Ski fans are counting the days until the first flakes start to fall, creating a beautiful white backdrop for athletic on-slope exploits. Whether you’re a bright-eyed beginner or already qualify as a sportier mountain sort, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to technology. Read on for more on how to prepare for the season and improve your skiing technique step by step.
Planning, equipment, fitness
The first must is to choose the right ski area, one that matches your skiing level and offers the right terrain for all skiers coming with you. There’s no point in newbie skiers biting off more than they can chew on slopes too steep to handle. Conversely, nor would any advanced skier want to stay on a practice-level slope – once you master your skills.
The pre-ski season to-do list also includes the right ski clothing that is warm enough, a good helmet, and good ski goggles as well as checking that skis, bindings, and ski boots all work perfectly. To prepare skis for the season ahead, they should be serviced, waxed, and have the edges ground to improve their grip on the piste.
Another area is good basic endurance, hence the professionals’ saying: ‘The winter sportsman is made in summer.’ And when you’re finally ready on the piste, there are a few more things to keep in mind. Far too many skiers just dive into skiing fresh off the lift in the morning without warming up their muscles first. With that in mind, warm up and stretch to avoid your first descent becoming a wipe-out.
Step-by-step to steeper terrain
Today’s high-quality carving skis make skiing seem easy enough for some skiers to take excessive risks on the slope. As well as over-stretching themselves and attempting to make up for a lack of expertise with more power present a grave danger to other skiers. In other words, progress steadily and practice on flat pistes until you have actually internalized the skills more difficult terrain demands.
Technical tips for the piste
When skiing slowly, start by bending your legs forward so that your shins press lightly against the ski boot. Then, before turning, shift your weight forward slightly so the skis move more easily – turning is easiest with both skis bent at the same time. The trigger for the turn comes when you stick your pole down. Direction for insertion should always be slightly towards the valley, and so opposite to the feet and skis with every turn. Also important (and often forgotten) is the need to focus on where your hands are when skiing. Holding them actively in front of your hips, as if holding a tray, automatically helps optimize your posture and swing release.
Ultimately, the key to controlling your speed when skiing is the amount of pressure you apply when bending upwards. Your basic approach here is starting with a slow and controlled speed at all times, then increasing it gradually. Over-accelerate and you’ll find slowing down again very tricky indeed.
No matter how ideal your preparation and how good your endurance; sufficient breaks when skiing are vital.
This is a sport that’s breathtaking in every sense – spectacular mountain scenery notwithstanding; the thin mountain air tends to tire us all out quicker than usual. Accordingly, take sufficient breaks throughout the day, drink enough water or tea, and eat a balanced diet. Look no further than body-friendly carbs, like those in cereals or pasta. Schnitzels or other heavier dishes are best avoided, as is alcohol during the day and stops in ski huts.
Needless to say, these basic tips are no substitute for professional alpine ski lessons, but noting them is bound to help you progress on the slopes, bit by bit, setting you up perfectly for a relaxing evening on the hotel’s sun terrace or a lively après-ski party.