. maybe. After a few technical pointers from one of my sons about staying low and forward. It didn’t really look that hard. For some reason I hadn’t even imagined that this surface would be. then landed in the snow and skied or rode away as if nothing very weird had just happened. about a hundred times as slick as snow. Once off the end. E v e r y D a y 13 3 . and then I released myself to slide to the end. It was clear that I had to try it B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . more aggressive hopping step that ensured the ski was in motion as it contacted the rail. Chapter 9 ~ Will Diamond Story: Rail Riding In the southern winter of 2004. I began my practice. I walked up again and repeated this—at least twenty-five times. was a better idea. so I skied up to a very small rail on a gentle slope and hopped on. I felt the pain in the way that only a 60-year-old can! A new approach was in order. with a wide stance. The Will to ride was not enough. like. The Purpose was to get adjusted to the sliding before I tried to leap onto the rail. while skiing in New Zealand.

Next I approached the rail in a slow wedge and smoothly (well. Chapter 9 ~ Will The second ski hopped up behind. Another mass of repetition followed.) With the help of the Sports Diamond™ I was able to coach myself to a rea- sonable level without injury in a short amount of time. I noticed that the crotch on my pants lowered considerably. it’s about edge obliteration. sort of smoothly) stepped up and slid. And now I wear goggles and a crocheted hat even while driving my car. With the help of a wizard coach using the Sports Diamond™. (Rail rid- ing is not about edge change. Girls with jewelry in their tongues started speaking to me. I did this another twenty-five or so times. to not fall— everything moved along fine. Each time I tried to access my sense of Touch. but always comfortable and secure in the fact that I was making progress. sometimes not. Each time I became more sure of myself and available to use the Power pointers I had been given by my son. My sense for the rail increased. The mistakes were good—interesting and useful. I figured out new B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . feeling what the rails were “telling” my skis about how to move on them. And the weather really sucked. it was a brilliant day.edgechange. and . Either way. and they became baggier as I progressed. No matter. There were some very weird side effects. I could have made three times the progress in the same time. And as long as I kept to my Purpose—to slide. E v e r y D a y 13 4 . to grow slowly. Each time in this progression I ended up having a different experience—some- times balanced. of course. I had already decided to sacrifice this old pair to the ravages of the rails. I destroyed the edges of the skis. Brilliant!m w w w.

but that you are balancing. beliefs: Y The most essential principle of Touch is flow. and in my own skiing. but perhaps older (in other forms). we talk about bending the knees. Let’s examine each statement more thoroughly. Rather they are bending and unbending with the ankles. it’s not just that the knees are bent. Balance implies action. Y The most essential principle of Will is attack. In skiing. It’s not that you are in bal- ance. E v e r y D a y 13 5 .” or create a stance that seems safe and technically proper. CHAPTER TEN Y Advanced Brilliance (sort of ) After reigniting my ski teaching career in AspenSnowmass in the winter of 2005. Y It is normal for most athletes to “hold position. w w w. Y The most essential principle of Power is alignment. B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . these are my new. However. Y The most essential principle of Purpose is interface. I have made a few discoveries that I keep returning to in all of my lessons. as a function of Touch. In sum. is that part of you that stays aware as the pres- ent unfolds and moves constantly and consistently within those moments.

especially at the magic moment of the edge change. Chapter 10 ~ Advanced Brilliance Y It is an interesting paradox that great skiers appear to be so “quiet. even for an instant. and there is not much room for error within it. Y The flow of energy (Power) toward Purpose is absolutely directed by Will. but it is not all right to decide not to attack. Furthermore. if the skier does. They are in constant motion. rigidity will set in instantly. Therefore. the windsurfer who won’t drive forward into the jibe. energy in a very specific. determined. narrow direction.edgechange. and the mountain biker who keeps the brakes on through the corner … these athletes must ultimately sum- mon the Will to attack. Y The flow described earlier is not B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . we speak of a vector. and art- ful flow of energy through the turn. or a force in a par- ticular direction. w w w. attack seems to drive the vector. E v e r y D a y 13 6 . however. therefore. but the move- ment is hidden because it is in harmony with the movement of the skis across the snow and down the hill. The ski racer who won’t take it down the hill. the inch more that the skis travel will leave the entire skier system behind. While the skis don’t stop moving. they are anything but quiet. Attack results from Will supporting movement and. the tennis player who won’t swing through the ball. It is all right (and normal) to make small errors in the exact vector. In physics.” If you look at them carefully. if the skier “stops” the body. The skier has to be entirely committed to channeling a precise.

waist (lower spine). Chapter 10 ~ Advanced Brilliance Alignment is critical to Power.edgechange. if the major joints of the body. knees. the spring won’t operate smoothly. hips. Y Many classic ski pointers are designed to align the body. the body’s suspension system will get kinked. w w w. Add the variables of forward speed. and alignment and the flexion/extension (spring) capacity of the body becomes even more critical. through an effi- B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . side geom- etry. When the parts of the body move to maintain skeletal align- ment when challenged by the angles of turning. and neck (upper spine). All of these movements are meant to get your body to align over the skis. Imagine the body as a spring. ski with the legs bending differently from each other. If one part is bent out of alignment. Similarly. able to build and release pressure while its coils compress and expand. and edge angle. flex pattern. coordinated functioning of the joints. then the hips will move behind the feet and the “spring” is useless. and skiing becomes effortless. It is why an instructor may ask you to adjust your inside ski position. Y In order to effortlessly manage and benefit from a ski’s design—its edges. unable to move smoothly and effectively. E v e r y D a y 13 7 . the energy to the skis is greater. don’t flex and unflex in harmony. if the knees bend but the ankles don’t. from the ankles through the neck. or move your arms one way or another. and torsional strength—the body needs to behave like the “intelli- gent” suspension system it is. For example. This is why (in addition to balancing) we flex and unflex at our ankles. to effectively apply energy from momentum and centrifugal force to the ski while minimizing muscular effort. sideways speed.

or so shallowly angled that the skis drift away from the point where the edges bit into the snow and skid through the arc. Managing the interface. My Purpose is to know what I want the ski to do and to cut an appro- priate running surface to allow that. as a principle of Purpose.edgechange. within the boots. Boots are generic. quite deep (in soft snow). and how it nurtures that surface underlie the ultimate purpose of all movement patterns. or a surface. means to discover and use the ski’s ability to create a running surface in the snow. steeply angled to the slope. Many of the best intentions to create alignment are foiled by boots that have not been adjusted to the body that wears B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . E v e r y D a y 13 8 . Chapter 10 ~ Advanced Brilliance Y The most critical alignment takes place at foot level. m w w w. whether it’s a fluid. Y Most technique results in some sort of behavior of the ski and the snow. how the ski moves in the snow. and feet aren’t. what kind of surface it creates. You’ve got to get your “wheels” balanced and aligned in order to perform. Y Normally the ski moves forward through the arc of the turn. riding on a surface that the ski cuts out of the slope. Y At some point every platform or tool in sports connects with and alters the medium of the playing field. a ball. For example. This surface can be quite thin (one edge width or less).

He really works on his technique (Power). or a slight increase in terrain difficulty. “I’m done with these dumb ski instruc- tor turns. He engages the Will to go out and ski in both blizzards and sunshine. the instruc- B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . flat light and bright light. Chapter 10 ~ Advanced Brilliance Diamond Story: Skiing with Harold One of my favorite people and students is a gentleman named Harold Grinspoon. about what he needs. and always asks for the next piece of the puzzle.” w w w. And he uses his Will to step it up—often risking a touch more speed. I want to do short turns (Purpose) because I like the sense of rhythm (Touch). He essentially coaches me. while developing a keen sense of what he needs to change or tweak as the day develops.edgechange. Harold is the diamond. After awhile. a deeper dive into the fall line. E v e r y D a y 13 9 . he will stop and say. The beauty of Harold’s approach is that now he naturally shifts to the differ- ent resources.

edgechange. and skis whenever he can. we didn’t actually make it back that far. This is “brilliant skiing. laughs when he falls. In fact. because right away we started talking about women and telling jokes. These days. He knows that some days it works great. w w B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . every day. he wanted to bring a sense of play- ful innocence to the skiing—like that of a child. So we started to play on the hill—a journey back through time to the moments of wide-eyed discovery where every- thing was new and fascinating and fun. we only got to college. having watched the chil- dren’s theater productions of Aspen’s Kathy Crum. Chapter 10 ~ Advanced Brilliance One day he pulled the ultimate Touch move on me." And Harold is only 75. Well. and some days it’s more dif- ficult. is thrilled to just be out in the snow among friends. the great question of each day is whether the skiing will be fantastic—or just terrific. because he knows. E v e r y D a y 14 0 . He said that. he carves his turns with rhythm and grace. as Klaus Obermayer of Aspen is fond of saying. Just think how much fun he’s gonna have when he grows up. And none of that bothers him.

In the meantime.edgechange. www. and to create a brilliant day for yourself—every single day. Weems Westfeldt weems@edgechange. we’ll be offering new products and opportunities for sports and leadership and we hope to keep you on our list of w w w. E v e r y D a y 141 .edgechange. beautiful snow of B r i l l i a n t S k i i n g . So that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! I hope you enjoy the possibilities that open when you approach sports with the Sports Diamond .™ It has the capacity to help you lift you to new levels of joy in any sport that you do. Please stay in touch with us through the From time to time. come on out and take a Diamond Session on the dry.