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THE MEANING OF THE FALL LINE, AND HOW TO AVOID FREEZING INTO AN UNPLANNED AND DANGEROUS SCHUSS HALFWAY THROUGH A TURN

There are a number of misinterpretations of the phrase fall line. To some skiers it means a wiggly line that traces the steepest descent down a mountain. To others, particularly beginners, it may mean the line where you fall down. Actually the fall line is the vertical line straight down any slope.

Whatever you call it, the fall line has become a thing of terror to many skiers, because, in making any downhill turn, there is inevitably a moment when the skis are headed straight down the mountain. And a beginner, or even an advanced skier on a particularly steep slope, may have a tendency to freeze, i.e., become panicky and stiffen up, at the moment when his skis are in the fall line. Obviously this can be a frightening situation, because if the skier does not complete his turning action, the skis start to run away, and the result is usually a hard spill.

The reason for this is a simple one: failure to follow through. In skiing, just as in golf, the follow-through is one of the most important things to remember. That is, one must remember to finish the turn and not to get panicky halfway through it. A good way to overcome this fear and the resulting problem of runaway skis is to select a slope with a flat run-out. Here the skier can practice turning downhill, and, should he forget to finish the turn, he will come to a safe, slow stop on the flat. This is the best way to gain confidence. And confidence in yourself, your skis, the terrain and the snow is the essence of skiing.

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