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Title: How To Ski and How Not To
Author: Caulfeild, Vivian
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How To Ski and How Not To" ***

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                             HOW TO SKI
                             HOW NOT TO


                          VIVIAN CAULFEILD

                       PHOTOGRAPHS BY K. DELAP

                     _THIRD AND REVISED EDITION_

                             NEW YORK
                       CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
                        597-599 FIFTH AVENUE

                 Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                 at the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh

                       RANDALL'S SKI BOOTS

                       _SPECIAL FEATURES_:


         Watertight Tongues, double thickness of leather
            round sides.


         WATERPROOF: Yet flexible as a dancing-shoe.

         The new "BELMONT" HEEL.

                     _SUPERIOR TO ALL MAKES_

               RANDALL'S "SKI" BOOTS _alone_ combine
         all the above excellent qualities, and are made for
                 Gentlemen, Ladies, and Children.

         [Illustration]                RANDALL'S
                                    For High-Grade

             H. E. RANDALL, LTD.
                 24 Haymarket, London, S.W.
                 39, 40 & 41 Poultry, London, E.C.
                 10 Grand Hotel Buildings, Charing
                     Cross, London, W.C.


    Frontispiece. The Adelboden Jumping-hill. _Photo by Miss
                  E. Frisby._
               I. On the level.
              II. Stopping a back-slip.
             III. Before kick-turn.
              IV. Kick-turn.
               V. Kick-turn.
              VI. Kick-turn.
          VII_a_. Kick-turn.
          VII_b_. Kick-turn: wrong position.
            VIII. Kick-turn: finished.
              IX. Herring-boning.
               X. Side-stepping.
            X_a_. H.B., Herring-boning; K., Kick-turn;
                  S., Side-stepping; H.S., Half-side-stepping.
              XI. Scraping right ski.
             XII. Scraping left ski.
            XIII. Starting a run on hillside.
             XIV. Straight-running: normal position.
              XV. Straight-running: normal position.
             XVI. Straight-running: how _not_ to do it.
            XVII. Straight-running: Telemark position.
           XVIII. Straight-running: Telemark position.
             XIX. Straight-running: Telemark position.
              XX. Snow-ploughing (stemming with both skis).
             XXI. Braking with the sticks.
            XXII. Stemming with one ski, or start of a downhill turn
                  to left.
           XXIII. Downhill stemming-turn to left: halfway round.
            XXIV. Finish of stemming-turn to left.
             XXV. Unsuccessful stemming-turn to left: result of wrong
                  balance or position.
            XXVI. Track of downhill stemming-turns.
           XXVII. Downhill stemming-turn to left in soft snow (note
                  wide stride and edged skis).
          XXVIII. How _not_ to make a stemming-turn.
            XXIX. Uphill Telemark swing to left.
             XXX. Uphill Telemark swing to left: wrong balance and
                  position of skis.
            XXXI. Uphill Telemark swing to left (seen from above).
           XXXII. Downhill Telemark swing to left.
          XXXIII. Track of downhill Telemark swings.
           XXXIV. Starting an uphill Christiania swing to the right
                  from traversing.
            XXXV. Starting an uphill Christiania swing to the right
                  from a direct descent.
           XXXVI. Finish of uphill Christiania swing to right.
          XXXVII. Bad finish of uphill Christiania swing to right.
         XXXVIII. Start of a downhill Christiania swing to right.
           XXXIX. Bad finish of uphill Christiania swing to right.
              XL. Uphill Christiania swing to right (seen from above).
             XLI. Finish of uphill Christiania swing to right (seen
                  from above).
            XLII. Track of downhill Christiania swings.
           XLIII. Downhill Christiania swing to right: halfway round.
                  _Photo by L. Büttner._
            XLIV. "Jerked" Christiania swing to right (note position
                  of arms and shoulders).
             XLV. Downhill Telemark swing to left (seen from above).
            XLVI. Uphill Telemark swing to right.
           XLVII. Jumping round to the left: bad position of skis.
          XLVIII. Jumping round to the right.
            XLIX. Jumping. _Photo by L. Büttner._
               L. Jumping. _Photo by L. Büttner._
              LI. Jumping.
             LII. Preparing for the "Sats."
            LIII. Making the "Sats."
             LIV. Hans Klopfenstein jumping (winner of inter-Swiss
                  Championship, 1910).
              LV. Landing from a Jump.
             LVI. Jumper just clear of the platform (seen from above).
            LVII. Harald Smith jumping at Adelboden, 1909
                  (photographed from under the platform).
           LVIII. How to carry the skis.
             LIX. How to carry the skis. (The stick resting on the
                  right shoulder takes some weight off the other.)


The alterations and additions to this book in its present form are
due partly to fresh practical experience; partly to adverse criticism
of which I now see the justice; and partly, as I freely admit, to the
picking of other people's brains. Since this book was published I have
read for the first time books on ski-ing by Zdarsky, Bilgeri, Luther,
and Arnold Lunn, and have re-read those of Richardson, Rickmers,
Paulcke, and Hoek. As a result I have had to alter a good deal of my
theory and some of my practice, and to alter and enlarge this book
accordingly. To all the above-named authors, therefore, I am more or
less indebted, and feel correspondingly grateful.

In adopting an idea one can seldom help altering it more or less, and
if in the body of the book I have made few direct acknowledgments, it
has been from no lack of gratitude, but rather from a doubt whether
the originator of the idea would be gratified at its development or
indignant at its distortion.

I must however make special acknowledgments to Ober-Leutnant
Bilgeri. From his excellent book I have gained much fresh knowledge
of the theory and practice of ski-ing. This book, moreover, while
confirming me in my opinion of the vices of the Lilienfeld system of
ski-_running_, has given me a fresh insight into the virtues of the
Lilienfeld system of _teaching_, and consequently a fresh sense of my
indebtedness to the chief apostle of this system, my first teacher, Mr.

If Herr Bilgeri has ever happened to read my book, certain resemblances
between it and his own--the analogy of the bicycle and tricycle with
the single and double-track runner, for instance--may, since his
book was published first, have struck him as remarkable. I take this
opportunity of assuring him that when I wrote this book I had not read
his, nor for that matter any of his writings, and that, if I had,
the resemblances would have been not only fully acknowledged, but
considerably more numerous.

To Mr. E. C. Richardson I must return special thanks for criticism that
has shown me the error of some of my ways of thinking; I have also to
thank Mr. C. W. Richardson for new ideas gained from an article by him
on "Knee Action in Ski-ing."

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to everyone whose suggestions
I have adopted, or who, either by precept or example, has taught me
anything new and so has had a hand in the revision of this book, but to
whom I have not referred individually.

This heavy list of acknowledgments makes me realise more than ever how
difficult it is nowadays for a writer on ski-ing technique--or at any
rate for _this_ writer--to say anything new. I am afraid that even a
_succès de scandale_ as the fanatical prophet of complete sticklessness
will soon be out of my reach, if it is not already, for we are all
agreed now that the stick should be used as little as possible, and
therefore that not to use it at all is, if possible, best. It is a
short step from this to finding out by practical experience that, so
long as one is travelling on _snow_, not _ice_, and has a little more
than room enough to place the skis horizontally across the slope, one
can move just as freely, quickly, and easily, and with just as perfect
control, without the stick as with it.

                                                         E. V. S. C.

_December 1912._


      THE ENGLISHMAN AS A SKI-RUNNER                 1

      THE SKI                                       23
      CLOTHING                                      41

      ON THE LEVEL AND UPHILL                       52
      STRAIGHT-RUNNING                              97
      BRAKING                                      120
      THE STEMMING TURN                            136
      THE TELEMARK SWING                           159
      THE CHRISTIANIA SWING                        175
      JUMPING ROUND                                210
      SKATING                                      214

    JUMPING                                        217

    HOW TO RUN ACROSS COUNTRY                      252

      HOW TO PRACTISE                              280




Probably every one likely to read this book knows that a ski is a
snow-shoe or skate, and that it is a long narrow plank turned up in
front, but he may not have a very clear idea of the use of it.

It may not have occurred to him, for instance, that in a country which
is deeply covered with soft snow (the surface of snow is sometimes a
hard crust) a man without snow-shoes of some kind is not merely unable
to move quickly, but is unable to move at all outside the cleared roads
and beaten tracks.

Merely to prevent sinking into the snow the ski is just as useful
as a snow-shoe of the racquet form, such as the Canadian, and it is
never _less_ useful than the other even when it seems most likely to
be. For moving through dense underwood, for instance, when its length
would appear likely to be awkward, or for hauling sledges, when its
slipperiness would seem a disadvantage, experience shows that the ski
is fully as useful as the other type.

As a means of locomotion it is altogether superior. Over level open
country a man can slide along on skis a great deal faster than he can
walk (or run) on Canadian snow-shoes.

In hilly country the ski-runner has a further advantage. If a hill is
not steep a man may walk straight up it on racquets rather more quickly
than a man on skis can climb it by zigzagging (as he is obliged to do
on all but the most gradual slopes); but on the descent the ski-runner
more than makes up the time he has lost; for, helped by gravity, he
slides down the hill at least three, perhaps as much as thirty, times
as fast as he climbed it, according to his expertness and the nature of
the ground, while the other takes almost as long to _walk_ down as he
did to walk up.

On very steep ground the ski-runner has a still greater advantage, for
here the narrowness of the ski allows him to move across the steepest
snow slopes with little or no discomfort to his ankles, while on a
steep slope the man on racquets is practically helpless, for, on
account of their shape, it is only with the utmost difficulty, if at
all, that he can move either up, down, or across the hill.

A moderately expert ski-runner can manoeuvre on any sort of ground
which is covered with snow, provided that the surface of the snow
be not so hard that the edges of his skis can make absolutely no
impression in it. The steepness of a slope, no matter how great, is
in itself no obstacle to his manoeuvring with perfect freedom; it
need only be reckoned with in so far as it relates to the danger of

This should give some idea of the scope of ski-running considered
merely as a means of locomotion.

With regard to the possibilities of ski-running considered purely as
a sport, it may be said that a good runner, descending a steep hill
where the ground is open, will often cover a considerable distance at
an average rate of 45 miles an hour: that when moving at half that
speed he can thread his way among obstacles or stop suddenly; and that
the present record for a jump on skis is about 154 feet. I need hardly
say, therefore, that the opportunities afforded by the sport for the
exercise not only of the runner's nerve, but of his skill and judgment
are almost unlimited.

Now it is only by learning the best methods and style at the very
outset (or by changing them if he has started with bad ones) that a
man can develop to the utmost whatever latent capacity for ski-running
he may possess, and only in this way that he is ever likely to become
expert enough to have any right to the title of a good runner.

At this point I had better, for the benefit of those readers who have
already used skis, give some sort of definition of good ski-running as
I understand it.

It is not quite easy to do so, but I take it that the best judges
would hardly call a man a good runner unless he could run steadily,
quickly, and easily down any hill on which ski-ing was possible at
all--no matter how difficult the ground might be as regards obstacles,
gradient, and condition of snow--_without ever using his stick as an
aid to the balance or for steering, or, except on the very rarest
occasions, for helping him to slow up or stop_; and unless he could,
on an ordinary jumping hill, make jumps of fair length without falling
very often.

Such a man would probably be able to make, in that kind of snow which
is appropriate to each, all the swings and turns to either right or
left while running at a good speed, and would almost certainly both
run and jump in really good style.

A good runner, indeed, can nearly always be recognised by his style,
although, of course, a man cannot be called a bad runner, however bad
his style, if he is really fast and steady downhill, and can make long
jumps with certainty. But a ski-runner with a bad style is below his
proper form; if, with a bad style, he is fairly fast and steady, and is
good at jumping, he would with a good style be exceptionally so.

Among the Scandinavians or the best continental runners, no one would
be considered at all good on skis unless he more or less fulfilled
the above definition. Among English runners, I am sorry to say, the
standard, not only of performance, but of criticism, is far lower,
and although there are by this time many Englishmen who are capable
tourists and mountaineers on skis, there are almost none who can be
called good runners in the above sense, or who can be compared with
the best continental runners even, while to compare them with the best
Scandinavians would be ludicrous.

Among the English at Swiss winter-places a man is often spoken of
as "good at ski-ing" for no better reason than that he spends most
of his time on skis and has climbed several hills on them, or has
crossed several passes; while if it is known that, as a rule, he gets
through a day's run without falling, he is sure to be considered a
most accomplished ski-runner. Quite as reasonably might a man gain a
reputation for fine horsemanship simply through being able to make long
journeys on horseback without falling off or getting exhausted. Just as
the latter may easily be a poor horseman, so may the former be a very
poor ski-runner; the fact that he may happen to be a great mountaineer
gives him no more claim to the title of a fine ski-runner than does the
fact of his being a fine ski-runner to the title of a great mountaineer.

If asked his opinion of some such champion, a good Swiss runner will
usually answer tactfully, "He is good, for an Englishman." The full
value of this compliment can only be appreciated by some one who, like
myself, has overheard Swiss runners criticise an exhibition of unusual
awkwardness and timidity on the part of one of their own countrymen in
the words, "He runs like an Englishman."

It would be very nice to think that jealousy of our prowess in ski-ing
made them talk like this, but that, unfortunately, is out of the

The fact is that most English runners seem to be perfectly contented
with just so much skill as will enable them to get up and down a hill
at a moderate speed and without many falls. Having acquired this, they
give up practising altogether, and devote the rest of their ski-ing
lives to making tours, never attempting to become really fast or
skilful runners or to go in for jumping, even in its mildest form.

It is rather curious that this should be the case, for most English
ski-runners are young and active men, accustomed to other sports and
games, who, I suppose, take up ski-running at least as much for its own
sake as with the object of using it as an aid to mountain-climbing and

Surely, then, one might reasonably expect that a fair number of them
would become really fine runners, that nearly all of them would try to,
and that even those who had no ambition to excel in the sport for its
own sake would be anxious to increase their efficiency as mountaineers
or tourists, and would therefore, at the very least, try to run in
good style; for good style, in ski-running as in every other game or
athletic sport, means economy of muscular force, which is surely an
important consideration to the mountaineer.

Most good Swiss runners, I am sure, think that the Englishman is
constitutionally incapable of becoming really good on skis. To me,
at any rate, it is by no means surprising that they should think so,
for, taking any average pair of ski-runners, Swiss and English, who
are about equally matched in age, physique, and ski-ing experience,
even if there be little to choose between them in the matter of skill,
there is in one respect a very marked difference--the Englishman nearly
always running more slowly and cautiously and altogether with less
dash than the Swiss. In fact, not to put too fine a point upon it,
the Englishman, as compared with the Swiss, generally shows what an
unsympathetic critic might call a distinct tendency to funk.

How English and Swiss ski-runners compare, in this respect, with those
of other countries I have had no opportunity of judging, but that,
when compared with each other, there is this difference between them
must be obvious to any impartial observer. If the Englishman's lack of
dash arises entirely from poorness of nerve, he is, of course, very
heavily handicapped, though not, perhaps, hopelessly so, for patience,
determination, and careful training will do wonders in the improvement
of bad nerve. I should like, however, to think that there may be some
more flattering explanation of this phenomenon--I have, for instance,
heard it said that the fact that most Englishmen are unaccustomed to
steep slopes may have something to do with it--but I must confess that,
so far, I have not hit upon one that entirely satisfies me.

I have heard two excuses given (by Englishmen) for the low standard of
English ski-ing as compared with Swiss. One is that the Englishman gets
less practice than the Swiss. This is a mistake. The average English
runner perhaps gets only three or four weeks each winter, but the
average Swiss gets no more, for he has his work to do, and though he
spends his winter in the snow he usually only goes ski-ing on Sundays.
The best Swiss runners no doubt are usually guides, or men who spend
most of their time in the winter on skis; but this is not always so,
and I know more than one first-class Swiss runner who gets little more
than one day a week. Among English runners the proportion of those
who spend most of their winter on skis is much greater than among the
Swiss; yet there are now many really first-rate Swiss runners, but, as
I have said, hardly any English ones.

The other excuse is that most English ski-runners have taken up the
sport comparatively late in life.

No doubt they have, and so, for that matter, have many of the
continental runners--and a few of the best of them. But to begin late
is much less of a handicap than might be imagined, for a man may become
a skilful ski-runner without possessing any of the characteristics of
extreme youth.

That is to say that, provided he has a fair stock of intelligence,
patience, and nerve (and a good teacher), he need have no special
aptitude for picking up the knack of unaccustomed movements, nor need
he have more than ordinary strength and activity.

The games and sports which are most difficult to learn late in life
are those which call for "knack"--in other words, the ability to
perform easily a rapid and accurate co-ordinated movement of a number
of muscles. If this movement is an unaccustomed one, the ability to
perform it properly is only attainable by long practice.

The action of throwing, for instance, requires knack. It is this which
makes it so difficult to learn to throw with the left hand, even though
one already has the ability to move the left arm with quite sufficient
strength and speed, and not only knows how the movement should be
made, but even _how it feels_ to make it with the other hand. Writing
is another excellent example of knack.

In ski-running nothing which can strictly be called knack comes
into play. In this sport the _voluntary_ muscular movements (as
distinguished from the involuntary ones used in keeping the balance)
are neither complicated nor unusual, and, except in jumping, they need
seldom be rapid. Any difficulty in learning them is due partly to the
disturbing effect on one's clear-headedness of the speed at which one
is travelling, and partly to the fact that some of the movements,
though simple in themselves, are almost the reverse of those one's
natural instinct would prompt one to make in the circumstances. This
difficulty, of course, diminishes with practice, but an effort of will
goes just as far as, or even farther than practice towards overcoming
it. Were it not for this difficulty, a man who had been told the right
way to perform the various manoeuvres employed in ski-ing might very
well do them fairly correctly the first time he tried (as many people
actually do), while no amount of strength, activity, intelligence, or
confidence would enable him, if right-handed, to throw or to write
properly with his left hand without long practice.

The balancing difficulty is far less serious than is usually supposed.
It is the _unexpected_ movements of the skis which generally upset
the balance; and if one has a clear comprehension of the way in
which various combinations of gradient, speed, quality of snow, &c.,
affect their motion (see p. 74, &c.), one will seldom be taken by
surprise. Any one who can stand steadily on one leg, when not on skis,
for a quarter of a minute, without waving his other limbs about,
has sufficient sense of balance to become a first-rate ski-runner.
Intelligence and nerve--the latter including both coolness and
dash--are the main factors in good running. It is hard to say which is
the more important. Most of one's mistakes in ski-ing can perhaps be
traced to want of nerve, but the most perfect nerve will not compensate
for lack of intelligence. The intelligent man will soon see that there
is very little to be afraid of, that the risk of injury from falling
(on snow), even when running fast or alighting after a long jump, is
very slight, and that to run with confidence and dash will lessen
the danger rather than increase it. When he has thoroughly realised
this, the intelligent man, though his nerve may be none of the best,
will probably, if he has any determination, soon beat the absolutely
intrepid but stupid one.

Unless, then, we are to believe that a man loses most of his nerve,
intelligence and will-power with his first youth, there is nothing to
prevent him from learning to ski well when no longer very young.

My own belief is that the best excuse for the low standard of British
ski-running is ignorance and bad tuition.

A few English runners have learnt a good system of ski-ing; but these
have generally had bad teachers--Swiss guides, very likely, who, though
first-rate runners themselves, had more instinct than science, and were
quite incapable of imparting clearly to a beginner whatever knowledge
they possessed. The majority of English ski-runners have learnt a
thoroughly _bad_ system, and have very likely learnt at the same time
to believe that it is an exceptionally sound one.

The members of both these classes are, as a rule, profoundly ignorant
of what an expert can do on skis, of the real advantage of becoming an
expert--or, at any rate, as skilful as possible--and of the best way
to set about doing so.

There is no reason whatever why, with practice and good teaching, any
man should not become a fairly skilful runner; even if he cannot run
with great dash and speed, he can, at least, learn to do so in good
style, without--or practically without--any help from his stick.

Very few Englishmen try to do this; indeed, next to caution, the most
prominent characteristic of English ski-running is bad style.

Now nearly all the continental runners--certainly all the best
of them--have taken the Norwegians as their model, and have, in
consequence, aimed not only at running as fast and steadily, but also,
in one sense, as easily as possible; that is to say, with the least
muscular effort compatible with a perfect control of their skis, or, to
put it more simply, _in the best style_.

Most Englishmen, however, have learnt a very different method of
ski-ing. This system also teaches the beginner to run as easily as
possible, but in quite another sense. The whole aim of the system is to
dispense as far as possible with skill rather than with effort. That is
to say, it directly encourages bad style.

The system is the invention of an Austrian, Herr Zdarsky, who, having
never seen a ski-runner and knowing nothing about skis or their
management, got a pair from Norway, and reasoned out a method of using
them, eventually altering them to suit his method.

This was certainly a very surprising achievement, as every one will
agree who realises not only the practical difficulty of ski-running,
but the complication of its dynamics.

What is less surprising, when one remembers the origin of Zdarsky's
system, is that it teaches not one simple method of controlling the
skis that had not been discovered long before, and but few of those
that had been. It must in fact be regarded, not as a new and different
system, but as a small part of an old one--the whole Norwegian system
of ski-running.

The distinguishing features of Zdarsky's system are an almost exclusive
reliance on the snow-plough position (or an approximation to it), for
either braking, turning, or stopping, a deliberate use of the stick to
assist these manoeuvres and to help the balance on all occasions, an
extreme dislike to going fast, and, in general, a pronounced tendency
to avoid difficulties of balance rather than to overcome them, and to
encourage timidity as well as clumsiness.

The main object of Zdarsky's system is to enable a beginner to run
safely on steep and difficult ground with the least possible
preliminary practice; and so far, no doubt, it is successful. But its
very weakness is what makes it successful, for it turns out ski-runners
quickly by allowing them to run badly. It is the very worst school for
a beginner who takes up ski-ing no less for its own sake than as a
means to an end, for if he begins in this way, sooner or later he will
have to alter his methods entirely, and get rid of a lot of bad habits
which he would never have acquired if he had, from the outset, learnt
his ski-ing in the Norwegian manner.

To become a fairly proficient stick-riding and zigzagging crawler is a
very simple matter; but to get beyond this point, and, discarding the
help of the stick, to learn an _equally safe_ but considerably quicker
and more comfortable style of running, is impossible without devoting
some time and pains to practising, though far less of both than is
usually supposed.

Every one, of course, has a perfect right to choose the style of
ski-ing that suits him best. If a man looks upon ski-running simply as
a means of locomotion, or if he dislikes the trouble of practising, or
has exceptionally poor nerve, or is extraordinarily clumsy, he will
very likely be perfectly satisfied with a slow stick-riding system, and
will quite reasonably refuse to try anything else. So far there is no
harm done.

Unfortunately, however, many of those who choose this primitive method
of ski-ing make the absurd mistake of thinking that their method is a
particularly sound and practical one, and delude the innocent novice
into thinking the same.

Realising that without the stick they themselves would be helpless,
they say that its help is indispensable for safe running. Anything
which they cannot do themselves, such as running with the skis together
so as to leave a single track; turning or stopping by a free use of
the different swings, &c., instead of by their own dreadful imitation
of the Stemming turn and Christiania; fast straight-running; jumping,
and so on, they condemn as showy, unsafe, and of no practical use,
and class under the general heading of "fancy tricks." The absurdity
of this standpoint will be patent to any one who knows the immense
superiority of good running to bad, as regards ease, sureness, and

Let us compare ski-running with horsemanship. Just as the ski-runner
undoubtedly finds it easier at first to run with the aid of the stick
than without, so the man who mounts a horse for the first time will
certainly find it a good deal easier to keep in the saddle if he holds
on to it by the pommel or cantle. I believe, however, that there is no
school of horsemanship which advocates this method of riding as being
particularly practical.

The reasons against the use of the stick as an aid to the balance in
ski-running are much the same as those against using the saddle for the
same purpose in riding. There is a waste of energy in each case, for
it is doing clumsily by brute force what can be done more comfortably,
gracefully, and effectively by skill. Moreover, the balance, when
helped in this way, never improves, but remains permanently bad.

Correct position, narrow track, complete command of the different
swings--all those things, in fact, which distinguish good style from
bad--mean economy of force, and are therefore eminently practical. To
say that jumping is a useless accomplishment may at first sight appear
justifiable. In one sense there is not much practical use in jumping,
for occasions are not very often met with in the course of a tour where
a jump is the only way, or even the safest way, out of a difficulty.

But in another sense jumping is extremely practical. It accustoms a
runner to moving at the highest possible speed, and shows him that he
need not mind taking a fall at this speed; moreover, to quote from Mr.
Richardson's excellent jumping chapter in "The Ski-Runner," "the first
thing which a jumper has to learn is how to keep calm and collected and
to make up his mind instantly what to do next when travelling at top
speed--just the very things, in fact, which he must learn if he wants
to be a good cross-country runner. For these reasons it is the very
best and quickest way of generally improving a man's running."

A very common attitude of Englishmen towards ski-jumping is to treat it
as a showy and dangerous acrobatic display, all very well for reckless
and athletic youths, but out of the question for any one else. Yet I
suppose that among the men who take up this attitude there are many who
ride to hounds, and very few who, though they may not themselves hunt,
would dream of attributing to men or even women who do so either undue
recklessness or unusual acrobatic ability.

Though there may be a doubt as to whether making a jump of moderate
length on skis or riding a horse over a fence is the more difficult
feat, there can be none whatever as to which is the more dangerous.
Ski-jumping, indeed, is so safe that perhaps it could hardly lay
claim to the title of a great sport but for the fact that it is not
only difficult, but also exceedingly, if unreasonably, alarming--at
all events to the beginner. It seems strange that so many able-bodied
English ski-runners never so much as give jumping a trial, unless they
have an altogether wrong idea of its danger.

I spoke just now of the ignorance which made many bad runners condemn a
better style of ski-ing than their own. It is not easy, at first sight,
to see why this ignorance as to the comparative advantages of good and
bad running should be so common as it is, for at most of the Swiss
winter places there are among the natives some really good performers.
The English, however, get few opportunities of watching the Swiss
runners, except on the jumping hill, and seldom see them doing their
best across country, for these men, unless they happen to be guides, do
most of their ski-ing with their own countrymen, the members of their
own local ski-club.

Moreover, a good ski-runner is not seen at his best when acting as a
guide, for he has to go slowly, and look after the weaker members of
the party, and there is no element of competition to put him on his

Whatever may be the reason, the fact remains that the average British
ski-runner has little or no idea of the superiority of good running to
bad as regards safety, comfort, and speed--to say nothing of interest
or beauty. He would probably be surprised and somewhat sceptical if
told that by learning a good style of ski-ing he would find it possible
to do the downhill portion of his tours in about half the time (or
less), with half the fatigue, with just as few falls (if he wished
to avoid them), and with far less chance of hurting himself when he
did fall--for bad style means awkward falls; that he would thus get
infinitely more pleasure, interest, and excitement out of his ski-ing,
and that, moreover, by going in for jumping he would still further
increase all these benefits without increasing his risks.

I hope that by means of this rather rambling discourse I may have
managed, not only to show what, in my opinion, are the reasons for the
low standard of English ski-ing, but at the same time to implant a
conviction of sin in the conscience of the average English ski-runner.

The object of the rest of this book is to show him what, to my
thinking, is the way of salvation, and to place the innocent novice in
the path of virtue at the very outset.



_The Wood._--Skis are usually made of ash, which is, perhaps, on the
whole, a more suitable wood than any other. Hickory is excellent,
but is said to be more brittle than ash, and is also heavier. It is,
however, but little heavier than the _best_ ash, for in the latter wood
lightness means bad quality. The wood must be well seasoned, and as
free as possible from knots, especially near the bend and the binding,
though small knots which do not extend through the whole thickness of
the ski cannot do much harm.

The grain of the wood should be wide and well marked. The way it runs
in the ski is most important; it should run parallel with the long axis
of the ski throughout its length, above all at the front bend and the
binding; for if the grain run out at these points, the ski will be very
liable to break there. If anywhere else the grain runs out at all, see
that it does so in such a way that the lines on the _side_ of the ski
run backwards and downwards (Fig. 1, A), not forwards and downwards
(Fig. 1, B).

[Illustration: FIG. 1. Cross-grain; in A it does not much matter, as it
only occurs at some distance from the binding and points backwards; B
is very bad.]

If the lines of grain on the _sole_ of the ski run across at all
instead of parallel to the sides, the ski, when it gets rather worn,
will not run straight. If, of a pair of skis, one runs to the right and
one to the left, it does not much matter, for in that case the former
can be put on the left foot and the latter on the right; they will then
merely keep together and hold each other straight.

But if both skis run off to the _same_ side there is nothing to be
done, so look carefully at the grain of the sole when choosing them, to
see that there is no chance of this (Fig. 2).

[Illustration: FIG. 2. Cross-grain on running surface: A converging,
not very serious; B parallel, very bad.]

There is one more point to be noticed about the arrangement of the
grain in the ski.

If you look at the _heel end_ of the ski, you will generally see the
grain disposed in vertical lines, as in Fig. 3, B. The ski will not
only be stronger and more springy, but will wear better and run faster
if cut so that the grain lies horizontally (Fig. 3, C).[1] Fig. 3, A
shows a disposition of the grain which is likely to weaken the ski and
should be avoided.

[Illustration: FIG. 3. A bad, B good, C still better.]

The colour of a ski is a matter of taste. Dark colours have the
disadvantage of causing the snow which collects on the top of the ski
to melt more readily; it may then refreeze and accumulate, forming an
unnecessary load of ice.

A dark colour also makes it more difficult to detect faults in the
grain, and it is wiser for this reason to buy plain varnished skis, and
colour them afterwards if you want them darker.

New skis should be given several coats of boiled linseed oil, each
being allowed to sink in before the next is applied. When at last
the wood will absorb no more, give it a coat of _raw_ linseed oil;
this dries hard, with a surface just rough enough for easy climbing,
but slippery enough to make waxing unnecessary, except for the very
stickiest snow. The more often skis are oiled, even when in use, the

_Dimensions._--When you are standing with your arm stretched at full
length above your head, the ski, placed upright, should be at least
long enough for its tip to reach the roots of your fingers; it may well
reach a few inches beyond the finger-_ends_.

The longer the ski the pleasanter you will find it for
straight-running. On a long ski you keep your balance more easily, run
more smoothly on rough ground, and keep a straight course with less
trouble. A short ski is slightly easier for turning, but if you learn
correct methods of turning, the difference is insignificant; and in
any case, however much you may twist and turn, you are bound for the
greater part of the time to be running straight, and you might as well
do so as comfortably as possible.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

The ski should be as narrow as possible, hardly more than 2-3/4 inches
(7 centimetres) at the narrowest part--_i.e._ where the foot rests on
it--even for the biggest man.

If it measures 2-3/4 inches in width at the narrowest part, it should
be about 3-3/4 inches wide at the front bend, and just over 3 inches at
the heel.

A narrow ski is in every way better than a wide one; the only object
of increasing the width of a ski is to make its bearing surface on the
snow proportionate to the weight of a heavier man, and so to prevent it
from sinking more deeply and therefore running more slowly. But this
should be done by increasing the length rather than the width.

The beginner usually imagines that the wider the ski the more easily
he will be able to balance on it. This is a great mistake. A narrow
ski is far steadier than a wide one for straight running; it is easier
for turning, and infinitely more comfortable for moving across a steep
slope of hard snow, the diminished leverage putting less strain on the
ankles, as the diagram shows.[2]

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

The thickness of the ski is proportionate to its elasticity and the
weight of the runner, being about 1-1/4 inches at the binding and 3/8
inch at the front bend and the heel. A stiff ski runs rather less
comfortably than a thinner and more flexible one, but it is safer to
choose a ski of ample thickness near the binding, especially if it is
to be used for jumping.

The turn up at the front of the ski should begin at about one-fifth of
the distance from the tip to the heel end. _It should be very gradual_,
for a sudden bend makes the ski run more slowly and far less smoothly.
The under side of the tip need not be more than five inches above the

There is a slight upward arch between the front bend and the heel. It
should be no more than 3/4 of an inch high at its highest point, below
the heel of the boot, only just sufficient to prevent the ski when
resting on soft snow from bending downwards in the middle under the
weight of the runner. The height of this arch should therefore vary
slightly according to the length and stiffness of the ski, and to the
runner's weight.

Of course any twist in the ski will prevent it from running true. A
simple way of making sure that a ski is free from any such twist is
as follows: draw a few lines across its sole, at right angles to a
line down the middle of it, and, holding the ski so that a very much
fore-shortened view of the sole is obtained, see if all these lines are

Nothing is more uncomfortable and difficult to run on than a ski which
has become warped and has a downward bend in the middle. To prevent
this happening and to preserve the upward arch, a pair of skis, when
not in use, should be placed sole to sole and bound together at the
front bend and the heel, with a block of wood about 1-3/4 inches thick
put between them 8 inches or so behind the binding, just where the
boot-heel rests on the ski.

Most skis are made with a groove running along the middle of the sole
from the front bend to the heel. This groove greatly increases the
ski's steadiness in straight-running, and on no account should be
omitted. A smooth-soled ski makes turning easier for the runner _who
has not learnt the right way to do it_, but this slight advantage by
no means compensates for the wobbliness in straight-running which it
entails. If you want easy steering, choose extra-_flexible_ skis, but
_not_ grooveless or extra-short ones.

Most of the ordinary foot-bindings are fixed to the ski by means of a
hole bored from side to side through its thickest part. See that this
hole is made almost entirely in the upper half of the ski's thickness,
well away from the sole. When lifted by a strap passed through this
hole, the ski should point downwards at an angle of about 45 degrees.

In order that they shall be stronger in relation to their weight and
less flexible, skis are sometimes made with a convex, instead of a flat
upper-surface. The increased stiffness makes them less comfortable for
ordinary running but safer for jumping. The convexity should always
stop short of the beginning of the front bend.

Fig. 6 shows that it depends on how this convexity is obtained as to
whether and how it is an advantage or otherwise. Supposing the wood in
each case to be of exactly the same quality, B will obviously be not
only stiffer but heavier than A, C will be stiffer but no heavier, D
will be equally stiff but lighter. It is evident, then, that one cannot
say off-hand that the convex shape is either better or worse than
the flat, but only that, _weight for weight_, the convex shape gives
greater stiffness and strength, the flat gives more elasticity.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.]

_The Binding._--The question of the binding, by which the ski is
fastened to the foot, is a very vexed one; I shall treat it as shortly
as I can.

The binding should, if possible, fulfil the following conditions:--

(1) It should be light; (2) should be easily adjusted to fit the boot;
(3) should admit of being quickly and easily fastened and unfastened;
(4) should be difficult to break and easy to mend; (5) should allow
fairly free vertical movement of the foot, but limit its lateral
movement enough to make steering easy; (6) should be comfortable, and
not likely to injure the runner in case of a fall.

There are innumerable forms of binding on the market, not one of which
is absolutely satisfactory in every respect; the choice of a binding is
largely a matter of taste. But, though it is not possible to say that
any one binding is the best, it is possible to say that certain forms
are more generally popular than others. The reader who is not a novice
probably knows all there is to be said for and against the more common
forms; while to give a long description of several kinds of bindings,
setting forth their various good and bad points, would be more likely
to confuse a novice than to help him to choose one that suited him. I
shall therefore describe one binding only, the Huitfeldt, which is by
far the most generally popular one, especially in Norway, and shall
show how it answers to the above-mentioned requirements.

The Huitfeldt binding (Fig. 7) consists of an iron, leather-lined
toe-piece which is passed through the hole in the ski and bent up at
each side; a short strap passing over the toes and connecting the ends
of the metal toe-piece; and a long strap which passes through the hole
in the ski and round the heel of the boot.

[Illustration: FIG. 7. Huitfeldt binding, with Ellefsen clamp X (left

A third strap, which passes under the waist of the boot, prevents the
heel-strap from slipping up the side of the foot, as it is sometimes
inclined to do when the heel is much raised; and a fourth strap,
crossing the foot behind the toe-strap, prevents the heel-strap from
slipping under the boot sole at the side. The heel-strap, however, will
often be found to keep in place perfectly without these two straps,
or, at any rate, without the latter, and in that case there is no
object in keeping them on the binding.

The ski is fastened on and taken off without buckling or unbuckling the
straps when once they have been properly adjusted. In order to put on
the ski, simply push the foot well home between the toe-irons, and then
pull the heel-strap up over the boot-heel.

The toe-strap may be quite loose; the heel-strap must be so tight that
it is only just possible to force it over the boot-heel.

The toe-irons must be hammered or bent (a heavy screw-wrench is useful
for this) to fit the sole of the boot exactly, so that when the boot is
pushed home between them the centre of the heel lies in the very middle
of the ski. This means that for boots of an ordinary shape the inside
toe-iron must be more nearly parallel to the side of the ski than the
outside one, as in diagram; otherwise the boot-heel will rest on the
inner side of the ski (Fig. 8).

If the toe-irons show any tendency to wobble, small wooden wedges may
be driven between them and the side of the cavity in the ski, but by
the _sides_ of the toe-irons, not _below_ them, or the ski may split.

The toe-irons should be so adjusted that when the boot is pushed right
home the toe only projects a little way beyond the toe-strap (see Fig.
7). If the toe-strap crosses the foot too far back, it does not allow a
free enough movement when the heel is raised, and in a fall forward may
sprain the foot.

If the fastening fits properly there should be enough freedom to allow
the knee just to touch the front of the ski.

[Illustration: FIG. 8. A A right, B B wrong positions for toe-irons
(left ski).]

In order to prevent the heel-strap from slipping off the boot, the heel
of the boot should be made to project at the back, both top and bottom
of the projection being rounded to allow of the strap being easily
pulled on and off (see Fig. 9, p. 41). This is a better and a simpler
arrangement than the strap and buckle at the back of the heel with
which ski-boots are often fitted.

The heel-strap should be bent first _downwards_ and then backwards
on each side of the ski, so that the side of it which is uppermost
within the cavity of the ski becomes outermost round the foot. This
arrangement increases the tension when the heel rises.

It is most important that the heel-strap should be very tight, for
its tension not only limits the vertical movement of the foot, and so
makes it possible to lift the heel of the ski, but also, by keeping the
boot firmly jammed between the toe-irons, prevents nearly all lateral
movement, and so makes steering easy.

The heel-strap consists of two parts; the back part should be fitted
with a metal lever called "The Ellefsen Shortening Clamp" (Fig. 7, X).
Opening and closing this lever lengthens and shortens the heel-strap;
the strap is buckled so that with the lever open it will just pass over
the projection on the boot-heel; it can be thoroughly tightened up,
when on, by the closing of the lever.

This lever should be so fitted on the heel-strap that it comes on the
outside of the heel near the back.

The advantages of the Huitfeldt binding are as follows:--

It is very light. If fitted with the shortening lever it can be put on
and taken off in a second or two. It is not easily broken, and is not
difficult to mend. If properly fitted, it limits the movement of the
foot enough to give ample steering power. It is quite comfortable, and
is most unlikely to injure the foot even in the worst fall.

Its disadvantages are that great care is needed to adjust the toe-irons
so as exactly to fit the boot, and keep it in the middle of the ski;
and that the heel-strap is rather quickly worn at the points where it
rubs against the edges of the toe-irons. This wearing, however, can be
diminished by filing down the sharp edges of the toe-iron where they
touch the strap, and by occasionally pulling the strap through the hole
in the ski far enough to expose another part of it to the friction.

Another slight drawback lies in the fact that the heel-strap, where
it projects on each side of the ski, diminishes the speed somewhat by
brushing against the snow; but this is hardly worth mentioning.

On the whole, then, the Huitfeldt binding has more good points than bad
ones, and is just as likely to suit the beginner permanently as any of
the other bindings, if he is obliged to buy his skis at the outset.

If he is able to try two or three different bindings before making his
choice, he no doubt will do so; but it is not likely that he will fully
understand the pros and cons of any good binding until he has given it
a longish trial, and has a fair practical knowledge of ski-running.

In any case, I strongly advise him not to worry too much on the subject
of bindings. With all, except the very worst and least widely used
bindings, it is possible to learn to ski well, _provided they fit

He should be careful to see that the middle of the heel rests naturally
on the middle of the ski; that the foot has enough vertical freedom
to allow the knee just to touch the ski in front, but _not_ enough
to allow it to touch without considerable tension; and that the
lateral movement of the foot is very limited. If these conditions are
fulfilled, the binding will be comfortable, safe, and will give ample
steering power.

In the Huitfeldt binding and several others of the same type, the
steering power and control of the ski is obtained by the tension
between the heel-strap and toe-irons. There is another type in
which this power is obtained by a false sole, generally made of
driving-belting, which is fixed to the ski under the toe of the boot
and is free at the heel end. This system gives greater, or even
absolute lateral rigidity, and is therefore more likely to injure the

The most widely used forms of this type of binding are the Ellefsen,
a very good binding; the Black Forest or Balata binding, in which the
false sole is fitted with a socket for the heel, a great favourite
with shopkeepers who hire out skis, because, without adjustment, it
will fit anyone somehow--generally badly; and the Lilienfeld binding,
an Austrian invention, made almost completely of metal, and giving
absolute lateral rigidity, but unsuitable for jumping and disliked by
most good runners.[3] Absolute lateral rigidity is not only dangerous,
but is quite unnecessary for a runner who has learnt, or who means
to learn, correct methods. For in braking or steering, when properly
done, the effect is produced by the distribution of the weight, and
by vertical pressure on the ski rather than by forcibly twisting or
pushing it sideways.

With any binding on the Huitfeldt principle it is necessary to wear a
boot with a wide-welted sole which is double throughout its length, in
order that it may not buckle at the waist of the foot under the strain
of the heel-strap.

The part of the ski on which the foot rests should be covered by a
thin plate of some such metal as brass or tin, which does not oxidise
readily. This protects the ski if nailed boots are worn, and prevents
snow from accumulating in an uncomfortable lump under the foot. If the
boots have no nails, or if the binding has a false sole, a plate of
celluloid or linoleum is sufficient.

_The Stick._--The ski-runner carries either one or two sticks. He uses
them to increase his pace on level ground, or when running down a
gentle slope; to help him in walking uphill; to steady him when turning
while standing on a slope; and possibly, on very rare occasions, to
help to check his pace.

To use them while on the move, either as a help to the balance or for
steering, is the mark of a bad runner.

The sticks (for two are more useful than one) should be light; cane or
hazel is the usual wood. They should be long enough to reach two or
three inches above the elbow, when resting on the snow.

At the top the stick is provided with a leather loop to support the
hand while punting. At the other end it is shod with a metal spike, a
few inches above which a movable disc, generally made of wicker, is
attached to prevent the stick from sinking into the snow. Choose some
disc attachment which does _not_ involve the passing of a thong through
a hole in the stick, for one of that sort wears out very soon.


_Boots._--In order to avoid frost-bite, to the risk of which the
ski-runner is often exposed, the boots must be stout, flexible,
waterproof, and exceedingly loose--large enough, in fact, to hold two
pairs, at any rate, of the very thickest stockings without the least
pressure, especially on the toes. Boots made on the Norwegian "Laupar"
principle are particularly good _only_ in the respect of giving the
toes perfect freedom.

[Illustration: FIG. 9. Boot showing rounded projection on heel; sole of
uniform thickness from toe to beginning of heel; and metal plates (X)
to prevent wear of toe-iron.]

The heel must be very low, and, as explained above, it should be made
to project at the back to prevent the heel-strap from slipping off, if
the binding has one. For a binding of the Huitfeldt type the sole must
be thick, not only at the ball of the foot, but at the waist; it should
have a widish welt to prevent the toe-irons from pressing against the

Where the toe-irons touch the side of the sole, they are apt to wear
a hollow, and the boot then works gradually forwards. This can be
prevented by screwing thin plates of metal to the side of the sole
at this point. To enable the toe-irons to hold the boot as steady as
possible, it is better that the sides of the sole should be rather
straight (though not parallel) than curved.

The boots should be greased or oiled often enough to keep them quite
soft and flexible.

Some form of felt or canvas boot-cover is a great safeguard against
frost-bite, which is a danger that can by no means be overrated.

Whether the boots shall be nailed or not is a matter of taste. Nails
cut the skis and make the snow ball between them and the boots.
Boots with no nails at all make climbing an icy path on foot rather
troublesome. If no nails are worn, climbing irons can be carried to
strap on to the boot for walking on icy places. Most people wear a few
_small_ nails, though many (myself included) wear none. A complete
rubber sole (which grips on ice but picks up no snow) might work even
better than the "Scafe" rubber studs; but I know these are good.

_Stockings._--As I have said, two or three pairs of stockings should
be worn. However waterproof the boot, it is impossible to keep the
stockings perfectly dry owing to the condensation of water vapour from
the foot which takes place on the inner surface of the boot. In severe
cold this wet layer freezes, and should therefore be kept as far as
possible from the foot. It is useless, however, to fill the boot with
stockings to such an extent as to cause pressure on the foot and check
the circulation, for this is even more likely to cause frost-bite than
is insufficient covering.

Most ski-runners wear a pair of the thickest ordinary stockings, or
socks, and over this a pair of goat's-hair socks which are more than
twice as thick. These goat's-hair socks (or what are generally sold as
such) wear badly, and a pair of socks of the same thickness, but made
of wool, seem just as warm.

Spare socks should always be carried on long expeditions in case the
pair next the feet should get wet through.

_Gloves._--These are an important item. They should be of mitten-shape,
with a bag for the fingers, and should have a gauntlet-shaped arm long
enough to pull well over the sleeve. Like the boots, they must be
roomy. Felt or wool is the usual material.

A canvas outer covering makes them less liable to get wet through, for
the snow sticks to it less. It is always difficult, however, to keep
them dry, and a spare pair is often as necessary as spare socks.

_Cap._--Some kind of cap which can at least be pulled down over the
ears, if not over the neck and chin, is indispensable. As an addition
or substitute, an ample scarf or muffler is useful, especially,
perhaps, for women.

No hat-brim protects the eyes sufficiently to be the least safeguard
against snow-blindness. Dark glasses should always be carried,
especially above the tree-line, and should be put on the _instant_ that
any discomfort is felt from the glare.

_Outer Clothing._--This should be as nearly windproof as possible, and
should have a smooth surface, for if it be hairy the snow will stick
to it, and, when that melts, the clothes will become soaked. For this
reason a sweater is not satisfactory as the outermost garment on a long

Any clothing which cannot be removed during a climb should be fairly
light and not too hot, for climbing is often excessively hot work.

A moderately stout whipcord is perhaps as good a material as anything.

In order to keep out the snow the collar of a coat should be made to
button close round the neck, and the sleeves round the wrists.

The pockets should have large flaps to button. Most English runners
clothe themselves, as to the legs, in breeches and puttees, which are
a very efficient means of keeping out the snow. Leather gaiters are

Until recently most Norwegians used to wear rather close-fitting
trousers which buttoned tightly round the ankles inside the boots, and
a sort of very short puttee round the tops of the boots themselves. For
warmth, comfort, and simplicity this system seems hard to beat.

All the foregoing remarks as to boots, stockings, gloves, caps, and
material, of course, apply equally to women's clothing.

Whether in addition to snowproof knickerbockers and puttees a woman
shall wear a skirt is, of course, a matter of taste or strength of
mind. In Germany and Austria most lady ski-runners dispense with it.

If a skirt is worn it is particularly important that both it and the
knickerbockers shall be of very smooth texture, otherwise the snow
which works up between them in a fall will not shake out again, but
will accumulate in large quantities and soak the clothes in melting.

The shorter the skirt, the better as regards comfort. Even a skirt
which only just covers the knees will touch the snow during manoeuvres
which involve a semi-kneeling position.

As to appearance, I can assure any one who is distressed at the
apparent size of her feet and ankles when properly clad that a longish
skirt makes them far more conspicuous than a very short one; a skirt
long enough to hide them completely is, of course, out of the question.
If the thick goat's-hair or woollen oversock goes some way up the leg
instead of stopping short just above the boot, and if the puttee is
thin and smooth instead of being about half an inch thick and woolly, a
less gloomy outlook on life will perhaps be induced.

_Underclothing._--Climbing a hill on skis is generally very hot work,
but one is often exposed to the most bitter cold on the top, especially
when the sun is hidden, or when wind and sunshine come from the
same quarter, and it is impossible to take shelter from the former
without losing the latter. This makes it very difficult to regulate
satisfactorily the thickness of one's clothing. On the whole, it is
perhaps better to wear fairly light underclothing, and to rely for
warmth mainly on outer garments which can be carried, instead of worn,
during the climb.

If light clothing is worn, two extra sweaters or cardigans may well be
carried. In this case they must never be forgotten, but must be carried
_always_, no matter what the weather may be, for it may change quickly
without the least warning, and, in any case, there is often a bitter
wind high up when the heat is almost tropical in the valley.

A windproof coat of thin oil-silk or of a kind of paper-cloth made by
a Paris firm, is a very good substitute for a spare sweater. It is
warmer, lighter, and takes up hardly any space.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following things are very useful, some of them indispensable on a
long expedition. They can mostly be bought ready made, and I shall not
attempt a description where their application is obvious.

Wax, either in a block or a collapsible tube, which is used to prevent
wet snow from sticking to the ski. It is smeared on the ski and rubbed
in with a rag. It is better, if possible, to do this before starting
out; or, at any rate, to dry the ski first.

A good knife.

Some blunt instrument for scraping ice off the ski without injuring the

A metal ski-tip to fit on the ski, if the point is broken off and lost.
A few tools for mending a broken ski--gimlet, screw-driver, and punch
(unless the knife is fitted with these); perhaps also a hammer, saw,
and file. Small cases of tools with a common handle can be bought.

One or two small steel plates and pieces of sheet brass or zinc with
holes bored in them, and a few screws to fit them; or a clamp[5]
consisting of two metal plates connected by two bolts with wing-nuts.

Fig. 10 shows how these may be used to mend a broken ski.

[Illustration: FIG. 10. Ski mended with (A) metal plates, (B) clamp.]

Spare parts of the binding itself may be carried in case it breaks, and
a thong of raw hide about two yards long, with a loop at one end, is
often useful.

This thong, when used as a substitute for the Huitfeldt heel-strap,
constitutes what is known as the Lapp binding. This is a most firm and
comfortable binding, especially for jumping, but since it cannot be
adjusted quickly nor with gloved hands, is unsuitable for occasions
which involve frequent taking off and putting on of the skis, or
exposure to extreme cold.

Fig. 11 explains the arrangement of the thong.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

When arranged as above so that it passes twice round the heel of the
boot, the thong is hauled perfectly taut and made fast.

This can be done in slightly different ways; I find the following a
satisfactory one. Arrange the thong so that, when it is pulled tight,
the points A B are about an inch in front of the heel of the boot, the
loop A being on the outside of the foot. Then pass the free end under
the waist of the foot, up across the thongs on the inner side, over the
instep, and back to A, finishing with a half-hitch round both parts of
the thong at A. If this half-hitch is made with the end of the thong
pushed through it in a bight, it can be pulled undone like a bow,
which is an advantage when the thong is frozen hard.

A few yards of strong cord, some string, and some brass wire are often

A ski may be prevented from slipping backwards in hill-climbing by
tying one end of a piece of cord to its tip, passing a few half hitches
round it at intervals, hauling all taut, and tying the other end of the
cord to the binding. This, however, makes it necessary to lift the ski
forward at each step instead of sliding it.

The only satisfactory preventive of back-slip is a strip of sealskin
fastened underneath the ski; this also prevents wet snow from sticking
to the ski, as it sometimes does in masses almost too heavy to lift.
To prevent back-slip a strip half the length of the ski is sufficient;
for sticky snow, however, it is of course better for the ski to be
quite covered. Which of the many forms of detachable sealskin in the
market work the best I am not competent to say, having so far managed
to do without it. There is no doubt that sealskin is a great labour
saver. With its help it is possible to climb so much more quickly than
without, that for long mountain tours it is almost indispensable.
Moreover, when it is used for the climb, the soles of the skis can be
kept polished or varnished to a degree of slipperiness that prevents
even the worst of sticky snow from being much hindrance during the run

The rucksack, in which these things, spare clothing, food, &c., are
carried, should be very large, snowproof and strong, but not heavy. Its
straps should be wide at the shoulder and long.

About food, or the special equipment necessary for mountaineering, or
any other special application of ski-running, I shall not attempt to
speak, this book being only concerned with what is absolutely necessary
to the ski-runner _quâ_ ski-runner.

Those who wish for further information will find it in a vast number of
books on mountaineering proper, in Rickmers' "Ski-ing for Beginners and
Mountaineers," Richardson's "The Ski-Runner," Arnold Lunn's Alpine Ski
Club Guide-books, and in many books in other languages on ski-running
and kindred subjects; for instance, "Der Ski-lauf," by Paulcke (of
which a French translation, "Manuel de Ski," is published), and
Bilgeri's "Alpine Ski-lauf."



_Putting on Skis._--Lay the skis side by side on the snow.

In order to put on the right ski, place the _left_ foot on it just
behind the binding as in Fig. 12, the toe of the boot being on the
left side of the ski and the heel on the right. Your weight then holds
the ski steady while you push the right foot well home and fasten the
binding. Now lift the right foot and ski, stand them on the left ski in
a similar way, and fasten that to the foot.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]

On a hillside lay the skis _across_ the slope; stand _below_ them, and
put on the _lower_ ski first, bringing the foot to it across the front
of the other leg.

_On the Level._--The ski-runner moves on the level with an action much
like that of ordinary walking, except that he does not lift his skis
from the snow, but slides them along it.

Hold your skis _exactly parallel_ and as close together as
possible--not more than two inches apart--and take a long, easy,
lunging step, keeping the knee of the advancing leg well over the foot,
and leaning the body well forwards (Plate I.).

Move the stick, or sticks, in time with the opposite leg, giving a
push at each, or at every alternate stride, according as you carry two
sticks or one.

Slide as far as you can after the advanced foot has received the
weight, and don't be in a hurry to bring forward the other one.

The body must be swayed slightly from side to side with each step in
order to balance it well over the ski which carries the weight.

If you wish to get up the greatest possible speed on the level with two
sticks, take three running--not sliding--steps, swinging the sticks
forwards with the first two, and, at the third, giving a push with both
sticks, followed by a long slide.

Then do the same again, starting with the other foot.

_Uphill._--If the gradient is very slight, you can slide straight
uphill in just the same way as on the level.

At a rather steeper gradient (the angle depending on the slipperiness
of the snow and the skis) you will still be able to move in the same
way, but without the extra forward slide after the weight has come on
to the advanced ski.

If the slope becomes still steeper you will find that the friction is
hardly enough to make the skis hold. The moment you feel they have a
tendency to slip backwards as the weight comes on them, walk as upright
as possible, even leaning slightly backwards, so as to bring the weight
on the heels and throw a little tension on the toe-strap. Shorten your
stride, and, instead of sliding the skis along the snow, lift their
points six inches or so into the air as you move them forwards (but do
not let their heel ends leave the snow), and bring them down again in
front of you with a gentle but decided stamp.

In making this stamping movement, take care, as you bring the foot
to the ground, to stamp it in a direction exactly at right angles to
the surface of the slope. The least suspicion of pawing backwards, or
lunging forwards, as the ski touches the snow is sure to make it slip.

By moving steadily and carefully in this way it is possible to walk up
an appreciably steeper gradient than the one at which the skis first
show a tendency to slip back. But it is no use attempting to struggle
or hurry; no amount of effort will help you, and if you cannot do it
easily you cannot do it at all.

If the gradient becomes any steeper than this--and except in the worst
conditions of sticky snow, the slope will still be quite gentle, the
skis will slip backwards in spite of all your care. At the first sudden
and unexpected back-slip instinct will prompt you to throw yourself
forward, strike out with the back foot, and make a sort of pawing
movement with the advanced one. If you do this, your skis will slip
from under you and you will fall on your nose. Do nothing of the sort,
therefore, but the moment the ski slips lean _right backwards_, with
a free swing of the body, at the same time lifting the slipping ski
quickly round behind the heel of, and to right angles with, the other
ski, to stop you (Plate II. p. 54). To proceed as before being now
impossible, you have the choice of three different methods: zigzagging,
herring-boning, and side-stepping.

_Zigzagging._--Turn more or less sideways to the hill and then move
forwards at a gradient just easy enough to prevent back-slipping. The
skis are held as close together as possible, and moved just as before;
but now, instead of being "flat" to the surface of the snow, they are
"edged" (cutting more deeply into it with the edges which are nearest
the hill) and one ski is more or less above the other, according to the
steepness of the slope.

If the surface is very hard and icy, and the skis cut in very little,
less than half their width may rest on the snow. In order to lessen the
muscular effort then needed to hold the ankles vertical (see p. 28)
press both _knees_, especially the lower one, well over towards the

Hold the sticks in each hand, and use them just as before, no matter
how steep the slope. If the slope be very steep, the stick on the
uphill side can be held shorter, but the two sticks should never
(except on a dangerous slope) be put together and held across the body
with both hands, as a climber holds his ice-axe. To do so will only
get you into a bad habit of leaning towards the hill and supporting
yourself with the stick, and will prevent you from balancing yourself
properly and walking freely.

If only one stick be used, it should be carried in the hand which is
nearest the hill.

If a steep slope is so hard and slippery that nothing will make the
edges of the skis grip, hold the point of each stick close against the
_downhill_ side of _each_ foot, move the sticks exactly in unison with
the feet, and dig their points hard into the crust at each step. This
gives a perfectly firm support for the skis and answers the purpose of
climbing-irons. It is, however, very seldom necessary.

Having found the steepest gradient which you can negotiate without
back-slipping, so adjust your course across the hill that this gradient
remains constant. That is to say, if you come to a spot which is
steeper--_no matter how slightly, or for how short a distance_--don't
dream of trying to move on to it without altering your course; but
instantly turn more sideways to the hill, so that although the
_direction_ of your course is altered its _gradient_ remains the same
as before. By this means only will you avoid falling on your nose, or,
at any rate, struggling and slipping uselessly.

Nothing is more common than to see a beginner making frantic efforts
to cross a short bit of steeper ground without altering his course. He
could attempt nothing more hopeless.

It is amazing how many exhausting struggles and falls are usually
needed to impress on a learner the fact that it is utterly impossible
for him to advance _even one single step_ on steeper ground--however
slight the difference in gradient may be--without altering his course.

Of course if the slope becomes _less_ steep, you turn less sideways to
the hill and mount it more directly.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.]

The diagram will, perhaps, help to explain the proper way of moving
uphill across ground of varying gradient.

It represents a slope with a steep-sided gully running down it. The
conformation of the ground is indicated by contour lines, as in a
map--_i.e._ imaginary horizontal lines running along the side of the
hill, with the same _vertical_ distance between each pair. Where, then,
the contour lines in the plan are far apart the slope is gradual, and
_vice versa_.

Since the direction of the fall of the slope is everywhere at right
angles with that of the contour lines, its _general_ direction only is
shown by the arrow; at either side of the gully its _local_ direction
is, of course, nearly at right angles to this.

AB is the track of an experienced ski-runner. Observe that (i) in
general shape the line AB resembles the contour lines; (ii) it never
cuts the same contour twice; (iii) when the contours are far apart it
cuts them at a blunter angle than when they are close together. In
other words, the expert (i) makes a détour at the gully; (ii) never
loses any height that he has once gained; (iii) moves steadily uphill
at a constant gradient, facing the hill _more_ directly where it is
_less_ steep, and _vice versa_.

AC is the track of a beginner. Trying to cut across directly towards B
he runs downhill into the gully, but, being of course unable to climb
straight up the steep slope on the far side in the direction of B, he
has to bear away to the right; and at C, when his track from A is quite
as long as the expert's at B, he is not nearly so far up the hill.

Remember that the variation of contour needs just as careful attention
in its smallest details as in its main features, and must be negotiated
in exactly the same way. In climbing in this way it is, of course,
impossible to go on continually keeping the same side to the slope
(unless the hill is perfectly conical in shape and quite free from
obstacles, allowing one to wind round it to the top in a spiral).
Having moved in one direction for a time, you will eventually have to
turn round and begin a fresh tack.

To shuffle round, as you might do on the level, is obviously
impossible; for, whether you do so facing up or downhill, the skis will
at a certain angle begin to run away.

The usual procedure is to make what is known as a kick-turn.

_The Kick-Turn._--Suppose that you have been traversing the slope with
the hill on your right side and wish to make a fresh tack. Stop with
your skis pointing uphill at the angle at which they have just been
moving, and your sticks resting close to each foot. Then put your
weight on the lower ski, and draw back the other, slightly bending the
upper knee and raising the heel (Plate III.). Now swing your right
leg from the hip vigorously forwards and upwards, straightening it
completely as it rises, and turning up the toe as hard as you can,
as though trying to make a very high kick. The leg _must be swung
freely_, not merely lifted. The result of this movement, if made with
confidence, will be to bring the ski to an upright position with its
heel resting in the snow close to the bend of the other (Plate IV.). If
there is any hesitation, the knee is sure to remain bent, and the toe
to point forward, the result of which will be that the heel of the ski
will catch in the snow before it has moved far enough to the front.

The position in Plate IV. is only momentary. As soon as the ski is
standing on end in the snow swing its point round to the right and
downwards, until the whole ski again rests on the snow, pointing uphill
in the _opposite direction_, but at the same angle as before (Plate
V.). During this movement the heel of the right ski remains in the snow
where it was placed at first, and acts as a pivot. The steeper and
more slippery the slope, and the less directly you have therefore been
climbing it, the narrower, obviously, will have to be the angle between
the skis in the position of Plate V., but, if your joints are normally
supple, it is only on very steep or icy slopes, when the skis have to
be brought nearly parallel, that you will find it much of a strain to
turn your feet and knees far enough outwards.

Next shift the whole weight over on to the upper leg, at the same
time straightening it and letting the other hang slightly bent; this
movement will lift the lower ski and stick just off the snow (Plate
VI.). Then _straightening the left knee and turning up the toe as hard
as possible_ (Plate VII., A), face towards the point of the right ski
and bring the left ski round to the side of it (Plate VIII.). This
time, however, make no attempt to kick or swing the leg, as you did
in turning the right ski, but _keep the left foot quite close to the
right as it moves round it_. The only difficulty here is to keep the
point of the ski from catching in the slope above you as it turns. On
a very steep slope, in order to avoid this, you will have to change
from the position of Plate VI. to that of Plate VIII. very quickly,
straightening the left knee and turning up the toe _with a sudden jerk_
as you do so, and also _lifting the left hip_ as much as you can. This
will for a moment throw up the _point_ of the left ski much higher than
if the movement were made slowly. But if you try to lift the _whole
ski_ high above the snow with knee bent and toe dropped, or to swing
the left leg away from the other, the point is nearly certain to catch
(Plate VII., B).

The left stick is moved round with the left ski, but the point of the
other stays in the same place throughout the turn; when only one stick
is carried it should, therefore, be held in the hand which, before the
turn, is the uphill one. The sticks of course help to steady you, but
you should be able to turn without any stick in your hand, and should
learn to do so as soon as you can.

Having reached the position of Plate VIII., you can, of course, begin
a fresh tack, at the end of which you can make another kick-turn by
reversing the words right and left in these directions.

The kick-turn, as I have described it, is made with three distinct
pauses at the positions of Plates IV., V., and VI. Instead, however,
of starting the turn by standing the upper ski on end and using its
heel as a pivot, it is quite possible to do so by just lifting it far
enough for its heel to clear the front of the standing leg, turning it
in the air, and bringing it directly to its final position on the snow
in one continuous movement. By then lifting the lower ski the instant
the other comes to rest, and turning it without any preliminary pause,
you can make the whole kick-turn so quickly that you hardly come to a
standstill between one tack and the next. On a steep slope, however,
it is always safer to begin by standing the upper ski on end before
turning it, as otherwise its point is apt to catch in the snow before
it has reached the proper new position.

There is another very convenient modification of the kick-turn which
can be performed without coming to a standstill at all.

As you come to the end of a tack with, say, your left side to the hill,
take a long step forward with your right foot, placing the right ski
in front of the other one, pointing it uphill as much as you can and
edging it inwards (Fig. 14, _1_). Then, throwing the weight momentarily
_against_ the right ski rather than _on_ it (for if you actually stand
on it it will slip backwards), take a wide step round to the left with
the left ski, putting it down so that it points as nearly as possible
in the direction of the new tack you are about to start, with its
heel quite close to the heel of the other ski (Fig. 14, _2_). As the
left ski comes to the snow, bring the right ski round beside it (Fig.
14, _3_) and walk on in the new direction. The whole process must be
carried out quickly and accurately, for if there is any hesitation
about the first two steps you are almost sure to slip backwards and
fall on your nose. It is, however, really very easy, except on the
steepest slopes, and is a great saving of time. The position in the
middle of the turn is much the same as in "Herring-boning," described
later (see Plate IX.). The sticks must be held up out of the way of the

[Illustration: FIG. 14.]

Another way of making the kick-turn is to go backwards through the
whole process first described. After finishing a tack to the right, for
instance, you can move successively through the positions of Plates
VII., A, VI., and V., and then lift the upper ski round to the position
of Plate III. By turning in this way, however, you lose a little
height instead of gaining it; this method is, therefore, rather more
suitable for _descending_ a hill in zigzags than for climbing it.

All the above ways of turning are known as _uphill_ turns because one
faces the hill during the process; it is also possible to make the
kick-turn facing _downhill_ by turning the _lower_ ski first. In order
to prevent strain in the intermediate position, this downhill turn
should be both started and finished with the skis pointing _downwards_
as much as possible (Fig. 15); this makes it particularly convenient
for joining two downhill tacks. It can also, of course, be made
backwards as well as forwards, with a slight consequent gain instead of
a loss of height. In a downhill kick-turn the skis have more room to
move freely, but the balance is much less steady than if one faces the
hill. On the whole, the forward uphill turn first described is far the
most useful, but when you want to turn in cramped corners, among trees
and the like, you will find it a great help to know several ways of
doing it.

[Illustration: FIG. 15. Downhill kick-turn.]

Although, as I have said, the skis need never be quite parallel at the
middle stage of the turn, you must take great care to bring the first
ski far enough round to prevent the least chance of its slipping. On a
steep or icy slope, where the skis at this stage must be brought nearly
parallel, the kick-turn becomes difficult for the stiff-jointed; I have
even known two cases in which it was apparently impossible. If, as is
highly unlikely, your case is similar, you can always roll round on
your back with your skis in the air--a simple but snowy process.

If you dislike this, and if, though the _joints_ of your legs are
stiff, the _muscles_ are strong and active (a not unusual combination),
you can as a last resource _jump_ round, facing downhill as you turn.
The main difficulty in this is to prevent the heels of the skis from
catching in the slope when halfway round, and the best way to prevent
them doing so is to jump as hard as possible not directly upwards,
but _out_ from the hill, so as to land _below_ where you take off.
In order to bring round the skis close beside each other, press the
_knees_ together throughout the jump. Hold the sticks near their
middles, and jump from the toes, not the flat of the foot, with a free
swinging action, not a hurried jerky one. This jump needs little skill
and is easy enough on a moderate slope, but on a steep one becomes very
hard work, for there the skis have less room to turn, and a powerful
spring is necessary. The jump round, therefore, being most difficult
under the same conditions as the kick-turn, and much more tiring, is
hardly a satisfactory substitute for it; I only mention it as a
perfectly possible one.

[Illustration: FIG. 16. Zigzagging without turning.]

The accompanying diagram, which is practically the same as one in Mr.
Richardson's book, "The Ski-Runner," shows how, by walking alternately
backwards and forwards, one can climb a steep passage, just wide enough
to allow zigzagging, without wasting time in turning at the end of each
tack. A description is unnecessary. It is, of course, possible to make
the tacks of any length, but the number of steps in each must always
be an even one, as the tack must be started with the upper foot and
finished with the lower.

_Half Side-stepping._--In tacking uphill among obstacles you may want
to traverse at an angle so steep that the skis would back-slip if you
tried to move straight forward in the ordinary way. You will then have
to step sideways as well as forwards with each ski, the upper one
starting the process and the lower one being drawn up to it, and then
advanced. Fig. 17, A, shows the track that will be left.

This must of course be done without pointing the skis uphill more
steeply than the angle at which they could traverse in the ordinary
way. In lifting the upper ski sideways you are sure at first to point
it uphill too much (Fig. 17, B _3_), when, if it does not slip back
at once, you will tread on it with the heel of the lower ski at the
next step (Fig. 17, B _4_). To avoid this, do your best at first to
place the upper ski _horizontally_ across the slope, lifting its _heel_
well upwards and away from the other, pointing the foot downwards and
inwards, and turning your body so as to face a little downhill.

[Illustration: FIG. 17. Half side-stepping; A right, B wrong.]

On open ground, if the snow is so slippery that the gradient of an
ordinary straightforward traverse has to be very slight indeed, this
half side-stepping can be used simply to save time. Especial care
must then be taken to place the upper ski nearly horizontally. Half
side-stepping can be kept up for a long time without difficulty; but
it is more tiring than ordinary straightforward traversing, and I
think it is a waste of energy to employ it constantly when there is no
special reason for it, as some runners are fond of doing.

_Side-stepping._--It is, of course, also possible to side-step directly
uphill with the skis quite horizontal, as in Fig. 18, but this, though
very easy, is such a tiresome process that it is seldom used except in
narrow passages where there is room for nothing else, or for climbing
short slopes that are very steep and icy.

[Illustration: FIG. 18. Side-stepping.]

_Herring-boning_ (Plate IX.).--This is the quickest but far the most
tiring way of going straight up a steep slope. Stand with skis together
pointing as much uphill as they can without slipping. Lift the upper
ski, and, keeping the feet close together, turn it until it points
across the hill in the opposite direction, but _at the same angle
as before_, with its heel across that of the other. Then slide it
forwards until it just clears the lower one; stand up on it and draw
up the lower foot so that the skis are again crossed at the back at
the same angle as before, but with the hitherto lower ski uppermost.
You can now take a new step in the other direction, and so on.[6]
Fig. 19 shows the track. The steeper the slope the wider must be the
angle between the skis to prevent them from slipping back, but you can
always, if you find it difficult to turn the feet enough outwards,
point the skis uphill more steeply than would otherwise be possible, by
simply throwing the weight momentarily _against_ rather than _on to_
each ski (see p. 65), and keeping the feet well apart the whole time
instead of bringing them together between each step. But though this is
a quicker method, it is a still more tiring one than the first.

[Illustration: FIG. 19. Herring-boning.]

If the slope is steep, herring-boning is too exhausting to be kept up
for more than a short time by anyone but a trained athlete, but on a
gradient which will allow the skis to diverge at only a slight angle it
is easy enough.

_Getting up from a Fall._--If during any of these manoeuvres you
should fall down, you may find some difficulty in getting up again.

The first problem is to disentangle the skis, if they have become
jammed in a complicated position.

The best way to do this is generally to begin by moving your body as
far away from them as possible. If, for instance, you have fallen with
your head downhill, wriggle yourself still farther downhill. Next lift
your skis into the air, either by rolling on your back and raising the
legs from the hips, or by rolling on to your face and bending the legs
backwards from the knees. It is generally possible to free the skis in
this way, but occasionally one cannot move without unfastening them

Having freed them, place them parallel in the air, and roll round on
your side so as to bring them to the snow on the downhill side of you
and exactly at right angles to the fall of the slope.

This is important, for, if they are pointing either up or down hill,
they will, of course, begin to slip the moment you put your weight on

If they are quite level, and your feet are exactly below your body,
you have merely to push yourself up with the arm which is underneath
you and stand erect. If you want to help yourself up with your stick,
do not poke it vertically into the snow and try to climb up it, for if
the snow is deep and soft you will only plunge it farther in without
getting any resistance. _Lay it horizontally_ on the snow, and it will
then give you enough purchase to push up from.

On level ground it is harder to get up again than on a hill side, owing
to the difficulty of getting the skis underneath one in order to get to
one's feet. After freeing them and placing them parallel, lie on your
side, draw your knees as close to your chest, and your feet as close to
your thighs as you can, lay your stick flat under your side, and, with
a vigorous push on it, you ought to be able to get your weight over the
skis and stand up.

Never hurry, or try to struggle frantically to your feet without any
definite method. You will merely exhaust yourself. It is impossible, as
a rule, to get up without going through the various manoeuvres that I
have described, but these take a very short time if they are performed
smartly and accurately.


This chapter is mildly theoretical, and may be skipped by the reader
who believes in nothing that is not, in the ordinary sense of the word,
practical; for in it he will find no definite instructions, but only a
description of the behaviour, under different conditions, of the skis
when in motion, and an attempt at an explanation of it.

I advise him, however, to try to read it, for I think that what I have
to say here is, in a broad sense, strictly practical. I am convinced
at any rate, that if, when I began ski-ing, some one had given me the
information which I am about to try to impart, and which, for the most
part, I have slowly collected for myself, I could have reached in a
month the very moderate degree of skill which it has taken me five
seasons or so to arrive at.

If the reader can thoroughly grasp the few facts with which this
chapter is concerned--and he can take my word for the facts, whatever
he may think about my comments on them--he will, I think, find it far
easier to understand, remember, and put into practice the instructions
which he will find in the subsequent chapters, as to the various
swings, turns, and other manoeuvres for controlling and steering the
skis, and keeping the balance while running downhill.

Before proceeding any further, I had better, in order to avoid any
chance of being misunderstood, explain certain terms of which I shall
constantly make use throughout the rest of the book. These terms
are the "edging" and "flattening" of the skis, and the "inside" and
"outside" of a curve.

If any reader feels that an explanation of these terms is an insult to
his intelligence, I can only assure him that such an explanation has
been necessary in the case of many of my pupils.

The terms "edging" and "flattening" simply have reference to the
relation of the plane of the ski's sole with that of the general
surface on which it is resting, and do not refer to its relation with a
horizontal plane, or, in other words, to its position in space.

Thus a ski is "flat" when standing in the normal position on level
ground; but, when standing in the normal position on the side of a
slope, it is _not_ "flat," but "edged," for in this case the edge
nearest the hill cuts deeper into the snow than the other although the
plane of the sole is still horizontal. (Fig. 20, A and B.)

[Illustration: FIG. 20. Edging and flattening.]

The case is altered when the ski is inclined sideways; on level ground
a ski that is inclined sideways is "edged" (C and E); but on the side
of a hill a ski when inclined sideways so that the plane of its sole
becomes parallel with that of the surface of the slope, is _not_
"edged" but "flat" (D). When inclined to the opposite side, however,
it is, of course, "edged" even more strongly than in the normal
position (F).

The inside and outside of a curve mean, respectively, the sides nearest
to, and farthest from, the centre of the circle of which that curve is
an arc; that is to say, that in speaking of a swing or a turn to the
right, the right ski, foot, and so forth are the inside, and the left
the outside ones, while in the case of a turn to the left it is just
the reverse.

This is simple enough. A shade of ambiguity, however, may lie in
the fact that the edges of a ski are generally called "inside" and
"outside" with reference to their relation to the foot, in the same way
as those of a skate. In speaking, then, of swings or turns, the right
edge, say, of the right ski may be referred to as its "outside" edge,
even when the right ski itself, and the right leg, shoulder, and so on
are all the inner ones in relation to the curve of the swing.

Now for the facts referred to above.

When a ski is pointed directly downhill and is made to slide with its
sole held flat on the snow, it runs, if properly constructed, in a
perfectly straight line.

If it is then "edged" to one side it runs round gradually to that side,
the curved point acting against the snow like a bow rudder and drawing
it to that side.

The steering effect, in theory, increases with the edging until it
reaches its maximum when the ski is edged to a right angle. What
happens in practice is that though the edging and the steering effect
do increase together, there is no use in edging the ski beyond a
certain angle--less than 45°--as, if that angle is exceeded, the ski
sinks deeply into the snow and refuses to slide.

If that angle is not exceeded, however, the deeper the ski sinks into
the snow (owing to the softness of the latter) the greater is the
steering effect, for then a larger and more sharply curved surface of
the point comes into action as a rudder.

If when going straight downhill the runner "edges" his ski--we will
suppose he has only one--_by simply leaning sideways_, he will equally
simply fall down; but if he "edges" it _without leaning_--if he edges
it _in relation to himself_, so to speak--it will begin to turn; that
he then leans sideways in order to keep his balance does not make the
turn sharper.

If the runner traverses the slope with his ski held normally, as in
Fig. 20, B, it will run straight, for although it is then edged in
relation to the slope it is not edged in relation to him. If he edges
it in relation to himself it will turn more or less according as the
gradient of its previous traverse has been steep or gradual.

When a ski running straight downhill is made to turn by "edging," the
further it turns, and the less directly therefore it points downhill,
the less abrupt becomes the curve of its course. This curve, indeed,
eventually becomes so gradual that before the ski has turned far enough
to point horizontally across the slope and come to a standstill, the
line of its track is practically straight.

When, therefore, a ski, traversing directly at a moderate gradient,
is simply "edged" towards the slope, there is no perceptible turning
effect, even if the runner does not lean inwards.

At first sight it might appear that the movement of a ski when edged
and travelling in a curve would be precisely similar to that of a
skate, and so it is in a way.

Since the edge of a skate is, in shape, the arc of a circle, a skate,
when edged, cuts cleanly round without side-slip, and so in a sense
does a ski, when simply edged, for its heel then follows in the track
of its point. An edged ski, moreover, like a skate, turns more or less
gradually, according to the angle at which it is edged. But while a
skate, the edge of which is curved throughout, touches the ice with
only a very small part of this edge, and is able to make a curve of
very small radius, a ski touches the snow with nearly the whole length
of its edge, the greater part of which is quite straight. This straight
part so far neutralises the turning action of the curved point, that a
ski made to turn simply by edging is unable to make anything but a very
long and gradual curve--so gradual, indeed, that for practical purposes
of steering the edging of the ski, _unaided_, is absolutely useless.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.]

But though, contrary to what one might expect, the edging or flattening
of the skis may practically be disregarded as _primary_ factors in
a turn, they are, as we shall see, of the greatest importance as
_secondary_ ones.

Before a ski can be made to turn at all sharply, its heel must be got
out of the track of its point and made to travel faster on a curve of
its own (as in Fig. 21, B). The ski as a whole, in fact, must be made
to side-slip more or less as well as move forward.

The first question, then, is how the ski-heel is to be got out of
the track of the point in order that the side-slip may start. If the
ski is pointing nearly directly downhill, whether flat and running
straight, or moving edged in a long curve, there is--apart from the
help of the other ski, which we will leave out of the question for
the present--only one possible way of doing it. The runner, by means
of sudden--though not necessarily more than a very slight--muscular
effort must jerk it more or less broadside on. How he makes this effort
need not be considered here; we will also defer the consideration of
the other ways in which the side-slip may be started. Supposing it has
been started, it must then, by edging or flattening, be encouraged to
continue, if the ski is to go on turning.

It depends on the quality of the snow as to whether a ski side-slips
more freely when flat or when more or less edged. If the surface of
the snow is hard and icy, or if there is a mere shallow layer of loose
snow on a hard crust, a ski will slip sideways either when quite flat
or when slightly or even strongly edged on the side _from_ which it is

The flat position would in this case be the more favourable if the hard
surface were perfectly smooth; this, however, it seldom is; it usually
has small projections which, when the ski is quite flat, strike its
side and check or stop it, while, if the edge is raised, they strike
its sole obliquely and affect its motion but little.

The flat position, then, is not advisable as an aid to side-slip even
in the case of hard snow; on snow of any other kind it is still less
advisable, for if the ski sinks deeply into loose soft snow, or even
but a little way into dense soft snow or into a thin crust, it can
hardly be induced to side-slip at all when held quite flat, while when
more or less edged, it can usually (if already in motion) be made to do
so without much difficulty.

The reason is not quite obvious, for at first glance it would appear
that the ski would meet more resistance from the snow in the edged
position than in the flat, but this is not the case, for, when the ski
is edged, most of the resistance is exerted _obliquely_ against its
sole, and so tends to make the ski rise to the surface of the snow and
relieves the pressure. When, however, the ski is flat, the resistance
acts _directly_ against the side of it, and there is no lifting
tendency to diminish the rapidity with which this resistance increases
as the snow is compressed.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.]

Moreover, since during a turn the runner must lean inwards to keep
his balance, the ski cannot remain in its normal position in relation
to the leg unless it is more or less edged inwards (Fig. 22, A). That
the leg and ski should remain as nearly as possible in their normal
relative positions is an advantage, for the more nearly they do so the
less is the strain on the ankle. If the weighted ski is held quite flat
during a turn in which it is outermost, that ankle is placed in a very
unstable position (Fig. 22, B), and is liable to give way and so edge
the ski on that side _towards_ which it is moving (Fig. 22, C); it
will then cut more deeply into the snow and be brought instantly to a

[Illustration: FIG. 23.]

In all that I have said so far about side-slip, I have assumed that
the ski is moving more or less broadside on, with its heel travelling
outside the track of its tip and its pivoting point well forward, and
this is what either one or both skis actually do during the greater
part of any swing or turn; for, in turning, a ski usually passes
through the positions of either B or C, Fig. 23. A ski may also, as,
for instance, in turning downwards from a slow traverse, move so that
the curve in which its point travels is outside that of the heel (Fig.
23, D) and its pivoting point is near the heel. In each of these cases,
though one end is side-slipping faster than the other, both ends are
slipping to the _same side_, and the ski, as I have said, has therefore
to be edged to the _opposite side_.

If, however, the ski begins to turn as in D, and finishes as in B
or C, it must of course be edged first to one side and then to the
other, as in E, and for a moment be flat. At this moment the pivoting
point of the ski is at its centre, and its heel is side-slipping in
one direction as much as its point is in the other, as in A. If ever,
therefore, a ski, in turning, _continues_ to pivot on its centre (Fig.
23, A) instead of only doing so for a moment, it must obviously be held
quite flat, as otherwise either one end or the other will cut below the
surface of the snow and be checked suddenly.

Now the pivoting point of a ski is never behind its centre except
during a downward turn, and the faster the runner is moving before the
turn, and the sharper the turn is made, the more quickly this point
moves to the front; the only case, I believe, in which it remains
near the centre for an appreciable time, and when, therefore, the ski
has to be held deliberately flat, being that of the outer ski during a
"steered" Christiania swing.

In order to facilitate side-slip, therefore, the outer edge of
the ski must usually be raised as it turns or, even if at first
the inner edge must be raised, a change of edge must usually take
place almost immediately. The flat position, in fact, must never be
sustained--except, as I have said, during a Christiania "steered"
swing, and even then only for a short time--it is simply a necessary
incident in a change of edge.

In each figure in Diagram 23 the dotted line with arrows shows the
_average_ direction of the ski's course at each point, and whether,
therefore, it must be edged or flat.

The foregoing remarks are an explanation of how the edging or
flattening of the ski can be made to help the side-slip; the next thing
is to understand how the side-slip can be made to help the ski to turn

If, when either standing still on the side of a slope or running across
it in the normal, edged position, a ski is partially flattened, it will
begin to slip sideways--in the first case moving directly downhill,
and in the second obliquely, _i.e._ forwards as well as sideways.

Now the foot stands on the ski at about halfway between the front bend
and the heel--that is to say, about the middle of that part of the
blade which rests on the snow; and as long as the runner's weight is
placed equally on toe and heel, a ski in side-slipping will continue to
point in a direction parallel to that in which it was pointing when the
side-slip began.

When, however, the runner's weight is placed on the heel, that end of
the ski will side-slip faster than the other, and the farther the ski
slips the more it will point uphill; while when the weight is placed on
the toe the reverse will happen.

Fig. 24 shows what will happen if a ski, when (A, B, C) at rest on,
or (D, E, F) running across a slope, is made to side-slip with the
runner's weight variously distributed. In this and succeeding diagrams
the blackened portions of the skis are those on which the runner's
weight is put.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.]

In A the ski slips broadside on downhill.

In B it gradually revolves as it slips, and would finish by running
downhill backwards if its shape did not prevent it from doing so.

In C its rotation is reversed, and it finally runs straight downhill.

In D it runs slightly sideways, but the direction of its course is a
straight line.

In E it turns uphill and at a certain point stops.

In F it at first turns and finally runs straight downhill.

The side-slip can be stopped more or less quickly at any stage by the
runner strongly edging the ski and at the same time again equalising
the distribution of his weight on it.

Whether the ski then runs on in the direction in which it is pointing,
or comes to a standstill, of course depends on whether it is pointing
downhill or not.

It is obvious, then, that when a ski is in motion _across_ a slope the
runner, by means of the side-slip, can make it turn in either direction
and to any extent up to a certain limit, and can in this way either
come to a standstill, slightly alter his direction, or run straight
downhill. It is equally obvious that no matter what means are employed
for starting a turn (there are more ways of doing so than I have yet
described), the distribution of the runner's weight on the ski or skis
which carry it may make all the difference to the success or failure of
the manoeuvre.

I have already said that when a ski is running straight downhill it
may be made to turn by the runner jerking it somewhat broadside on. He
can of course do the same with the two skis, but a simpler plan is for
him to stand on one, point the other more or less in the direction in
which he wants to go, and hold it so for a moment. It is thus of course
made to "stem"--in other words, to side-slip--and, if the runner then
throws his weight on to its heel, it can, as we have just seen, be
made to turn still further, the previously weighted one being again
brought parallel with it as it does so. A turn can also be started from
a traverse in the same way.

When one ski is held at an angle with the other in order to start
a turn in the above way, the relative position of the two usually
produces some steering effect; the two skis in fact act together
something like a boat and rudder. To say that one ski may be looked
upon as the boat and the other as the rudder is hardly accurate, for
the steering effect is at its greatest when, as the runner's weight is
shifted from the ski that is running straight ahead to the one that is
held sideways, it rests equally on both; at which moment, since their
area is equal, either of the skis may equally well be looked upon as
the rudder or as the boat. If, however, it is remembered that the boat
steers the rudder no less than the rudder steers the boat, and that if
the rudder is fixed in a certain position, it and the boat together
may be considered as one solid object whose shape determines whether
and how it is able to turn, one may, by comparing the skis with a boat
and rudder, understand whether and how, when held in various relative
positions, _they_ are able to turn.

The diagram shows the skis as they are held at the beginning of--A, a
Telemark, B, a Stemming turn, and C, a Christiania. It also shows a
boat turning to the left steered by both a bow and a stern rudder.

[Illustration: FIG. 25. The darkened ski of each pair is the weighted

The steering action of the skis may be best understood by considering
the blackened parts of each pair (in which the steering effect is
neutral) as the sides of a boat, and the light point and heel of each
pair as a bow and stern rudder respectively. It will then be seen that
the boat is in each case helped to turn to the left by the action of
both rudders, or that if it can in some way be made to turn to the
left without the help of the rudders, they will at least not hinder
it--than which, as a matter of fact, little more can be said in the
case of the Telemark; though in the Stemming turn there is a strong
steering action while the skis remain in this position, and a distinct,
if weak, one in the Christiania.

The principal factors, then, in the control and steering of the skis
are the edging or flattening of them, the distribution of the weight on
them, and the placing of them in certain positions in relation to each
other. How these various factors interact during the different swings,
turns, &c., will be explained more fully in subsequent chapters, but
before closing this one I want to give some explanation of how a turn
on skis depends as to its character on whether the ski at the moment of
beginning the turn is running straight down the hill or across it, on
whether the speed is high or low, and the slope steep or gentle, and
also on the quality of the snow.

The accompanying diagram shows the successive positions assumed by a
ski (the leading one, the other is not shown) during a turn to the
right, under various conditions.

The line passing through the middle of the skis shows the curve on
which the runner himself travels during the turn; the line ending in a
double arrow shows the sort of curve on which he would travel if the
ski were able to cut round without side-slip as a skate does. It will
be seen that if there were no side-slip he would in every case move
steadily to the right of the line of his original course (shown by a
dotted line in the diagram), but that, on account of the side-slip, the
line on which he travels sometimes moves only slightly to the right of
that line, even when the turn itself is a sharp one, that sometimes it
moves to the left of it and then recrosses it, and that sometimes it
remains entirely on the left of it throughout the turn. To understand
how, according to the conditions, the curve of the runners actual
course varies, is a great help to the balance, for at first one's
instinct is to balance the body as if the ski were cutting round like
a skate, _i.e._ to lean inwards too much, which, of course, inevitably
results in a fall.

In every case the turn is supposed to be made as sharply as the
conditions allow. It will be seen that on hard snow the runner, when
travelling fast, will skid almost directly sideways for some distance
from the spot where he actually finishes turning.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.]

A, B, C, D are turns made while the runner is travelling straight
downhill, or, which amounts to the same thing, while he is running on
the level at the end of a downhill slide. E, F, G, H are turns made
while the runner is descending a slope _obliquely_. A to F are what are
known as uphill turns, which bring the runner to a standstill; G and H
are downhill ones, which enable him to join one tack to another when
descending a hill in zigzags.

If anyone who has done no ski-ing at all reads this chapter, he will,
no doubt, think it very complicated; but if, while actually learning to
ski, and especially while learning the turns, he looks through it from
time to time, I think he will soon understand whatever is not quite
clear, and will, I hope, find that it helps him to correct his mistakes
and to understand and remember his instructions.


_Cleaning Skis._--Before attempting to start, you must make sure that
your skis will slide.

In thawy weather, or very strong sunshine, the snow may stick to
their under surfaces--so badly, sometimes, that sliding is out of
the question. But it is seldom quite impossible to slide, and under
conditions which seem hopeless to a beginner one can generally get
started, if one knows how to set about it. When once under weigh the
great thing is to keep moving, for the moment the skis stop sliding the
snow will stick again, and the whole cleaning process described below
must be repeated.

In snow which is only slightly sticky you need merely stamp your skis
hard once or twice, and rub them firmly backwards and forwards on the
hardened snow until you can feel that they are quite slippery. Then
slide off at once.

If the snow sticks badly, the skis must be scraped on each other
(unless there are any branches or hard objects lying about which will
do as well). To do this on level ground is easy; on the side of a hill
rather less so.

Suppose you are obliged to start your run on the hillside and wish to
scrape your skis.

First stand with your skis pointing across the slope, and, by
vigorously stamping or jumping, make as hard a place to stand in as

If you are standing with your right side to the hill, and want to
scrape the right ski, rest your left ski on its right (inside) edge,
lift round the right ski, and put it across the other one, at right
angles to it, just _behind_ the left foot and pointing directly uphill.
Then scrape it hard up and down across the raised outer edge of the
left ski, bending the left knee well and crouching down so as to get
a long scrape from the heel _right up to the bend_ of the right ski
(Plate XI.). When the ski feels perfectly smooth, lift it round again
parallel to the other ski, and _without resting it on the snow for
an instant_ stamp and rub it backwards and forwards until it is as
slippery as possible and the snow beneath it as hard and smooth as
you can make it. Then, and not until then, you can rest the ski on
the snow, placing it on its right (outer) edge and doing your best to
prevent its sole from touching the snow. Now, with your weight on the
right ski, but still holding it well on its edge, face downhill, lift
round the left ski, put it across the heel of the other one, pointing
downhill, and, crouching well down as before, scrape it clean on the
inside edge of the other (Plate XII.); this time it is the _heel_ of
the ski which it is difficult to get at. Then bring it round to the
side of the right ski, repeat the stamping and rubbing process, and
place it carefully on its inside edge. Now start instantly. (How to do
so is explained later.)

If the snow is very bad indeed, it is best, when on tour, before
beginning the descent, to take off the skis, scrape and wipe them
absolutely clean, and dry them thoroughly in the sun or air--but not,
if you can help it, by standing them upright in the snow, for if they
are wet the water will run down and form ice at the heel ends. Then wax
and polish them well, let their soles cool in the shade if they are
warm from the sun, and put them on. You will probably be able to slide
off without trouble; or, if it is still necessary to scrape and rub
them, they will become clean more easily.

This scraping sounds an elaborate and wearisome process, and so it is.
Fortunately it is not often necessary; but, when the snow is really
bad, it is an enormous saving of time and trouble in the end to attend
minutely to every detail, and may be the only means of getting a run at

It is not unusual to see a beginner refuse to get his skis thoroughly
clean, under the impression that the slower pace will make things
easier for him. He could not make a greater mistake. If he leaves any
snow sticking to his skis they will certainly move slowly (unless they
refuse to slide altogether), but they will do so with an irregular,
jerky motion which is ten times more upsetting than the fastest
movement of polished skis.

_Starting._--To start from the top of a hill is a simple matter. You
walk to the edge and slide over in any direction you choose.

On the side of a slope, however, there is a difficulty in starting a
run straight downhill owing to the fact that, as you move the skis
round, they begin to slide before you are facing the way you wish to go.

One way to overcome this difficulty is as follows: Suppose you are
standing at right angles to the fall of the slope, with the hill on
your right, and wish to start to run straight downhill.

First move both skis round a little way, so that, like the left ski
in Plate XIII., they point downhill as directly as possible without
actually slipping. Then, putting all the weight on the left ski, lift
the right ski and place it on the snow, pointing straight downhill, its
tip being just in front of and below the tip of the other one, as in
the photograph. The weight should still be on the left ski. If there is
any sign of slipping, you can stop it by turning the skis on to their
inside edges and pressing outwards against them with the legs.

You are now quite steady and ready to start. In order to do so you
merely have to throw _all_ your weight on to the _right_ foot and to
lean well forward, downhill. The right ski will at once slide off, the
right foot will strike and push forward the point of the left ski,
which will, if left to itself, come round, and fall into what, as will
appear later, is its proper position close to the side of the other.

Another simple and frequently used method of starting downhill from the
horizontal position is to jump round. The same points are to be noticed
as when using a jump in the place of a kick-turn. Bring the feet level,
spring from the ball of the foot, press the _knees_ as well as the
feet together, hold the skis parallel, and don't let their heels drop.
You must land leaning well forward, so that the general direction of
the body and legs is at right angles to the slope, _not_ vertical,
otherwise the skis will run from under you.

This jump round is easier than the first one described, being only a
quarter-turn, while the other is a half-turn.

_Straight-running._--As you begin to slide, place yourself in the
position of Plates XIV. and XV., which is the normal one for running
downhill--skis held in contact, so that they leave a single track;
one ski about a foot in advance of the other; the advanced leg almost
straight at the knee, the other more bent; nearly all the weight on the
back foot; the inside of the front knee pressed against the _kneecap_
of the other; body erect; arms hanging easily by the sides; stick, or
sticks, if carried, held clear of the snow.

Hold yourself perfectly easily and without stiffness, especially at
the knees, which should give to the inequalities of the ground. It is
far better to stand too loosely, and sway about somewhat, than to keep
every muscle tense.

You can keep the skis together without effort by bending the knees and
ankles well inwards, so as to place the skis slightly on their inside
edges; they will then tend to run together rather than to separate.
Take the greatest care to avoid any approach to a bow-legged position,
which would edge the skis outwards. There should be no daylight visible
between your knees to a person standing in front of you.

If you should find the skis running wide apart with the weight equally
on both, don't try to force them together, but throw all your weight
on to one ski, and then you will be able to move back the other quite
easily to its proper position.

Carry the stick, or sticks, as shown in the photographs (Plates XIV.
and XV.). On no account hold a single stick (or the two sticks placed
together) in both hands. If you feel the smallest tendency to do so,
practise at first with nothing in your hands.

This will save you from acquiring the habit of falling into the
deplorable attitude shown in Plate XVI., or the almost equally bad one
in which the stick is held out in front transversely like a balancing
pole, ready for the teeth of its owner if he happens to pitch forwards.

If their weight or length makes it difficult to keep the sticks clear
of the snow when held by the ends, hold them rather nearer the middle,
but not _much_ nearer or they will be more likely to hurt you if you

Don't hold out the arms horizontally from the shoulders, for that is
tiring and ungraceful.

The knees, as I said, should give to small inequalities of the ground;
but as you are almost sure instinctively to stiffen them a little when
you find yourself approaching a bump or hollow which looks likely
to upset your balance, it is as well to bend or straighten them
_voluntarily_ according to circumstances. As you go over a mound, for
instance, bend the knees and let the body sink; if it is necessary to
sink low, raise the heel of the back foot and let more weight fall on
the advanced one. As you cross a hollow, straighten the knees and rise
as high as you can. In this way the pressure of the skis on the snow
will vary but little and the unevenness of the ground will scarcely be
felt. The feeling will be that of moving steadily and smoothly along,
lifting the skis over the hillocks, and pressing them down into the
hollows. A spectator who can only see your head and body should hardly
know that the ground over which you are moving is not perfectly smooth.

In this way you can negotiate short variations of gradient where the
general angle of the slope remains constant. In the case of larger
inequalities, or where the general angle of the slope changes, you
must alter your procedure. The line from your centre of gravity to its
point of support must always be at right angles to the surface of the
slope, so, where the ground becomes steeper, you will have to lean more
forward, and less so where it becomes less steep. But though you will
have to tilt yourself forward consciously as you pass on to a steeper
slope, you may safely leave to unconscious instinct the backward lean
in the opposite case. If you try to lean backward consciously, you are
almost certain to overdo it and to sit down.

There is a further safeguard in the case of sudden changes of gradient,
very rough ground, snow of varying consistency which alternately checks
and accelerates the speed, and, in fact, anything which makes it
difficult to keep the balance-that is, to drop into what is generally
known as the "Telemark" position (Plates XVII., XVIII., XIX.), because
it is the one held during the swing of that name.

To assume this attitude, you shift the weight from the back foot
to the advanced one, and then sink down, leaning the body forwards,
bending both knees, and sliding the back ski still farther back until
its bend is level with the leading ankle.

Practically all your weight should then be upon the leading foot,
and upon its heel, no less than its toes. To make sure of this, the
advanced leg must be bent at the knee almost to a right angle, and
the knee must be kept well forward, so that the leg, from the knee
downwards, will be at right angles to the ski, no matter how steep may
be the slope.

If the front foot is thrust forward in advance of the knee, too
much weight will fall on the _toe_ (unlikely as it may appear) and,
moreover, some weight will be thrown on the back foot, which should
carry next to none. Let the back knee drop until quite close to the ski
(when crossing uneven ground it will very likely touch it) and raise
the heel of the back foot as far as possible. That leg should then be
perfectly relaxed and easy. Keep the skis close together as before, so
that they leave a single track, by edging them a trifle inwards and
pressing both _knees_, especially the back one, well inwards so that,
seen from in front or behind, they overlap.

Practise running in this position with either foot leading, taking
care to keep the weight well on the front foot. It is an indispensable
accomplishment; and although at first it may not seem so easy a
position as the normal one, it is such a help to the balance that later
on you must be on your guard or you may contract the bad habit of
running constantly in this position when there is no real need for it.

In this position not only is the centre of gravity lowered, but the
base of support is considerably lengthened, and the fore and aft
stability is thus enormously increased. By means of it you will be
able to move with perfect steadiness over ground which would almost
inevitably upset you if you were to stand up in the normal position.

In this, just as in the normal position, you can consciously raise and
lower yourself to allow for uneven ground, by bending or straightening
the advanced leg; but this will seldom be necessary, except for very
abrupt inequalities.

Even sudden changes of speed have little power to disturb your balance
when you are running in this attitude. If the gradient suddenly
becomes much steeper, as in Plates XVIII. and XIX., you should give
a determined plunge forwards, as though trying to get ahead of your
skis. If, however, you are taken by surprise, and run suddenly on to
an invisible icy patch or over a steep drop in bad light, you will
probably at the worst only find your weight thrown on to the back foot,
and will be able to recover yourself. On the other hand, if the speed
is checked and you are thrown forwards, the back foot will tend to rise
into the air, and, receiving the weight of the ski, will most likely
just save you. If the check is so abrupt as to throw you right off your
balance forwards, you can often save yourself by bringing, with a quick
stride, the disengaged back foot to the front to receive your weight.
Indeed you are almost sure to do so instinctively.

Another position, which is employed by some runners under circumstances
such as I have just described, is as follows:--

The runner crouches as low as possible, almost sitting on the raised
heel of the back foot; the front leg, from the knee downwards, is
perpendicular to the ski, but its foot is not much farther ahead than
in the normal running position; the back knee is pressed against the
inside of the front leg, just above the ankle.

This attitude is less tiring to hold than the Telemark position, but
is, I think, less of a safeguard to the balance when the speed changes
suddenly or the ground is very rough.

All that I have just said has reference only to the preservation of the
balance in a fore and aft direction. The question of lateral stability
is far simpler; on all ordinary occasions it is sufficiently secured by
keeping the skis as close together, and so making as narrow a track as

The reason for this is not quite self-evident, but is easily explained.

If a bicycle be ridden on bumpy ground, it will not be tilted sideways
as it crosses the side of an undulation, and will have no tendency to
upset unless it actually side-slips.

A tricycle, on the other hand, or any vehicle with a wide wheel-base,
will under similar circumstances be more or less tilted according
to the angle of the ground, and will, unless it has a _very_ wide
wheel-base and a low centre of gravity, be easily upset by a sudden
transverse variation in the angle of the ground, especially when moving

The diagram shows how a ski-runner when holding his skis apart may be
compared with a tricycle, when holding them together with a bicycle.

This is not quite a fair simile, for, while the cases of the bicycle
and of the ski-runner in the single-track position are exactly
analogous, a man with his skis apart is not a rigid construction like a
tricycle, but, by letting his knees give and by swaying his body, can
adapt himself to the change of gradient.

Still, the tendency is always, especially in the case of the beginner,
for the legs to stiffen when they ought to yield, and on this account
alone the single-track position is the safer.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.]

There are, moreover, two further objections--and very strong ones--to
separating the skis.

One is that it is impossible to run with the skis apart without holding
the feet about level, instead of keeping one well ahead of the other.
With the feet level the runner has far less stability in a fore and
aft direction, and, without support from his stick, can hardly hope to
keep his balance in the event of a very sudden change of speed. The
other objection is that when the skis are separated each one has to
be kept straight independently. At a low speed it is perhaps not very
difficult to do this, but at a high speed it is by no means easy, and,
of course, any divergence or convergence of the skis is almost certain
to cause a fall before it can be checked.

When held against each other, however, the skis, if properly made, will
run perfectly straight and need no attention at all. Obviously they
cannot converge, and the least inward pressure or edging will prevent
them from running apart.

The single-track position, then, has many advantages. The only thing
against it is its unsteadiness in the event of side-slip. But under
ordinary conditions of snow, a ski, when moving straight ahead, either
directly down the slope or obliquely across it, will show no tendency
to side-slip, not even when, in the latter case, the slope is very
steep (provided, of course, the ski be held normally, _i.e._ edged).
Under such conditions you can always run with the skis held close
together in either the normal or the Telemark position, and there can
be no excuse for deliberately separating them.

When running on a hard icy crust, however, it is sometimes impossible
to prevent the skis from side-slipping. They are, of course, much more
apt to side-slip when moving across a slope (especially a steep one)
than when running straight down it; indeed when traversing a _steep_
slope they may side-slip even in _soft_ snow if that is shallow and
rests on a slippery crust. But though they will generally run straight
downhill with absolute steadiness on snow that makes them side-slip
badly when traversing, the surface may be so extremely slippery that
they will side-slip even in a direct descent owing to small _lateral_
undulations of the ground.

As soon, in either case, as the tendency to side-slip becomes so
pronounced that you are really hopelessly unsteady in the single-track
position, you will, if you still want to run at full speed, have to
separate the feet more or less and hold them about level. Do not
separate the feet more than just enough to steady you, and do not do it
at all until you are quite sure it is absolutely necessary; try merely
to separate them a little for a moment when the side-slip unsteadies
you and to recover the normal _position_ instantly; some runners
seem able to hold the single-track position at any speed on the most
slippery snow--possibly by making imperceptible jumps to one side or
another as they feel the slip begin.

When running with your feet level and apart, your fore and aft balance
will, of course, be more precarious than in the normal position; you
had better, therefore, lower your centre of gravity by crouching as
low as you can with steadiness, _i.e._ not so low that all your weight
comes on the heels or that they have to be raised at all. In the
level-footed position your best safeguard in case of sudden changes of
gradient or snow consistency is _not_ to lean backwards or forwards,
but _to move the feet forwards or backwards_, which amounts to exactly
the same thing but is a much quicker process.

This may not be quite clear. Let me try to explain. As I have already
said, the line from your centre of gravity to your point of support
must always be about at right angles to the slope. Suppose then that
you are running fast down a slope with an abrupt mound in front of
you, instead of trying to readjust your balance as you pass on to the
mound by leaning suddenly _backwards_, do so by still more suddenly
doubling _forwards_ a bit at the hips and, so to speak, _lifting
your feet forwards and placing them_ AGAINST _the mound to receive
your weight_. If, on the other hand, you suddenly run off a gentle
slope on to a steep one, quickly hollow your back a little, and, by
straightening yourself at the hips and bending your knees more, lift
your feet _backwards_ and place them against the slope behind you.
By "lifting" the skis I do not mean actually _raising_ them from the
snow, but only taking the weight off them a trifle, and _sliding_ them.
These movements are exactly the same as those you would make if, when
standing with your feet tied together, you were pushed off your balance
either forwards or backwards and were then to save yourself by a little
jump in the corresponding direction. _Leaning_ backwards and forwards,
which as it is done principally on the hinge of the ankles cannot be
done quickly, may be used as a _preventive_ of loss of balance, but is
practically useless as a _cure_; this moving of the _feet_, however, is
particularly useful for the latter purpose. If you try the two methods
when running quickly down a very undulating icy path, you will soon
decide in favour of the latter.

You can, of course, do the same thing when running in steady snow with
the skis together in the normal position, but it is then simpler and
quicker to move _one_ foot backwards or forwards instead of moving both.

Although, as I have said, side-slip occurs more readily when you are
traversing a slope, you will then find it far less upsetting than when
you are running straight downhill. When traversing in normal position
with the skis together, the upper foot should lead and the weight be on
the lower; with the lower foot weighted it will take a very sudden and
pronounced side-slip to upset you, for as the lower ski slips the upper
will receive the weight, and the sudden pressure will probably make its
edge hold long enough for you to recover your balance. Moreover, you
will generally, when traversing, be running pretty slowly (you can, of
course, go as slowly as you like by making the angle of your traverse
a very gradual one), which makes side-slip still less likely to upset
you. It is, therefore, hardly ever necessary to traverse with your skis
more than a few inches apart.

If you wish to run a traverse at high speed where the tendency to
side-slip is very pronounced, do not make violent efforts to prevent
it by edging your skis extra hard, but simply keep them normally edged
with your ankles, and especially your knees, well over towards the
hill, and then _let_ them side-slip if they want to. Make no attempt
to lean towards the slope, but keep your weight well outwards and
forwards, imagine that you are making for a spot rather _below_ where
your skis are pointing, and run as _lightly_ as possible, cultivating,
if you can, a sort of semi-sideways _floating_ feeling, which is hardly
describable but which you will certainly recognise if you do as I have
told you.

Generally speaking, the harder and slipperier the snow the more lightly
you should try to run, the softer the snow the more heavily you should
try to drive your skis into it.

You can entirely disregard the hard ruts of ski tracks unless you are
obliged to cross them at a narrow angle. If you cannot help doing this
(which you should try to if running fast) be ready, if one of the
skis or both get turned off their course, to lift one quickly and put
it straight again before you lose your balance. You should never be
afraid of lifting your skis, especially on hard snow; by stepping about
quickly you can not only keep your balance even when running fast, but
can alter your course, though in the latter case you must be careful
_as_ you put the first-lifted ski to the snow again to lift the other
_instantly_, or they will run apart for a moment and probably upset
you. The greater your speed, the less of course will be the change of
direction that you can make safely in one step, but by pattering round
quickly you can turn fairly short when going at a good rate.

When running _straight downhill_ in either normal or Telemark position
either foot may lead, and you should change about, when practising,
until you find you can lead as easily with one as with the other.
When _traversing_ in _normal_ position the upper foot should lead, in
_Telemark_ position, the lower foot--that is to say, that in traversing
the _weighted_ foot should _always_ be the _lower_ one.

The more weight is carried by the lower ski, the less difficulty will
you find in keeping the other one close to the side of it.

Should the upper ski show a tendency to run uphill, away from the
other, put no more weight on it, but merely turn its inner edge
slightly downwards, and press on the toe, when it will run back to its
proper position.

If you have any difficulty in preventing it from running downwards,
and crossing the other, you can slide it to the rear, and drop into
Telemark position, lower foot leading.

Although, generally speaking, you should avoid all effort and hold
yourself easily and loosely, you must, when your balance is disturbed,
make every effort in your power to keep it.

One very often falls simply through expecting to fall, and doing
nothing to save oneself, when a determination not to fall would carry
one through.

Don't be afraid of running straight down the steepest slope, _provided
the ground is open and fairly smooth, the snow easy and safe_,[7] _and
the change of gradient at the bottom not sudden_. Remember that the
pace does not go on increasing, but attains its maximum in a second
or two. It is only while you are gathering way that the sensation is
at all alarming; when full speed is reached--provided the ground be
smooth--a steep slope feels no more difficult than a gradual one. If,
however, there are any undulations--however small--you had better run
down a steep slope in the Telemark position. For though on a moderate
slope you might hardly notice them, or could allow for them as directed
above, on a steep slope the high speed will very much increase their
effect, and to run over a small mound may shoot you into the air if
your legs happen to be rigid at the moment.

Whenever you are actually running freely and not trying to put on
the brake, or stop (explained later), the very best safeguard to the
balance is a desire to go faster.

Should you not happen to want to go faster, pretend you do, if you are
not above such childishness.

No amount of wanting, of course, will affect your speed, but this
mental attitude will enormously increase your steadiness by removing
the fatal tendency to lean backwards.

Similarly, to wish to go slower will not make you do so, but will very
likely be the sole cause of a fall.

Some such sentence as "This is very slow," repeated to oneself as one
goes over any difficult ground, is a more potent spell than might be


If you wish to reduce your speed or stop, you can, as a rule, if you
are not going fast--and sometimes even if you are--do so without
altering your course, by making one or both skis move more or less
broadside on. Although I am only now about to describe the different
ways in which this may be done, you should begin to learn them at the
very outset--or even _before_ you try straight-running, if you are very
nervous--and should certainly not attempt to run very fast until you
can brake perfectly by every method described in this chapter, and are
fairly proficient in the turns to be described later on.

_Single-Stemming or Half-Snow-Plough._--For this find a moderate slope
on which the snow is neither very soft nor so hard that you cannot
possibly traverse it without side-slipping--an ordinary practice-ground
in its normal state is just the thing.

Stand with your skis horizontally across the slope; weight the lower
one; lift the upper, and place it pointing steeply enough downhill to
slide perfectly freely, with its tip quite close to the other's, but
far enough behind it for the upper foot to be exactly above the lower
one (Fig. 28).

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--Single-stemming or half-snow-plough.

_L._ Weighted and edged.

_R._ Weighted and edged.
_L._ Unweighted and flattened.]

Now lean towards the upper leg, and bend it until your weight is on
it, facing towards the point of the upper ski and edging it. Then,
keeping the lower leg in exactly the same position, bend its ankle
outwards, and almost, _but not quite_ (see p. 83), flatten the ski.
The flattening of the ski will release you, and you will slide off
in the direction of the upper ski's point, pushing the lower ski,
which must still remain horizontal, forwards and sideways through the
snow--_stemming_ with it in fact. You can go as slowly as you like, or
as fast as the conditions permit, according as you keep the stemming
ski more edged and weighted or less. You can stop suddenly by throwing
your whole weight on to the stemming ski, facing round towards its
point, and quickly bringing the upper ski beside it and forward to the
normal position.

Now make a kick turn (a downhill one for choice), and repeat the
process in the other direction, stemming with the other foot.

Practise this in both directions until you have complete control of
your speed, and can stop yourself almost instantly when moving at a
fair rate, remembering always to face round and bring the upper ski
smartly into the normal position as you stop. Then practise it with the
upper ski pointing more and more steeply downhill.

It is, of course, possible to start stemming in this way when running
freely across the slope with the skis together, and when accustomed to
doing it from a standstill you should also practise this, but only when
running at a moderate pace, as there are steadier and easier ways of
stopping when running fast.

You must, as I have said, hold the lower foot exactly below the upper
one, because in that position you can push along the stemming ski with
least effort, and most quickly throw the weight on it if the other
ski side-slips or you want to stop suddenly. This means that the more
directly downhill you go the farther forward you will have to hold the
lower foot, and the more, consequently, you will have to bend the upper
leg (in order still to keep the weight on the upper ski), eventually
having to lift its heel and finally to _sit_ on it, if you are to stem
almost or quite directly downhill, as it is quite possible to do.

If you find you can do all this fairly comfortably, by all means do
so; if, however, you find that at a certain angle your position on the
upper leg becomes very tiring or unsteady, leave this manoeuvre and try
stemming with _both_ skis, which is also called

_Snow-ploughing._--Start straight downhill, where the slope is quite
gentle, in the normal running position. The moment you are moving bring
your feet level, put the weight on both, raise the outer edges of the
skis by bending your knees inwards a little, and, _without letting the
ski-tips separate, push their heels as wide apart as you possibly can_.
The legs must now be _absolutely_ straight at the knees.

[Illustration: FIG. 29.--Double-stemming or snow-plough. The blackened
parts are those which should be weighted.]

If you keep your knees straight and ankles relaxed the skis will travel
nearly flat--they should _never_, as I have said, be _quite_ flat or
their outer edges will catch and trip you--and there will be but little
braking effect. If you bend your knees inwards a little, and edge your
skis strongly, you will, if the slope is moderate, reduce your pace
gradually and stop. On very icy snow, unless the slope is very gentle,
you cannot stop by snow-ploughing, however hard you edge, but can only
reduce your speed more or less. The [V] position is then, however, a
very useful alternative to the position with the skis slightly apart
and parallel as a safeguard to the balance in case of side-slip. It
of course gives the utmost lateral stability (if the straddle is very
wide, as it always should be), and the straight knees prevent it from
being in the least tiring, while, when the skis are flattened, the
reduction of speed is hardly worth considering. It is therefore usually
preferable to the other position, with its tiring crouch, unless the
slope is steep (and the speed therefore very high) or the ground rough,
when it becomes unsafe on account, not only of its rigidity, but of its
greater fore and aft instability, for with the legs in this position
one cannot move the feet quickly backwards and forwards in the way
described on p. 113. On ground neither steep nor rough enough to make
it unsteady, one can, if the snow is hard, safely take the snow-plough
position quite suddenly when running at full speed. This is very
convenient if when running in normal position one suddenly runs on to
an icy patch.

On hard snow, then, snow-ploughing is only effective for braking
purposes under certain conditions. In soft snow, if that is at all
deep, it is almost useless--except for those who can make an abnormally
wide straddle--for if in soft snow the skis are put in the [V]
position, the inward pressure of the snow against them is so great
that unless the legs can resist it almost _directly_ they are forced
together at once, or, at the best, have to let the skis run almost
parallel, in which case there is not much object in holding them apart
at all. If, however, you are one of the fortunate few who can straddle
more than three quarters of their height and point their feet almost
directly inwards, you will find that snow-ploughing gives you perfect
control, even in soft snow, on all but the steepest slopes, and that
even there you may be able to manage by throwing most of the weight
on one ski and making it slide nearly broadside on while the other
points almost straight downhill, the line of your _course_ being still
directly down the slope, and the legs still straddled as widely as
possible, and straight at the knees. You will, however, only be able to
do this by paying particular attention to the edging of the weighted
ski, for if it is edged either too much or too little it will not slide
at all when you try to move along slowly, and will check you suddenly
and throw you down when you try to stop.

It is important to remember in snow-ploughing that, whether you want
to brake hard or only slightly, the straddle must _always_ be as wide
as possible; the speed should depend on the flattening or edging of
the skis, not on the angle between them. Moreover, if when running
free with skis together you want to take the [V] position, you must
always--even if running fast--do so as _quickly_ as possible (not
forgetting just to lift the outer edges of the skis _before_ you push
them out). Remember also that it is no use putting the feet wide apart
unless _the tips of the skis are close together_ (closer than Plate
XX., p. 139).

You can start snow-ploughing from a standstill on a steep slope either
by taking the position of Plate XIII. and pushing the upper ski round
to the proper angle _as_ you throw your weight on to it, or simply by
thrusting both sticks into the snow below you and leaning on them while
you put the skis in position.

If, for structural reasons, you have only been able to take an academic
interest in the instructions for snow-ploughing in soft snow, you can
now learn a manoeuvre which will enable you in soft snow of any depth
to stem as gradually or as steeply as you choose down a slope of any

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--Telemark-stemming.

_R._ Unweighted.
_L._ Weighted and edged.

_R._ Weighted.
_L._ Unweighted and flattened.]

_Telemark Stemming._--Find a steepish slope which is soft enough
to prevent the least tendency to side-slip. Stand with the skis
horizontal. Weight the lower, and place the upper one at an angle which
will let it slide freely, as you did in learning ordinary stemming,
but this time with its front bend touching the lower ankle, and its
tip rather across the lower instep. Edge it normally, _kneel down on
the front of it_, and slide off by flattening the other (Fig. 30). You
are now stemming in what is practically Telemark position; the object
of actually _kneeling on_ the upper ski is to save effort, which, of
course, it does completely. It also gives the utmost steadiness. The
centre of gravity being so low, you can in this position stop yourself
much more suddenly with safety than you can in either snow-ploughing
or ordinary stemming, and can also more safely take up the stemming
position while running freely--if, of course, you then take the
ordinary Telemark position and kneel right down first. In order to stem
straight downhill you must place the upper ski _at right angles_ to the
horizontal lower ski (you may have to get it in position with your hand
before starting from a standstill on a steep slope); its point will
then be right across the front instep. The front leg will be quite
straight and the foot, of course, turned right inwards--a position
which may sound awkward, but which most people find surprisingly
easy, especially on a steep slope. If you want to stop suddenly,
straighten--or rather, diminish the bend of--the upper leg, lifting its
knee from the ski and throwing yourself well forward on to the lower
one. And always remember to face round quickly towards its point as you
do so, and to bring the other ski smartly to normal position by its

Telemark-stemming straight downhill is not only easy in the softest
snow, but also on everything but the very hardest, no matter how steep
the slope.

This manoeuvre, in fact, is an extremely useful one (though neither I
nor, I believe, any other writer on ski-ing had the sense to realise
its value until Herr Bilgeri pointed it out), and you should lose no
time in mastering it--not that it takes much mastering, for the average
beginner can do it with ease at the first attempt. It is no use,
however, for _traversing_, either steeply or gradually, on _hard_ snow,
for the upper ski is then very apt to side-slip and upset the runner.
Nor on _very_ hard and slippery snow is it suitable even for a direct
descent, as it is then difficult to hold enough weight on the stemming
ski to keep the pace down. On this sort of snow, however, as long as it
gives any grip at all--and, when it does not, it is no longer snow, but
_ice_, for which skis are not intended--you can descend the steepest
slopes either directly or obliquely with your speed under perfect
control by

_Side-Slipping._--In order to side-slip straight downhill you simply
stand with your skis horizontal and rather apart, and start by
flattening them a little and throwing your weight well outwards, as
if you wanted to go _fast_ down the hill, not _slowly_. You will then
_not_ go fast, but _will_ keep your weight over your skis and be able
by edging them again to check your pace or stop when you want to. If
you want to stop suddenly, give a little jump and stamp the ski edges
hard into the snow. Do not be too anxious to go slowly, or in the
effort to edge the skis extra hard you will probably lean towards the
slope, push them from under you, and fall down. The skis must remain
horizontal as they slip; if they begin to turn upwards or downwards,
put weight on the toes or heels respectively. If by weighting the
toes you make the skis point downwards a little they will slide
forwards as well as sideways, and the more they are then edged the
more they will move forwards in comparison with their sideway motion.
By side-slipping, therefore, you can traverse slowly at any angle you
choose if the slope is fairly steep.

You can also stop yourself by side-slipping if you wish to when running
a free traverse in normal position. You merely have to make the skis
side-slip and instantly put your weight on the heels until they turn
uphill a little, when you can again edge and stop them.

A little practice will make the whole manoeuvre almost instantaneous;
it is then really a Christiania swing (see p. 175), and, if the snow is
not very soft, is a far quicker and easier way than ordinary stemming
or stopping or checking the pace for a moment. Throw your weight well
outwards to keep it over your skis as they side-slip; your tendency at
first will be to fall towards the hill.

If you ever wish to make a stemming traverse at a _steep_ angle on
a _moderate_ slope where the snow though hard is not quite slippery
enough for you to side-slip down it, you may be somewhat at a loss.
In the Telemark position you will find a tendency to side-slip, and
you may, in the ordinary stemming position, with the lower ski held
horizontally and the weight on the upper one, be unable to manage the
necessary squatting attitude comfortably. You can then traverse in
something between the ordinary stemming and the snow-plough positions
with the upper ski edged outwards and pointing the way you are going,
but with the weight almost equally distributed between it and the
lower, which points somewhat downhill instead of horizontally and is
held with its tip level with the other's, not ahead. The upper knee
must be bent, the lower straight.

We have so far talked only of hard and soft snow, but the snow surface
is sometimes a breakable crust, into which the skis cut, and in which
no sort of stemming is possible. Your only way of going slowly in this
is to traverse at a very slight angle; if you then want to stop, you
must _step round_--that is, you must lift the upper ski, put it down
again pointing horizontally across the slope, and _instantly_ lift the
lower and bring it down parallel with the first. Be careful to throw
your weight well upwards and forwards as you put down the upper ski,
and not to let the lower remain on the snow for a _moment_ after the
first has been brought to it again; it is safest to give a little jump
from one to the other.

Either by stepping round, or by any sort of stemming, you can of course
make a change of direction when traversing if the gradient of the slope
varies; as you pass on to steeper ground, for instance, you can weight
the heel of the stemming ski for a moment until it is again horizontal,
at the same time flattening the running ski a little and letting it
slip down to the angle at which it was pointing before. This is really
an embryo swing, as you will see later; one important reason, in fact,
for learning all the methods of braking thoroughly is that they are
the elements of which the swings are composed, each variety of swing
or turn being either a development of one method of braking, or a
combination of one with another.

When you become more expert you will not often have to stem while
_traversing_ if the ground is open, though even then you will often
find it convenient to brake in one way or other when going straight
downhill. In thick wood, however, you will find it indispensable to
be able to go at a moderate speed in all sorts of snow and at any
gradient. It is also worth remembering that to stem straight downhill
at an ordinary pace is a comparatively _fast_ process. It is not so
pretty and needs much less skill, but it is _quicker_ than running
freely in tacks of an ordinary gradient and connecting them by downhill
turns (explained later).

When running down a narrow path or the like it is sometimes impossible
to brake effectually, as there is not room to put the skis in a wide
[V] position or to Telemark-stem; it may then be permissible to use the
stick or sticks as an aid. Plate XXI. shows a way of doing this. The
arm supported against the thigh gives a firm purchase--firm enough,
in my experience, to hurt the wrist a good deal if the points of the
sticks catch something hard. This manoeuvre is hardly ever necessary
unless the path is very icy; if there is much of this, and you want to
go slowly, you may just as well walk with your skis on your shoulder.

When you can do all that has been explained so far, you may (if
you have steadily refrained from using your stick except as I have
directed) consider yourself quite a respectable ski-runner in a small
way. There will be nothing to prevent you from going for any expedition
of which the uphill climb is within your powers, for whether you are
going uphill or downhill, there is no sort of ground that cannot be
negotiated by one or other of the manoeuvres that I have described.

But, though a perfectly efficient tourist, you will not be a very fast
one downhill until you have learnt how to stop and steer yourself
in any sort of snow, _when running fast_, and will tire yourself
unnecessarily on steep or difficult ground until you can run in zigzags
without coming to a standstill between each tack.

The different ways of doing these things are described in the following


I must here apologise for the extreme ambiguity of ski-ing terminology,
which, however, as I did not invent it, I have not the moral courage to
try to improve. The term "stemming" may be used in several different
senses. In its narrowest sense it means holding the skis in the [V]
position and braking with _one_ of them. More broadly it means braking
with _both_ in the [V] position. It also means braking with the skis in
Telemark position. In fact in its broadest sense it means any sort of
braking except side-slipping with the skis parallel.

In this sense almost any method of turning on skis might, as we shall
see later, be called a "stemming" turn. The expression "stemming turn,"
however, is generally used in a special sense to denote a turn during
which the skis are held in the [V] position with the feet nearly level.

By means of a "stemming turn" you can, as you already know, turn
_uphill_ or stop when traversing; you can also do so from a direct
descent. You can, moreover, turn _downhill_ from a traverse until
you face in the opposite direction and run off on a new tack.

This turn is effected by putting the skis in a more or less wide
[V] position, and either simultaneously or immediately afterwards
_weighting_ and slightly advancing the one that is to be outermost
in turning. To show how in this as in all turns the various factors
of side-slipping, with the weight variously distributed, combined
steering action of both skis, edging, &c., come into play according
to circumstances, it will be necessary to describe in detail the two
different uses of the turn.

For practising these turns find a moderate slope and snow in which
it is easy to stem when running straight downhill; a much trodden
practice-ground is the very thing.

_Uphill Turn to the Left._--You already know how to turn uphill from
a traverse by stemming; the following way of doing it is slightly
simpler. Traverse to the left at an easy gradient in normal position,
weight on right foot. When you want to turn, draw the upper ski a
little to the rear (Fig. 31, _1_) and then push the heels wide apart,
straightening both legs and putting all the weight on the lower heel
(Fig. 31, _2_ and _3_). As the lower ski begins to turn uphill, bring
the other one smartly to its side again in normal position.

This is much the same thing as stopping when stemming with the lower
ski, as described above (page 121), but is rather simpler, for the
uncomfortable crouching position necessary when stemming with the lower
ski is avoided, there is no shifting of the weight from one ski to the
other, and the preparatory movement of drawing back the upper ski can
perfectly well be made simultaneously with the actual turn.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--Uphill stemming turn to left. The blackened
parts are those which should be weighted.]

To make an uphill stemming turn when running across a slope in normal
position is rather a clumsy process, and it is quite unnecessary to
spend much time in practising it, for an uphill turn from a traverse
can be made more easily and effectively by the Christiania swing, in
the way already explained, or the Telemark, which will be described
later. Just make sure, however, that you _can_ turn uphill in this
way from a traverse in either direction, and then try the turn from a
direct descent, as follows.

Run straight downhill in the stemming position with the weight equally
on both skis and the feet as wide apart as possible, taking care that
the legs are quite straight at the knee, and rigid (Fig. 32, _1_).

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--Uphill stemming turn to left.]

In order to turn to the left (most people find it easiest to learn to
turn to this side first) you have simply to throw all the weight on to
the heel of the right foot and turn the body to face the point of the
right ski. You will begin to turn to the left, and as you do so the
left foot will involuntarily fall slightly to the rear (_2_), when the
steering action due to the relative position of the skis will help the

If you keep all the weight on the heel of the right foot you will go on
turning until the right ski points slightly uphill, when you will come
to a standstill (_3_). As you do so, be sure to bring the inner ski
quickly to the normal position.

This is extremely simple, and, if you keep both legs quite straight and
the feet wide apart, you can hardly fail to do it correctly.

The mistake you are most likely to make is that of letting the left
knee bend as you begin to come round. If it does so the left ski will
get on its outside edge, and, instead of continuing to skid round, will
only run in the direction in which it is pointing, so that if it does
not run across the other (Plate XXV.), and throw you down,[8] you will
find yourself running obliquely across the slope, stemming with the
right ski only instead of turning uphill and stopping.

It is not sufficient, however, to keep the inner leg straight, for
unless at the same time you keep nearly all weight off it, either the
left ski will get in front and you will begin to face downhill again,
or it will get too much on to its inside edge, and will at least
prevent you from finishing the turn, even if it does not trip you up.

As soon as you can turn to the left in this way, learn to turn to the
right, of course substituting "right" for "left" and "left" for "right"
in the directions.

If, while running straight downhill, you turn and come to a standstill
in the way I have described, you will, when you have stopped, find
yourself a certain distance to one side or the other of your original

This may not always be convenient; you may, for instance, want to stop
while running down an icy road, fenced on each side, and so narrow that
you have only just room enough to stem, and would run into the fence if
you swung to one side in stopping.

In a case of this sort you can turn suddenly and stop in your tracks in
the following way:--

Suppose you are running straight downhill in the double-stemming
position; when you want to stop, give a vigorous push with one
foot--say the left--and so throw all your weight _suddenly_ right
outwards on to the heel of the right foot, turning the body quickly
well round to the left as you do so. If this is done with force and
decision the right ski skids round quickly to a horizontal position,
and as it does so, the left ski comes into the air, is lifted smartly
round, and brought down parallel with and close to the other one. You
then find yourself at a standstill, facing to the left across your
original track, but without having moved to one side of it (Fig. 33).

Just at first you may fail to do this properly through giving a timid,
jerky push with the left foot instead of a steady thrust. This will
prevent your weight from going sufficiently outwards over the right
ski, and the left ski will come to the snow again before you have had
time to lift it round to the side of the other one and before that one
has had time to skid round to right angles with your course. After a
very few trials, however, you should be able to do it correctly, and
you will then find that no great force is necessary, and that the
movement need not even be made particularly quickly provided it be done
with a free swing. In order to give the push you must, of course, bend
the inside knee slightly.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--Uphill stemming turn to left. The blackened
parts are those which should be weighted.]

Provided the inner ski is brought _parallel_ to the outer one, it
does not matter if it comes to the snow again _before_ the latter has
skidded round to right angles, for then the turn can be finished with
both skis side-slipping together--that is to say, the turn can begin as
a stemming turn and finish as a Christiania, a most useful combination
which is beginning to be known by the dreadful name "Stemmiania," which
I only quote in order to record my dislike for it.

This way of making the turn is practically instantaneous, and is so
convenient that when you have once learnt it you will hardly ever use
the one I described first. By means of it you can stop suddenly when
moving at a very fair rate, especially if you stem hard with both skis
well edged inwards just before making the turn.

Practise this movement without skis at first, and then at a standstill
with skis, on the most slippery snow you can find, trying to make the
outer ski spin right round to right angles.

These uphill stemming turns enable you to stop yourself wherever
the quality of the snow and the gradient allow you to hold the
double-stemming position while running straight downhill. It is no use
attempting to make them on very steep slopes or in snow into which
the skis sink deeply; in either of these cases you will have to stop
yourself by means of the Telemark or Christiania swings, described

I need hardly say that if you merely wish to alter your course and not
to stop yourself, you can finish the turn at any point. You either
wait until the outer, weighted ski is pointing in the direction you
want to go, and then bring the other ski parallel to it in the normal
position and run on at full speed; or, if you still wish to brake, you
turn rather farther until the inner ski is in line with your intended
course, and then shift the weight partly or entirely to that one and
run on stemming.

_Downhill Turn to the Left._--A turn made in a downward direction in
order to join one tack to another when descending a hill in zigzags is
often called an "S" turn, on account of the shape of the track left by
a number of these turns made in alternate directions (Plates XXVI.,

Any downhill turn, therefore, whether made by the stemming turn or
by any other means, can be called an "S" turn. A good many people,
however, having never seen a downhill turn made by any other means
than the stemming turn--or at least the awkward manoeuvre which the
average runner imagines to be the stemming turn--believe "S" turn
and stemming turn to be synonymous.

As will be seen later on, a downhill or "S" turn can quite well be
made by means of the Telemark or Christiania swings, the "S" having no
reference whatever to stemming.

To avoid confusion, I shall not use the term "S" turn at all, but only
speak of a downhill turn.

The best way to practise the turn at first is to run, as before,
straight downhill in the double stemming position for a few yards, then
throw the weight on the left ski as if you meant to turn uphill to the
right and stop (Fig. 34, _1_ and _2_), but just before the left ski
points horizontally across the hill, transfer the weight to the heel of
the right foot, and face round to the left a little.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--Downhill stemming turn to left (3, 4, and 5).
The blackened parts are those which should be weighted.]

You will find yourself beginning to turn downhill again--the left ski
falling a little behind the other as you do so--and by keeping the
weight on the right foot you will go round until you face across the
slope in the opposite direction (Fig. 34, _3_, _4_, and _5_), when you
can shift the weight to the left foot and reverse the process.

By repeating this you will descend the hill in short zigzags.

The important points are--(1) to hold the stemming position unaltered
with the knees straight, the heels of the skis wide apart, and the tips
close together; (2) to throw the weight well on to the outer ski; and
(3) not to let the inner ski get in front.

The last half of the turn, from the point at which you are facing
straight downhill, is, of course, really an uphill one, identical with
what you have already learnt, and can be finished at any point in any
of the ways already described.

You can start a downhill turn, like an uphill one, from the normal
position while running across a slope, and under these conditions the
turn is, as in the case of the uphill one, rather less easy; this time,
however, it is extremely important to be able to do it, for this is by
far the most useful application of the stemming turn, and you can in
this way, provided the snow be suitable, join one tack to another on
a slope of any steepness, where it would be impossible to run straight
downhill in double stemming position.

Suppose you wish to start a downhill turn to the left while running at
a gentle gradient across a slope in the normal position (_i.e._ with
the weight on the left foot and the right foot in front), the first
thing to do is to turn the right knee and ankle inwards so as to lift
the outer edge of the ski as much as possible. Then, keeping the point
of the right ski ahead of the other, push its heel uphill and out to
the position of _2_, Fig. 35, B, at the same time weighting the _toe_
of the _left_ foot and slightly flattening that ski, which will then
begin to point downwards and give the other more room to turn. As
they turn downwards push their heels wide apart and throw your weight
quickly outwards so that a final thrust of the left leg sends it _full
on to the right heel_ just as you face straight downhill. Almost
simultaneously lift the left ski round to the side of the other and
finish the turn with the skis parallel.

As you lift the inner ski turn (not _lean_) the body inwards just
enough to face squarely towards the point of the outer ski.

If you turn slowly there will be an interval between the pushing round
of the outer ski and the final thrust of the inner leg during which the
skis will be equally weighted. If you turn sharply while running fast
the checking of the outer ski's speed as it comes broadside on will
throw the weight on it at once and lift the inner ski without an effort.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--Downhill stemming turn to left (two methods).
The blackened parts are those which should be weighted.]

It is also possible to make the turn by putting the weight on the outer
ski _before_ it begins to stem at all, and making it turn downhill by
pressing on the toe (as in Fig. 35, A). I used to think this method the
easier of the two, but have changed my mind about it, and can only
apologise for leading people astray.

Up to this point you have been practising on moderate slopes only, but
it is on steep slopes that you will generally have to use the downhill
stemming turn, and it is on steep slopes that you should practise it
the instant that you can do it neatly on a gentle one.

You will then find a difficulty that has probably not bothered you much
so far. On a steep slope, as you begin to turn downhill, the increase
of speed is sudden and considerable, and if you do not compensate for
this by throwing the weight more and more forwards, the skis will shoot
from under you, and you will sit down.

Don't, however, begin leaning downhill _too soon, while still facing
across the slope_, for that will throw the weight on to the inside
(lower) ski. Simply lean as far forwards over the front of your skis as
possible, so that as they turn downhill your weight will be well over

The difficulty of leaning forward sufficiently on a steep slope is
partly due to the tendency to stand with the weight vertically above
the feet, as one would do when _walking_ downhill. The very best plan
for overcoming this difficulty, and one which will make it infinitely
easier for you to perform the turn quickly and correctly, is to keep
your eyes fixed on the ground at your feet while you are turning, and
to imagine that it is almost or quite level. You will then naturally
hold yourself at right angles to the slope no matter how steep that may

You will find this downhill turn of very little practical use on a
steep slope until you can make it quite shortly and sharply; for if you
make a long curve, the pace increases so much in the middle of it that
you are almost sure to lose control, and fail to finish the turn, even
if you do not fall down.

The reason why to lift round the inner ski at the middle of the turn is
safer than to keep it on the snow throughout is because the curve is
thus considerably shortened.

The act of suddenly throwing yourself very far forward over the front
of your skis as you face downhill will make them hang back a little
for an instant--all the more so for the fact that at this point the
stemming action of both is at its maximum--and at this moment it is
easy to give a push with, and then to lift round, the inner ski.

Be careful, in lifting the ski round, to bring it down again exactly
parallel to the outer ski; for the inner one, if it comes down pointing
_towards_ the outer one, will instantly run across it and upset you;
while if pointing _away_, it will run uphill and draw your feet apart
with a jerk that will probably have the same result.

Although, as I have said, you should turn the body a little in
throwing the weight outwards, it is no use attempting to lean or swing
it the way you _want_ to go. You must simply throw it forwards and
_outwards_--that is, rather _away_ from where you want to go. If you
lean the way you want to go you will simply put weight on the inner
ski, which will then either trip you up or make you run away straight
downhill instead of finishing the turn. Indeed, paradoxical as it
may sound, you should, in a sense, try _not_ to turn; manoeuvre your
skis as I have directed, and _try to keep a straight course, turning
sideways as you do so_, and you will probably come round without

The faster you are running at the moment of beginning the turn, the
more difficulty you will at first have in making it.

You had better, therefore, when learning it, run at a gradient which
will only just allow you to keep moving smoothly (I am speaking of
the gradient of your course across the slope, _not_ of the gradient of
the slope itself), otherwise, before beginning the turn, you may be
inclined to stem with the lower ski in order to check the pace, and,
when the lower ski is put in stemming position before the other is
pushed round, there is a tendency for the weight to get too far back
in the effort of starting the turn, which then misses fire. If you are
bound to slow up before you begin the turn, do so by side-slipping with
both skis and turning a little uphill (_i.e._ make a slight Christiania
swing) as described in the last section, p. 131.

On an icy and steep slope it is, of course, especially necessary to
make the turn very sharply if you are not to lose control in the middle
of it. You can do this by running very slowly before turning, and then
quickly putting the upper ski far round, and simultaneously weighting
it by means of what is practically a _jump_ from the other ski, which
comes into the air almost before the first is weighted, and is brought
down parallel with it almost instantly. This is well worth practising
assiduously, for it makes all the difference to the safety of a turn on
very steep and icy ground.

Do not be contented until you can make a short, sharp turn (both to
right and left, of course) with perfect steadiness, on the steepest
slope you can find. For although on steep slopes a Telemark or
Christiania swing is the best way of making an _uphill_ turn, there is
no means so reliable as the stemming turn for turning _downhill_, no
matter how steep the slope, _provided the snow is hard, or that, if
soft, it is shallow_. It is almost useless, though, to attempt it in
deep soft snow. At the best you will probably only get halfway round
with an uncomfortable effort, and then the inner ski will be forced
back, and come round after the other in Telemark position, in which, as
you will find later, it might just as well have started.

At the worst you may be tempted to drag yourself round with the stick
in the position shown in the photograph (Plate XXVIII.).

This position, which, I hope, is becoming less fashionable, is the
very essence of incorrectness and awkwardness, and is an infallible
sign either of poor nerve or of bad teaching. Here the weight falls
principally on the inside ski and the stick, instead of entirely on
the outer ski, while the skis are held parallel, or nearly so, instead
of in the [V] position. The general position is a crouching one with
the knees bent, instead of an erect one with straight and rigid legs;
except for a feeble stemming action of the outer ski, which is too much
edged, the turning effect is entirely due to the drag of the stick.
Those who make use of this method generally refer to it as a stemming
turn, "S" turn, or Alpine curve, using either of these terms in
contradistinction to the terms "Telemark" and "Christiania," evidently
under the impression that an "S" curve can only be made by stemming,
and that by means of the Telemark or Christiania it is only possible
to turn uphill and stop. The only correct title for this manoeuvre is
"stick turn."

When I say that this method is awkward and incorrect, I do not merely
mean that it is ugly, for I suppose that to the unsophisticated eye its
attitude is no more ugly than the exaggerated straddle of the correct
stemming position. There are two strong reasons for considering it
execrable in style and utterly to be avoided.

In the first place it is a waste of energy, because it takes a
considerable muscular effort to make a turn in this way, even when
the snow is easy, and an exhausting one when it is not; while by
substituting correct methods one can always turn without the smallest
strain. The second objection to it is that it is inefficient, for by
turning in this way it is impossible to make a short curve, especially
in deep soft snow; and until a runner can turn sharply in snow of any
quality and on a slope of any steepness (I do not say at any speed), he
by no means can be said to have proper control of his skis. I do not
for a moment deny that it is the easiest way of turning, in the sense
that it is the one requiring the least skill. But any one who knows
what can be done by correct methods, who has ordinary nerve, and who
does not look on ski-running solely as a means of locomotion, for which
a technique demanding the minimum of skill is the one to be preferred,
will shun the "stick turn" as he would the pestilence.

Finally, let me remind you once more that in stemming--and this holds
equally good whether you are turning or going straight ahead--the skis
should never be quite flat; their outer edges must be lifted a little
even when the snow is easy, rather more so when it is not (see p. 83).

To be quite accurate I ought to have said the skis must not be _kept_
flat, for obviously they must during a downhill turn each pass through
the flat position, since their edging, on the tack before the turn, is
the reverse of what it is on the tack that follows it. This change of
edge, as a matter of fact, constitutes one of the difficulties of the
turn. The outer ski makes the change easily enough, for the outer ankle
(which is bent inwards in order to start the turn) does not have to
alter its position while the change of edge takes place. But the inner
ski, if kept on the snow throughout the turn, is by no means easy to
manage at the moment that the change has to be made. This ski remains
on its inside edge until nearly the end of the turn, and if allowed to
remain so for a moment too long is very apt to catch on this edge and
run across the other or refuse to come round, especially on a steep
slope, if (as he should have done) the runner has made a very wide
straddle when facing straight downhill.

This difficulty is entirely avoided when the turn is finished by the
_lifting_ of the inner ski (the change of edge then taking place, so to
speak, in the air). Indeed, although this lifting of the ski may sound
somewhat acrobatic to any one who has not tried it, it is really quite
the reverse. It needs far less adroitness than does a neat and steady
finish of the turn with the ski kept on the snow, and is, in fact, not
only the quicker and more effective, but also considerably the easier
and safer of the two methods.

The runner can only make a true stemming turn when going at a moderate
pace. By finishing it as a Christiania, however, he can turn either
uphill or downhill when going much faster. In fact the sooner the skis
are brought parallel, the greater the pace at which the turn can be
started; at very high speeds only a trifling preliminary stem being
either necessary or safe.

_Short Directions for a Downhill Stemming Turn to the Left_

From normal running position, right foot leading, left weighted.

Bending and turning inwards right knee, ankle, and foot, push heel
of right ski outwards and forwards to the widest possible stemming
position--its tip close to but ahead of the other's--at the same time
slightly flattening the _left_ ski and pressing on its _toe_. As the
skis turn downwards push their heels wide apart, quickly shift your
weight forwards and outwards, and, with a push from the inner ski,
throw it _full on the right heel_ as you face straight downhill--at the
same time lifting the left ski quickly round to the side of the other
and finishing the turn with the skis parallel.

When moving slowly this is to be done in two motions; when moving fast,
in one continuous one.

Fix the eyes on the tips of the skis and try to lean in that direction
only, not inwards.

_N.B._--The latter half of this turn is, of course, really an uphill
one, separate directions for which are therefore unnecessary.


Although by stemming you can make either up or downhill turns with
perfect ease either on a hard icy surface or in shallow loose snow, you
will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to make a stemming turn
in loose snow of more than a certain depth or density--unless you drag
yourself round with the stick. By means of the Telemark swing, however,
you can easily make turns in any sort of loose snow, and can do so on
any slope, no matter how steep it may be.

If you can already both run and stem in the Telemark position, with
either foot leading, you will find it a very simple matter to learn the
swing. In fact you may be said to have _learnt_ it after a fashion, for
to stop by Telemark stemming is to make a clumsy Telemark uphill turn.
For practising this swing, find a moderate slope where the snow is soft
and, for choice, deep or dense enough to make a stemming turn difficult.

_Uphill Turn to the Left._--Run at a gentle gradient across the slope
with the hill on your left and the weight on the lower (right) foot,
not, however, in the normal position, with the left foot advanced, but
in the Telemark position, with the right foot leading.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--Uphill Telemark swings to left (A from a
traversing, B from a direct descent). The blackened parts are those
which should be weighted.]

The left ski should then be so far back that its bend is level with the
right ankle, the left heel should be raised, and the left leg perfectly
relaxed, with the knee nearly touching the ski. The right knee should
be perpendicularly over the foot, and _both knees be pressed inwards_.
This is only preparatory, and you should, in this position, be able to
run directly across the slope at whatever gradient you choose.

As soon as you are fairly under weigh, make the swing as follows:

Turn the right knee and foot a little inwards, placing the front ski
slightly at an angle with the other; at the same time edge the right
ski inwards and put the whole weight on the right _heel_, pressing it
down and trying to lift the toes.

You will at once begin to turn uphill. The moment you start turning
lean _more forwards_ and face full towards the point of the front ski.
As you stop moving weight the toe of the front foot, press the back
knee inwards, and so bring the skis parallel.

Unless you are on the look-out for it, you will find a tendency, as
you begin the turn, to lean inwards (towards the hill), or backwards,
putting weight on the left foot, and at the same time to straighten the
right knee and relax the right ankle, more or less flattening the ski
(Plate XXX.). As a result you will, if you do not fall inwards at once,
probably finish the swing in an awkward straddled position, the right
ski pointing uphill, almost at right angles to the other ski, which
will not have altered its direction, and the weight on both feet. Or
else you will find that the weight on the left ski will make it run up
level with the other again, which will prevent you from turning, or
across it, which will throw you down.

It will help you to avoid this inward lean if you remember that, as
explained on p. 82, your right ski in turning does not cut round
directly as a skate does, but slips sideways as well as forwards, and
that, therefore, during the swing your right _foot_, instead of moving
more and more to the left of your original line of progress, will at
first move to the right of, or below it; and, if the hill is steep or
the snow shallow, will hardly be above it even at the end of the swing.
It is obvious, then, that if you are to remain properly balanced on
your right ski, very little inward lean is necessary, and the usual
directions for leaning the body inwards while making the swing are
most misleading. In fact, although one really has to lean inwards when
the turn has begun, the instinct to avoid an outward fall makes one
overdo this to such an extent that at first it is better to try to
throw the weight rather to the right and outwards, downhill (but well
_forwards_), in order to get the proper balance.

In the Telemark swing the edging of the leading ski is an important
factor in the turn, and there is more forward motion in proportion
to the side-slip than in the stemming turn, which is almost entirely
a skidding turn. Indeed, when the swing is made while running fast in
deep soft snow (which reduces the side-slip to a minimum), the runner,
as he comes at right angles to his original course at the end of the
swing, may find it necessary to lean consciously inwards, but only at
the end--_never under any circumstances at the beginning of the swing_.

In this swing, as in the stemming turn, it is a mistake, when
practising, to look the way you _want_ to go, as is sometimes
advised. You must only look _the way you are actually going at the
moment_--_i.e._ rather to the outside of the point of the leading ski.

It is also useless to try to _force_ the turn by swinging the body or
in any other way; and, as in the stemming turn, it is better to think
nothing at all about turning, simply confining your attention to the
weighting and position of the skis, and trying, in a sense, to go
straight on. The great thing at first is to prevent the weight getting
back on the back foot.

There is, of course, no real necessity for running in the Telemark
position before beginning the swing, but to do so whilst learning
it gives you less to think about when starting the turn. As soon
as you get a little accustomed to it you can run in normal position
with the upper foot leading until you wish to turn, and can then
drop into Telemark position, lower foot leading, and begin the swing

When you can make the swing to the left, run across the slope in the
opposite direction, and learn to make it to the right in the same way
(of course substituting "left" for "right" and "right" for "left" in
the directions).

When you can do this, practise it to the left again, this time running
more directly downhill than at first, and then in the same way to the
right, until you can at last swing to a standstill either right or
left when running _straight_ downhill (Fig. 36, B). But do not, at any
stage, run far before beginning to swing; get fairly under weigh and
make the swing, then run on and do it again, and so on until you have
gone as far as you wish. In this way you will get less climbing uphill
in proportion to the amount of practice.

It is at the end of a swing made when running straight downhill that
you are almost sure to find it necessary to lean inwards if the snow is
deep and the speed high, but till you find a distinct tendency to fall
outwards you need not concern yourself about it.

Of course, instead of coming to a standstill at the end of a swing,
you can, if you wish, stop turning before the leading ski comes to a
horizontal position, and can run on obliquely down the hill. In order
to do this you have only, as soon as the leading ski is pointing the
way you want to go, to shift the weight from the heel to the toe, stand
erect, and bring the back ski to the front in the normal position.

As soon as you can swing both to left and right when running straight
downhill, learn to make a downhill turn ("S" turn), which will enable
you to join one tack to another when descending a slope in zigzags.

_Downhill Turn to the Left._--In this use of the swing the skis are
held as before, and weighted in much the same way, but there are one or
two points to be noticed.

Run across the slope at a moderate gradient with the hill on your
right, in Telemark position with the right foot leading (or start in
normal position, and when you mean to turn, shift the weight from left
foot to right and drop back the left ski).

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--Downhill Telemark swing to left at various
stages. The blackened parts are those which should be weighted.]

Then, lifting the outer edge of the right ski, turn the right foot and
knee inwards, and so place the ski at a slight angle with the other, as
in starting an uphill swing. But, while in an uphill swing this angle
should be very slight indeed and the body should _immediately_ turn
towards the point of the front ski, in a downhill swing the angle must
be a trifle wider, and the body must remain facing the point of the
_back_ ski until both have turned far enough for the front one to point
nearly straight downhill. The stemming of the front ski, in fact, and
the combined steering action of both, which in an uphill turn should
hardly be perceptible, should in a downhill one be more pronounced.
The weight, moreover, must just at first be placed on the _toe_ of the
front foot to help that ski to turn downwards.

The moment you are fairly heading downhill, throw the whole weight on
to the _heel_ of the front ski, face towards its point, and finish the
swing as before (Fig. 37).

The faster you are running at the moment of beginning the swing, the
sooner you can transfer the weight from the toe to the heel, and face
in the direction of the leading ski; in fact, from a _very_ fast
traverse, a downhill Telemark swing is practically made in exactly the
same way as an uphill one, the preliminary stem of the front ski and
the weighting of the toe being barely perceptible.

In putting the weight on the toe at the beginning of the swing, take
great care not to poke the foot forward, but to keep the knee well over
it; otherwise you are sure to take the weight right off it.

Be on your guard also against the tendency to try to start the swing
by _leaning_ to the left, for, if you do this, you will either fall
downhill or get the skis apart. Simply lean well forward, look in that
direction only, and don't think of trying to turn, but rather try to
go on across the slope, letting your skis carry you round.

As you turn downwards of course the pace increases, and you must
lean more forward, but you will find it less difficult to do this
sufficiently during the Telemark swing than during a stemming turn.
The great secret is to keep the right knee well forward over the foot,
to try to lean over the front of the ski, and to keep your eyes on the
ground at your feet, trying to imagine it flat, as I advised in the
case of the stemming turn.

The Telemark swing, when executed correctly, at high speed, requires
no sustained muscular effort except that of holding the leading ski
on its inside edge and pressing down the heel. In deep soft snow this
is easy enough, if the knee is well over the leading foot and all the
weight on that ski, but in shallow snow it is sometimes difficult, at a
high speed, to prevent the ankle from bending outwards, which flattens
the ski and makes it skid outwards with an irregular, jerky movement,
leaving the weight on the back foot. To prevent this, press the knee
in well, turn the outside of the foot hard upwards, and press the toe
upwards against the toe-strap.

This will give the sensation of grinding the inner side of the heel
into the snow, and you should try to increase the pressure as the swing

Strictly speaking, a very slight flattening of the front ski hastens
the start of an uphill swing _from a traverse_. But this flattening
should be merely momentary, and it is so difficult to make it so and
_instantly_ to edge the ski again that it is safer to leave it out

Neither allow the back ski to come forward to the normal position, nor
weight it until the swing is quite finished and you are either standing
still or running off in a new direction.

It may seem that, owing to the position, the Telemark swing calls for
more delicate balancing than the other methods of turning. There is
really not so much difference, for in either the stemming turn or, as
will be seen later, in one form of the Christiania swing, when these
are properly executed, the weight must for a time be balanced almost
entirely on one ski. It is, however, more difficult to avoid a fall in
case of an error of balance or of unexpected side-slip in the Telemark
swing than in the Christiania or stemming turns, for in the two latter
the unweighted foot is in a position to receive the weight and help
the balance, while in the former it can only do so in a very slight
degree. Moreover, it is especially at the _finish_ of the swing (when
balancing is most difficult), in the Telemark, that the weight must
be _entirely_ on the one ski, while both the Christiania and stemming
turn can, and should, be finished with the weight equally on both. If,
however, the Telemark is only employed in soft snow of fair depth, the
side-slip will be slight and perfectly regular, and for that reason
will not disturb the balance much.

On an icy surface, or in shallow loose snow, although it is easy
enough to come round with a Telemark swing, the irregular side-slip
as the swing ends makes it difficult to keep the balance; but on snow
of this kind, which is particularly suitable for the stemming turn or
Christiania, there is no necessity to use the Telemark at all.

Practise this swing at first on a moderate slope, and then on steeper
ones, until you can finally make short downhill turns on the steepest
slope you can find. But do not, at any rate at first, waste time in
trying to learn it where the quality of snow makes it difficult.

If at first, through nervousness or bad balance, you have much
difficulty with the Telemark, you can learn it by easy stages either
(1) from a standstill, (2) from the snow-plough position, or (3) from
Telemark stemming.

(1) Place yourself in the starting position of Plate XIII. Throw your
weight full on to the heel of the right ski, pushing it a trifle
farther outwards as you do so, and sinking into Telemark position as it
slides off. If you almost simultaneously face round towards its point
and bring the other ski to its side by pressing the left knee inwards,
you will swing round to the left to a standstill almost before you have

Or, holding yourself back with your sticks, you can place your skis in
Telemark position, both pointing straight downhill. Then letting your
sticks go, you can swing round instantly to a standstill.

(2) While snow-ploughing straight downhill, throw the whole weight out
on to the heel of one ski, turning towards its point as you do so, and
dropping the other back into Telemark position. A downhill turn, in the
same way, can, as I have already said, be started by snow-ploughing and
finished as a Telemark.

(3) To learn a downhill swing, traverse very slowly in Telemark
position, upper ski leading, but _kneeling down on and fully weighting
the lower ski_, then turn the upper ski steadily as far round as
possible into Telemark stemming position pointing downhill, immediately
afterwards shifting the weight gradually forwards on to it, but _not
letting the angle between the skis diminish until you are facing
straight downhill_, when you can turn towards the front ski's point and
bring the other round parallel.

I mention these kindergarten methods of learning the swing because
I have found them really valuable for giving a nervous beginner
confidence, but, if you try them, you must remember that to start the
swing either from snow-ploughing or pronounced Telemark stemming is
an exceedingly clumsy way of doing it, and only possible at very low

There is always a suspicion of stemming at the start of even an
expert's swing, and therefore, to be quite accurate, the weight is
never _entirely_ on the front ski at the outset, for it is of course
impossible to place the front ski at an angle with the other without
using the latter as a purchase, and so weighting it slightly. But the
whole essence of a good swing, which can be made, steadily and easily,
at top speed, is that the preliminary stem and consequent weighting of
the back ski is reduced to a minimum--is in fact imperceptible, the
runner's weight coming on to the heel of the front ski at the very
outset and being practically the sole factor in the turn.

By means of this swing it is even possible to make turns in a breakable
crust, if that is not very thick, and if great care is taken to hold
and weight the skis correctly.

The bend of the back ski must always be in contact with the front
ankle. The back knee must therefore be pressed slightly inwards even
when the skis are at an angle with each other.

_Short Directions for an Uphill Telemark Swing to the Left_

_Preparatory._--With the right foot leading and weighted sink to a
semi-kneeling position, the right knee perpendicularly above the foot,
the left leg relaxed, the left heel raised, and the left knee almost
touching the ski, both knees pressed a little inwards, the bend of the
left ski level with the ankle of the right foot, and close against it.

_Turn._--Turn right knee and foot inwards a little, placing front ski
at slight angle with the other. _As you do so_ (not later) lift outer
edge of right ski and put the whole weight on right heel.

As turn begins face towards point of front ski. Lean more and more
forwards throughout turn and edge front ski harder.

At finish weight _toe_ of front foot and press back knee inwards,
bringing skis parallel.

Fix your eyes on the front of the right ski, and try to lean in that
direction only, _not inwards_.

_N.B._--A downhill turn is made in the same way, except that, to
_start_ the swing, the _toe_ of the right foot must be weighted for a


A Christiania is any turn in which the _outer_ ski does _not lead_,
and the skis are _not_ held _convergently_, _i.e._ the skis may be
either parallel or _di_vergent, and either held level or with the inner

This swing is, according to the purpose for which it is used, and the
state of the snow, either an extremely difficult or the very easiest
way of turning or stopping.

It is easiest on a hard icy crust (not a breakable one) either with or
without a shallow covering of loose snow, and therefore for learning it
one should find snow of this sort. Most practice-grounds, trodden hard
by ski-tracks, are just the thing. The gradient is not so important,
for it is quite as easy to learn this swing on a steepish slope as on a
moderate one. I have already shown (p. 138) how an uphill Christiania
may be started from a traverse by side-slipping, and also how a
stemming turn may be finished as a Christiania (p. 143). The following
method is more generally useful, and a steadier way of making the swing
at a high speed.

_Uphill Turn to the Right._--In the normal position, run across the
slope at a gentle gradient with the hill on your right, your weight on
the left ski, the right ski about a foot in advance.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--Uphill Christiania swing to right (A from a
traverse, B from a direct descent.) The blackened parts are those which
should be weighted.]

When fairly under weigh lean well forwards, bend the front knee, shift
most of the weight from the left foot to the right _heel_, and slide
the left ski about six inches farther to the rear, turning its point
slightly outwards, _i.e._ downhill, so that it takes the position shown
in Fig. 38, A, _1_, and at the same time _flattening_ it by bending
the left knee and ankle well outwards (Plate XXXIV.).

Owing partly to the steering effect produced by the relative position
of the two skis and partly to the pressure on the heel of the right
ski (a very slight momentary flattening of which will help the turn
to start if it hangs fire at all), you will instantly begin to turn
uphill. Immediately after beginning to turn press the left ski quickly
inwards and forwards again to the normal position. As it again comes
parallel to the other it may be edged and its left heel receive half
the weight; _until then it must be kept flat_.

If you do all this correctly you should come to a standstill with the
skis pointing more or less uphill, in the normal position, right ski
leading (Fig. 38, A, _3_).

The difficulty in this, as in all the turns, is, at the start, to keep
most of the weight on one ski only. When, at the beginning of the
swing, the weight has once been shifted on to the right ski, it must be
kept there until the skis are brought parallel again. It is in order
to ensure doing this that it is necessary to lean forwards, and keep
the right knee well over the foot. This may appear likely to throw the
weight on the toes, but the tendency for that to happen is really less
when the leg is in this position than when it is straighter. A slight
lifting of the left heel will lessen the tendency to throw weight on
that foot.

If much weight is put on the left foot it will be difficult to hold
the skis at the narrow angle shown in the diagram, especially if the
left ski has not been flattened, but is still on its inside edge. The
skis, then, instead of turning together, will probably run apart in the
directions in which they are pointing (Plate XXXVII.).

In this swing, as in the Telemark, the tendency of the beginner is to
lean too much inwards, towards the hill. What I said in this connection
when describing the Telemark swing is equally applicable here, and to
save you from referring back I will repeat it.

As explained on page 82, a ski can never cut round like a skate, but
slips sideways, in turning, as well as forwards; and the shallower
the snow, the steeper the hill, and the higher the speed, the greater
is this side-slip. In making this turn to the right, therefore, your
right foot, instead of moving at once to the _right_ of the line of
your previous course, will at first move to the _left_ of, and below
it; and, if the hill is steep or the snow shallow, may still be on its
left even at the end of the swing, though the fact that the points of
the skis remain on the other side of the line prevents this from being
apparent at first (Fig. 38).

It is obvious, then, that if you are to remain properly balanced on
your right ski, very little inward lean is necessary, and the usual
directions as to leaning the body inwards while making the swing are
most misleading.

In fact, although one really has to lean inwards when the turn has
begun, the instinct to avoid an outward fall makes one overdo it to
such an extent that at first it is better to try to throw the weight
rather to the left and downhill--but _forwards_, not backwards, on to
the left ski--in order to get the proper balance.

One must try to encourage the side-slip, not to check it; and the only
way to do this is to try to throw the weight slightly outwards, or,
at any rate, to guard against the least tendency to lean in, as one
instinctively is inclined to do when the side-slip begins.

At the end of the swing the edging of the skis stops the side-slip,
rather suddenly if one makes a sharp turn in soft snow, and it is only
then that any conscious effort should be made to lean inwards, _never
at the beginning of the swing_.

It is useless to try to hasten the swing by turning, leaning, or
swinging the body; in fact, as I have said before, if you try to turn
at all you are almost certain to fall. If, however, you _try to go
straight on_, simply holding the skis, and distributing the weight as I
have directed, you will probably turn without difficulty.

When you can make the swing to the right, learn to make it to the left
in the same way, of course substituting left for right, and right for
left in the directions. When you can do this, practise it to the right
again, this time running more steeply downhill than at first, and then
in the same way to the left, until you can at last turn to right or
left when running _straight_ downhill (Fig. 38, B). But do not, at any
stage, run far before beginning to swing; get fairly under weigh and
make the swing, then run on and do it again, and repeat this until you
get to the bottom of your practice slope. To run far between each swing
only gives you more climbing in proportion to the amount of practice.

There is one thing to be noticed about making the swing when running
straight downhill. When running _across_ the hill the skis are edged in
the normal position, and the inner ski, which has to be slightly edged
at the start of the swing, is therefore already about right. In running
_straight_ downhill both skis are flat in the normal position; it is
therefore necessary, when turning to the right, to edge the right ski a
trifle in order to begin the swing (Plate XXXV.).

The left ski is already flat; but to make sure that it keeps so as the
turn begins, slightly bow the legs, turning both knees--especially the
left--rather outwards.

When running straight downhill preparatory to swinging, always lead
with the ski of the side to which you mean to turn.

_Downhill Turn to the Right._--So far you have used the swing to make
an _uphill_ turn, in order to bring yourself to a standstill.

When using the swing in order to make a _downhill_ turn, the skis are
held in exactly the same relative positions as before, and weighted in
much the same way, but it is necessary to notice carefully one or two

Suppose you are running across the slope with the hill on your left and
wish to turn downwards to the right and make a fresh tack. Your weight
in the normal running position is then on the right ski, and the left
ski is advanced.

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--Downhill Christiania swing to the right at
various stages. The blackened parts are those which should be weighted.]

In order to start the turn it is not necessary to shift the weight,
which is already on the right ski; you have merely to turn the right
knee and ankle slightly outwards as before, and to put the weight on
the _toe_ of the right foot, at the same time sliding the left ski to
the rear. The right ski will now begin to point away from the other
and turn downhill (Fig. 39, A, _1_, _1_). Take care to bend the right
ankle only _slightly_ outwards, so that the ski is not actually _edged_
outwards, but only partially or completely flattened, according as the
slope is steep or gentle; if there is any outward edging--or if the
weight is on the _heel_--you will fail to start the turn.

As the right ski begins to turn downwards, take care that the angle
between it and the other one does not become too wide, but that the
left ski also begins to turn downhill (pressing on it with the toes
and partially flattening it by bending the ankle _inwards_ will enable
it to do so) before the right has assumed the position of 2 in the
diagram. If you put much weight on the left ski it will refuse to
follow the other one round, and will either get across the heel of it,
or run away from it and upset you.

The _right_ knee and ankle are held in the same position throughout the
swing, and this will bring the right ski on to its outside edge as soon
as it is pointing directly downhill (in a sense, indeed, the right ski
may be said to be "edged" throughout the swing if that expression is
merely used to signify _the depression of its outer edge_ and _not_ its
_relation to the surface of the snow_).

The left ankle, however, after being bent a trifle _inwards_, to start
the swing, must, with the knee, be bent more and more _outwards_ as the
swing proceeds, in order to keep the left ski perfectly flat until it
can be brought back to the side of the other one and edged inwards as
the swing ends.

As soon as you have turned so far that you are facing straight
downhill, shift the weight from the toe of the right foot to the heel
and finish the swing as before. If you make a downhill turn very
sharply while running fast you can shift the weight from toe to heel
before you are facing downhill--in fact almost immediately after the
turn has begun. In trying to put the weight on the toe at the beginning
of the swing, take great care not to poke the foot forward, but to keep
the knee well over it, otherwise you are sure to put some weight back
on the left foot.

Be on your guard also against trying to start the swing by _leaning_
to the right, for, if you do this, you will either fall downhill, or
will find that the right ski refuses to turn downwards. Simply lean, as
before, towards the tip of the right ski, look in that direction only,
and don't think of trying to turn, but rather try to go on across the

As you turn downwards, of course, the pace increases, and you must
therefore lean more forwards; the great thing is to keep the right
knee well forward over the foot, to try to lean over the front of the
ski, and to keep your eyes on the ground at your feet, endeavouring to
imagine it flat, as I advised in the case of the Telemark and stemming

You will find this downhill turn of very little practical use on a
steep slope until you can make it quite shortly and sharply, for, if
you make a long curve, the pace increases so much in the middle of it
that you are almost sure to lose control and fail to finish the swing,
even if you do not fall down.

When performed in this way the Christiania swing can be used for making
either up or downhill turns on practically any slope and in any kind of
snow except breakable crust. The deeper, however, the skis sink into
the snow, the greater is the difficulty, not only because they skid
round less readily, but because it then needs more force to hold the
outer, back ski at a narrow angle with the other owing to the increased
outward pressure of the snow. Unless this ski is then held _perfectly
flat_ it will instantly run apart from the other.

In the method just described the turn is started by sliding _back_ the
ski which is to be the _outer_ one and pointing it _away_ from the
side to which one is about to turn. Another way of starting the turn
is to slide _forward_ the ski which is to be the _inner_ one and point
it _towards_ the side one means to turn to. This practically amounts
to the same thing looked at from another view; the relative position
of the skis is exactly the same, and there is very little practical
difference in the making of the turn.

As I find that beginners learn the swing more easily if told to do it
in the first way, I have given these directions first, but I should
have thought myself that the swing was easier to understand, and
therefore to perform, when considered from this second point of view.

Before going any further let me warn the reader, if he is a beginner,
that the next three pages or so are not strictly practical, but are
rather meant to elucidate the theory of the swing. If after glancing
at them the reader does not feel very hopeful of enlightenment, he may
safely skip them.

I have so far talked about _steering_ action starting the turn. When
the swing is looked at from this second standpoint, one can say that
_stemming_ action starts it--or rather _prepares_ for it.

Suppose, for instance, you are traversing to the right at a gentle
gradient, and wish to turn uphill in this way. You are in the normal
position, left foot weighted, and right foot leading; in order to
prepare for the turn keep the left ski edged normally and weighted,
slide the right a little farther forward, turn it rather away from
the other, _i.e._ point it about horizontally across the slope (the
gradient of your course being very slight), and nearly flatten it by
keeping the right knee and ankle a little inwards. What you are now
doing is actually stemming--_di_vergent stemming, not _con_vergent like
ordinary or Telemark stemming, but still stemming; Christiania stemming
if you like to call it so. As long as you hold this position with the
left ski edged and weighted and the body facing towards its point you
will go straight ahead at a reduced pace. You can now stop either by
stemming alone or by stemming and turning.

(1) Keep the left (running) ski normally edged, and gradually edge
and weight the right stemming ski more and more until you come to
a standstill without a change of front--a true stemming stop, but
awkward, because the skis tend to run apart as the upper ski receives
the weight.

(2) You can stop more neatly by shifting the weight _all at once_ to
the stemming ski, facing towards its point as you do so and instantly
bringing round the lower ski--lifting it if you like, or at any rate
flattening it--to the side of the upper. This is something between
stopping by stemming and stopping by a step round. There is no swing
about either process, and although the last may be called a turn
because there is a change of front, it cannot be more than a slight
one, because one cannot safely point away the upper ski at more than a
slight angle.

Apart from the question of speed, with the increase of which the
insecurity of any sort of stemming always increases, you cannot, of
course, stop in either of these ways if traversing steeply enough for
the divergent upper ski to be no longer pointing quite horizontally.
You must then do so either (3) by _flattening_ the lower ski, putting
half the weight on the upper, _holding_ the divergent position until
the consequent steering action brings the upper ski horizontal again,
and _only then_ putting the whole weight on it and bringing the other
parallel to it--a pure "steered" turn, with the inevitable accompanying
drawback of the tendency of the skis to run apart; or (4) by shifting
the weight _all at once_ to the stemming ski--_facing towards its point
as you do so_, bringing the other (flattened) quickly parallel to it,
and _instantly weighting the heels of both_ (see p. 131), when they
will turn upwards in side-slipping and come to a standstill. If before
you make the turn you only point the stemming ski at a _very slight
angle_ away from the other, and if you throw your weight on it and
face towards its point _as_, and not _after_, you point it outwards,
you will, by the method just described, make what, for the sake of
distinction, may be called the "steered" Christiania in the best way
that it is possible to make it.

In coming to a standstill on a gentle slope from a slow traverse by
any of the methods just described, you will find that the practical
differences between them are very small indeed; but if running very
fast you would find that the first two were impossible, and the third
awkward and unsafe, but that by the last (which, as I have said, is
practically the same as the method described at the beginning of the
chapter) you could, if your balance were good, turn and stop with
perfect ease and steadiness. What I have called Christiania stemming,
though possible, is of so little practical use that, in that respect,
it is hardly worth considering; but to understand how it may be done,
and its exact relation to steering, side-slipping, &c., makes it so
much easier to master the difficulties of the swing, that I have risked
exasperating the reader by describing it at length.

The upshot of all this is that when the Christiania is made in either
of the ways so far described in this chapter, whatever steering or
divergent stemming there is in it should be reduced to a minimum.

In this turn, by whatever method it is made, the main difficulty--apart
from the question of balance--is in getting the turn _started_. If once
the heel of the leading ski can be got fairly outside the track of its
point, it is easy enough to keep the turn going. It is the _starting_
of the turn that is the main object of the divergent position of the
skis; in fact, although this position produces _some_ steering effect
as long as there is any forward motion at all, it produces less and
less as the skis move more and more broadside on, and is only really
efficient as the turn begins. This divergent position, indeed, although
on the whole, I think, the best possible way of starting the swing,
becomes more hindrance than help as the turn proceeds, owing to the
accompanying tendency, if most of the weight is on the _inner_ ski,
for the outer one to run away from it; or, if the _outer_ ski is most
weighted, for the inner one to whip round at right angles and cross
the other's heel (Plate XXXIX.). You should be careful, therefore, not
to let the skis point much apart, and not to let them do so _at all_
for a moment longer than you can help, but as soon as you are sure the
steering has done its work thoroughly, and the heel of the front ski
has fairly begun to side-slip, should quickly bring the skis parallel,
and carry through the rest of the turn simply by weighting both heels.

In the case of an uphill turn made while running fast, you will
generally find that the skis can be brought together again almost
instantly. The separation of the skis is then almost imperceptible, and
no doubt many runners do it quite unconsciously. The skis merely make,
as it were, a quick snip, like a pair of scissors.

In order to get the skis parallel, some people find it easier, instead
of keeping the outer ski unweighted and pressing its _point inwards_
again, to shift most of the weight back and out on to it, and so thrust
its _heel outwards_. The latter method puts the skis parallel a little
more quickly than the former, but is apt to get them rather wide apart
in doing so.

The two methods just described are, as I have said, identical in
principle; the divergent position of the skis, with its accompanying
steering effect, being the main characteristic of each. In each method,
moreover--apart from the question of balance--the only muscular effort
necessary (which should be very slight) is that of checking and
reducing the divergence of the skis; the runner, as soon as the skis
are parallel, being carried round without any effort whatever.

A third method--the one usually taught--is quite different in
principle, being precisely similar to a skating turn; that is to say,
the runner uses the inertia, or rather momentum, of his upper body as
a purchase from which, by a muscular effort--though not necessarily
a great one--he throws both skis simultaneously more or less athwart
the line of his course; the skis remaining parallel throughout and
acting practically as _one_. I said a muscular effort--I ought rather
to have said "_two_ muscular efforts," for the movement which causes
the skis to turn, though it may be very slight, and may then appear to
the onlooker--and even feel to the expert performer--quite simple, is
really a compound one that consists of two distinct parts, and should
be learnt as such.

Supposing you are running straight downhill and want to make a turn to
the right in this way, the preparation is as follows: either slightly
advance the right ski, or hold both skis level, place the weight
equally on both, edging them very slightly to the right, bending the
knees a little, keeping both them and the skis in close contact, and
leaning well forwards. These relative positions of the skis and legs
are, if possible, held unaltered throughout the swing.

You can now make the double movement that produces the turn.

(1) Without letting your head turn or straightening yourself up,
_swing the arms, shoulders, and upper body well round to the right_.
This swinging movement should be easy yet decided, starting gently and
increasing in force as it proceeds--in fact, as Mr. Richardson says,
it should be made "crescendo," not "sforzando." It should bring you to
the position of Fig. 40, A, right arm well back and left well across
the front of the body, which should be leaning more to its right than
in the drawing, with the hips, therefore (to keep the centre of gravity
exactly over the skis), projecting more to their left. At the instant
that the swinging movement of the arms and shoulders brings you into
the above position--_i.e._ just before the movement reaches its extreme
limit and while its force is still increasing--make a sudden effort
to reverse it--that is, simultaneously _make a vigorous stroke to the
left with the arms, and jerk the hips and knees round to the right_ by
suddenly twisting the body at the waist.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--"Jerked" Christiania swing, A before, B after

[Illustration: FIG. 41.]

This reverse twist of the body has practically no effect upon the
shoulders--being there neutralised (though this may not be obvious at
first sight) by the back-stroke of the arms--but acts almost entirely
on the _hips_, turning them until they face even farther to the right
than did the shoulders at the end of their previous swing. The result,
therefore, of the whole double movement, if made with force and
precision, should be that you find yourself in the position of Fig.
40, B, or Plate XLIV.--the skis having whipped round to right angles,
or thereabouts, with their original direction--and that, after more or
less side-slip, according to your speed and the quality of the snow,
you come to a standstill.

In saying that this double movement should be made with force, I do
not mean that it should be made _violently_. If the turn is to be made
very suddenly, so that the skis whip round instantly to right angles,
some force is certainly necessary, for then the _whole_ of the turning
movement of the skis is carried out by the double muscular effort of
the body and arms. But this double effort--the swing of the shoulders
and the immediately following jerk of the hips--may be, and indeed
usually _is_, used merely to _start_ the turn by getting the heels of
the skis outside the track of their points; the rest of the turn being
carried through by the weighting of the heels, in the same way that,
as I have already explained, the greater part of a steered Christiania
can so be carried through. In this case the "swing-and-jerk," which
takes the place of the "snip" of the skis in the other method, may be
an almost imperceptible effort, the most obvious part of which is a
slight twisting of the hips. As absence of effort is of the greatest
importance in ski-ing, one may perhaps say that in a sense this is the
best way of making the turn. But even though you may seldom want to
make the turn fully and instantaneously it is extremely useful to be
able to do so in case of need, and if you have learnt to _complete_ a
turn forcibly you will find it all the easier to _start_ one gently.
If, however, you never try to do more than _start_ the turn with a
_gentle_ swing-and-jerk, it is quite likely that you will never do even
that with real certainty--the subtlety of a gentle movement making it
more difficult to learn correctly than a forcible one. You are still
more likely to be unsuccessful if you leave out half the movement, as
is sometimes directed, and only try to swing the shoulders, or to twist
the hips, or if you try to move both round simultaneously, or if, as
I myself used wrongly to direct, you treat the double movement as two
quite separate ones--a merely preparatory turn of the shoulders with
a pause between it and the hip-jerk. Not that the turn _cannot_ be
made in either of these ways; it can in all, but only awkwardly with
the help of a good deal more force than would otherwise be necessary.
An expert making a "jerked" Christiania--as this sort may perhaps be
called, since the jerk round of the hips and consequent thrusting
forward of the ski-heels is the crucial part of it--whether he makes
it powerfully or gently, will do so with just the force needed and _no
more_; in other words, he will do it _gracefully_. The essential points
of the movement so made are--(1) that it is a double one, (2) that the
second part of the movement follows the first without the least pause,
(3) that the force used, however small, is _gradually increasing_ in
the first part, _sudden_ in the second, (4) _that each part of the
movement is made with about the same strength_; for feebleness in the
one part has to be compensated for by undue violence in the other. If
these four conditions are complied with the movement will usually need
very little force.

You had better try this swing-and-jerk movement, first without skis, on
a smooth floor, then with skis, but at a standstill, on the slipperiest
bit of hard snow you can find--slightly convex, for choice, so that
only the middles of the skis rest on it--before trying it while
actually running. The first time you try it you will probably find
that, in spite of the many words I have managed to use on it, it is
just what you would do by the light of nature if asked, without letting
your face turn, to hold your feet together and make them turn suddenly
as far round to the right as possible. You will also find that in order
to do it quickly you will be inclined to make the movement with a bit
of a jump, and this, in fact, is the best way to do it when on skis.
There should always be some dipping of the knees with the swing and the
least suspicion of a spring with the jerk, just sufficient to take most
of the weight off the skis for a moment and enable them to come round
with less effort from the body. This spring may, if the snow makes it
difficult to start the turn, be made strongly enough to lift the skis
clear of it.

This is the only turn on skis in which the arms are used as an aid to
turning. In the stemming turn, the Telemark, and the other variety of
the Christiania, the arms will very likely wave about involuntarily
to help the balance, but as far as possible they should hang quietly
by the sides, a moderately expert runner being able to make either of
these turns with his hands in his pockets or clasped behind his back.

In this form of the Christiania, however, the double swing of the
arms--especially their back-stroke--is the greatest help, for it
practically holds the shoulders at the end of their swing, and enables
the body muscles to use them as a purchase from which to pull the
hips round. You can easily convince yourself of the value of free and
correct arm-action in this turn if, after making it as I have directed,
you try to turn either with your arms tightly folded, or clasped behind
your back, or by swinging them to the right _only_ and then holding
them in the position of Fig. 40, A, instead of bringing them back

It is naturally far easiest to make a turn in this way on a hard smooth
surface which allows the skis to skid round freely. It is only on this
sort of snow, in fact, that the _whole_ turn can be jerked; in deep
soft snow it is hardly possible to do more than just _start_ the turn
by swing-and-jerking; the heel-weighting must then do nearly all of
it. If this heel-weighting is not timed and adjusted quite nicely, or
if the skis are edged at all hard before they have made a considerable
change of direction, the turn is apt to miss fire altogether; it is
therefore, I think, a far less useful one to the average performer than
the "steered" variety, which will almost always get him round somehow,
even if clumsily.

For anyone who can make both kinds perfectly, the "steered" turn
involves just as little effort as the "jerked," and I certainly advise
the beginner to get thoroughly accustomed to starting his turns by
"steering" before he learns to "jerk" them.

I have only given directions for making the "jerked" turn from a direct
descent; "jerked" turns, either uphill or downhill, can of course be
made from a traverse in just the same way. Downhill turns are always
rather more difficult than uphill turns, whatever be the method of
turning; downhill "jerked" turns have the added difficulty that if,
as is generally the case, the angle between the two tacks is a small
one, the skis have to be jerked round farther than would usually be
necessary in an uphill turn, and the jerk therefore takes more effort.

In snow which allows you to make a complete jerked turn you can, if
not running very fast, practically stop dead, or change your course
instantaneously, by making the Christiania in this way, for the edging
of the skis, after the turn has been made, stops the side-slip almost
before it has had time to begin.

If, on hard snow, you make a Christiania (of any kind) sharply while
travelling at a high speed, you will often find that, after you have
come round, the side-slip, which will then be very great, will be too
irregular to allow you to keep your balance without holding the skis
at some distance apart. Even a good runner is sometimes compelled to
separate his skis in this way, but you should not do it if you can
possibly help it, and if compelled to, should always bring the skis
together as the side-slip grows less, _not_ for the look of the thing,
but because, though possible, it is difficult, if the skis are apart,
to start a swing instantly in the other direction, as you may often
wish to do.

The Christiania can also be started, as Bilgeri and his school advise,
and as I have practically said already, from a very undeveloped
ordinary stemming turn. In order, for instance, to make a swing to the
left, one can advance the _right_ ski, push out its heel a little,
throw the weight on it, and face towards its point, and can then, by
instantly bringing the left ski parallel and to the front and weighting
its heel as well as the other's, finish the turn as a Christiania.
This is very easy to learn, and, if the preliminary stem is reduced
to a minimum, is quite effective; but it is a much less steady way of
turning at a very high speed than a Christiania started with the inside
ski leading, and high speed is the real test.

Having said that a "jerked" Christiania is like a skating turn, I think
I had better insert the following quotation from Mr. Richardson's
"Shilling Ski-runner," with the sentiment of which I heartily agree.
"The beginner should remember that turns are only a means to an end,
and not, as in figure skating, an end in themselves. The real object
of all ski-ing technique is to enable the runner to cross the snow as
fast as possible, with as little effort as possible, and as safely as

Any beginner who has followed me through this chapter on the
Christiania swing will probably think that a manoeuvre which takes
so much description must be appallingly difficult. I can assure
him that it is nothing of the sort. Indeed the expert, who does it
instinctively, will no doubt wonder why on earth I have made such a
fuss about it. I do not think, however, that I could have said much
less and yet have given a really complete explanation of how it may be

The only authorities, as far as I know, who have said that there is
more than one way of making the swing, are Richardson and Hoek in _Der
Ski-lauf_; they do not explain the difference in the making of it, but
only in its results, giving a diagram of the tracks of two swings, one
"gerissen," and the other "gezogen," _i.e._ "torn" and "drawn," which,
I suppose, are equivalent to "jerked" and "swung."

Some writers having given directions for one variety of the swing
and some for the other; their instructions at first sight appear so
extraordinarily contradictory that I am almost afraid of confessing
that I agree with them all, lest the reader who knows something about
ski-ing should set me down as an amiable idiot. As soon, however, as
one understands the cause of it, this contradictoriness is seen to be
more apparent than actual. The difficulty in realising the existence
of these variations of the swing is, no doubt, due to the fact that
between the pure "jerked" Christiania at one end of the scale, and the
pure "swung," "steered," "drawn," or whatever one likes to call it,
Christiania at the other, there are an infinite number of gradations,
one of them being a form of the swing that is often seen, in which
the turn is started by a slight jerk _and_ a slight separation of the
ski-points, and is carried through by the weighting of the heels.

When one is running _across_ the hill an uphill Christiania of any kind
can be made with perfect ease on any sort of snow short of breakable
crust; when one is running _straight downhill_ it is less easy, if the
snow is very loose and deep; while to make a downhill turn in deep
loose snow by means of a Christiania is decidedly difficult, especially
if the slope is steep, though on hard snow and a moderate slope this
downhill turn is easy enough and safer than a stemming turn, if the
speed is at all high.

But although at first, when out on a run, you will be wise if you only
use the Christiania for making uphill turns, and that on snow which is
easy for it, you should when practising keep on trying it in deeper
and deeper loose snow, and should turn downhill as well as uphill, not
being satisfied until you can make fairly short downhill turns in deep
loose snow on a really steep slope, as it is perfectly possible to do.

As in the case of the Telemark, the beginner can of course learn to
make an uphill "steered" Christiania from a standstill by holding
himself back with his sticks while he places the skis in the divergent
position, and then letting himself go and swinging round immediately.
This is in fact a very good way for him to begin to learn it, for he
can thus find out in a very short time exactly how to hold his skis
and distribute his weight; nor need he be afraid of contracting any
bad habit by learning the swing in this way, for though he may find it
rather easier to learn the Telemark by making it clumsily at first, he
will find nothing of the sort in the case of the Christiania.

Before leaving the subject of the swings, let me impress upon the
reader that in every swing or turn the runner at first _starts_ the
side-slip by stemming or steering with one ski held at an angle with
the other or by moving both with a jerk--in short, by a _muscular
effort_, however slight a one--and that having started the side-slip he
lets his weight do the rest, and is carried round without any effort at
all. It is the effortless side-slipping that gives a well-made swing
its characteristic feeling and appearance.

The whole difference between a novice's turn and an expert's is that
in the former's the preparatory stemming or steering preponderates,
in the latter's the finishing side-slip; and that, moreover, in the
novice's swing the initial and final movements are seen (and felt) to
be distinct and separate, while in the expert's swing the preparatory
movement merges imperceptibly into the final side-slip. The more the
preparatory steering, stemming, or jerking is eliminated, the more
comfortable--I will not say the easier--is the swing, and the steadier
the balance if the swing is made at high speed.

In the preparatory stemming or steering the weight is for a moment more
equally distributed on both skis than I have intended the beginner to
suspect from the previous directions. Even in the Telemark, in which
the weight is apparently entirely on the leading ski both before and
throughout the swing, it is actually, at the moment the front ski is
turned inwards, half supported by the back one. The same thing happens
at the moment the skis are made to diverge in starting a "steered"
Christiania. But if the beginner makes any conscious effort to put the
weight back--unless, indeed, he tries to keep it well forward--he will
almost inevitably put it _entirely_ on the back ski, and in moving it
on to the leading ski as the swing proceeds will find that his balance
is liable to be disturbed. The fact that the weight is always farther
back than he imagines is one which the beginner must continually remind
himself. In every uphill turn the weight, which is at first, as I have
just said, about equally on both skis, is almost immediately moved to
the _heel_ of the front foot--that is, it is thrown _forward_, and as
the swing finishes it is thrown still _more_ forward to prevent the
ski from turning too far uphill. In the directions for the swings,
therefore, the beginner should remember that to weight first the heel
and then the toe does _not_, as a rule, mean to throw the weight first
backwards and then forwards, but to throw it first _forwards_ and then
_still more forwards_.

_Short Directions for an Uphill Christiania Swing to the Right._--1.
("Steered") for any kind of snow except breakable crust.

Lean forwards and put all the weight on heel of right foot, right knee
rather bent and well forward over foot, right ankle bent slightly
outwards, so as to lift the inner edge of right ski; left ski about 18
inches to the rear, pointed slightly away from the other, and _flat_.

This position starts the swing; as it proceeds press the left ski
smartly inwards and forwards, so that it returns as soon as possible
to the normal position again, parallel to and touching the right ski.
As it does so, _but not before_, it may be edged and receive half the
weight; unless parallel with the other, it must be _absolutely flat_
and almost unweighted.

Fix your eyes on the point of the right ski and try to lean in that
direction only, not inwards.

_N.B._--A downhill turn is made in the same way, except that to _start_
the swing the _toes_ of both feet must be weighted for a moment.

2. ("Jerked") for hard snow, or shallow loose snow.

_Preparation._--Press both knees and skis together and (except before a
downhill turn) edge the latter slightly to the right; weight on both
and well forwards; knees rather bent, feet level, or the right a little

_Turn._--(1) Still stooping slightly, move arms, shoulders, and upper
body--not the head--well round to the right with an easy but decided
swing. (2) Without the least pause simultaneously reverse the twist
of the body, make a vigorous stroke to the _left_ with the arms, and
jerk hips and knees round to the _right_. The movement of (1) should be
gradual, of (2) sudden, but the force about the same in each. The skis
should whip round to right angles, or nearly so, with their previous


If you can make the stemming turn and the Telemark and Christiania
swings, you will, under most ordinary conditions of snow, be able to
turn or stop with ease under any circumstances. Sometimes, however,
you will encounter snow, the surface of which is covered by a crust,
not thick enough to bear the runner's weight without breaking, but
sufficiently so to make it impossible for him to shear round through it
even with a Telemark swing (for when the skis cut into a thick crust
they will only run in a straight line).

Under these circumstances the only neat and quick way of turning or
stopping is to do so by means of a jump which places the skis more or
less broadside on to their original course, and this is not such a
difficult matter as perhaps it sounds.

This jump is made with the feet level, and the skis close together and
parallel, in just the same way as a jump used for starting on the side
of a hill or as a substitute for the kick-turn. Pay the same attention
to the points of getting the weight well on the toes before making the
spring, and of then crouching low and jumping with a free, swinging
action, not a timid, jerky one, and _be sure to press the knees

The skis should remain about parallel with the surface of the snow
throughout the jump; if the jump is used for making an uphill turn, the
points of the skis must be well lifted, if for a downhill one, their

[Illustration: FIG. 42.]

You will find it far easier to keep your balance on landing, if you
remember _not_ to jump to _one side_ of your course (Fig. 42, A), but
to come to the ground with your feet as nearly as possible _on_ your
original line of progress--though, of course, pointing across it,
instead of along it, and, according to the speed at which you were
running, more or less ahead of the place where you took off (Fig. 42,

The secret of using the jump round successfully lies, not in the actual
making of the jump, but in knowing the safest and most effective way of
applying it.

Suppose, for instance, you are running either across a slope or
straight down it, at a very moderate speed, and wish to stop, you can
easily do so by means of a jump round towards the hill, which will
bring you almost or quite at right angles to your original course
(Plates XLVII. and XLVIII.). As you land you will naturally have to
lean inwards to compensate for the outward throw. The amount of inward
lean necessary varies with the speed at which you are running before
the jump. When the speed is at all high the inclination at which you
would be safe from an outward fall is so great that on landing after
the jump, if you were to make one, the skis would almost certainly
skid, and you would fall inwards; while, if the skis did happen to
hold, your legs would not have enough strength to withstand the shock,
but would collapse under you.

When running at all fast, therefore, it is impossible to stop with
one jump. You must first jump a little way round, so that you face less
directly downhill, and check your pace; you can then jump again and
stop yourself (Fig. 42, C).

In the same way, if you wish to jump round instead of making a downhill
turn, you must either make your tacks at a gradient which will keep
down your speed sufficiently to allow you to make the complete turn in
one jump, or you must check your pace before making the downhill jump
by turning slightly uphill with a preliminary jump. This is exactly
equivalent to checking the pace by making a slight uphill swing before
making a downhill one.

The higher the speed, the slighter the change of direction that one can
safely make in one jump, and at a very high speed it would, for this
reason, be impossible to stop even in two jumps. There is nothing to
prevent a runner from stopping or making a downhill turn at the highest
possible speed by means of a series of jumps, but a turn so made
covers so much ground that it is practically useless. This does not
much matter, however, for the kind of snow which makes jumping round
necessary is not such as to tempt one to run very fast.


It is possible on a gentle slope, if the snow is shallow, to use the
skis like skates, striking out with each alternately.

This needs little explanation. You have merely, while running straight
downhill, to lift one ski--say, the right--and put it down again
pointing outwards from the other at a widish angle, their heels being
close together.

The moment the right ski touches the snow, give a vigorous push
backwards and to the left with the left ski, at the same time throwing
the weight of the body well forwards and to the right over the right
foot. While sliding on the right ski, bring the left forward and hold
it close to the other, but clear of the snow. You are then ready to
make a fresh stroke by putting down the left ski and pushing with the

A series of such movements leaves a track as in Fig. 43, A.

You will find it difficult at first to throw the weight sufficiently
forward and outward at each stroke, especially if, instead of putting
down the ski on which you are about to slide exactly level with the
other, as you should do (Fig. 43, B), you put it farther forward (C).
This difficulty will cause each stroke to become shorter and shorter
until it is impossible to continue the movement.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.]

In practising, hold the ski which is off the snow parallel with and
close to the other one until you are ready to make the next stroke, and
slide on each foot at least far enough to make sure that your balance
is perfectly steady on it.

It has already been explained how, by striking out to one side only,
one can change one's direction--for, of course, the action of stepping
round is precisely the same as that of skating--and how one can in this
way steer or stop oneself in breakable crust.

Skating, moreover, is one of the best possible exercises for the
balance, for it teaches one to run steadily on one foot without the
support of the other, and on this account alone you should by no means
omit to learn it.

It is generally supposed that by skating down a gentle slope it is
possible to increase the speed, but I think this is very doubtful.

A skating track is a zigzag one, and is therefore not such a short way
over a given distance as a direct slide. Then, again, although each
stroke tends to increase the speed, it must be remembered that the
whole weight of the runner rests on one ski, causing it to sink deeper
and travel slower, and also that the skis are travelling slightly
across the slope instead of straight down it, which reduces the speed
still more. Besides this, the stroke itself is not directly in the line
of motion, since it is impossible to place one ski at right angles with
the other one.

A better way of increasing the speed downhill is probably to lunge
_directly_ downhill with each foot alternately, keeping the skis close
together--an exactly similar action to that of moving on level ground.
Pushing with the sticks will, of course, make you go faster still.


Ski-jumping no doubt arose from the discovery that a slight inequality
of the surface would sometimes cause a ski-runner moving fast downhill
to leave the ground involuntarily for a moment. Some abnormal person
having liked the feeling and wanted more of it, it is easy to see how
his endeavour to accentuate the inequality, and so lengthen the jump,
would lead him to construct a horizontal platform projecting from the

A competition jumping-hill at the present day is chosen, as to shape,
and so arranged that the jumps may be as long as possible and the
jumper may have a minimum of difficulty in keeping his feet on landing.

Fig. 44 shows the usual form of the hill and position of the platform.
(See Frontispiece.)

The jumper starts at A and runs off the edge of the platform B into the
air; landing on the slope below at C, he runs down it and out on the
level, where he swings to a standstill at D.

The gradient of the hill above the platform is preferably not more than
20° or so, for the jumper must above all things be perfectly steady as
he leaves the platform, and if the upper part of the hill is very steep
the sudden change of gradient as he runs on to the platform is likely
to upset his balance. The impetus can therefore be obtained more safely
from a long run at a moderate gradient than from a short steep one.

[Illustration: FIG. 44.]

The steeper the slope below the platform, other things being equal, the
longer obviously will the jump be, and also the less will be the shock
to the jumper as he lands, on account of the narrower angle between the
ground and his course through the air. For this reason a steep gradient
below the platform is an advantage, and on big jumping-hills the angle
of this part of the slope is from 25° to 35°.

The dotted line in the diagram shows how, if the platform were placed
just at the point where the slope becomes steeper, the length of the
jump would be greater than if, as is usually the case, the platform
were built farther back; at the same time, however, the shock to the
jumper on landing would be increased also, for his course through the
air the moment before alighting would then be more directly downwards,
and when in the air he would, at his highest point, be farther from the

This is one reason why the platform is usually placed farther back.
There is sometimes another reason. The gradient must remain the same
for a sufficient distance below the point where the jumper lands to
enable him to get a steady balance on landing, and unless the steep
part of the slope is very long, it may only be possible by putting the
platform farther back to ensure that the jumper shall not land too near
the bottom of the hill.

For the same reason (of making things easier for the jumper) the change
of angle between the top part of the hill and the platform, and also
between the lower part and the level outrun, should take place as
gradually as possible.

The preceding description shows what form of hill is most desirable,
and is always chosen for competition purposes where big jumps are to be
made. It is by no means on a hill of this shape alone that a jump can
be made; and for learning, when you will only jump a short distance,
almost any hill will do, provided the ground be fairly smooth and the
slope below the platform and the level outrun beyond it be long enough.

If the shape of the hill in section is convex, as in the diagram, the
best place for the platform, as already explained, is at or near the
point where the angle changes, _provided always that the steeper part
of the hill is fully ten yards longer than the longest jump you will
make_. If it is a little less than this, build the platform farther
back; if much less, choose a slope where there is no change of gradient.

The slope below the platform, or, at any rate, all of it except the
part which the jumper would be certain to clear, must be free from
irregularities, have a good covering of snow (at least a foot _when
beaten down_), and fall at a steady gradient of not less than 20° for
choice--if possible of more.

The platform itself may be built in different ways; the high platforms
used in competitions are generally built of planks supported at the
outer corners by posts.

This is unnecessary in the case of a low platform, such as you will use
at first.

A simple way of making it, if the materials are handy, is to lay two
or three planks on top of an old packing case, and then to shovel
snow over them. Another way is to stand two short sticks upright in
the snow at the same level, and a yard or so apart, according to the
intended width of the platform. Stack fir branches against them on the
uphill side, and then build a platform of snow, or alternately snow
and branches, piling it high enough to rise well above the tops of the
upright sticks. Beat it down with the spade and stamp it with the skis
until it is quite solid.

For learning, the platform should at first be quite low--not much more
than a foot high at its front edge.

For big competitions, the platform is generally 6 or 8 feet high, or
even more, though Huitfeldt, a Norwegian authority, says it should
hardly exceed 3 feet.

Raising the platform, while increasing the length of the jump, also
increases the shock of landing, and therefore the difficulty of the
jump. This difficulty, however, depends far less on the _height_ of the
platform (which may, so to speak, be merely a negative quantity, for of
course it is possible to make the platform _look_ high by cutting away
the hillside below it without affecting the nature of the jump) than
upon the _difference between the angle of its surface and that of the
slope below_, the most difficult kind of platform to jump from being
that called by the Norwegians a "Spraet Hop" (squirt jump), which is
higher at its front edge than where it joins the hillside. At first,
therefore, make the platform at almost the same angle as the slope
below, and join it gradually to the slope above, so that there is no
sudden change of gradient.

The length of the jump depends not only on the height, position, and
angle of the platform _in relation to the slope_, but also on its
_absolute_ angle in space. Other things being equal, a platform sloping
_downwards_ at an angle of between five and ten degrees permits the
longest jumps. It would be easy to find by experiment exactly the most
favourable angle, and, for all I know, this may already have been done.

The platform's width, for practice, need be no more than a yard: for
competitions, when the jumper may wish to take a fresh track, it is
about 4 yards.

Its length of course depends on its height, and on the angle that it
makes with the slope above it. Roughly speaking, for a small jump the
platform would be 2 or 3 yards long; for a big competition one at least
6 yards.

The top of the platform must, of course, be horizontal in transverse
section; take care to build it up well at the sides in order to prevent
any convexity in the middle which might cause the jumper to side-slip
while taking off. Carefully stamp down the snow not only on the
platform, but also up the track above it for 10 or 15 yards from the
platform's edge.

This stamping should leave the snow as firm and smooth as possible, but
on the surface there should be just enough loose snow to give steerage
way and prevent side-slip. Stamping with the _edges_ of the skis on
the hard trodden snow will generally loosen the surface sufficiently,
otherwise it will be necessary to sprinkle loose snow over it, or
to scratch it with a rake. According to Huitfeldt, the Telemarkings
pile up the snow at the edge of the platform so as to form a shallow
ridge. He says that by waiting until they feel the fronts of their skis
touch this, they know when to make their spring, and that it helps the
forward tilt of the body which is necessary. The latter seems quite
likely, but a man who timed his spring in this way when running fast
would hardly even begin it before leaving the platform, far less finish
making it, as he actually ought to do.

The same preparation of the track is necessary below the platform from
the nearest point to it at which the jumper could possibly land to a
point several yards below the longest possible jump. Pay particular
attention here to stamping down the snow until it is absolutely firm,
and make this trodden track a good deal wider than the platform, to
avoid any possibility of the jumper landing outside it, for if the skis
sink deeply into the snow on landing, a very bad fall may be the result.

After each jump snow should be thrown into any holes made in the
track by the jumper himself or his skis, and should then be stamped
firm and smooth; any natural hollows likely to upset the jumper can
also be filled up in the same way. If, in order to prevent side-slip,
it is necessary to sprinkle the track with loose snow of a different
quality to that on the track itself, it must be thrown over the whole
track; for a small patch of new sticky snow, or of old and fast
granular snow, would suddenly alter the runner's speed and disturb his

It is better to stamp down too much of the track than too little,
for a fall on hard snow is quite harmless, if the slope is steep
enough, while in soft snow it may easily be dangerous. It is sometimes
advisable to stamp down the whole of the outrun to where the jumper
swings to a standstill.

_Equipment._--Skis for jumping should be long, strong, and fairly
heavy, and _must_ be grooved underneath. They should be but little
arched, and should not be flexible, otherwise the shock of landing
after a big jump will make them bend downwards in the middle so much as
to check the pace and pitch the jumper forwards.

Wax or polish their under surfaces as much as you like; they cannot be
too slippery for jumping.

Only those bindings are suitable for jumping by means of which the heel
end of the ski can easily be drawn up close to the foot when that is
held clear of the ground.

To carry a stick while jumping is useless, and, except for an expert on
an easy jump, is exceedingly dangerous.

_How to Jump._--Stand far enough up the track to get up a moderate
speed, and not less than 15 yards from the edge of the platform. By no
means risk running off the platform so slowly that your skis simply tip
over the edge and bury their points in the snow.

Clean your skis and start off in any way you like. If the start is
on the side of the hill, and not on a level place, the jumper often
thrusts his sticks into the snow on each side of the track, and stands
a little above them, facing straight downhill, holding himself back
by resting his weight on them. He can then, by merely letting go the
sticks, start quite steadily without altering the position of his skis.

Run in normal position until about 15 yards before the edge of the
platform; then bring the feet level, and crouch down until you reach
the position of Plate LII.

Take care that the _knees_ as well as the feet are pressed tightly
together, that the weight is well forward, and that the hands hang as
low as possible, _i.e._ with the finger-tips level with the ankles.
Unless you pay particular attention to this last point, and try to get
as low as you possibly can, it is probable that your position, while
feeling to yourself a decided crouch, will only appear to a spectator
as a rather half-hearted stoop at the knees and hips.

When this low crouch has become mechanical, you had better hold your
arms backwards in a horizontal position, but to touch your ankles first
is the best way of making sure that your position is correct.

I believe that Norwegian authorities are not agreed as to whether the
feet should be held level or in the normal position at this stage.
Huitfeldt, for instance, whom I have already quoted, says that the
Telemarkings, who invented jumping, always jump with the feet in the
normal position. However this may be, most good jumpers take the level
position, and you can safely do the same, but be sure, as you bring the
feet level, that they do not get apart.

_The "Sats."_--Take the above crouching position soon enough to be
running steadily in it with every detail correct by the time you reach
the platform, for before you reach the edge of this you must have your
whole attention free to be concentrated on the actual take off, or, as
the Norwegians call it, the "Sats."

This movement, which, if timed properly, is _completed_ at the instant
that the jumper's feet come to the edge of the platform, has two
objects--to increase the length of the jump, and to bring the jumper's
body into a position at right angles with the slope below at the moment
of landing.

The latter is the more important, for unless it is effected, the jumper
is of course bound to fall.

Now, if the surface of the platform were inclined at the same angle as
that part of the slope below it on which the jumper lands, he might
run down to the platform and into the air without ever moving from the
normal position, and though he would not increase the length of his
jump, he would have every chance of keeping his feet on landing, for
his body would be at the correct angle (Fig. 45, A).

But the platform itself, no matter how low it may be, and no matter
how steep the slope above it, is nearly always less steep than the
slope below it, often a good deal less. This, of course, means that the
jumper in making the "Sats" must not only spring, but must throw his
body forward, or he will land as in B and C, and fall instantly on his

[Illustration: FIG. 45.]

It depends almost entirely on the angle of the jumper's body on landing
as to whether he shall fall or keep his balance, and that angle depends
absolutely on the way he makes the "Sats." Indeed, at the moment of
leaving the platform and completing the "Sats," the jumper usually
is almost certain whether he will stand or fall. It follows, then,
that the correct execution of the "Sats" is the most important part
of the jump. It is certainly the most difficult, and I think you will
find it much easier to overcome its difficulty if you realise at the
outset that the necessary forward tilt may be effected in two perfectly
distinct ways.

The jumper may make the "Sats" either so that he leaves the platform
tilted at exactly the angle at which he will land, or so that he is at
right angles to the platform when leaving it and changes the angle of
his body by degrees during his flight through the air. (See Fig. 46.)

[Illustration: FIG. 46.]

These two methods are none the less distinct for the fact that the
"Sats," as made by most jumpers, is a combination of the two.

By using the first method you will be far more certain of landing at
the proper angle, but will barely increase the length of your jump;
by the second you will be able to lengthen your jump to the utmost
possible extent, but will find it exceedingly difficult at first to
regulate the forward tilt accurately.

You had better, therefore, begin by practising the first method only,
and keep to that until you can jump with accuracy and certainty, when
you can little by little exchange it for the second one.

In order to make the "Sats" by the first method, you have, from the
crouching position of the first pair of figures, merely to bring your
body and thighs into line with the legs from the knees downwards;
for in the crouching position this lower part of the legs is already
inclined forward at about the angle at which you will have to land.

In straightening up, therefore, be most careful to keep your legs below
the knees, and also your feet, absolutely motionless.

When in the crouching position make sure that your knees are forced
forwards to their utmost extent, then try to imagine that they are
being held immovably in this position, and that your heels are fastened
firmly down to the skis. This will ensure your making the straightening
movement of the "Sats" from the knees upwards only, and, if you bring
your thighs and body exactly into line with the motionless lower part
of the legs, will also ensure your landing at about the correct angle,
or even slightly more forward, which will not matter.

As you straighten up, swing your arms forwards and upwards to help
the movement, which, when you are used to it, you must try to make so
smartly, and even violently, as to be almost instantaneous.

The sensation, however, will be quite different to that of an ordinary
standing long jump, in which the heels leave the ground as the jumper
crouches, and the spring is made from the toes. In this form of the
"Sats" it is very important that some of the weight should remain
on the heels, which should not be allowed to rise from the skis in
the smallest degree. You will find that any pressure on the toes
and lifting of the heels will, though it may seem unlikely, almost
certainly tend to make you finish the "Sats" in an erect instead of an
inclined position.

The accurate timing of the "Sats" is naturally most important. If it
is made too late and the knees are still somewhat bent as the jumper
leaves the platform (see Plate LIII.), the completion of the movement
in the air will push the skis below their natural line of flight,
and the jump will be shortened--not a very serious matter for the
beginner. If, however, the "Sats" be made too soon, and the jumper's
weight comes on his skis again before they have left the platform, he
will have a nasty fall forward. This need not trouble you, for you are
certain to find the greatest difficulty in managing to make the "Sats"
soon enough.

The more slowly you make the movement, the sooner you will have
to begin it, and the more difficulty you will have in timing it
accurately, but at first if you try to make it quickly you will
probably not do it correctly. I strongly advise you therefore to go
through the slow and careful practising stage, not on the jumping-hill
at all, but without skis, in your bedroom or anywhere else. Practise
this movement at any odd moment; it will soon become mechanical, and
if, before you start jumping, you have learnt to make this movement
quickly and accurately, you will have made things enormously easier for

When practising the "Sats" without skis you will, of course, find that,
as your weight comes on your feet again at the end of the straightening
movement, you will be in the act of falling forwards. You can prevent
doing so by making a quick stride forward with one foot and dropping
into the Telemark position; but don't do this until the last possible
moment, first making quite sure that you are perfectly straight from
head to heels and inclined at a sufficient angle. See also that your
feet are held quite parallel and touching each other.

So much for the first method of making the "Sats." The second is as
follows. From the preparatory crouching position spring straight into
the air with a free, swinging action, but as strongly as possible, at
the same time giving the body a slight tilt forward, so that it becomes
more and more inclined during its flight through the air. The spring
is made from the toes this time, but instead of the legs being drawn
up as in ordinary jumping, they should be quite straight and in line
with the body as they leave the ground, and the feet should be pointed
downwards, exactly parallel and close together.

This movement (the arms are swung as before) is much like that of a
dive from a springboard; but while the diver's body has to make half a
revolution, or pass through an angle of 180° during its flight through
the air, the ski-jumper, even in the case of the most exaggerated
"squirt jump" on the steepest hill, could hardly have to change his
angle by more than 45°. The ski-jumper then would seem to have the
easier task.

The difficulty is that, whereas the diver wants to land (?) head first,
the ski-jumper would rather not, and instinctively shrinks from the
slight effort in that direction which is necessary.

The remarks in the description of the first method as to timing, &c.,
hold good here, and it is equally possible and advisable in this case
to practise without skis. When doing so you should, after your spring
into the air, land on the ground on tiptoe, tilted as much forward
as possible, with your feet just where they left the ground, and
absolutely parallel to and touching each other. A fall is avoided as
before by dropping into the Telemark position.

When the "Sats" is made very suddenly and energetically in this way,
the jumper may notice a tendency not merely to give an insufficient
forward tilt to his body as he springs, but even to tilt it slightly
backwards, so that he lands on his back with his skis in the air;
and this in spite of the fact that he may quite have overcome his
nervousness and desire to shrink back.

I think it may be worth while to explain this.

A man in making a standing jump, or a dive, raises his heels and throws
his weight on his toes _as he crouches_ for the spring, _i.e._ _before_
he begins the upward movement of the spring itself. In this way his
centre of gravity is brought exactly above the point from which he will
push off.

A ski-jumper as he crouches for the spring keeps his foot flat on the
ski and his centre of gravity over the middle of his foot, instead
of over the toes. If, then, from this position he suddenly springs
directly upwards, the final pressure of the toes, which are farther
forward than his centre of gravity, will tend to tilt him backwards.
To avoid this tendency, try, in the crouching position, to keep your
weight as far forward as possible (not, however, raising the heels,
which would make you too unsteady) and make your spring slightly
forwards as well as upwards. When practising, without skis, either
method of making the "Sats," always start the movement from the
crouching position of Plate LII., and be sure that it is correct in
every detail before you make the spring.

Remember that it is impossible to increase the length of a jump on
skis by springing forward as you would for a standing long jump, for
you can, of course, get no purchase for the backward push. Even in
the first method of making the "Sats," although the body should shoot
forwards, the push of the feet is almost entirely downwards. The
"Sats," in fact, when it is a jump at all, is a high jump only. Any
pronounced attempt to make it a long jump will result in a fall.

_Position in the Air_ (Plate L., &c.).--Having completed the movement
of the "Sats," do not alter the position of your body and legs, but
hold yourself perfectly erect during your flight through the air,
your feet and skis being perfectly level (_i.e._ neither ahead of the
other), close together, and exactly parallel. The skis must as soon
as possible be brought parallel to the slope below you, and therefore
your feet must be pointed downwards, if they are not so already, and
the toes must be pressed down to prevent the heels of the skis from
dropping, as they are very apt to do.

A jumper when in the air generally swings his arms round and round.
Now the dog cannot wag its tail much without the tail wagging its
dog a little, and as the jumper is moving freely through space
his shoulder-muscles cannot swing his arms round in one direction
without at the same time swinging him--_i.e._ his body and legs as a
whole--round in the other, though the movement of his body and legs
will be much slower, as their mass is much greater, than that of the

If, then, he is not tilted far enough forward, the jumper can, by
swinging his arms in a forward-upward-backward-downward direction, make
the rest of himself revolve slowly in the opposite direction on the
axis of his shoulder-joints, and so tilt himself gradually forward;
or, if his forward tilt is too great--which is not very likely--he can
reduce it by swinging his arms round the other way.

_Landing._--You should land in the above position, with the feet level,
close together, and pointed well down, so that the skis strike the
ground with their whole surface simultaneously, not with their heels
first. Although the legs should be kept straight during most of the
flight through the air, they should be bent slightly just _before_ you
touch the snow.

In bending them _be sure to press the knees together_, for to do so
will ensure that, on landing, the skis are level, close together, and
parallel; and also, which is equally important, that they strike the
snow flat, and not edged slightly outwards, as they are apt to do if
the feet only are held together.

This bringing together of the knees is therefore the greatest help to
landing steadily, and if you remember to do it you need not think about
bending the legs, for when his knees are touching and his feet parallel
it is impossible for a man of normal build to keep his legs straight.
I strongly advise you to include this movement in your practice of the
"Sats" (2nd method) without skis.

As you feel the ground, _but not before_, drop smartly into Telemark
position, with the weight well forward. This helps to diminish the
shock, and also, of course, the chance of a fall backwards or forwards.
It is such a help to the balance that when you have got into the habit
of it, you will be inclined to begin the forward stride in the air. Be
careful to avoid doing so, for, if you do, you may strike the snow with
one ski sooner than with the other, which will very likely upset you.
There is the same danger if you land with your skis apart instead of
close together.

As the skis strike the snow, they bend in the middle and each makes a
depression in the snow. From the deepest part of the hindmost of these
depressions to the edge of the platform is the measure of the jump. The
record stands at present at 47 metres (154 feet); you will do well if
you jump a tenth of this distance without falling by the end of your
first day's practice.

As you drop into the Telemark position, keep the ankles and knees well
inwards and let the pressure be rather on the inside of the foot, or
your skis may run apart and upset you.

Only run in Telemark position until you are certain that you have your
balance. You should, if possible, make a merely momentary dip and then
straighten up smartly and finish your run in the normal position,
stopping yourself on the level by a swing or a jump round as soon as
you can.


Ski-jumping to the ordinarily constituted person who tries it for
the first time is extremely alarming. Although when the whole of the
hillside is of the same steepness he may from the starting-point see
something of the lower part of the slope, the exact spot on which he
will land is nearly always hidden from the jumper until just before he
reaches the edge of the platform, and even from that point it is still
invisible if the platform is built back from the edge of a steep slope.
When the lower part of the jumping-hill is steeper than the upper,
as it nearly always is, the platform, seen from above, appears to be
projecting over the edge of a cliff.

This at first gives all but exceptionally bold spirits an irresistible
desire to shrink back on approaching it, and it usually takes one
some time to overcome this desire, even after realising that there is
practically no danger at all. Even when the jumper feels no fear his
natural disinclination to make his spring until he can see where he
is going to land will for some time tend to make him defer the "Sats"
until too late.

The instinct to shrink back is, at any rate at first, the principal
difficulty in ski-jumping, and I think you will find that the best
way to overcome it is, in a sense, to give way to it--that is, to
start under conditions which are as little alarming as possible and to
increase the difficulty by very slow degrees.

Begin by making very short jumps on a quite moderate slope, no steeper
below than above the platform, which must be quite low and long.

The fact of the slope being a gentle one does actually add to the
difficulty of standing, but only to a very slight extent if the
platform is quite low; and this form of hill is so much the least
alarming, that I advise you to choose it for your first attempts.

Then make the same kind of jump on a fairly steep slope.

Then build your platform, still quite low, rather back from the edge of
as steep a slope as you can find, the slope above it being a moderate
one. Begin here with quite small jumps, and gradually start farther and
farther back until you can make, with fair certainty of standing, as
long a jump as the form of the hill and platform will permit; taking
care, of course, that the lower slope is of ample length, _and that
there is no sudden change of angle where it joins the level_, for this
causes really bad falls.

After this you can make things more difficult for yourself in various
ways, such as increasing the height of the platform, or building it
at the very edge of a steep slope instead of rather back from it, or
making it point upwards so as to form a "squirt jump."

"A squirt jump" on a moderate slope is excellent practice. The
considerable difference in angle between the platform and the
alighting ground makes it necessary for the learner to throw himself
well forward in making the "Sats," and the fact that he drops from a
good height on to comparatively flat ground makes the shock sufficient
to compel him to bend his knees and take the Telemark position on
landing. Only jumps of a few yards should be made in this way, however.
The shock is too great for safety if the drop is a really long one.

On no account allow yourself to forsake easy hills for more difficult
ones until on the former you can make your jumps _in perfect style,
correct to the smallest detail_.

It is only by acquiring an absolutely perfect style that you can make
anything but the smallest and easiest jumps with any certainty of
standing, and for this reason the only way to gain confidence is to
improve your style.

It may be a fine moral discipline to force yourself over jumps of an
alarming size from the very first, but it will not make you a better
jumper; for if you are very nervous you will be able to think of
nothing until the jump is finished, and so will learn nothing and have
no better prospect of standing at the twentieth jump than at the first.

After a course of this it is not unlikely that the last state of your
nerve will be worse than the first.

It is a good thing to jump occasionally on big hills almost from the
first if you can do so without feeling very nervous, but do not give up
small jumps until your style is perfect, otherwise it never will be.

In Norway the style of the jump is considered as important as, if
not more so than, its length. At a competition a jumper receives
marks according to the manner in which he performs each stage of
the jump--the approach, the "Sats," the flight through the air, the
landing, the rest of the run, and the swing at the finish. Under
certain circumstances even a fall is not considered greatly to a
jumper's discredit. If, for instance, a man makes a jump in good style
and is evidently steady on landing, but, after running a few yards,
loses his balance on a bad bit of ground, he may score higher than a
man who jumps rather farther and finishes without falling, but does
so in very bad style. I do not mean to say that merely dribbling over
the edge in a graceful attitude is encouraged, for to jump as hard as
possible is part of good style, and to receive any consideration a
jump must, as to length, be within reasonable distance of the maximum
allowed by the form of the hill and platform.

Those who jump farthest, however, almost invariably jump in the best
style, and a very long standing jump in really bad style is sure to be
a fluke; so that in rewarding the most accurate jumpers the Norwegians
probably reward those who in the aggregate have jumped the greatest
distances, whatever their performance on any single occasion may be.

I agree, however, with Mr. Richardson in thinking that this system is
likely to lead to too much stress being laid on the purely ornamental
side of style, and that on the whole it would be much better to
consider only the length of the jump and whether the jumper stands or
falls on landing. Always bearing in mind, then, that it is only a means
to the end of jumping as far and of landing as steadily as possible,
do your utmost to improve your style, watch for faults, and get other
people to criticise you as well. Check at the outset any tendency to
acquire any of the following bad habits:--

In the crouching position before the "Sats":

Separating your feet or knees; only bending slightly, instead of
crouching quite low.

In the "Sats":

Making a feeble, timid effort, and not straightening out completely,
instead of springing smartly and vigorously to an erect position, with
body and legs in a perfectly straight line.

In the air:

Bending at the hips or knees; separating the skis, not keeping them
parallel and in the same plane; letting their heels drop; not keeping
the feet level; not bringing the knees together before landing.


Landing with the skis apart, or edged outwards, or not parallel, or
with one more ahead than the other; letting their heels touch the snow
first; landing with straight legs (or very bent ones); not dropping
into Telemark position.

There is a method of jumping known in Norway as the "traekke op," in
which, during the flight through the air, the feet are drawn up as
close as possible to the body, which is bent forward. This diminishes
the resistance of the air and perhaps slightly increases the length of
the jump, but is considerably more difficult than the upright method,
because it has a greater tendency to make the jumper land leaning
backwards, or with the knees and feet separated so that the skis are
pointed apart, or with the legs so much bent that they are liable to
collapse from the shock.

In Norway this method is generally considered less good style than the

If you wish to try it you had better make the "Sats" in the ordinary
way, straightening out completely before you begin to draw up the legs,
and almost completely again before landing. Be sure also, in lifting
the feet, to raise the toes well in order to avoid any risk of plunging
the points of your skis into the snow on landing.

It is very good practice for the balance to make jumps in this way
when you cross small undulations in the course of a run, or even when
the ground is quite smooth. You will then, of course, have to draw up
your feet the moment you leave the ground. Be careful, by holding your
_knees_ together, to keep your skis from pointing outwards as you land.

An expert when running fast can in this way jump a low fence or, to be
precise, an obstacle 2 feet or so high.

In spite of all that I have said about the necessity for taking it
gradually, and keeping off big hills at first, you need not be afraid
of hurting yourself much, no matter how far you may jump, provided the
hill and platform be properly arranged, for in that case an accident
is almost impossible. You are far more likely to meet with one when
running at a comparatively low speed on tour, if the snow is soft and

To be able to jump even moderately well will enormously improve your
running generally, and will give you a confidence and dash that can
hardly be acquired in any other way.

It is an excellent plan for the beginner to practise all the motions
of jumping while running down a slope, without any platform, and at
first without even a change of gradient. Make a mark on the ground;
run towards it, crouching; make the "Sats" as you reach it, springing
into the air if possible; drop into Telemark position, and straighten
up again. Practise this until on a slope where there is a slight change
of gradient you can make a jump of 3 or 4 yards steadily, and you will
find things come much easier when you try from a platform.

Finally, let me remind you of the childish plan that I have already
advocated, of pretending that you want to go faster than you are
actually moving. You can now pretend that you want to stay in the air
as long as possible--unless you really want to, which is unlikely at

The man who wants to make a long jump is much more likely to stand than
the one who merely wants not to fall.

_Short Directions for the Jump._--Run in normal position until within
about 15 yards of the platform's edge (not so close if running very
fast), then bring your feet level and, _keeping your knees pressed
together_ and well forwards, crouch down as low as possible. When the
hands can touch the ankles draw them right back.

Just before reaching the edge of the platform make the "Sats" by either
of the following methods:--

1. Without raising the heels or moving the feet or legs below the
knees, swing your arms forward and upward and straighten yourself
smartly until your body and thighs are in a line with the lower part
of the legs. You will then, if you have moved from the knees only, be
leaning well forward.

2. Swinging the arms as before, spring vigorously almost straight
upwards from the platform, giving the body a slight forward tilting
motion as you do so, and straightening out completely from head to
foot, but this time raising the heels and finishing the spring from the

On completing the "Sats," hold the erect position during the flight
through the air, keeping the feet level and close together and the skis
parallel to each other and to the slope below.

Just before landing press the knees together, and, as you feel your
skis touch the snow, but not until then, drop into Telemark position.

The moment you feel steady straighten up again, finish your run in the
normal position, and swing or jump round.


As soon as you have acquired a moderate proficiency in the various
manoeuvres that have been described, you should have little difficulty
in getting through a run quickly and comfortably without feeling any
temptation to use your stick when once the descent has begun.

The following hints may help you when you go for an expedition:--

In the first place, be sure, especially if you are going far, that you
are taking everything you can possibly want--spare clothing, food, dark
glasses, wax and rag, knife, sealskin, climbing-irons, repair outfit,
map, compass, lantern, matches, &c., if you decide that any or all of
these things are necessary.

If the first part of the climb is along a beaten path, it will probably
save time to cover that on foot. You can then either drag the skis
after you by a string tied to the holes in their tips, or can carry
them. Most people eventually prefer the latter method.

The best way of carrying the skis is to place them sole to sole
(tie them so if you like), and then either to rest them almost
_horizontally_ on the shoulder, points forward, and hold them near the
bend, or to lean them nearly _upright_ against the shoulder, points up,
and, with the arm hanging almost straight, to hold them by the heel
ends (Plates LVIII. and LIX.).

They can also be carried by a sling from the shoulder, a convenient
plan if any scrambling is to be done.

If you are climbing the hill by the route that you mean to follow
during the run down, you should take every opportunity of making
observations which will be useful to you later on, and will enable you
to make the descent as quickly and easily as possible.

Try to plan out exactly how you will take the run down.

Notice all the peculiarities of the ground and snow, and fix in your
head the principal landmarks. But remember that the ground will look
very different when approached from above, and therefore keep on
looking backwards at what you have passed.

Pay particular attention to the points where the angle of the slope
changes, in order that when from above you are running towards an
invisible piece of steeper ground, you may have the clearest possible
idea of what to expect.

The actual climbing will at first give you a good deal to think of.

The ordinary procedure, when several ski-runners are climbing a hill,
is for one to lead and the rest to walk in his track in single file.

If the snow is soft and deep the leader's work may be very exhausting,
and each of the party will have to take his turn.

If you are leading, make your tacks as long as possible to avoid
wasting time in kick-turns. Remember all that has been said about
adjusting your course to the contour of the hill so that you mount at a
steady gradient which is too steep for no one in the party, about not
side-stepping unnecessarily, and so on. And never, without good reason,
attempt to hurry.

If you are not leading, and if the leader is a competent person, you
will not have much to think of. If he is not, you may find following
him a tiresome business.

If it is really difficult to do so (not merely irritating), don't dream
of suffering in silence, but complain at once, and if he is so stupid
or inconsiderate as to persist in his misdeeds, make a new track for

Don't be at all disturbed if you find yourself being left behind, but
keep on steadily at your own pace.

If you make a halt and take your skis off, clean them thoroughly at
once, and see that their soles are neither wet nor warm when you put
them on again. If you are likely to feel cold (and you _are_ likely as
a rule), put on spare clothing as soon as you stop, not after you feel

Wax your skis thoroughly before starting the run down if the snow is
sticky, or is likely to be so lower down; and remember to button up
your pockets, or you may find at the bottom of the hill that snow has
either taken the place of, or ruined their contents.

I have so far attempted no description of the snow itself. It varies
infinitely in consistency, but considerably less so in appearance, and
for this reason it is often impossible for the runner to be sure of the
quality of the snow in front of him until his skis actually touch it.

This latter fact adds considerably to the difficulty of ski-running
when patches of different slipperiness occur at short intervals. The
worst kind of patchy snow consists of a hard and slippery ice-crust in
the hollows of which finely powdered wind-blown snow has accumulated;
fortunately in this case the difference is generally visible, the slow
powdery snow being perfectly white and the ice-crust rather greyer. The
safest way of negotiating snow of this sort while running straight has
already been explained.

For practical purposes the ski-runner may consider the snow to be of
three distinct varieties according to the consistency of its surface:
viz. soft snow, hard snow, and breakable crust. There is no real
division between these varieties, each melting into the other by
imperceptible gradations; but, where the quality of the snow falls
clearly under one of these headings, the runner will be obliged to use
certain definite methods of turning and stopping, unless he is either
a thorough expert, or a stick-rider of the worst kind. For, as I have
already said, the former can make any kind of swing in almost any kind
of snow, while the latter has only one method of turning, viz. that
of dragging himself to one side or the other by means of his stick,
carefully preserving while he does so his normal running position,
with the knees well bent and the skis level, parallel, and a yard
or so apart, which manoeuvre he calls making a stemming curve or a
Christiania swing, according as the turn has been a downhill or an
uphill one.

Assuming, then, that you belong to neither of these classes, you will
have to know how to adapt the means of turning to the quality of
the snow. It should be fairly obvious from the descriptions of the
different swings how this is to be done.

In _deep_ loose snow make all your turns, whether downhill or uphill,
by means of the Telemark swing.

On hard snow, whether quite bare or covered by a very shallow layer of
loose snow, make your downhill curves by means of the stemming turn,
and use the Christiania swing for turning uphill.

In breakable crust, if it is very thin, you may find it possible to
turn or stop with the Telemark. If this is out of the question you will
have to jump or step round.

Of course soft snow may be so dense that the ski sinks into it but
little (as in the case of watery spring snow); you will find it just
as easy to make stemming turns and Christianias in this as to make
Telemarks--perhaps even easier.

In the same way the layer of loose snow on a crust may be deep enough
to allow Telemarks to be made as steadily as the other turns.

A breakable crust, too, may be so thin as to be hardly perceptible, or
so thick that only some extra pressure (which occurs when a swing is
made) will make it give way; but, generally speaking, you will find
that you are limited to one method or the other--if you want to run
with the maximum of steadiness.

Evidently, then, the Telemark is at least as generally useful as the
other two turns to the moderately skilful runner who does not rely on
the help of his stick. Yet most English runners undoubtedly look upon
it as a pretty trick of no practical value, and never attempt it during
a run.

It is quite certain, however, that a man who can make a Telemark swing
with fair steadiness on a hard and slippery practice-ground (and the
average runner can do this) will find it far easier to do so in the
soft loose snow which is, fortunately, the variety most commonly met
with during a run.

And if he can make the swing to the left, he is certainly capable of
learning to make it to the right, and of turning downhill with it as
well as uphill.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--S, Stemming Turn; T, Telemark; C, Christiania;
J, Jump round.]

But if the runner only learns the Telemark to the left and the
Christiania to the right, as most people are content to do, it will
be a long time before he can rely on them during a run; for only
the thorough expert can make both these swings with steadiness and
certainty in any kind of snow, especially if his speed be high or the
slope steep.

With the Christiania in particular it is exceedingly difficult, if the
snow is unsuitable, to make a downhill turn, and by no means easy to
make an uphill one.

The stemming turn, which is the only one attempted during a run by the
average runner (I say "attempted" advisedly, for an examination of his
track will seldom reveal much trace of actual stemming), is even more
difficult to make in unsuitable snow than the Christiania.

The most important thing for you to remember when you first begin to
make practical use of the swings, &c., while on a run, is that if you
wish to fall as little as possible, you should _never attempt to turn
or stop while running at all fast_.

If you run with judgment you can always avoid having to do this.

Suppose, for instance, that you find yourself approaching the edge of a
steep slope; if your course is clear and the slope has an easy outrun
on to level or nearly level ground, by all means run straight down;
for at the bottom you will either run to a standstill or will slow up
enough to be able to turn easily if necessary.

If, however, there is no clear outrun at the bottom of the slope, or if
there are obstacles in your path, don't dream of dashing straight over
the edge and trying to turn off lower down, which you will certainly
fail to do, but either stem, snow-plough, or side-slip straight down
the slope, or turn off at once and take it in zigzags, making a
downhill turn at the end of each tack by whatever method the quality
of the snow demands. And unless you run each tack at a very gentle
gradient indeed, you should take the further precaution of slowing up
by turning slightly uphill before beginning each downhill turn.

To check the pace by making an uphill swing is a much neater and easier
way of doing it than by stemming with the lower foot; the latter is a
process which, when the ground is open, you need seldom use if you have
a moderate command of the swings, though among obstacles--in dense wood
and the like--you may often find it necessary to have recourse to it.

The means you use for making this preliminary uphill turn will depend,
of course, on the quality of the snow, just as in the case of the
downhill one.

Fig. 47 shows what turns to use in order to run in zigzags through snow
of the three different qualities. The downhill turns should be made
as shortly and sharply as possible, in order to prevent the pace from
becoming unmanageable in the middle of them.

If on account of the nature of the ground you decide to run straight
down a steep slope instead of taking it in zigzags, you must, of
course, be ready to drop into Telemark position for any sudden
undulations or difficult snow.

Remember that the quality of the snow depends to a great extent on the
direction in which the slope faces.

On slopes with a north aspect, especially if they are steep, the snow
gets little or no sun, and is generally soft and easy, though even here
it may sometimes get crusted by very strong winds or by frost after a
warm wind or rain.

On slopes which face south the snow is exposed to the rays of the
sun--more or less directly according to the steepness of the slope and
the time of year. During the day, therefore, the surface of the snow
melts, freezing at night into a crust, and when the sun goes off these
south slopes they are, as a rule, perfectly hard and icy, though when
the sun is full on them they may become so soft that you will find it
difficult to use any turn except the Telemark.

The most difficult snow occurs on slopes which face a little south of
east or west, and on due south slopes when the sun is just beginning to
strike them, or is going off them; for then the hard crust generally
becomes more or less breakable.

If you get these facts about the snow well into your head, it will be a
great help to you during a run.

You will very likely find that one kind of turn comes easier than
another, and at first, when your principal object is to run steadily
and avoid falls as far as you can, your safest plan will be to shape
your course so as to make most of your turns by the method that you
find easiest. If you thoroughly understand the conditions which affect
the quality of the snow, you will know where to look for that kind of
snow which suits your favourite method of turning, and what places to
avoid for the probable unsuitability of their surface.

Do not forget that what is true of the main slopes is also true of
their minor features. On slopes facing east or west, for instance, each
small undulation has its north and south side, the surface of which
is affected by sun and frost in just the same way as the main slopes
facing in that direction. If you remember this you will often, when
running across a slope whose general surface is difficult, be able to
find small patches of snow on the sides of the undulations in which you
can turn quite easily.

When beginning the run down always make up your mind before you start
how you mean to negotiate that part of the hill which is visible. If
some way ahead the ground becomes steeper, so as to be invisible, and
you do not know what it is like, don't run at a high speed to where the
slope changes, but approach it in zigzags, or at any rate slowly, in
case you should find it necessary to turn off or stop at the edge of
the steeper slope. By doing this you will preclude the possibility of
dropping over a precipice on unknown ground.

As soon as you can see what was hidden from you, plan out, without
stopping if possible, the next visible piece of your course in the
same way.

There is one difficulty about steering among obstacles which it may be
as well to mention.

Suppose you are running down or across a slope with a tree straight
ahead of you which you mean to avoid when fairly close to it, by
swinging, say, to the left.

As you already know, you must, at the beginning of any turn, lean
forwards, perhaps even a little outwards, _never_ inwards. Now,
if there were no tree in front of you, you would probably have no
difficulty whatever in making the turn, but the fear of running into
the tree will at first be almost certain to make you lean away from it
as you begin the turn--that is, backwards and to the left. You will
then, if you don't fall down at once, at any rate fail to turn sharply,
and so will probably do exactly what you were trying to avoid, viz. run
into the tree.

Àpropos of trees, let me remind you that turns are mainly for
_steering_, and that therefore, except just at first, they should be
practised _where steering is necessary_--_i.e._ among trees or other
obstacles. Unless you take every opportunity of practising them there,
they will be of little real use to you. You should soon be able to
make downhill turns on any _open_ slope with ease, and will soon
afterwards cease to find much fun in doing so, but there is no end to
the difficulty and therefore the interest of turning quickly among
obstacles, and anyone who is or wishes to be a good ski-er will not be
happy unless he gets plenty of wood-running. Nor, for much the same
reasons, will he be contented without plenty of _bad and difficult
snow_, a fact which you should lay to heart at the outset.

I have already said that when running fast on ground that is covered
with hard ski-tracks, you should try to avoid crossing them at a
narrow angle. You will sometimes find that you want to run a traverse
on a slope closely covered with hard parallel tracks, leading exactly
the way you want to go and steeply enough to make running in them
extremely unsteady. Your best plan here is to run almost or quite
directly downhill across them for a short distance, and then to turn
upwards with a Christiania and make a longish traverse at a less steep
angle than the tracks; your low speed then enabling you to cross them
at a narrow angle in safety. By repeating this process you will reach
the point to which the tracks lead almost as quickly and far more
comfortably than by following them. To make alternate direct descents
and gradual traverses in this way is also convenient when you would
otherwise have to run a steep _stemming_ traverse.

By paying careful attention to all the above points you should soon
be able to run safely and steadily, and to get down any ordinary hill
with few or no falls. This also means that you will accomplish the
descent in pretty quick time, provided that you _never stop_ if you
can possibly help it, and that after a fall you get up without either
hurrying or dawdling.

This kind of running makes no great demands on your skill, and still
less on your nerve. Its main object is the avoidance of falls, and
_at first this should certainly be your sole aim_. But if you wish to
become a really good runner you should not allow it to remain so for

The first-rate runner has absolute command of the various swings, &c.,
and can stop suddenly or dodge among obstacles at a pretty high speed
with perfect steadiness (at very high speeds it is impossible to turn
or stop _suddenly_; the curve of the swing is then bound to be more
or less long and gradual). He never turns or stops if he can help it,
however, but runs everything _as straight as he can_, and _at the
highest possible speed_.

There is not the least doubt that to take a hill in this way not
only demands the utmost skill, but gives the greatest pleasure that
ski-running, pure and simple, can afford.

It is not unusual to hear a man who never takes the easiest slope
without constant zigzagging, say that he does so because he _prefers_
going slowly and spinning out the run to dashing down in a quarter of
the time. He infers, if he does not actually say, that the fear of
speed has nothing to do with his choice.

You may be nearly sure that the man who talks in this way is inferring,
if not telling, a lie, though very likely unconsciously. I used to
say the same myself, and did not realise for some time that every
ski-runner, whatever he may say or think, runs just as fast as he dares.

I don't for a moment mean to say that there is anything to be ashamed
of in being afraid of going fast. Indeed, the man who realises and
openly admits that he is afraid, and who refuses to attempt anything
which puts a great strain on his nerve, is very likely a more
reasonable and admirable person than the one who gradually becomes a
better runner simply through being ashamed of admitting his cowardice
even to himself. I only want to impress upon you that the _sine qua
non_ of fine ski-running is _speed_, and that if you want to become
a fine runner, you must be always trying to take things faster and
faster. One reason why jumping is such an excellent training for the
ski-runner is that it accustoms him to running at the greatest possible
speed, and to falling occasionally while doing so.

To pay no particular attention to anything but straight running and
speed from the first is of course absurd, for if you do this you will
fall about hopelessly when any steering is necessary, and the most
miserable stick-riding zigzagger will be down a hill long before you.

First of all, practise all the turns until you can make them with
steadiness, for the special purposes and on the particular snow to
which they are best adapted.

If you are weak in any turn, practise that one especially, _not only on
the practice-ground, but during a run_.

To do the latter will, of course, add considerably to the number of
your falls during a run, but it is the only way to improve, and you
should never, except at the very outset, or for some special reason, be
too anxious not to fall.

The boast of having accomplished a run without a single fall is usually
sufficient to stamp the utterer of it as either a novice or a nervous
person, who has negotiated his whole run in the easiest possible way.
A very moderate runner, if he chooses, can thus avoid falling easily
enough; but if he wishes to become a better one, he is bound to take
chances, where an unambitious or timid one would play for safety.

Do not forget, however, that if to boast of not falling lays you open
to suspicion in one way, to boast of _falling_ stamps you infallibly in

After you can make all the turns pretty well in the snow which is
easiest for each, begin to practise them in difficult snow. When you
can make them while running at a moderate speed, try to do so at higher
and higher speeds.

You can then practise running with the same foot leading the whole
time, and make only Telemarks one way and Christianias the other; if
you find this easier with the right foot leading, run always with the
left foot leading until that comes just as easy.

Do your utmost, in short, to improve your steering in every possible
way, and then try to run everything as straight and fast as ever you

I don't, of course, mean that you are to become a past master at
swinging and turning before you try to run straight and fast, for the
two things can be practised together. But steering must come first, and
until you can steer as well with your long grooved ski and without the
help of the stick as the most redoubtable Lilienfeld stick-rider with
his short smooth skis, you must give much more attention to that than
to speed.

Your ultimate aim must, as I have already said, be to run in the utmost
safety, with the utmost skill (_i.e._ with the least effort) and at
the utmost speed; but if ever, as in a race, speed is almost your sole
object, remember the following facts:--

Apart from the question of obstacles, the quickest way to get down a
hill is of course to run _freely_ straight down it.

The _second_ quickest way is a _free_ direct descent checked at
intervals by uphill swings, so that the speed never becomes high enough
to be difficult.

The _third_ quickest way is a direct _stemming_ (Telemark, snow-plough,
or side-slip) descent, and not, as most people imagine, a _free_
descent by tacks and downhill turns. The latter method takes more skill
and less effort, but is a great deal slower.

To sum up, let me advise you to take in succession each of the
following series of "Don'ts" as your guiding maxim when learning
cross-country running:--

(1) _Don't fall_ (but stem, kick-turn, and stop _ad lib._).

(2) _Don't stop_ (_i.e._ stem _ad lib._, but make no kick-turns).

(3) _Don't stem_ (but make as gradual tacks as you like, and check the
pace when necessary by uphill swings).

(4) _Don't slow up before turning downhill._

(5) _Don't_--if you can safely avoid it--_turn at all_.

When you can accomplish a run without _falling_ or _stopping_, you may
consider yourself a third-rate cross-country runner, being quite safe
and not too slow.

When you can do so without _falling_, _stopping_, or _stemming_,
your running will be sufficiently safe, fast, and in particular
_effortless_, to be called second-rate.

When you can manage most of your run without either _falling_,
_stopping_, _stemming_, or _turning_, you may be quite pleased with

The last sentence suggests a further word of advice.

It is seldom reasonable to feel very proud of one's running, but it is
often the greatest help to _pretend_ to do so.

If after taking all possible pains to learn any manoeuvre you still
find a difficulty in doing it, try the effect of imagining yourself
rather a desperate fellow--a careless, skilful, dashing person who has
done this sort of thing all his life and thinks nothing of it. You will
very likely find that this acts like a charm, and that it was only
the stiffness that comes from over-carefulness which prevented you
from succeeding before. A certain amount of "side," in fact--whether
natural or assumed--is really an excellent thing. Most good performers
_talk_ of their running--perhaps sincerely--with becoming modesty, but
they seldom show much sign of this modesty in their _actions_ when
ski-ing--evincing, as a rule, a healthy self-confidence which might
almost be mistaken for a desire to show off.

In the above series of "Don'ts" I have not included "_Don't use the
stick_," because I trust it would never enter your head to do so. I
might however have said, "Don't be afraid of leaving your sticks at
home," for unless you want to race uphill or on the level you can
easily dispense with them, and to do so occasionally will prevent you
from getting into the slovenly habit of prodding with the inner stick
at the end of every swing. Not that this prodding need be considered
a very serious crime, for as long as a stick is used with one hand
for _pushing_ and not with both for _pulling_, no great harm will be
done to the style. But this prodding is a slight waste of energy,
and therefore the tendency to do it should be checked. To go without
a stick at all occasionally is the best possible way to cultivate a
perfectly free and effortless style, not only of running _down_ a hill,
but of climbing _up_ it.

One sometimes hears the absurd statement that to tour without a
stick is "unnatural," and therefore not permissible. All ski-ing
is "unnatural." If it is "natural" to carry a stick, it is still
more "natural" to lean on it hard the whole time. The only real and
searching test of the _skill_ and _ease_ of a man's running is to take
away his stick altogether and see if he can run fast and steadily
across any sort of country without it; and I strongly advise you to
test your own running in this way from time to time.

It is a curious coincidence, if nothing more, that in Canada it is the
regular thing for ski-ers to do their cross-country running without
sticks, and that in Canada, _and nowhere else_, an Anglo-Saxon (Barney
Reilly) has already done some first-rate jumping.

About the special dangers of ski-running a word or two may be useful.
The risk of injury from falling on snow is not very great, and there
is not much danger of any one but a lunatic dropping over a precipice
in an unknown country, or dashing at full speed into a solid obstacle,
instead of adopting the simple device of falling down before he reaches
it, if he cannot manage to turn. I have never heard of anything worse
than a broken leg (which is no doubt quite bad enough) resulting from
a fall in snow. The kind of snow most likely to lead to injury is not
hard, icy snow, as the beginner generally fancies, but deep soft snow,
especially if covered by a breakable crust; for in this the skis may
plunge beneath the surface, and, getting jammed, may throw a strain on
the foot or leg.

But even here the runner whose style is good is not very likely to hurt
himself, even when going fast, if his binding fits properly; it is
the stick-rider with his feet level and skis apart who gets the most
awkward falls. In jumping, owing to the firmness of the surface, there
is hardly any danger at all.

The real danger of injury in ski-running does not consist so much in
the nature of the injury itself as in the fact that it may leave the
runner incapable of movement in a dangerous situation.

If he is far from shelter he may be badly frost-bitten before he can be
got home--therefore the more spare clothing he carries the better.

If he is alone, he will be lucky if he gets home at all--and any one
who thoroughly realises this will think twice before he goes ski-ing by
himself without saying where he is going.

The advantage of carrying a map and compass, and of knowing how to
use them in case of losing one's way, is obvious. It is not only the
mountaineer but the ordinary tourist who is exposed to this danger,
for even the latter should remember that when once he is above the
tree-line a snow-storm or a fog may make it impossible for him to find
his way for ten yards by eye alone.

In thick snow or fog nothing is visible except a blank whiteness.
When the fog or falling snow are thin, objects which are darker than
the snow (rock, trees, &c.) may be visible for some distance, but all
light and shade disappears in the snow itself, all tracks, holes, and
irregularities in its surface become quite invisible, and it is then
impossible, in a bare tract of snow, for the runner to tell whether the
ground in front of him goes downhill, uphill, or level.

Even an overcast sky causes this curious absence of light and shade;
and then, though the main landmarks may be visible, and there may be
no danger of getting lost, running becomes exceedingly difficult and
uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous, for the snow on the edge of a
precipice or steep drop, when seen from above, is apparently continuous
with the snow at the foot of it.

In the description of equipment I have already mentioned the necessary
safeguards against frost-bite and snow blindness.

Anything more than an allusion to the danger from avalanche is quite
beyond the scope of this book. It is an intricate subject, about which
whole books have been, and no doubt will yet be, written.

I believe that even now the conditions which produce winter avalanches
are not fully understood. On any open slope of more than certain
steepness--23° or so--an avalanche may start, especially after a thaw,
or before the snow of a recent fall has had time to settle down. An
avalanche, once started, can of course travel over a less steep slope,
or even level ground. Lose no time in collecting all the information
you can on the subject; for, although the ordinary tourist (not the
climber) can usually avoid it, the danger is a very serious one, and
you should never willingly expose yourself to the smallest risk of
it. If the risk is unavoidable, make sure that you can get your skis
off your feet in a moment, for if you are caught in an avalanche this
is the first thing to do. The next is, if possible, to keep your head
above the surface of the snow.

The ancient quip about presence of mind and absence of body is
particularly applicable in a case of this sort.

I have said something about the special discomforts and dangers of the
mountains and the snow, but nothing about their extraordinary beauty
and fascination. If I were better fitted for the task than the ordinary
guide-book writer, I might attempt a description of them; as I am not,
I will spare the reader.

To some ski-runners these beauties may be of secondary importance to
the sport itself. The ski-runner may even exist who looks upon climbing
a mountain as an altogether exasperating, but unfortunately inevitable,
preparation for a run down, and whose ideal is an artificial
jumping-hill in his garden provided with a lift. I have never met him.



Broadly speaking, your object in practising should be to learn to run
first _safely_, then _easily_, and then _quickly_. This is more or
less equivalent to saying that you should first learn _braking_, then
_turning_, and only then _free straight-running_, and that you should
practise on slopes of _gradually increasing steepness_ as well as in
all sorts of snow.

You should, moreover, by very easy stages, learn jumping from the very

You will hardly be able to follow the first part of this advice quite
literally, for to learn to brake without learning something about
turning, or to do either without learning to run straight at all is
nearly impossible and quite unnecessary.

The following scheme for five days' practice is one way of setting
to work. If it does not suit you, by all means vary it, but stick to
the principle of learning every manoeuvre in its easiest form pretty
thoroughly before passing to more difficult ones, for this is the best
way to gain confidence if you are nervous, and to steady yourself and
avoid bad habits if you are inclined to be reckless.

Never think of learning to "do a Telemark" or anything else for its own
sake alone, and never look on jumping as an extra.

          _1st Morning._--=Hard= _snow on a_ =gentle= _slope_
                  (10° _to_ 15°) _with level outrun_.

About 15 minutes.--(1) Level going. Hill-climbing (kick-turns,
    side-stepping and half side-stepping, herring-boning, &c.). This
    will, of course, be distributed throughout the morning practice.

About 30 minutes.--(2) Braking by single-stemming (half snow-plough);
    at first from a standstill in stemming position, then from a
    traverse in normal running position.

About 30 minutes.--(3) Braking by snow-ploughing; at first nearly from
    a standstill on the hillside, then on the level after a direct
    descent in normal running position.

About 10 minutes.--(4) Uphill _step_ round to standstill from slow
    traverse in normal running position.

About 15 minutes.--(5) Uphill stemming turns from traverse in normal
    running position.

About 20 minutes.--(6) Uphill stemming turns (snow-plough and lift
    round inner ski) on level from direct descent in normal running

                             Total, 2 hours.

    _1st Afternoon._--_Shallow_ =soft= _snow on_ =gentle= _slope
                           with level outrun_.

About 30 minutes.--(1) Telemark-stemming while traversing; at first
    from a standstill, then from a traverse in Telemark running

About 30 minutes.--(2) Telemark-stemming straight downhill; at first
    from a standstill, then on the level after direct free descent in
    Telemark position.

About 20 minutes.--(3) Uphill Telemark swings from traverse.

About 20 minutes.--(4) Uphill Telemark swings from direct descent.

About 20 minutes.--(5) Zigzag descent in snow-plough position.

                             Total, 2 hours.

              _2nd Morning._--=Hard= _snow on_ =moderate=
                         _slope_ (20° _or so_).

About 30 minutes.--(1) Repeat (2) and (3) of first morning's practice.
    (If slope steep enough to make snow-ploughing at all difficult,
    substitute Telemark-stemming.)

About 30 minutes.--(2) Uphill Christiania swing from traverse; first
    from a standstill, then while running in normal position.

                       _On_ =gentle= _slope_.

About 30 minutes.--(3) Downhill stemming turns from a traverse in
    normal position.

About 20 minutes.--(4) Uphill Christiania swings from direct
    descent--at first from a standstill.

About 10 minutes.--(5) Uphill jump round to standstill from slow

                             Total, 2 hours.

      _2nd Afternoon._--=Soft= _snow on_ =moderate= _slope_.

About 50 minutes.--(1) Repeat (1) to (3) of first afternoon's
    practice, running first in Telemark, then in normal position
    when practising the swing.

About 15 minutes.--(2) Uphill Christianias from direct descent.

About 5 minutes.--(3) Uphill jump round to standstill from traverse.

                       _On_ =gentle= _slope_.

About 40 minutes.--(4) Downhill Telemarks.

About 10 minutes.--(5) Practise positions of jumping ("Sats," &c.)
    during a direct descent.

                             Total, 2 hours.

      _3rd Morning._--=Hard= _snow on_ =steep= _slope_ (30°).

About 20 minutes.--(1) Side-slipping (both traversing at various
    angles and straight down the slope).

About 20 minutes.--(2) Uphill Christianias from traverse.

                      _On_ =moderate= _slope_.

About 30 minutes.--(3) Uphill Christianias from direct descent.

About 60 minutes.--(4) Downhill stemming turns.

              Repeat (3) and (4) on _steep_ slope if you can.

                             Total, 2 hours.

        _3rd Afternoon._--=Soft= _snow on_ =steep= _slope_.

About 10 minutes.--(1) Telemark-stemming traverses and direct descents.

About 30 minutes.--(2) Uphill Telemarks and Christianias from traverse
    in normal position.

                      _On_ =moderate= _slope_.

About 20 minutes.--(3) Uphill Telemarks from direct descent.

About 60 minutes.--(4) Downhill Telemarks.

              Repeat (3) and (4) on _steep_ slope if possible.

                             Total, 2 hours.

                      _4th Morning.--Jumping._

Practise the positions first of all while running down a slope of
    20° or so, not merely straightening up when making the "Sats," but
    springing into the air (legs straight). Then do the same at the
    point where an upper slope of about 20° joins a lower one of, say,
    25°. Then build a low platform at the same point and practise on

                         _4th Afternoon._

              Short practice run--say, 1000-ft. climb.

                            _5th Day._

              Practice expedition--about 2000-ft. climb.

       *       *       *       *       *

I do not expect for a moment that a single one of my readers will
work through this course in detail exactly as I have set it down, but
these suggestions may at least give him something to disagree with and

Some further explanation of the arrangement of the first three days'
practice may be a help. The idea is that on each day the beginner shall
practise both on _hard_ and _soft_ snow (by all means let him find
breakable crust, too, for his stepping and jumping round if he wants
to be very thorough); that on the first day he learns _braking_ and
the elements of _uphill_ turning on _gentle_ slopes, that next day on
_steeper_ slopes he learns _braking_, _uphill_ turns, and the elements
of _downhill_ turning, and that on the third he learns to _brake_
and turn _uphill_ and, if he can manage it, _downhill_ on _really
steep_ slopes. Incidentally he ought to learn quite enough about
_straight-running_ to find that the least difficult part of his first

The jumping and short-expedition day might very well--perhaps
_better_--be taken after the _second_ day's ordinary practice instead
of after the _third_, where I have put it.

By cutting the _downhill_ turns out of the three days' practice and
learning them later, or by cutting out everything but the various
methods of _braking_, the beginner can more quickly make himself
efficient and safe (though of course slow) as a tourist if he is in a
great hurry to become one. But however he varies his procedure, let him
practise on different sorts of snow and slopes of every steepness up to
30° or so from the very first. One mistake that nearly all beginners
make is that they never practise on anything like a really steep slope,
the result being that the greater part of their practice is pure waste
of time, and utterly useless to them when they go for an expedition.

Finally, let me once more urge the beginner to do everything he can
to make things easier for himself. One excellent plan if he is very
nervous--or even if he is not--is, as Lieutenant Bilgeri suggests, to
learn the manoeuvres of the descent _on the level_ at first, by getting
under way with a few _running_ steps and then stemming or turning
before he loses impetus. Another plan (which should always be followed)
is to try the position for every manoeuvre at a _standstill_, and to
make sure that it is accurate in every detail before attempting that
manoeuvre while running. This can, of course, also be done without
skis, indoors. Indoor exercises being a pet fad of mine, I herewith
suggest a few as more or less direct aids to ski-ing--if I had not been
actually asked to do so, fear of ridicule would have prevented me.

(1) Place heels together and knees touching, and try to turn toes
outwards until feet are in a straight line (kick-turn).

(2) Make as wide a straddle as possible, then try to make it wider.
Turn toes in as far as possible (snow-plough).

(3) Place yourself in Telemark position, right foot leading, knees
pressed inwards. Change with a jump to same position, _left_ foot
leading. Repeat quickly, bringing your feet to _exactly_ the same
places on the floor that they occupied before, and not letting them
point outwards.

(4) Stand on tiptoe, feet parallel and touching. Squat and straighten
up again repeatedly.

(5) Stand on one foot, holding the other clear of the floor; sit on the
heel and rise again.

(6) Stand on one leg and move the other about in all directions.

(7) Stand with feet parallel and touching. Let yourself slowly fall
forwards, saving yourself at the last possible moment by a jump with
the feet together. Repeat this in all directions.

(8) Stand with feet in straight line, one in front of the other. Jump
as high as you can, land, steadily balanced, on the spot you left.

(9) Practise the "Sats," both methods, also drawing up your legs in
the air, saving yourself from a forward fall in each case either by
dropping into Telemark position or by a jump forward with both feet

(10) Stand with feet parallel and touching, knees together and bent,
body slightly stooping. Swing arms and shoulders, and turn head as far
round to the right as you can. Reverse position sharply with a _jump_,
so that feet then point to the right, shoulders and head full to left.
Repeat this quickly.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you find any of the balancing exercises too easy, try them with your
eyes shut. Number (10) may not teach you the "jerked" Christiania, but
is highly beneficial to the liver.


[1] Unless, however, this horizontal grain runs very _straight_
throughout the ski, the vertical arrangement is the better.

[2] If however with a _very narrow_ ski a _very wide_-soled boot is
worn, traversing a steep, hard slope becomes uncomfortable, as the
projecting sole is then apt to catch in the crust and trip the runner.

[3] The Bilgeri binding, a development of the Lilienfeld, is lighter
and less rigid.

[4] No wider a welt, however, than is absolutely necessary. See note,
p. 28.

[5] Sold as "griffe Norvégienne."

[6] For the above method of herring-boning I am indebted, through Mr.
Rickmers, to Herr Zdarsky.

[7] Soft enough to give steerage way, and free from breakable crust or
very soft patches that check the skis suddenly.

[8] If, when one ski crosses the other, you put (or keep) _all_ your
weight on the one that is undermost, you can easily withdraw the other
and save yourself from falling.

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