Get Low and Push!
Sunday, 3 February 2013 | Evan
"Get low and push!" is a cry I've been hearing a lot over the last week. No, I haven't taken up being a prop in a rugby scrum, I've been on a week's off-piste skiing course based in Sainte Foy in the Tarantaise valley. More about Ste Foy later, but for the moment I'm going to tell you about the guy doing the shouting, Nick Quinn. Nick's an interesting character. Now in his 40's, he's had a varied career that spanned the Parachute Regiment (he was too small for the Marines!), the Fire Service (where he became a world champion in rescue) and working for the British Association of Ski Instructors as their Training Director. However, for a number of years now he has been settled with his family in Ste Foy, where he is a full-certificate ski instructor who runs his own ski school, Ski Encore, as well as spending some time each season delivering all mountain ski courses for Snoworks.
I've skied with Nick a few times in the past, and liked his approach (which I'd describe as deep technical knowledge, a thorough understanding of sports psychology, allied to unrelenting, friendly enthusiasm), so 5 friends and I hired him for a whole week of off-piste instruction and guiding. We decided to base ourselves in Ste Foy, a small ski station which some of you may not have heard of. Although Ste Foy has only a few lifts and relatively limited piste skiing, its off-piste has an almost legendary status for being easily accessible, interesting, and retaining untracked snow far after the off-piste in the nearby bigger resorts is completely skied out. It's also known as "the pearl in the oyster", as it is closely surrounded by some of France's most famous ski areas- Val D'Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne and La Rosiere are all within a 20 minute drive, meaning that we had easy access to some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Because Nick has lived and taught in these areas for years, he knows them intimately.
I'll tell you about our itinerary in another blog, but for the moment I want to focus on Nick's approach to skiing in deep snow. It's simple- get down low and push! It's also remarkably effective. A low stance at the start and end of a turn means that your legs are compressed, with flexed knees and ankles. This means that during the main part of the turn, you have a powerful ability to extend your legs outwards, pushing loads of snow, which in turn pushes back on you to make you turn. Varying the speed and extend of the push gives fine tuning capacity. Over the last week we had practically every type of off-piste snow imaginable, varying from light powder to heavy rain-soaked snow, and getting low and pushing (GLAP as I've named it) worked every time, or at least every time I remembered to do it. And if I didn't remember? Well that's when Nick's GLAP war cry came in! So next time you're skiing in deep snow (or even heavy snow on-piste), give it a go. If it works for you, great, if not, think about hiring Nick to show you how!