The modern stance for fat skis
by Mickey Stone
Telemarking has taken on a whole new look the bowlegged look. Skis spanning 100-135mm underfoot are common, and while it takes some technique adjustment, they can make short and long turns with equal prowess. Here’s how.
To drive fat skis, you naturally need stiff, four-buckle boots and active bindings. Don’t under-power your setup. With the width of new generation skis matched with the power of modern boots and bindings—you’ll have much more stability and security through any shape of turn.
Take a wider stance to accommodate the width of the skis by positioning your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart—it may feel awkward at first. This wider stance allows for more diagonal body movement, which translates to easier and more powerful turn initiation. Pressure your skis equally throughout the turn, or you will definitely feel one ski dragging, or pulling you away from the turn. This stance also helps facilitate lead ski changes during the transition from one turn to the next.
Get comfortable with using the rebound of your skis, rather than just standing and muscling them onto edge. Use those enormous quads to bring the skis around in each turn with smooth extension and retraction. As you initiate the turn, allow your legs to extend away from your body. Maximum extension (and power) should coincide with the apex or belly of your turn. When you reach this point, you’ll want to let the ski rebound and bring your legs back to a centered, neutral athletic—but still wide—position. Done correctly, even the fattest of the fat will feel very light and easily directed. A slower, higher-pressure retraction will yield more energy and speed through the turn. With fat skis, it’s less about edge pressure as it is about edge control. There is a time to hammer the edge on hard snow, but by diversifying your movements, the skis other attributes (flotation, stability, smearing ability) can shine.
The same extension and retraction technique works in deep snow, but instead of even footto- foot pressure, try skiing with less weight on your front leg. Stand on your rear ski through the turn, and actively tilt and guide it where you want to go. Your front ski will lightly float over every bump, chunk, or crud ball, and you should remain centered, stable, and balanced over your inside ski.
Perhaps most endearing about fat skis is their forgiving nature. If you find yourself in trouble, quickly move your uphill foot forward and transition into the next turn, with your weight balanced on both skis. When you find your center, you’ll feel a large, stable platform beneath you. This stability allows you to get back into your normal rhythm without an emergency maneuver (like making a desperate alpine turn).
So, you ready to saddle up? Adopt a slightly wider stance, learn to control your skis with even pressure from your lower body, and identify the specific movements that fit your style and the conditions. You’ll enjoy unmatched stability, versatility, and flotation in all conditions. Plus those fatties just look so cool…
—Mickey Stone has been a PSIA certified instructor and outdoor educator for over 25 years. He is passionate about the history of the sport and turning people on to the rewards of being a freeheeled skier.
*This article originally appeared in TS#12