Unless you are extremely fortunate there are bound to be days on your skiing holiday
that are snowy or overcast, with poor visibility. On those type of days many people
don’t enjoy skiing and prefer to give it a miss. But that’s a big mistake as those are
days that you can use to improve your technique.
Usually the lower slopes at most ski areas are surrounded by trees which makes it
possible on poor visibility days to see the terrain. There are quite a few technique
exercises that you can practice on those slopes. So instead of ‘wasting a day’
you can use the day to become an even better skier!
Following are five technique exercises that I recommend that you practice. All of these
can be done on the lower slopes. Once you can do them well you’ll be better able to use
them when skiing on the more difficult runs. While these exercises are intended mainly
for intermediate and advanced skiers, all skiers can benefit from learning or reviewing
All of these exercises and maneuvers can be found on the SkiTips1 App, ‘Fundamentals of Skiing’
& the SkiTips2 App, ‘Advanced Skiing Techniques’. The video above shows excerpts from the Apps
for each exercise.
Staircase Sideslipping – This is an exercise that I regularly use with all my students
as it teaches the subtlety of feet, ankle & knee movements that are required to steer
and control your skis. Whenever I have intermediate and advanced skiers who make too
much movement with their upper bodies when turning, I have them perform this exercise
at very slow speeds. It always amazes them that they find it difficult to do. Practice
this to both sides and try to ski as slowly as possible.
‘Hip Lean’ Carving – In an earlier blog, intended for beginners and low intermediates,
I recommended practicing ‘Foot Roll’ carving. That’s a very useful exercise for everyone
to practice. As a more advanced skier it would also be very worthwhile practicing
carving turns using ‘Hip Lean’. Knowing how to carve turns with Hip Lean will help you
ski in control when skiing fast on steep slopes. A good way to learn how to do this is
to start off making uphill turns, starting on a shallow traverse and then starting
from gradually steeper and steeper traverses until you start skiing directly down the
fall-line. Then practice using ‘Hip Lean’ to make downhill turns.
Kick Turn – As an advanced skier you may want to venture away from the ski runs and ski
the back bowls & gullies, what is known in Europe as ‘off-piste’. When you do you are
bound to encounter places that are too steep or dangerous to turn on, requiring that
you turn around safely using the ‘Kick Turn’ maneuver. Thus you should practice &
perfect this maneuver on easy slopes so that you can do it confidently when you need to.
Jump Turns – This is the ski maneuver that will allow you to safely ski down the steepest
of slopes and in the most difficult snow as it enables you to turn in a very tight
radius without picking up any speed & thus is extremely useful to perfect. Practice
these turns on the steepest slopes you can find on the lower slopes. Try to finish each
turn with very soft ankles, knees and hips so as to cushion the landings.
Counter Turns – This is the way I often ski big moguls and in the woods as it allows me
to ski in complete control. When skiing a run of moguls, I make a counter turn in the
valley in front of the mogul and then turn around the bump and in the woods, I make a
counter turn before the tree and then turn around the tree. With this turn I can make
the turns as slowly as I care to without losing my skiing rhythm. I would recommend that
all intermediate and advanced skiers learn how to do ‘Counter Turns’. The lower slopes
are a good place to practice these turns.