A fundamental Ski lesson that will help you ski betterYOU'RE STANDING AND LOOKING DOWN A VIRGIN WHITE GLORY SLOPE, A STOKE INDUCING 10 MIN SHRED OF BOTTOMLESS POW. IT TOOK A 3 HOUR SWEATFEST HIKE TO GET UP HERE. YOU POLE FORWARDS AND OVER THE EDGE, YOU'RE FREE. POWDER SMOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDERS, IT'S LIKE FLYING THROUGH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN. THEN, BANG, SKIS ARE BURIED AND LOST. GLOVES, GOGGLES, UNDERWEAR FULL OF SNOW. YARDSALE. YOU STAND UP, COLLECT YOURSELF, AND REPEAT!
Here is the tip, for all skiers of all abilities: “Stand in the middle of your feet.” You may have heard people say: “Get your weight forward against the fronts of your boots” or the classic powder advice: “Lean back a bit”. Don't be fooled by either. Allow me to explain, because I believe this is the single most important part of skiing well and extends through all ranges of abilities as an overlooked point that can be improved.
Being in the middle of your feet, boots and thus skis, is the most efficient place to be. A skier can better dynamically react when pitched forward or backward out of balance, it saves copious energy, and gives the equipment the best chance to do what it is designed to do.
Try standing bare footed on a hard surface. Really focus and attempt to put equal pressure through each of the points A, B and C. Not that easy huh? Notice the minuscule adjustments you are having to make to hold that position? Consider how hard that is, whilst jumping down a steep couloir. Skiing is about constantly re-balancing, not so much anticipation, but reactions and corrections.
If a skier is slightly too fore, they are susceptible to pre-releasing over bumps. If they are slightly too aft: they will fatigue incredibly quickly, lack turn agility and often suffer from tips crossing in deeper snow. To self check, a skier can tune into the pressure on the soles of their feet (A,B,C). Or feel for equal pressure between the front and back of the boot, on their shin and calf respectively.
During a sequence of turns, a skier will switch pressure between A and B, but their weight should remain equal between point A (or B) and the heel (C). The skier will also have to commit their body to be perpendicular to the slope at the fall line. It is the same for powder, where good skiers may look as though they are leaning back, they are actually perpendicular to their skis which are angling upwards under the snow.
To practice, head to the beginner slopes and try at very, very slow speed, really tune in. You can try on one ski without poles! Slowly build up and always focus: What is happening under your feet? If you are interested in becoming an Instructor, entering the Guide scheme, or want to fall over less, work hard at being more centered.
TERRY JAMES WALKER IS AN MIA AND SKI TEACHER BASED IN LLANBERIS AND VAL D'ISERE, FRANCE. SPECIALISING IN OFF-PISTE SKIING AND FREERIDING.