Ski Technique Deconstructed
Skiing is dead simple...
All you have to do is manipulate the skis so the physical forces make us go left, right, speed up or slow down.
To simplify diagnosis and development of specific motor skills in the laboratory, we’ve isolated the way the skis move, and the way our body moves into four separate planes.
Relax, we're not curing cancer here...
We're teaching people how to slide down hills with sticks on their feet.
- Dexter Rutecki, from the movie: Aspen Extreme
The Ultimate Skill
Good skiing really comes down to mastery of a single skill, Pressure Control. As the skis interact with the snow, forces are exerted upon them, which in turn exerts forces on us, the skier and determines our path.
Assuming the skis are in contact with the snow, manipulating them rotationally and laterally means the snow will push back on them creating pressure that initiates a turn. This pressure can be further managed through fore/aft and vertical movement. Timing and coordination blends these moves to determine exactly how the pressure is controlled...
…and how the pressure controls us!
To change direction you need to create a 'steering angle'.
Rotational movements can create a steering angle by twisting the skis against the skiers momentum.
Lateral movement provides the ability to balance against forces in a turn, control pressure between the two skis, and control how much the skis rolls on edge.
To create a direction change the ski needs to grip the snow. Tipping the skis on edge typically results in more grip while flattening them allows them to slip.
Tipping the ski on edge also takes advantage of the ski’s side cut which bends the ski to create a built in steering angle.
Fore / Aft Movements
Fore/aft movement determines how pressure is distributed along the length of the ski, and has an effect on the skier’s strength and alignment.
Most skis are designed to steer effectively when pressure is directed through the center of the side cut, however, this pressure can be manipulated forward or backward to increase or decrease the skis steering effect.
Vertical flexion or extension movements can manipulate the amount pressure between the skis and the snow.
In addition, our body's structural alignment can determine how much pressure we can resist as well as our ability to move in other planes.
Timing & Coordination
Timing and coordination ties everything together. For a skier to achieve a desired outcome they must execute the right moves at the right time with the appropriate intensity and duration.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the skills... you need a target!