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The Freedom of the snow fields beckons with this second lesson of the series on the new shortswing technique by Willy Schaeffler, Denver University ski coach and head of the ski school at Arapahoe Basin. Three weeks ago on these pages Willy showed 17 living room exercises to prepare you for the supple heel thrust and reverse shoulder turns in this new method. Now he shows under actual skiing conditions how the shortswing really works.
To assist with the demonstrations, Willy drafted Mrs. Vernon (Ann) Taylor, wife of one of Denver's leading businessmen. Ann is an accomplished skier in the shoulder-rotating Arlberg technique. But after one day with Willy she was converted to the new method. On the second day, she mastered the basic movements up through the stem turn. Any advanced intermediate can catch on as quickly as Ann. Beginners will probably take longer, but by using the teaching aids that Willy and Ann show on the following pages, they will be able to learn more easily and with more pleasure than with any other system of skiing.
Old downhill position has deeper knee bend, strong forward lean from hips, hands low. Poles are short, since skier using either French or Arlberg crouch is close to the snow.
New downhill position is upright, with only slight flexing of knees, ankles; no hip bend, hands above waist. Poles are four inches longer to help keep skier erect, should reach within hand's breadth of armpit.
In the shortswing, the basic maneuver, from which all other moves develop, is the traverse, in which the skier moves diagonally across the slope. And the basic position is the striking new comma, shown below. In the comma, the downhill shoulder is pulled back and the weight is on the downhill ski. The upper body is over the skis, with the hips, knees and ankles curved toward the slope. This idea of beginning with the traverse is a direct departure from the Arlberg method, which starts from the snow plow. It differs, too, from the French method, which builds from a traverse but keeps the shoulders squared and demands a powerful forward lean at the knees and hips. In the comma, by contrast, the upper body is loose, relaxed, ready to move with subtle, rhythmic motions rather than powerful swings.
Learning comma, Ann gets her downhill shoulder back, but keeps hips, knees locked in incorrect straight-on position. Willy has body curved in correct comma. Heavy lines dramatize difference between shortswing and other traverse techniques.
Ankle touch while moving in traverse helps skier to keep shoulder back, body flexible. As exercise shows in Nov. 25 issue, skier with squared shoulders is able to reach only to knee.
Perfect comma on a flat surface shows knees, ankles together so skis form single unit. On slope, skier should look ahead, advance upper ski two to four inches.
Lifting uphill Ski forces weight onto the downhill ski, upper body leaning out over slope. Natural reaction on steep hill is to lean toward slope, danger�us in fall since shoulders will hit while skis are still planted in snow, causing a bad twist.