Ski technique exposed and revealed through a clear explanation and video presentation can help us improve our own ski ability.
In order to improve our own ski technique, we often rely on several methods of learning such as reading, listening, watching, or more importantly doing. We learn by: A) self improvement, and/or B) guided instruction.
The Teacher Appears when the Student is Ready!
One of the interesting aspects of guided instruction or a ski lesson is the connection between instructors and their students. Skiers wanting to genuinely improve their own technique will spend many hours training and learning from seasoned pros. The interesting thing is we as learners can connect with some instructors and not with others. When we’re able to connect, something clicks within and we can improve our technique very rapidly. I’ve heard many times, “why didn’t someone show me that 20 years ago?”. I believe it’s because – the teacher appears when the student is ready.
There’s been many articles, tons of ski training videos, and countless hours on the slopes experimenting and learning good technique. It is this article’s intent to provide one possibility that this could be the one thing that strikes a cord and begins the thinking process in becoming a better skier through improved technique.
The steps shown here can expose a ski technique that is easy to duplicate and implement on your own mountain. Just imagine being able to ski down the mountain with efficiency and effectiveness.
Meet Warren Jobbitt
Warren is one of Canada’s top ski pros and has many years of experience and the ability to break down the complicated into bite sized pieces that we can digest. His passion for skiing and his vision to share his ski technique has the ability to make lifelong snow sport enthusiasts out of all of us.
BIO: Warren Jobbitt: A ski professional for more than 30 years; Level 4 member of the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA); CSIA Level 4 Course Conductor; Canadian Interski Team Member and Head Coach 2007-2019. Warren lives in Alberta, Canada.
Warren’s General Philosophy
Science cannot be ignored and when it comes to skiing. We simply have to stand on the slope; point our skis down the mountain, and let gravity pull us towards the bottom. We as skiers and ski instructors tend to make things too complicated and sometimes the simple approach and understanding can easily develop our skiing skills.
Making it Look Effortless
What is it that makes a skier look fluid and effortless? Have you ever seen a skier float down the slope and seemingly put no effort into it? Some skiers are strong skiers while others are finesse skiers. Either way, fluid skiers that easily carry the momentum without disruption seem to know the laws of physics and biomechanics to make it look easy. Making it look easy comes from many hours of training and guided practice.
It’s straight forward ! Create a technique that shows a series of direction changes with little or no effect on their momentum. Momentum that glides down the mountain making a series of direction changes.
Skiing is truly a balance-sport
Skiing is a balance sport because it’s gravity that provides motion down the mountain. If we simply think about adding our skis to change direction, then the technique of skiing becomes a balance sport. In a perfect world, an efficient skier uses their skis to create a series of direction changes without any disruption to momentum.
Skis Redirect Momentum
Warren recounts that he has skied over 5000 days in his lifetime. Although he can’t remember all of them, he does recall when his skiing changed forever. It was the day he stopped turning and started changing direction. This content is based on medium to large, higher speed, carved arcs whereby the ski design, edge angle and pressure management are the primary elements for direction change.
Gliding Means Letting Go
Once you have successfully changed direction with your skis underneath you, there is an opportunity to glide into the next portion of the turn. We actually release our edges and pressure in order to let-go and allow our momentum to continue. Direction Change + Efficient Gliding = fluid momentum.
Picture yourself on a slope, point your skis toward the bottom of the slope and you will begin to slide. If you engage the ski design by tipping your skis onto their edges, the skis will bend and you will begin to change direction on an arc. Ideally, you are balanced on the outside ski and your movements from that point in the arc are to balance on the outside ski as you manage the forces you feel under your foot. Once you have changed direction from pointing down the hill to across the slope, you release the pressure and edge angle that engaged the ski design and build a platform to repeat on the other side.
Minimal Momentum Disruption
Let’s take a closer look at each phase beginning at the top of the slope with your skis pointing toward the bottom. Let yourself start sliding down the hill and…
All actions that tip the ski over and engage the ski design, Warren groups into what he calls Phase-1 or Direction Change. All actions that release edge angle and pressure and that build a new platform he groups into what he calls Phase-2 or Gliding.
- Ensure your balance is along the foot from first metatarsal head to the heel pad.
- Roll your feet (focused on the outside foot of course) so your skis tip onto their edges.
- As you start to change direction on an arc, ensure you stay connected to the outside ski, bend laterally to increase edge.
- As forces increase, maintain tension in your outside leg to keep the ski bending and engaged until you are heading across the slope in the desired direction.
- First we need to release the Centre of Mass (COM) from inside the Base of Support (BOS). There are a number of ways to achieve this, however on a faster, large arc, where forces are strongest, I find a slight bend in the outside leg is the most efficient and effective. The degree and rate of this bend will determine how quickly your COM will travel across your BOS and how much the COM will rise as well.
- As your COM moves across your BOS, roll your new outside ski onto edge to build a new platform and balance toward the fall-line.
- Once this new platform has been established, repeat Direction Change movements.
Expert Skier who skis with Momentum
Ski Technique Take Aways:
- Skiing is a balance sport
- Skis redirect momentum
- Gliding means letting go
- Minimal momentum interuption
We’re always looking to improve our ski technique. In all the noise we see and hear, sometimes, there’s a nugget of information out there that we connect with. A spark or direct connection with a video, article or on-hill instruction can make the difference. Our best skiing seems at times effortless and fluid. Warren’s Ski Technique Exposed can be a nugget of information that spurs on a new understanding or feelings in our skiing. Stay balanced, release and glide, redirect the momentum without interruption and we’ll all be better skiers.