It’s that time of year again, when the days are darker and shorter, and summer sunshine feels like a distant dream. But it’s not all doom and gloom, as the chilly days can only mean one thing – the ski season is fast approaching! So this year, why not challenge yourself to really honing your skiing skills.
Don’t spend another holiday on the intermediate plateau, cruising to lunch feeling wobbly on your feet. Instead, make your time on the slopes more enjoyable by becoming a stronger skier. Let’s not forget that skiing is an extremely technical sport that requires endurance, strength and skill. Absolutely all skiers, even Olympic competitors, can use a ski lesson or two to improve and break bad habits. Feeling more confident and dynamic on the slopes will also greatly reduce the risk of injury.
Based in Verbier in Switzerland, the Warren Smith Ski Academy brings together the sport’s top professionals to create a unique coaching team that adds ski biomechanics and physiology to traditional ski coaching methods. Since you might not have the time to head to Verbier for one of Warren Smith’s many coaching clinics throughout the winter, their expert coaches have provided eight tips to make you a better and stronger skier today. Internalise these hot tips and you’ll be improving from behind your computer screen!
1. Make sure you do a pre-ski warm-up
Any mountain-savvy person knows the importance of warming up the muscles before skiing to avoid risks of injury. Although gliding through stunning snowy panoramas may be utterly pleasurable (and even relaxing), skiing is still a sport and just like with any sport, it’s essential to prepare your body beforehand. Get the blood pumping and the muscles ready with a dynamic warm-up. It will also help you improve your skiing more quickly and easily.
Examples of dynamic warm-up moves include leg swings; hip, arm and lower back rotations. Each movement is designed to warm-up each muscle and movement you use in skiing.
2. Ski Biomechanics & Range Tests
A ski biomechanics and range test can help identify your weak spots, so you can improve your technique on trickier terrain, and again, help prevent injury. For example, correct ski leg pattern (also known as unlocking the ankles) is a typical issue that can improve with biomechanical and physiological awareness.
Most skiers flex their knees more than their ankles, causing their body weight to rest over the middle and back of their skis, often caused by ski boots being too stiff. This position causes legs to tire and adds unnecessary strain to the knee joints. Combatting this opens up the possibility of an exhilarating session exploring the mountain, without the by-product of aching legs.
3. Power Steering the Skis
The first time you ventured onto the piste, somewhat trembling in your ski boots, you would have been taught to steer with your feet. However, for the improving skier, learning to steer with your thighs is the ultimate upgrade. It can take a bit of time to get used to, and can almost guarantee thighs of steel. Meanwhile, experts recommend you get working on those leg muscles for maximum steering power.
4. Lateral Angulation
If you were to watch a slow-motion video of a skier, you’ll see a difference between the angles skiers make with each turn direction, as most people tend to favour either their left or right side. Generally, this is due to an imbalance caused by tight muscles around the pelvis. Before skiing, try stretching out your muscles on the tighter side of your body. On the slopes, ditch the poles and try practicing the hand on hip exercise. You might feel a bit silly, but the benefits are bound to be abundant.
5. Middle Body Core Strength
If you think it’s all about the legs, you’ve got it wrong. Let’s debunk this myth right away. Most importantly, you need a strong core if you’re wanting to power down the mountain this season. If you’re a little on the weak side, you run the risk of hip injuries and other problems. If there is one magic tip for excelling on the slopes this winter, it’s ensuring that your middle body is strong. Get active in the yoga studio or at the gym, or even at home doing simple exercises such as planks, sit-ups, and leg raises. You’ll find you have more control when skiing, and even more difficult terrain such as moguls will feel like a breeze.
6. Pole Plant
Never underestimate the power of the pole plant. It’s important, even essential, for balance, especially in free skiing. There should always be three points of contact when skiing – two feet and one pole. Let the poles lead: they initiate when and how often you turn. Your arms should be in an “O” frame with your elbows outside your shoulders and side. To move your pole, just raise your arm. Practice makes perfect, so play on the easier pistes before moving to more challenging terrain.
7. Step Turns
Feel steadier and more assured on the steeper slopes with step turns. When you don’t have enough room to complete your typical ski turns, these can do the job in half the space. They are also brilliant for controlling your speed through an acceleration zone.
8. Dry Land Training Programme
There may not be snow year-round, but you can continue improving your skiing everyday throughout the year with training at home. Dryland training helps you stay in shape for skiing and improves your ability in multiple areas. The fitter and stronger you are, the more prepared you will be when that glorious moment approaches, and your skis finally hit the snow. Try working with a fitness trainer who specialises in ski-fit programmes. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is also a wonderful resource for dryland training programmes and exercises.
Be Safe and Prepared, Just In Case…
Even the most ski-ready, trained-up athlete can meet bumps along the way, so it’s good to be prepared, should something unplanned happen on your ski trip. If you do have any injuries on the slopes this year, help is only a phone call away with Schoen Clinic. They offer a ski injury hotline, so ring from the slopes to receive specialist advice and care from experts who will guide you through the experience once you’re back in the UK.
Improve Your Ski Technique Today
So there you have it, there’s simply no space for excuses this winter – it’s time to take your skiing to another level and get stuck into the technical stuff.
The Warren Smith Ski Academy visits London and the UK frequently throughout the year. Sign up for a ski technique lab lecture in London, which can help improve your ski technique immediately. If you’d rather practice on the snow, come visit Warren Smith Ski Academy in Verbier, and Momentum Ski can help you plan your holiday.
If you’d like to find out more about how to plan your perfect ski holiday, sign up to our free email course.