The Stem Christie combines a stem and a christie, would you believe, the christie bit involving a little unweighting and bringing the skis parallel for the majority of the turn. The stem is used to start the turn, and before reaching the fall line the unweighted ski is slid in parallel to the other to provide the christie finish. At the start of the turn a pole plant is usually incorporated in order to germinate the seeds of anticipation, angulation, and a minimal unweighting movement.
From a traverse the outside ski is moved into the stem position. At the same time the skier bends slightly at the knees and hips and plants the opposite pole just back from the tip of his inside ski. As the weighted stemmed ski approaches the fall line the skier rises up. The inside ski is brought in parallel as the skier rises up. At his stage the turn becomes a christie as the initially stemmed ski has now become partially unweighted by the up movement.
It continues to turn across the fall line, and from his somewhat upright stance the skier drops down again for the next pole plant.This is the theory, but in practice it is quite difficult to combine a pole plant with one side of the body and a stem with the other. If the pupil finds it too difficult, the pole plant can be passed over until practising the Christie and Christie stop.There is, however, a major problem with the Stem Christie as a skier can become a victim of its very success. It is a reasonably uncomplicated turn to master in its basic form without a pole plant, ie just a quick stem to get the ski started in the turn, and a sliding in of the inside ski soon after. Once mastered in this form it becomes the mainstay of most skiers' repertoire.
As the mileage increases, the upper ski will slide in almost immediately after a minimal stem has started to turn the lower ski. It then looks like a parallel (christie) turn.Even if a pole plant has been learnt at the start it is soon discarded, as there is no technical reason to plant the pole because the weighted ski is being steered round with a stem. Once the pole plant has been dispensed with, there is no angulation, which means less work, and a skier can quite happily spend the rest of his life tooling down well groomed pistes in the sunshine without a care in the world apart from being late for the lunchtime rendezvous.The Stem Christie should be the end of the beginning, and the aim of these articles on better skiing technique is to convert some of the thousands of skiers who may have been using it for years to the exciting world beyond..
Simon Dewhurst has taught downhill skiing in North America, Scandinavia and the European Alps for 35 years. He currently runs a ski chalet agency in the French Alps. His book "Secrets of Better Skiing" can be found at http://www.
ski-jungle.com. If you have any comments about the above article, he will be happy to answer them.
By: Simon Dewhurst