|Back in the day, when the stem-christie was part of |
the skiing language
So what has happened to the technique, and why is it rarely taught in modern ski schools? Apart from the change of language giving us clarity at the expense of history, the basic ski progression has changed as well. A true stem involves putting an unweighted outside ski out to the side and then transferring the weight onto it. A modern snowplough or wedge turn is initiated with two skis, turning and weighting both of them at the start of the turn. This allows for an easier progression to the parallel turn as the skier is used to using both feet.
Where does this leave the stem-christie if it is not longer needed in the beginner progression? Many skiers see the parallel turn as the ultimate aim in skiing and any form of stem is therefore seen to detract from technical perfection. More practical skiers see good skiing as being about control - whether this means dealing effortlessly with difficult terrain off piste or skiing a race course as fast as possible. In both these situations the stem-christie is a useful technique to have in the toolbox. Mountain guides and ski mountaineers will have no reservations about using a stem to negotiate heavy snow on lightweight skis with a big rucksack. At the opposite extreme many a ski racer will automatically make a momentary stem at the start of a tight turn, placing the ski on its edge in the new turn before standing on it. This can easily be seen in slow motion footage of the best skiers in the world. Do they care if their skis aren't parallel? Not if it helps them go faster.