Just got back from a season ending ski trip, and wanted to follow up on some reading material I took along. Comments on "Climb To Conquer" available here in case that might be of interest. I also read the 1985 Phil and Steve Mahre autobiography "No Hill Too Fast". As someone who has really just gotten into skiing this past season I was interested from the perspective of learning more about skiing history, but also wanted to glean what I could from the advice offered by these champion racers.
The book more or less alternates chapters of personal history with attempts to pass along skiing techniques and tactics used in racing but usable by the recreational skier. This is not a book about (traditional) powder skiing! It's mostly oriented around carving clean turns by working the skis independently and getting on and pressuring that downhill ski! The mantra is speed: it's your friend and you need it to progress! These guys are racers, speed is their hammer, every problem a nail, e.g. "And if I'm skiing bumps, they might just as well be five feet high. Then I'll go from top to top of the bumps, using a lot of knee absorption."
(Steve qualifies the above by warning the reader "do as I say than do as I do", and does offer a few comments and pictures oriented skiing bumps for mere mortals.)
Seriously though, I did find the book inspiring and actually incredibly helpful. The conditions at A-Basin where I skied last weekend were made for carving (unlike the powder dump going on right now): Firm/icy in a lot of places in the morning, softer but never too deep as the day wore on. Previously when I would make turns I would think about rolling the edges or perhaps trying to move my center of mass downhill, but one approach the Mahres suggested was to "...shift all the weight onto the uphill ski by straightening the knee and hip with an extending upward motion. The result is to lift the downhill ski off the snow". I'd never thought of it exactly that way, and by hanging onto that thought and trying to employ it I seemed to ski/carve more cleanly, aggressively and comfortably than I had before!
The book also offered a good tip for those who are having trouble feeling centered on their skis: exaggerate the out of balance state by leaning way forward/back while skiing and then coming back in to a more reasonable stance until the proper state is felt. I used that a lot and it helped me find that balance point, kept me forward and away from getting in the back seat.
With a lot of discussion and focus these days on rockered skis and the potential demise of traditional carving technique it was interesting to absorb this state of the art ~1985 knowledge. One interesting bit is that I've seen comments by proponents of the newer ski designs stating that the fatter rockered skis allow traditional ski (independent leg pressuring) technique to be applied to powder skiing. I've still yet to really get into skiing powder, and was wondering what some of you more experienced folks think of that idea? Perhaps in an ironic twist as the newer skis do take recreational skiers away from clean carving on the groomed they will lead them to ski in a more traditional manner in powder?