In my last column we focused on our skiing raison d’être and this week we will focus on athletic skiing.
Now that you are in touch with your inner skier and have some goals for the season, let’s get busy!
At the beginning of the season we are in training for when the skiing gets really good, so get up to the mountain and focus on skills that will help you achieve your goals.
Those who only ski when the conditions are perfect won’t be keeping up once you’re wearing your snow snorkel, so you will leave them down in the valley cloud. Besides, you can leave the hill with a sense of fulfillment no matter what the conditions.
A marginal base is perfect for picking up your turn tempo as you dance among the willows. I will describe three important skills and give you a drill to put them to use.
The first skill is steering. You are steering your skis when you are standing tall with very little pressure on the skis, like when you are planting your pole. Use only your ankles when steering and there are enough obstacles right now to really give you some practice.
The second skill is edging. Once you are steering your skis with your ankles you can then increase the amount of edge angle using your knees which will cause your skis to bite into that icy crust and help you quickly change direction.
The third skill is the release. This is the fun part! You have built up some energy as you change direction and that energy is stored in your now flexed ski. As you get tall for your pole plant, allow this energy to release and there will be a little explosion under your skis that will send you into that next turn.
Drills and Skills:
Leave your poles at the bottom of the lift. At the top of the lift undo your boots and as you head over to Little Mucker move your feet around in your boots and remind yourself that you have ankles. As you head down Mucker do some wiggle turns that just use your ankles — no knees!
Now buckle up and put your hands on your knees and with a bit more speed just use your knees — both of them! Add lots of edge.
Now hands up on to hips and engage your ankles, then knees and then hips through some big turns with speed and feel that release! Try a clap over the head at the pole plant to add some base to that tempo. It feels good, and you deserve it.
If you do this all the way from top to bottom without stopping then you deserve that special beverage of your choice at lunch.
Now bring this into your regular skiing and try it on a variety of terrain. These skills apply no matter what.
You know what I say: skiing is good exercise but great skiing is great exercise. Save the gym time for midweek and do some athletic skiing.
— Dylan Henderson is the head coach of the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified development level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association.