Braquage will improve your skiing technique and you may take that to the bank


I am a braquage junkie. And I don’t apologize.

What is braquage? Good question. Some call it low performance skiing. Some use pejoratives like slippy-slidey or loosey-goosey to, you know, pour passive aggressive scorn on the general aesthetic of the no-edge pivots that epitomize the technique.

Me? Well I love the drill and I pull it out of my toolbox in beginner lessons and up to high intermediate teaching. The video above explains the process fully and why I like the short video is because our instructor explains that braquage is also a great way to get out of trouble. And to improve short radius turns.

Ever see those beautiful extreme skiers who glide fitfully down those huge slopes in the Rockies or the Alps? You know the ones. Starting at the top of some unimaginable precipice surrounded by deep powder and dangerous looking rock outcroppings, these guys literally drop into space that looks like it was conjured by some diabolical CGI artist.

We see the end product. But chances are that at the top, at the very very tip top of that run, where rocks are more plentiful than the white powder, those skiers had to do some pretty steep braquage to get to their jump off spot.

I got stuck up on the chutes of Lake Louise one fine bluebird Wednesday in January back in 2001 and I looked to my right and saw grey rock. To my left was another outcropping of some Mesozoic stone guardians. About 100 feet below me the grey gave way to an expanse of white powder that beckoned like manna.

But I was not going to get there by dropping in from the grey guardians that stand sentinel over the chutes. And I had a snowboarder with me, who was a tad nervous. I told my friend that we had to get past the rocks and to do that we needed to pop about four quick release turns.

Up there on the chutes with my shoulders about 9 inches away from the upper fall line I was glad that we both knew about braquage. We took our time, negotiated the outcroppings with a series of agile almost stationary pivots until we got to the place where the snow outnumbered the sharp grey gargoyles.

We got there and we did it in powder that was hip deep. Braquage is not pretty in powder and requires a few extra skills that include a little extra oomph or Spiess hops (later for that or google it) to get you light enough to slide the skis around.

So braquage is fun. And a necessary skill if you want to take your skiing to the next level.

Wishing you happy skiing and I hope to see you at Dagmar in 2017!

Terry Gavan @terrancegavan

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