Active inclination – an advanced edging skill.

 

Active inclination at the start of a turn.

Inclination is an active edging skill. Active means we have to consciously perform it. The opposite would be a passive movement. Flex your ankles (active movement) and your knees will flex (passive movement) as well. Inclination allows you to achieve that ‘oh-so-mysterious’ high early edge and it also puts you in a good position to angulate* more effectively. 


Active inclination is NOT just leaning our upper body into the new turn, sometimes referred to as banking. If you stood up and just leaned to your left, your balance would instantly be on your left foot before you eventually fell over. If instead, you jumped from one outside foot to the other, your balance would always be on the outside foot. Anatomically, we are rolling the outside foot from little toe to big toe and using our leg strength as we straighten our ankles to propel our body across. Remember, we’re jumping across, not up. The up that happens is more a by product. When skiing, we don’t actually jump but extend our legs strongly across. 

Simulating the movement of inclination. Strong extension from outside foot to outside foot. 

 

Skating into turns.
Feet is on an angle rather than pointing straight,

moving skier forward and across.

The movement of inclination is simple but by no means easy. Skiing is always done on a slope. We are going downhill and fast. So we can’t just project across. We have to project both across and forward down a hill to stay centred on our skis. The forward bit usually screams against every instinct in our body. Self preservation kicks in and we want to lean back against what we perceive as a life threatening situation. Try running down a slope. You would have to ensure your body moves with your feet. If you let the legs get ahead of your body, you’re toast. Ski a steeper slope on snow blades (very short skis) and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Skating into turns down a flatter slope is a good drill to build the sensation and confidence for inclination. Skating properly is a skill unto itself. Work on using the same movement as when you’re jumping across from one leg to the other. Except you’re doing it with your feet at an angle to get the forward projection. It’s also a very similiar movement to a forward stroke in ice skating or roller blading. 

Skating is very similiar in
both skiing and ice skating.

Inclination is used at the start of a turn. When we do so, we are rewarded with an early edge. The greater our speed, the more we can incline. The more we incline, the higher our early edge. 

But we can only stay in an inclined position up to the fall line. If we continue to do so after the fall line, we’ll either fall or end up balanced on the inside ski which then becomes ‘banking’. We’ll need to angulate the inclined position after the fall line to stay balanced. Angulation has the added bonus of further increasing our edge angle.

Frame 3 – Inclined position above the fall line.  
Skier then progressively angulates the inclined position.



Like I said, it’s not the easiest thing to learn. Yes, it will feel like you’re throwing yourself ahead of the skis. (They are actually more beside you rather than behind you). The trick is to always ensure the movement originates from the new outside foot and not the upper body. Active inclination at speed is an exhilarating feeling akin to the accelerating sensation on a roller coaster. (The ‘I left my stomach behind there’ feeling). Similiarly, if you’re not a fan of roller coasters, it might be more terrifying rather than exhilarating.



*angulate/ angulation – making angles with our body in skiing.

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