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Fast feet help in changing edges

''The fastest feet in the world.'' I couldn't help but think of that comment as I watched petite Tamara McKinney at Waterville Valley, N.H., last week, carving her way toward becoming the first American woman to win the World Cup.

It was that quickness in changing edges, along with her aggressive drive for more speed, that made the difference.

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Recreational skiers - even those who have no aspirations to try so much as a local NASTAR race - can learn something from that.

Ski instructors sometimes point out that the earlier you change your edges in a turn, the less likely you are to skid the tails of your skis. This is particualy true on steep slopes. It means that you start to use the full length of your skis' edges in carving the turn before you enter the fall line, the line of least resistance to the bottom of the slope.

In fact, changing your edges before you reach the fall line is the goal. In so doing, note the possibility of using the uphill ski to assist in carving the turn, providing that you have precisely shifted your weight to the outside, or downhill, ski.

If you're a little late in changing your edges, as I usually am, centrifugal force works against you. Once the tails of your skis start to slide across the fall line, it's impossible to set the ski into a carved arc. Therefore, I'll take a tip from Tamara and concentrate on faster feet.

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