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Improve Your Skiing: Structure Practice for Success

Do you ever get frustrated in your skiing that you seem to master a new move on easier slopes, but then lose it when the terrain becomes more difficult? With the right plan for practice, you’ll be able to take your improvements into more difficult terrain and keep them working. What you need to do is make your practice on the easy slopes more rigorous before you take the original task to more difficult terrain.

Let’s say that you’re learning to balance on the little-toe edge of the new stance ski, then lift and tilt the free foot to start each turn. You’ve practiced diligently on the groomed runs, you’re performing it quite consistently, and you’ve even done it on slightly steeper slopes. Then you try to make the move in small moguls, and it fizzles. Suddenly you can feel your stance ski tail flaring open and that ski rolling onto its big-toe edge: the dreaded wedge returns!

What happened? Well, determine what’s different about the terrain. Moguls will challenge your fore/aft balance because they vary in pitch. Also, they define exactly where and when you must turn – there’s little time to waver in your commitment to the new stance ski.

Then, go back to the easier terrain where you initially had success, and build new tasks that you must perform that will help address the challenges of the more difficult terrain. For the above example, you first need to address the fore/aft balance issues. Some of your new, intermediate tasks could be lifting and tilting the free ski tail; the whole length of the ski; and the tip of the ski (with the tail on the ground.)

You’ll need to practice making turns that are prescribed to you. Skiing an easy slalom course with the correct movements would be ideal. If you lack access to a slalom course, pick out snow chunks or pine boughs on the slope and make your own course around them. Pick a path of varying turn size and rhythm, just as the moguls will be.

Also, examine the movement components of the task you are trying to achieve. Isolate any movement components and then make a version of them that’s more difficult. If your goal in the moguls is to lift and tilt at the beginning of turns, then make turns on the groomed where you lift and tilt and keep the free ski lifted off the snow throughout the arc of the turn. This requires better balance, and that balance will pay off when you head back to the bumps.

A major movement component in our example is the transfer to the little-toe edge of your new stance ski, so this would become a focus of your practice. In linked turns, rather than waiting until you have finished your turn and then lifting the free ski, see if you can transfer to the new ski earlier so that you have to ride the little-toe edge longer. Make traverses where you transfer balance back and forth from downhill ski to uphill ski, always landing on the little-toe edge of the uphill ski. See how quickly you can go back and forth from foot to foot; see how long you can ride the uphill, little-toe edge. Transfer to the uphill ski with both legs extended; transfer to it with both legs flexed.

Once you have mastered these additional, more rigorous steps, head back to the bumps. Your chances of performing your original movement goal are much better now that you have practiced specific and more difficult tasks on the easier terrain.