Originally Posted by jhcooley
We might observe that, fear or not, we've all been walking for a while. A year or two. Or many. Anyway, when we're strolling along in our runners or our hiking boots and we come to a downward slope, what do we do? When wearing shoes, we settle back on our heels. The shoes usually don't simply slide downhill (except on slippery slopes of some kind, in which case we end up on our butts), so the tactic works pretty well, and has worked well for years.
My wife falls every hiking season at least once on steep rocky surfaces. Her automatic response is to lean back to arrest her forward movement and her feet slide out from under her. Mine is just the opposite. When I approach a pitched surface, subconsciously I flex my ankles and knees and get my weight forward over the balls of my feet to get as much surface area (friction) as possible on my feet/shoes. "grip...grip...grip" runs through my mind. It may be because I loved to climb on boulders as a child.
For whatever reason, that same "instinct" does not carry through in my skiing, even though I started skiing at an early age also. I still have to make a conscious effort to focus on getting up and over my skis when encoutering a steep, icy pitch. It is a mental thing, however, because if I ski the same pitch in a race training mode, it happens automatically. Freeskiing the same pitch, I have to consciously think to stay forward. Different objectives maybe? Race training is go faster, freeskiing is stay in control.