Physical activities that improve your dynamic motion skills as well as strengthening muscles, heart, and lungs are the most beneficial to improving your skiing.

For example, you’re rafting Idaho’s roaring South Fork of the Salmon River. It’s strenuous, exciting, and dynamic, but the dynamism belongs to the raft leader, not the paddlers. He tells you when and how to respond. His dynamism is in control, not yours.

Or, you swat tennis balls. Great sport. But swinging at a ball is not bouncing through moguls. Golf is fun and healthy, but it bears little resemblance to carving down the winter slopes.

There are sports, however, that both maintain or enhance your physical condition and also improve the dynamics of motion found in your skiing.

Canoe or kayak a river with rapids and rock gardens. The dynamic of doing your own paddling to navigate successfully is the same control you need on the mountain.

In the 1994 World Extreme Skiing Championships held in the Chugach Mountains of Valdez, Alaska, three or the four top finishers also were skilled kayakers.

Dean Cummings, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who finished fourth, kayaks Class V rapids. These are so wild and dangerous they’re paddled only by top experts.

Cummings says skiing and kayaking both involve the same skills, such as balance, edging, and turning. “You’re mapping a line from one turn to the next, from drop to drop, even as skiers navigate the bumps on steep trails.”

Dave Swanwick, of Crested Butte, Colorado, who finished first, calls kayaking and skiing “the same kind of gravity sport.”

Even paddling mild white water involves the same balance and control that skiing the bumps on a high intermediate run requires. And just as the skier must constantly “read” the terrain in front of her, so, too, must the canoeist “read” the water to weave safely through the hazards.

If you have enough skill, stand up in a canoe to paddle a modest stretch of white water. You’ll hardly believe the parallel to the skills necessary to whoop your way through moguls. A skier cuts into a side-slipping turn to a snow-spraying stop. Precisely the same forces are used by

canoeists - in a maneuver known as an eddy turn - to whip a canoe to a halt behind a rock in fast-moving water. Standing can be done both paddling solo, or in the stem when paddling tandem.

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