Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Running Barefoot Improved My Skiing!

Living and Running barefoot and wearing ski boots are about as opposite as one can get as far as footwear is concerned, but I am convinced running barefoot has improved my skiing.

From December 15 through the beginning of April, I ski a lot, relatively, for a guy who lives in New Jersey. Thirteen days so far this season. Last I season, I skied 27 days - this year my goal is 30. It isn't the total of an instructor, patroller, racer or Salt Lake native - but it is something. Anyway, This winter I have had a breakthrough in skiing moguls (AKA bumps), followed by an epiphany (er, or something). In the past I skied them fine on gentle terrain, but on steeper terrain had only limited success. I would take a few turns, then had to stop and think about it, or would get my weight too far back and then onto my uphill ski and lose my balance. But this season, with more barefoot mileage behind me than ever, I have skied them with aplomb and grace and speed, and without hesitation. Here is the epiphany: In order to ski steep bumps well, you have to push your ski tips down into the troughs between the bumps, keep your weight well forward, respond to the feedback your feet feed you - all at the same time that you are looking for the next five turns, and keep both knees bent and RELAXED. RELAX, RELAX, RELAX - sound familiar?... Running barefoot moves your weight distribution to your midfoot or forefoot, makes you run with more bend in your knees, teaches your body to absorb shock, develops your eccentric contraction strength in your calves and quads, and increases the feedback and reaction time between your feet and your brain. All of the things that are a result of running barefoot "right" are what is necessary to ski well in the bumps!