Ski Happy: Flex and extend


By Kimberlee Hutcherson

SUN Columnist

There are three basic skiing movements that we use to ski more effectively: flexing and extending movements (balance and pressure control), edging skills (tipping the feet and legs) and rotary skills (turning the feet and legs).

We can greatly improve our skiing by understanding these skills and how they apply to our personal skiing.

First, flexing and extending movements help us stay balanced and control the amount of pressure placed on our skis.

Second, edging skills allow the skier to direct the ski to control the shape of the turn and speed, and, third, rotary skills are used to turn the skis in all types of terrain and conditions.

So, why is this important?

Let’s look at the first one — flexing and extending.

Our joints should flex and move so that we stay in balance. Stiff, straight joints are not good, at least as it applies to snow sports. The stiffer you are, the more you will be thrown off balance. Your ankles, knees and hips should be flexed evenly and together. If your ankles stay straight but your hips are flexed, this will cause your hips to drop back behind your knees. You will know you’re doing this because your thighs will start to burn.

Keeping your ankles bent and your shins pressed to the front of your boots will keep you more forward and take the pressure off your thighs. It is much easier on your body to relax and soften your joints; plus, you’re much more likely to stay in balance.

There is much more to be said about flexing and extending joints and how and when to pressure your skis, so I’ll  address this further in future columns.

For now, stand with your feet hip distance apart and bend your ankles, knees, hips and lower back equally and together. Hold that position. This is flexing.

Now, relax your joints. This will cause you to rise. This is extension.

When you initiate a turn, you should be extended. When you finish a turn, you should be flexed.

Practice this before you even hit the slopes. It will help get your legs and joints ready.

Kimberlee Hutcherson is a certified ski instructor with Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and has been teaching skiing for the last 22 years.