The acrobatic, gymnastic maneuvering of Jean-Claude Killy—who drives for a gate at 50 miles an hour, sits back, accelerates by thrusting his feet forward, pushes onto another ski and heads for the next gate in the Olympic giant slalom—is acrobatic, gymnastic skiing beyond the ability of any other skier in the world today. But now the brink-of-disaster style that won Killy two World Cups and three Olympic gold medals has become the basis for a new system that will help any good skier run down a mountain. The new French way of skiing was unveiled at Interski, a triannual get-together of ski instructors that was held in Aspen last April with teams from 10 countries present. On the following pages Killy tells you how he skis and, with photographs of the French demonstration team, shows you how you can, by adopting these secrets of the Killy style, have more fun skiing than you ever had before.
"Here's how you can accelerate," says Killy. "These turns, demonstrated by French instructors at Interski, are adapted from my giant slalom turn. As you come around, you gain momentum by pushing your weight onto your uphill ski, bringing your downhill arm around as a steering force, lifting your downhill ski completely, weight far forward. You plant the pole, zoom into the fall line, now parallel, feet apart for balance, and immediately start another push onto the uphill ski. The difference in this and my racing turn is body position. I shift my weight violently back and forth—something even the best racers have a hard time emulating. But any competent skier will find a new joy accelerating down a mountain like this."
"In the slalom, as here at Grenoble, I sit way back, legs apart, shoulders square, the action in the knees and the ankles," Killy says. This charging-downhill position, demonstrated by the French team, is called "godille," a word that means sculling. Every hotshot on the hill will try this wide-stance version of Austria's "Wedeln" this winter. " 'Wedeln'? What's that?" asks Killy with a twinkle.
"Your legs are the world's best shock absorbers," says Killy, "and absorbing the terrain is called 'avalement,' or swallowing, by the French. If I hadn't 'swallowed' the Col de la Balme in the Grenoble downhill (above) it would have devoured me. As a recreational skier you should ski more directly down a bumpy field, body low, pulling up your knees like the demonstrator (at right). If you stand straight, all is finished. Guide yourself with your knees, turning only slightly on the top of each bump."
SKIING IS NOT A BEAUTY CONTEST
Everybody has been trying to analyze the way I ski. For a long time people said that I skied as if I were recovering from disaster, and friends would say to me after a race, "Wow, Toutoune, you almost got it there, didn't you?" And I would say, "Where?" What they didn't realize was that what I was doing was right for me. I really began to bear down on my training and on every second of a race after the Innsbruck Olympics, and I have always been in control ever since. If my weight was behind my skis, and it often is, and if my legs were wide apart, and they almost always are, and if I seemed to be flailing my arms, it was all a part of a way to ski faster that I had developed and which was natural for me. It worked.
When I first became a member of the French ski team in 1960, I imitated our best skiers of the time: Michel Arpin, Guy P�rillat and Adrien Duvillard. Everyone then was skiing very low down, and I discovered that I became very tired skiing like that. It wasn't natural for me, so I decided to find my own way. I gradually developed a style of skiing more upright and more relaxed. It didn't come to me instantly but took years of hard work.
Everyone, racer or novice, should ski in a way natural for him. You don't walk down a street all bent, with your upper body facing sideways. If you try to ski like that all day you'll end up sleeping twisted in a knot all night. Locking your feet together may look nice but it is just as unnatural. Skiing is not a concours de beaut�, and if it feels right to ski with your feet apart, keep them apart.
If you approach the mountains with this idea in mind and ski the way most natural for you, you will get more pleasure out of the sport. The most important thing is to be in shape before you get there. Too many people arrive at a ski area with no more preparation than when they go to the beach. They plunge down the mountain as if they were plunging into the sea, without any physical conditioning beforehand.
Accidents occur most frequently on the first day of skiing—particularly to those who have not spent at least five minutes a day getting ready. With the kind of equipment we have today, there is no reason for anyone to have an accident if he is in reasonable shape.