Absorption, which is also known as ‘Avalement’ was developed by ski racers as a means of
keeping their skis in constant contact with the snow on grooved and bumpy race courses.
As it helps racers from being thrust airborne by the bumps, so Absorption can help all
skiers keep their skis on the snow on any bumpy run. This is an extremely useful skiing
maneuver for all levels of skiers and should become second nature when passing over
bumps at medium or high speeds. Knowing how to remain in control on bumps will help you
conquer any fear that you might have that the bumps will send you flying and you will
end up cascading down the slope. And for those of you are daring in nature, you should
find it, as I do, a fun way to ski a field of bumps.
How Absorption works
To help understand how Absorption works it’s useful to make an analogy with a
car suspension system and think of your upper body as the car’s chassis and your
lower body – hips, legs, knees and ankles – as the suspension system, with the skis as
the wheels. In a car, when the wheels meet a bump, the suspension spring
compresses while the chassis remains still and, as they pass the bump, the suspension
system extends back to it’s ready position. That’s how Absorption works. When you ski
over a bump your upper body should remain still while your lower body compresses on the
top of the bump and extends back to it’s normal position as it passes over the bump.
The core element of this technique is to develop the ‘Absorption Position’ so that you’re
not thrown backwards by the bump. And that means lowering your hips, leaning your chest
forward and keeping your weight centered over the middle of your feet.
I would recommend that you watch the ‘Absorption’ video first as seeing it performed and
explained will make it easier to understand.
To practice Absorption it is best to first practice traversing across a series of
moguls. Assume the Absorption Position and traverse the slope, checking above you to see
that no one might run into you. As your skis reach each bump, let your knees compress
upwards towards your chest, with your hips as the pivot point. This will not occur if
your knees and hips are rigid. Instead of absorbing the bump you will ride up over the
bump and, if you are skiing fast, will likely become airborne as you shoot off the top
of the bump. So it is essential that you keep your ankles, knees and hips relaxed at all
times to allow the bumps to compress the knees. At the summit of the bump your knees
should be compressed the most. As you start to pass over the back of the bump, you
have to extend your legs and push your feet downward to keep your skis in constant
contact with the snow. When you have descended the bump your legs and knees should be
relaxed and ready for the next bump.
Once you feel that you can absorb the bumps correctly, try making uphill turns off the
backs of the bumps. You do this by turning your feet uphill as you extend your legs on
the back of the bump. Make uphill turns to both sides. And then finally, make downhill
turns off the backs of the bumps. You do this by turning your feet downhill after
cresting the bump. Start off by making downhill absorption turns on small moguls on easy
slopes and then make them on bigger moguls on gradually steeper slopes.
- Always keep your shins leaning against the tongues of your ski boots.
- Resist the temptation to lower your hips as you pass over the bumps. It is not the hips
that go down but the knees that are pushed up!
- Be sure to push your hand back forward after you plant your skipole.
- Some of my students have found it easier to visualize absorption if they think of it
as a ‘pumping’ motion of the knees; The knees pump up (flex) as you ski up the bump and
pump down (extend) as you ski down the bump. You might find this visualization useful.
- Absorption turns can be performed either with your weight equally spread over both
skis or with the weight shifting from ski to ski.
- Even if you are not interested in making ‘Absorption Turns’, knowing how to absorb
bumps at high (or ‘out of control’) speeds can be very useful and might help you avoid
- Skiing with Absorption is an excellent way to ski bumps that are hidden by freshly
fallen snow and in ‘whiteout’ conditions when you can’t see the bumps.