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Two years ago a dramatic change swept through American skiing. Willy Schaeffler, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's contributing ski editor, introduced his modification of the new Austrian shortswing style in these pages (Nov. 25, 1957 et seq.). Thereafter, two out of three skiers on the hill were either trying the shortswing or talking about it. But the ski teachers who developed the Austrian shortswing under Professor Stefan Kruckenhauser did not stop experimenting in 1957. The theory and technique of shortswing today has been carried further. In collaboration with Kruckenhauser and Friedl Wolfgang, Clemens (Miki) Hutter, a young Austrian Ph.D. (currently an instructor at the Sugarbush ski area in Vermont), created a new and exciting learning technique called Sprungwedeln. It employs quick, springing jumps to bring skiers more rapidly into shortswing's final stage, Wedeln—which is a series of swiftly connected shortswing turns that marks the accomplished recreational skier. Late last winter Willy Schaeffler explored and confirmed the thesis of Sprungwedeln: that leg spring plus countermovement of the upper body versus the lower body is the heart of shortswing. Then Schaeffler set to work expanding and modifying Hutter's exercises to meet the needs of American skiers. At left, Schaeffler demonstrates a basic learning maneuver in Sprungwedeln: a Sprung, or abbreviated leap with pole held in the hands. It looks startling. It works effectively. Sprungwedeln, Part I, begins at right by commanding the skier to hold his poles in both hands while he concentrates on the spring and countermovement that will lead new and old skiers alike to smoother skiing.
Snowplow ballet: the first step
M ove slowly down fall line in the snowplow position, thighs nearly vertical. Knees bend forward and inward to edge skis. Poles are horizontal, waist-high.
T o turn left, poles swing over almost parallel to right ski, body bends from waist to throw weight to right ski. Knee turns inward to increase edging of right ski. Left ski just brushes over snow.
A s soon as skis turn left somewhat, start right turn. Poles swing over left ski, body bends left. Left knee turns inward to edge left ski. Object of ballet cycle is to make possible rapid shifts from left turn to right turn and back.
Gentle slope is required for practice of snowplow ballet. Arrow above traces path of skier as he starts in fall line and then makes a left and a right turn. If he shifts weight from ski to ski as quickly as he should in going from one turn to another, the result is a snakelike path, and skier seems to be dancing a swift ballet down fall line.
Stem ballet: for steeper terrain
S tart in traverse position, moving at right angles to fall line, poles held parallel to downhill ski and to the ground.
T o begin right turn, uphill ski stems out, poles simultaneously swing to position almost paralleling the uphill ski.
S temmed ski skids into the fall line, with skier bending from waist to put almost full weight on the stemmed ski.