Common “Fixes” We Do in Ski Lessons
There are a number of common skiing techniques us instructors work on with our clients during ski lessons. This article outlines a few of them and there are some videos here as well.
Most people have their weight in the back – on their heels… like they’re trying to slam on the brakes or push against the slope. All that does is get you further out of control because the pressure (weight) is moved from the tips of the skis to the tails of the skis. It’s kind of like trying to drive your car from the back seat – you have no steering.
Your weight should be more on the ball of your foot but be sure your whole foot feels the snow. Doing this moves more pressure to the tips, which gives you more control. Most people’s instincts are to resist the hill and slam on the brakes to slow down. The better way to slow down is with turn shape (I’ll get into that next).
To get further forward, either flex those knees (close the knee joint) and lean forward (you’ll feel your shins rest in the cuffs of your ski boots), or try pulling your skis back (this does the same thing). Lifting up your toes when you ski sometimes helps but you don’t want to be doing that all the time – just do it to see what being forward in your stance feels like.
When I started as an instructor and got training, they kept telling me I didn’t finish my turns. I had no idea what this meant for a while. What it means is, I didn’t come across the hill at the end of my turns, I would just go straight down (into the fall line) and start turning again.
The best way to control speed is with turn shape. This way, you’re using the hill to slow down instead of your poor, overworked thigh muscles.
Think about it… if you make a turn and come across the hill to finish and keep going across the hill, what will happen? You’ll eventually stop. This is exactly how I get students from the beginner runs to the intermediate runs. I have them go across the hill until they stop or just about stop and then start the next turn down the hill. We then stop at the end of that turn. We do that most of the way down and then start turning sooner and sooner into the next turn.
Think of your turns as a series of “C” shaped turns. They eventually turn into “S” turns as you put two “C” turns together. And… that’s skiing.
Weight on the Correct Ski
When you turn, more weight should be on your downhill ski (or outside ski). I used to get this mixed up and forget, so an easy way to remember is that downhill is where all the gravity is, you could say. More weight should be on the ski that’s more downhill.
- On a left turn, more weight is on your right ski.
- On a right turn, more weight is on your left ski.
This does not mean you should lean left to go right and lean right to go left – no. Don’t do that because you’ll end up doing movements with your upper body instead of your lower body.
To practice this, try lifting the tail of your uphill (inside) ski. Doing this will keep you forward and put more weight on the downhill (outside) ski. This exercise will essentially put all the weight there, so it’s a good way to learn where your weight (pressure) should go, but then put that ski down and play with adding more weight to that inside ski, but not too much. Finding that “sweet spot” will depend on conditions but still, direct more weight to that outside ski when turning.
Boiling it All Down
Here’s a very technical way of explaining skiing. We call them the 5 fundamentals:
- Control the relationship of the center of mass to the base of support to direct pressure along the length of the skis
- Control pressure from ski to ski and direct pressure toward the outside ski
- Control edge angles through a combination of inclination and angulation
- Control the skis rotation (turning, pivoting, steering) with leg rotation, separate from the upper body
- Regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction
In this article, I really only explained #2, so there’s a LOT more to learn. Join me on a lesson and we can go through them together.
And the point of all this is… to have more fun! As you become more efficient, you can progress so you can explore more of the mountain, have more energy, keep up with your friends, ski safer (of course), and get more out of the sport.
Here are a few videos to help you:
These lessons are right on target – take a look. If you’d like, we can go over these tips in person with a ski lesson and I can show you HOW to take care of these issues. I can also watch your skiing and we can agree on some items to improve with your skiing.