|It's really two different styles. How can I work on both?
Hey SMJ--It's a great question, I agree that racing has become more and more specialized, with rapid gates ("targets" that you should run into, rather than obstacles you must avoid), armor, and specialized equipment optimized for the consistently smooth and firm conditions (even more than years past, due to injected courses that don't get rutted as much). But I don't think the meaningful differences are as great as you suggest. The two main differences you bring up are debatable, but even if they are real, they are just characteristics resulting from the terrain/condition and tactical variations of racing vs.
off-piste skiing. The underlying fundamental principles and the skills involved are, I would argue, identical.
Foremost among these principles is the importance of offensive habits--of gliding vs.
braking, keeping your skis going the direction they're pointing, using technique to control direction and tactics to control speed, skiing "the slow line fast." (Of course in racing, someone else--the course setter--chooses your line for you, for the most part.) Also principle is versatility and adaptability, mastery of the full spectrum of technical and tactical options, the ability to make the skis do what you want from less-then-optimal positions, and to ski through imbalance.
So, what about the points you raised:
|Feet further apart, more outside ski dominant vs.
Feet closer together more two-footed platform skiing.
I can tell you that I make very few conscious technical changes in most conditions and situations. I do not intentionally go from "1-footed" to "2-footed" techniques when conditions go from firm to soft and deep. Indeed, while trying to "pressure both skis evenly" is common advice for skiing powder, I've never had much success with focusing on "equal pressure," personally. In fact, I rarely care at all which ski bears more "weight." What I do is focus on the same movement patterns of my feet as on firm snow--keeping them both moving continuously forward, parallel to each other, and at about the same level. On firm, grippy snow, my balance shifts naturally toward the outside ski due to the forces of the turn (rarely to any intentional movement on my part)--just as balance shifts toward the outside wheels of a car zooming around a curve. So I become "one-footed" naturally, without conscious effort. It would take more effort to prevent
my balance from shifting to the outside than to let it!
But if that outside ski slips or skids a little, or less firm snow breaks away, or the outside ski sinks deeper into soft snow, pressure will naturally move to my inside ski. And I'll let it. With both feet buried the same depth in bottomless powder, the "weight" will be about equal. So, with the very same movements,
I'll become more two-footed in soft conditions, and more one-footed in firm conditions. Same technique, varying outcomes. Same principles, different characteristics.
Stance width changes are similar--characteristics that arise from varying conditions, speeds, and (perhaps) tactics, rather from conscious choice to use fundamentally different technique. Compared with typical turns in powder, crud, and steeps, high-speed carved turns on grippy firm snow generate much greater g-force, which requires deeper inclination (leaning in) for balance, with the inside leg flexing much more deeply than the outside leg. The skis simply can't stay close together on the snow and allow these kinds of angles, so stance naturally widens.
In addition, racing often creates the need for quick and sudden direction changes, sometimes when out of balance, which creates a greater need for foot-to-foot movements than is typical off-piste. And those movements work better on hard snow, too, where there is a solid platform to make stepping movements from. (Ever try skating in deep powder?) So hard snow provides opportunities that don't always exist off-piste. Not a "different technique"--just more options.
Really, I think that there is nothing better for developing your off-piste skiing skills than some time spent in gates, with the objective feedback of the clock as your coach. And no great racers spend all their time in gates. (Many mediocre racers do, of course, which furthers my point....) It's all skiing. It's all the same skills, combined with the versatility, tactical wizardry, and "touch" that all great skiers share. Practice it all, everywhere--narrow stance in gates, wide stance in powder, carving, braking, pivoting, gliding, stepping, skating, foward, centered, back, one-footed, two-footed, ... everything.
Ski powder, steeps, crud, bumps, ice, trees, and gates. Ski fast, and ski slow. Ski with abandon, and ski with focus. Mix it up. Don't ever get bored.
You'll improve on both of your goals--and everything else!