I know I bag on mountain bikers who only ride for PR's, it's not because I dislike speed. I just think they have no style. But I do like speed. I love driving fast, especially over winding mountain passes and twisting canyon roads. I like riding a road bike fast, especially on the Copper Triangle. When I was a Summit Stage driver I even drove a bus fast. Too fast.
But for me, the most thrilling sensation of speed comes with skiing. The feeling of the cold wind blowing past you. The sound of P-Tex chattering across hardpack. It is truly breathtaking. And it takes a special technique to go really fast. In a car you stay on the gas to go fast. On a mountain bike you stay off the brakes to go fast. But on skis, you stop turning.
Yeah, in skiing and snowboarding, controlling your direction and speed is all in making turns. The more turns you make, the less speed and more control you have. So what's the opposite of turning? Well that is called straightlining.
To properly straightline as a skier, one must stand upright. No tucking, that's a dead give away that you are speeding. And it looks dumb.
No, to properly straightline, one must look very sauve and confident. Feet together is fine if you're old school. I prefer feet shoulder width apart for a few reasons. One, because Shane McConkey said so. He also said helmets were cool. RIP Shane, love you man. Skis shoulder width apart give a more stable platform. I believe knees together was just style that has aged like milk.
Another reason for a wider stance is for the visual effect of laying a figure 11. If I encounter an area with long fresh lines, like say, a traverse out on A Basin's East Wall.
People riding up the Lenawee will look over and see the wall filling with everyone's version of powder turns. Some riders will lay their turns over another set to create figure 8's. None of the tracks are exceptionally interesting. Figure 8's are a nice aesthetic, but they aren't nearly as impressive as two unbroken parallel lines running straight down the fall line. Figure 8's honor the traditional skiing purists who founded Aspen and Vail. Figure 11's are like two fingers from Sid Vicious.
That's big mountain straightlining. On a trail is a different story. Holding your arms out is about as conspicuous as a tuck. When I'm on a groomed run I casually drop my hands down behind me. This stance is sleek but also non aggressive. You want to give off a vibe of "Who me? I'm just mellow cruising" when you straightline. If you're making a speed run it might also help to dress generically so you blend in with the crowd. Maybe don't have a big Cobra Kai patch.
It's terrifying, I would kill if a speeding rider hit one of my girls.
See, here's the thing, I believe under the proper circumstances straightlining can be done without putting any other riders in danger. You just gotta want it. I imagine this works the same at most mountains, but I really love the Corona run at Eldora it's a steep black diamond groomer, just begging for a straightline run.
Step one, be there for the rope drop. About 30 minutes before the lift opens, you gotta be in line with the hard cores. Sometimes I do single line, sometimes I just jump in with a group, it doesn't matter. And you don't need the first chair, just be within the first ten.
Now you can see only 2 or 3 skiers ahead of you, and they are here for the same reason. Have your gear ready to go. At the top of Corona at least one of those people will stop to buckle their boots, shoot past them and GO. Now you are at the top of a steep groomed run with only one or two expert skiers ahead of you, all of you know what you're here for so pin it.