Here’s How to Ski (Feb, 1946)
Here’s How to Ski
Skiing is a healthy, outdoor sport which can add to your life’s pleasures—-and it’s easy.
BY BILL FALVEY
SO YOU want to ski? Well, go to it. It’s a lusty, fine exercise and just what the doctor ordered but it, too, has its pitfalls. Better take a few words of advice from one who knows.
Don’t go in for skiing foolhardily. Don’t swell your chest and tell yourself that, because you are pretty fair at tennis or golf, you’ll find skiing a cinch right off. In other words, don’t rush in. If you do, you’ll find yourself piled up with doctor bills, perhaps, or laid up with sore spots for days.
Like all other phases of physical endeavor, skiing requires body condition, but—and this should ease your mind at once—skiing will condition you IF you take it easy at the start. You can begin skiing at once. That is, you can begin if you will take the time to absorb a few basic principles of action. Then, as you grow in confidence and skill you can expand your activities. In a comparatively short time you can be skimming down medium hills, feeling the tangy bite of cold wind against your cheeks and enjoying an exhilaration of mind and body beyond comparison.
Once you have decided to take up skiing, go to a reliable store and purchase the necessary equipment.
Ski boots are recognizable by their distinctive design. They are of extremely sturdy construction, built for the single purpose of skiing. You will find them in a price range to suit your pocketbook. Be certain they grip your ankles well, and buy them large enough so that you will be able to get into them with heavy socks. In extremely cold weather you may want to wear a light pair of socks under the heavier ones, so be certain of the fit.
Skis, as you undoubtedly know, are made of wood. Various woods are used, with enthusiasts for all, but your principal concern at first should be stoutness and price. By this we don’t mean you can go out and buy a set of barrel staves; get a good solid pair of skis at a medium price, for a beginning. Most sporting goods stores have expert consultants; take their advice and you’ll not go wrong. The length of your ski is important. Usually the proper length is the height to which you can reach with your fingertips. In the case of the average man, this will be about 7 feet, 6 inches.
Next, watch the foot binding. Modern skis have mechanical grips. Be certain your foot fits snugly, then check the grip. It should hold your boot firmly so that you cannot shake it loose, but at the same time the action should be free and easy. There may be a time when you will want to shuck your ski in a hurry. If the action is stiff or does not operate smoothly, injury might result.
Now for clothing. Here you can let your tastes run rampant. If you like vivid colors go on out and buy them. You can bedeck yourself like the assembled flags of the United Nations if you choose, for manufacturers of ski clothes have turned out riots of colors for your tastes. But make sure you select them for warmth. Get thin material, where possible—that is, thin but warm and weather resistant. For underclothing we would suggest lightweight woolens of a tight weave. They’ll absorb perspiration and prevent you from catching chills and cold.
Those poles you see dangling from a skier’s wrists are vitally important. They help provide balance, assist in getting over obstacles and are invaluable in turns. So select them as carefully as you select your skis and your shoes. You need a flexible pole, the shafts should not be stiff as iron. Remember you will be putting your weight on them at crucial moments in skiing. If they do not bend with your weight on a hard, crusty surface they will snap in two.
At the outset, of course, your interest will be in staying on your feet. This is not difficult. Set your skis firmly on the ground, just far enough apart to be comfortable. Balance your weight evenly between the balls of your feet and the heels. Now, convinced that you won’t flop, lean forward and thrust your arms out, digging your two poles in the snow ahead of you. This will start you in motion. As you slide forward, advance one foot slightly in front of the other, bend your knees a trifle and let your body lean forward. This is the correct skiing position. Once you master it you’ll have no trouble. Practice it at home when no one is looking.
Remember, at all times when you are moving ahead, either on the flat or downhill, to keep your knees flexed and your body inclined forward in a slight crouch. DON’T, at any time, dump your weight rearward. You’ll wind up with a broken ankle if you do. If you feel yourself off balance and likely to fall, thrust your two feet to the right or left and, at the same time dig your poles in on the opposite side to the thrust of your skis. NEVER try to fall forward or backwards. ALWAYS drop sideways and you’ll minimize the danger of broken or sprained ankles.
Wherever possible, get instruction. You can join small groups at a low fee if you please, or you can take the more expensive individual instruction. This is not necessary but it is a wise practice. Many of the outstanding skiers of the country are self-taught.
Never begin to use skis on a hill or slope, no matter how slight. Get out on the flat first. You’ll find it rugged going at first as your muscles react to unaccustomed exercise, but you’ll gain confidence soon and have a good sense of balance in a short time. Then you can try the slopes. Good running!