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The introduction of Sprungwedeln, a new approach to the effective shortswing system of skiing, is climaxed this week with demonstrations by Willy Schaeffler, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Contributing Editor, on the use of the ski pole. Last week Schaeffler showed that it is perfectly possible to make smooth, connected turns using only leg and body action to provide lift and turning force, the two essentials of any fast turn. It follows that the pole is best used as a booster force, not the basic force, in a turn. Any day on the slope you can see skiers trying to do most of their lifting and turning With their poles, completely neglecting leg and body action. The result is slow, ungraceful skiing. The arms simply cannot supply the right moves as quickly as the powerful muscles of the body and legs. On the following pages Schaeffler shows you how to blend the movements of the poles into the basic leg and body action of the short-swing that he demonstrated in Part I. Three of the pole handling exercises are valuable maneuvers in their own right and will add to your repertory of shortswing turns. All the exercises will increases your ability to handle any slope with ease.
Sprungwedeln in place
The first exercise of Part II is a jump turn in place with two poles at once; the second (bottom of the page) is a jump turn in place with alternate poles. These two exercises allow you to think about handling your poles without having to worry about handling terrain at the same time. The exercises preserve the weight shift and counterswivel learned in Part I. Each exercise starts with a jump turn to the right. You spring up and to your left, carrying the tails of the skis in the direction of the arrow, leaving the ski tips in the same spot (red dot). Simultaneously, your upper body counterswivels quickly to move your hands from your right to your left.
Poles go into snow just ahead of boots. Upper body counterswivels to comma position. Legs spring and swing the tails of skis in the direction of arrow. Right hand bears down on pole to help legs swing skis. Upper body counterswivels, moving hands in direction of arrow. Knees bend to soften landing, start new turn to left.
Right pole goes into the snow just ahead of boot. Left pole is free. As legs spring, right hand bears down on pole to help, then pulls pole out by moving across front of body. Left hand moves out, ready to plant pole when skier lands. Then skier jumps back again. The cycle is repeated rapidly from side to side to simulate actual Wedeln.
Traverse Wedeln: across the hill
Traverse Wedeln gives you your first practice in placing the pole while you are moving down the hill. At the beginning of the turn, counterswivel to start your heel push (uppermost figure) and, from the comma position, plant your downhill pole gently. (If you jab hard, the pole will jump back at you and throw you off balance.) In planting the pole, the upper arm on the downhill side hangs fairly close to your body, while the forearm extends at right angles to the direction of the skis. Plant the basket end of the pole halfway out to the ski tip, make your leg spring and, as you approach the basket, bear down on the pole. Then the counterswivel of your upper body moves your hand forward and in to pull the pole out of the snow. Pick an easy traverse, keep your arm relaxed until the moment when it bears on the pole and follow the pattern of hand movement in relation to ski movement that is set up by the exercises on the page opposite. In the traverse Wedeln you first learn to combine the thrust from the poles with the thrust of the legs. This produces greater lifting and turning than leg spring alone can give. In contrast to all the sequences you have learned so far, traverse Wedeln is not merely an exercise, but a shortswing maneuver in its own right. You can use traverse Wedeln to your advantage whenever you run a trail that traverses the face of a steep hill.
Start in traverse line, counterswivel upper body to comma position to begin heel push to the downhill side.
At end of heel push, plant downhill pole, start leg spring. Bear down on pole and swing the tails of the skis.
As tails swing up, downhill hand moves forward, uphill hand goes back and out, ready to plant the pole.