SI Vault
Ezra Bowen
December 15, 1958
Willy Schaeffler introduces a class of youngsters to the fun-and-games way of learning the fundamentals of skiing
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December 15, 1958

Short Cut To The Shortswing

Willy Schaeffler introduces a class of youngsters to the fun-and-games way of learning the fundamentals of skiing

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Starting down for the first time, Willy tells Danny to touch his boots, thus keeping weight over the skis and counteracting beginner's tendency to fall over backward when skis first start to move.

Low bridge by Danny Johnson and tight squeeze (right) by Marilyn Ganong are good games to get pupils to use down and up movements of knees and ankles they will need later on in bumpy terrain and difficult snow. Other games, such as throwing down a mitten and picking it up, lifting one ski or tossing up ski poles while making slow downhill run improve beginner's balance, help get his mind off skis so that he moves more naturally over the snow.


Half sidestep with kick-turn is best way to climb long hill. Below, Schaeffler shows correct sequence for turn.

Starting kick-turn (1), Willy plants poles uphill, three to four feet apart and two feet from skis. Then he kicks (2) downhill leg up, swings tip up and back (3), leaning on poles for support. With the skis parallel but now heading in opposite directions (4) he shifts weight to lower ski, swings other one around (5), heads in new direction (6).

Trying kick-turn on level ground, Lester heads for trouble as butt of ski hits snow too soon. Kick-turn is much easier to do on slope than on level, should always be started with downhill ski.

Standing on slope, Willy shows pupils how to plant poles in front to keep skis from slipping. By placing poles so, class automatically gets into correct downhill stance, with upper body relaxed, knees flexed, body leaning forward slightly. In this position weight will stay over skis without need of bending to touch boots as shown in first downhill exercise on the opposite page.


Herringbone is most difficult of uphill steps for novices to learn, but is good way to move quickly up gradual incline. Starting out, Willy spreads tips of skis, puts weight on inside edges, leans well forward and uses powerful pole push to keep skis from slipping backward and crossing. With practice, skier can almost run up if slope is not too steep or snow too deep.

Stepping into slope (left) is the beginner's way of checking speed on first attempt at making a traverse. Using the simple change-of-direction step learned in relay race on first page, Willy shows Smokey Anderson, 11, how to angle across the hill in a fairly steep traverse, then step-step-step back toward the slope, lifting uphill ski first each time (see diagram) until he comes to a stop with the skis perpendicular to the fall line, i.e., line of steepest descent.

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