Learn How 2 Ski

Uphill ski and downhill ski

It is very important for you to know the difference between the uphill and the downhill ski. In skiing, we always put the major part of our weight on the downhill ski. The uphill and downhill ski interchange, depending on what side you are skiing on; they always change after each turn you make. We describe the skis as uphill and downhill because it is easy for you to remember. If you stand still on a slightly inclined slope 90 degrees to the fall line, the one closer to the summit of the mountain is your uphill ski, and the one closer to the valley below is your downhill ski.

Middle position - moving around the middle position

By moving around the middle position, we always adapt ourselves to the outside conditions. In order to stay in the dynamic balance, we have to move around the middle position. This happens by bending and extending our ankles, knees and hips. Moving around the middle position should be done just in small movements; the core should stay steady and the arms and legs should be used to compensate disorders of the balance.

Moving around the middle position is done by using with our ski joints (ankles, knees and hips). If we move slightly forward, the initiation of the turn gets easier, if we move slightly backward, the steering gets easier. If we move backward to make the steering easier, we have to put our arms and hands forward at the same time to compensate the backward position.

By using the term middle position, we mean it as a position where you are able to move at any time in any direction. Ankles, knees and hips are slightly bent, the arms are wide in front of our body and the whole soles of our feet are weighted.

Phases of a turn

In the course of a turn, we have different phases. We subdivide the movement when completing a turn into 3 phases, all of which perform different tasks.

  1. Initiation phase: Here we prepare for the turn, we ease weight off the skis to make it easier to drift towards the fall line
  2. Neutral phase: Here we neutralize the body (we bring it into a central, middle position above the ski) and prepare ourselves for the final phase
  3. Steering phase: Here we build up the alpine basic position, put more weight on the downhill ski and steer the turn to the end

At the beginning, in making slow turns the phases differ from each other and are very clearly recognizable. The faster we go, the more the phases will blend into each other and the so-called phase „merge“ occurs.

Weighting and unweighting

52 sec Basics information about skiing

We describe 2 different types of weighting and unweighting. We need these movements in order to make it easier to turn our skis and to start a turn. They both do the same, in making the movement, our body gets lighter, which takes weight off the skis and makes it easier to turn. It is a vertical movement in which we extend or bend our ankles, knees and hips, which works in connection with the speed and the counter-pressure of the terrain. We differentiate between 2 different styles of unweighting.

  1. - Up-unweighting: We start in a low position. We make a vertical upward movement from our ankles, knees and hips; in doing this movement, we put weight on the skis. In the moment we stop the vertical movement at the highest point, the up-unweighting occurs, and the body gets lighter in combination with the speed and the counter-pressure of the terrain. We use this style of unweighting mostly with slow turns.
  2. - Down-unweighting: Here we start in a high position. By going deep quickly the down-unweighting occurs, because by bending our ankles, knees and hips from a high position, we take weight off the skis while we go down and our body becomes lighter. As soon as we stop the downward movement, we get back the full pressure on our skis. We use this style of unweighting in fast turns as well as in moguls and off piste skiing.

The difference between up- and down-unweighting is that with up-unweighting, the unweighting occurs when we stop the vertical movement, and with down-unweighting, the unweighting occurs while we are doing the vertical movement. When we stop the vertical movement downwards, we get again the full pressure on our skis.

Axes

As skiers, we differentiate beween 4 axes if you look at the skier from the front: the ankle, knee, hip and shoulder axes. They should all be parallel to each other. When skiing, the ankles, knees and hips take over for the most part, because they are closest to the skis and have the biggest influence. The hip is very important in stabilizing the body (body tension) and maintaing balance. The axes should be parallel to each other, but on really fast turns with a high body angle, for anatomical reasons, this will not be possible to maintain. Just the ankle and knee axes can stay parallel at all times. There will be a difference in the hip axis, because we have to move the hip more and more towards the mountain in order to withstand the occurring external forces on fast turns.

In skiing, it is very important to build up body tension around the core of your body, that includes your stomach (abs), hip and lower back. The sign of a good skier is someone who is able to build up the body tension needed to maintain balance and to withstand the external forces while at the same time being relaxed in the legs in order to perform the unweighting needed or to compensate for irregularities on the slope.

Beginners will have next to no movement in their legs and will try to make all the necessary movement with their upper bodies. This is wrong because in skiing, we try not to move the upper body too much and rather to make all the necessary movements with our legs (ankles, knees and hips).

The less our upper body moves the better it is.

Balance, dynamic balance

We talk about dynamic balance because skiers are moving all the time. They change their position all the time but still have to stay in balance. Therefore, we think about an imaginary area underneath skiers in which they can move without loosing their balance. If we stand still on a flat terrain, this imaginary area is very small. But if we go fast around a turn and if we move our body towards the inside of the turn, in order to withstand the external forces, this imaginary area gets bigger, and we are still able to maintain the dynamic balance.

A combination of body tension and being able to move at any time in any direction as described in the lesson „middle position“ is the precondition for being able to maintain dynamic balance.

External forces

The engine we use for skiing is the gravitational force that accelerates the skier in combination with his/her body mass. Also, centrifugal force plays a very important part in skiing. The degree of force depends on the speed and the radius of the turn. The higher the speed and the smaller the radius, the greater the centrifugal force. Counteracting the centrifugal force is the centripetal force that we don’t feel when we are skiing. From the interaction of gravitational force and centrifugal force, the so-called „resulting force“ arises. This is the force that acts directly on the skier.

The faster you go and the smaller the radius is, the more edging angle and body angle you need in order to be able to withstand the external forces. You could not make a fast turn without moving your body towards the inside of the turn, otherwise you would be catapulted away from the turn.

Skiers with a bigger body mass accelerate faster because of the greater gravitational force.

Introduction, get used to the snow

78 sec Level 1

The goal is to get used to the snow and the equipment, and to work on our balance. We will practice all the following exercises in a completely flat area. It is important not to lift the skis when we move in the snow. Always try to push your skis on the ground without lifting them. We hold the poles wide in front of our body for better balance.

Steps for learning:

  1. Smalltalk
  2. Check the equipement
  3. Carry skis and poles in the correct way
  4. Warm-up
  5. Put your skis on and take them off
  6. Practice your balance while standing
  7. Walking in a straight line with one, than with both skis (always train both sides)
  8. Walking with both skis (gliding steps) with little changes of direction
  9. Double-pole pushes with both skis parallel in the snow
  10. Learning how to walk up the mountain with your skis on (stair-steps or fishbone-steps)
  11. Learning how to fall and get up again

The exercises shown in the video have to be practiced until you have no more problems holding your balance with both skis in a flat area. It is very important to train your body tension around the core of your body to ensure proper learning successfully through the following steps.

Schussing - first gliding

39 sec Level 1

The goal to glide the first time. The skis should be parallel and your hips wide apart. Ankles, knees and hips are slightly bent. (middle position). We hold our poles wide in front of our body to ensure the best balance, as shown in the video. For the following exercises, use a slightly inclined slope with a long run out or with a counter slope, to ensure safety.

Steps for learning:

  1. Try to shuss down (be careful of obstacles or other skiers)
  2. Bend and extend your ankles and knees while shussing down (up and down movement)
  3. Touch the front of your binding and stand up again while skiing down (repeat more than once, for children it’s called giant and dwarf)
  4. Jump with both legs while you ski down
  5. Touch your right and left ski boot alternately while skiing down
  6. Lift up the ends of your skis alternately while skiing down
  7. Step out of the track left and right alternately while skiing down
  8. Make sliding steps while skiing down (leave both skis on the ground at all times)
  9. Step out a curve in the run, like in the video (always train to both sides)
  10. Shussing diagonally across the slope

Here it is very important that we develop a feeling for the so-called „middle position“ (full pressure of weight born on the whole soles of our feet), that means we don’t have more weight on the heels or the toes. All our weight is centered in the middle above our skis.

Wedge or Snowplough

24 sec Level 1

The goal is to be able to control the speed, to brake and to stop eventually. 

  • Start schussing in a middle position.
  • Push the skis simultaneously and equally into a wedge position and slide on both inner edges.
  • The upper body is forward and arms are parallel out in front (this helps to keep balance). A down motion facilitates the pushing into the wedge position.
  • To brake or stop – edge more!

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: step, jump and glide into the wedge position
  2. Shussing down followed by a snowplow in the run out
  3. Gliding snowplow while you ski down
  4. Wedge – parallel – wedge, do some repetitions while you ski down
  5. Stopping plow, first in the run out then on a gently inclined slope
  6. Snowplow diagonally across the slope with more weight on the valley ski

When in the wedge position, you should have the same weight on both skis and your body has to be in a centered position between your skis. 

 

Plough turning

50 sec Level 1

The goal in this lesson is to make first turns on the snow. For this choose a gently inclined slope.

  • Initiate the turn by doing an upward–inward movement with our whole body
  • The skier drifts towards the fall line in neutral position 
  • In the fall line, shift the weight outside, and steer the turn by edging and turning the heels.
  • For a better control, stay in the wedge position throughout the whole turn.

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: bend your ankles, knees and hips alternately while standing
  2. Make a half-turn in the run out (train on both sides)
  3. Make slight turns while skiing down, staying close to the fall line
  4. Make a single turn on a gently inclined slope
  5. Link turns together

Congratulations, you just made your first turn!

Going up by lifts can make the skiing day more comfortable.

Edging - Traversing

18 sec Level 2

The goal is, to learn the so-called ALPINE BASIC POSITION and to stabilize the position. The Alpine Basic Postition helps to have a better control and to increase the safety. Excercise by traversing the slope from on side to the other one in parallel position.

To be able to do that in the correct way, the following steps should be noted:

  • Skis have to be hip-wide on the mountain side edges
  • Ankles, knees and hips are slightly bent
  • The mountain side ski has to be a little bit in front of the downhill ski to compensate for the slope inclination
  • There is more weight on the downhill ski
  • The upper body is bent above the downhill ski (shoulders stay parallel to the skis (forward-sideward movement)
  • We bend the hip towards the mountain
  • The axes of ankles, knees, hips and shoulders must be all parallel (like in the picture)
  • Arms are held wide in front of our body to ensure the best balance

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: sidestepping up the mountain in the alpine basic position as described above
  2. Try to move across the slope in the alpine basic position
  3. Crossing the slope in the airplane position
  4. Crossing the slope with the downhill hand pressing the hip towards the mountain and the uphill hand kept high in front of us
  5. Crossing the slope, raise your uphill ski a couple of times
  6. Crossing the slope and stepping into a higher track (more than once)

The alpine basic position is the base of modern skiing and is very important. It should also be practiced in the future when you will have become more advanced. The alpine basic position is essential for every subsequent lesson and will follow you for the rest of your skiing career.

Sliding (release the edge grip)

20 sec Level 2

The goal in this lesson is to release the edge grip and to be able to control the ski while sliding. This is very important to control the speed. 

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: push your skis forward and backward while standing, thereby the edge grip will be released and the skis will start to slide down in the fall line
  2. We use our poles on the mountainside to push us diagonally across the slope (sliding, like in the video)
  3. We slide diagonally across the slope without the poles touching the snow, therefore, we bend our knees slightly towards the valley (release the edge grip)
  4. Stationary exercise: we are standing in the wedge position and try to match the uphill ski until both skis are parallel (in order to do so, we have to push the uphill  knee towards the mountain to level the uphill ski so that it matches the other ski, otherwise we will get stuck on the edge of the uphill ski)
  5. Crossing in the wedge position, now match the uphill ski and keep on sliding sideways (don’t forget to push the uphill knee towards the mountain to level the uphill ski, otherwise it is not possible to match the uphill ski)
  6. Now we practice this on gentle slopes

With the sliding technique, it is also possible to overcome steep parts of a slope for beginners. You should practice this lesson until you are really comfortable sliding down flat to medium steep slopes.

Plough Steering

75 sec Level 2

Plough steering is the prestage to parallel skiing. You still turn in the wedge position in order to control the speed better, but during the turns we already become parallel.

  • Starting out of a traverse in the Alpine Basic Position.
  • Simultaneously move up-forward and stem out the uphill ski into a neutral position.
  • In the fall line the weight shifts to the outside ski and matches the inside ski and get right back to ABP.
  • Complete the turn while “steering” your skies parallel. The matching of the inside ski depends on the situation, terrain, speed and rhythm. This will lead to “Snowplouh steering”.

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: Unweight and stem out the uphill ski, shift the weight onto the outside ski, match the uphill ski again
  2. Fan progression, ½ turn first from crossing, then from the fall line (see video)
  3. Garland, initiate the turn towards the fall line but don’t change edges, just stay on the mountainside edges at all times (see video)
  4. Now we try a single turn, as described above
  5. Link turns together

Choosing the right speed and terrain is important for a good developement.

Parallel turns long radius

66 sec Level 3

The goal is to ski parallel and to change edges, to turn and to steer simultaneously without using a wedge (snowplow). 

  • Start in alpine basic position
  • Initiate the turn by doing a forward, upward and inward movement
  • Drift into the fallline in neutral position - Poleplant and change the edges
  • Weightshift - build up alpine basic poistion again - steer out the turn

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: we will make an upward-inward movement from a standing position, now the skis will drift towards the fall line, close to the fall line we go deep again and steer the turn to the same side we started from, be careful not to use a wedge to initiate the movement (see video)
  2. Fan progression, ½ turn first from crossing, then from the fall line
  3. Garland
  4. Single turn as described above
  5. Link turns together

Parallel skiing simplifies skiing and gives more possibilities on the mountain. It's the most economical of all techniques we already learned.

Pole plant

24 sec Level 3

We use the pole plant to increase our balance and to better our timing. First time we use the poleplant is in parallel skiing long turns and later in short turns. 

  • The movement is out of the wrist and ellbow 
  • The pole shoult be set between the binding and the skitip
  • The pole is set while changing the edges

Steps for learning:

  1. Stationary exercise: plant the pole in the correct spot
  2. Move across the slope and plant the pole (repeat more than once)
  3. Move across the slope, go up and position the pole, set the pole and go deep again (repeat more than once)

 

Parallel short turns

47 sec Level 3

Short turns are often a big challange for the guests, because the ballance and coordination is much more difficult than in long turns. Parallel short turns are the beginning and the basic for the developement of short turns. The goal is to ski rhytmical and controlled short turns.

  • Rhytmical turning of the skis under a steady upper body
  • Up and down movements out of the legs simplify turning the skis
  • The poleplant for a better balance and rythm
  • Good steering to keep control

Steps for learning:

  1. Turn your legs underneath the steady upper body left and right, close to the fall line (see video)
  2. Hockey stop by crossing, first without and then with pole plant
  3. Link turns together
  4. Integrate the poleplant
  5. Exercise: Ski without poles, Variate in rhythm and terrain, formation skiing

 

Parallel Skiing dynamic - long turns

33 sec Expert

With Parallel Long Turns dynamic the sportive skiing starts. Good physically conditions and basic technical skills are necessary to learn this technique.

The goal is to be able to do long, sporty turns, to increase the angle of the skis in the snow and maybe even to cut in the end of the turn. 

• Start schussing - increase speed • Through an up motion initiate the new turn and achieve a neutral position with flat skis • Indicate setting the pole, switch edges • Actively turn the skis with your feet • Build up pressure by edging the skis  • Shift the centre of mass slowly towards the inside of the turn. • Build up the Alpine Basic Position and complete the turn.

Steps for learning:

  1. Ski down in parallel turns and increase speed (develop the feeling for the steering pressure)
  2. Stationary exercise with partner (develop pressure in the alpine basic position)
  3. Fan progression (first from crossing, then from the fall line)
  4. Garland
  5. 1 and ½ turn (needed here to get the steering pressure to initiate the single turn)
  6. Linking carving turns together

 

Parallel skiing dynamic - short radius

41 sec Expert

The goal is to make short, carving turns in a dynamic, rhythmical and athletic way, close to the fall line. Here we use the rebound of the skis to initiate the next turn.

  • The upper body is always facing the valley and the legs move left and right underneath the steady upper body like a pendulum
  • Speed, body tension, and flex from the skis create a rebound effect helping to unweight while changing the edges.
  • Build up pressure with a down-motion and push lower legs forward inward using the edges.
  • Plant the pole, switch edges. Pole planting helps to make turns and keeping rhythm.
  • Reduce the vertical movement of the body.The speed and the elasticity of the skis give us a rebound and help us to ease weight at the end and initiate the turns. The occurring strong steering pressure requires a great deal of body tension and a centered position above the ski in order to maintain balance.

Steps for learning:

  1. Sliding steps (important to practice the edging, is practiced close in the fall line)
  2. Garland (don’t ski across the fall line, otherwise it is already a full turn)
  3. Linking short carving turns together
  4. Doing less vertical movements
  5. Increase leg movements

The base here is to keep a steady upper body and move your legs left and right underneath your upper body as well as to keep good body tension around your core in order to stay in balance. If you ski this turn correctly, you have reached a very high level of skiing, and we get close to the highest levels.

Carving long turns

35 sec Expert

Here our goal is to cut the full turn on our edges. This turn is also the preparation for racing, particularly for the giant slalom. The major challange here is to play with the external forces and to find the right combination between skid and carve. Not even the best skier in the world is able to cut every turn on every terrain, that’s why it is important to be able to combine skid and carve techniques. It is our goal to keep the cutting quantity of the turn as high as possible. We ski along the side cut of our skis with the legs in a bit more open position. We initiate the turn with a forward-inward tilting of our whole body. We set the pole in passing when we change the edges. We build up pressure actively by stretching the new downhill leg into the turn before we reach the fall line. Because of the occurring external forces, we need more angle of the whole body towards the inside of the turn. The new downhill ski takes over the major part of steering and we weigh on the uphill ski a little bit. We determine the radius of the turn with the angle of the skis in the snow, the side cut of the skis and the moving of the body backward or forward over the lengthwise axes of the skis (backward = bigger radius, forward = smaller radius).

Steps for learning:

  1. Fan progression (first from crossing, then from the fall line)
  2. Changing of edges along the side cut of the skis on a flat terrain
  3. Link turns together, first on flat than on steeper terrrain

When you learn carving, it is important not to move on too fast at the beginning because the occurring external forces can easy overstrain you. Practice first on a flat terrain and try to steer more and more out of the fall line. If that works well, go to steeper terrain. Please be aware of other skiers especially in this lesson, because the speed we ski at is very high.

Hands on the knees

44 sec Drills

With this exercise the middle position above the ski and how to get the right body tension will be trained wich is very important from the start of the skiing carreer. Beginners usually tend to lean back, but also advanced skiers can use this exercise if they tend to lean back. Both hands are placed on the knees (you can also hold on to your trousers) and left there at all times. Through this action the upper body moves forward and the leaning back stops. The up- forward movement to iniciate the turn should still be made correctly.

 

Mistakes:

  • leaning back
  • not enough body tension

Hands on the downhill knee

45 sec Drills

With this exercise the alpine basic position is trained in the beginners field without talking about it (unconcious guiding). Also at the beginning of the skiing carreer it is very important to get more pressure on to the downhill ski and be able to make turns easy without using to much power. Both hands are placed on the outside of the downhill knee. The hip now moves automatically towards the inside of the turn (towards the mountain) and the first alpine basic position apears. In the middle of the turn near the fall line the hands change on to the new downhill knee as showen in the video.

 

Mistakes:

  • wrong position of the hip
  • rotation of the upper body towards the inside of the turn

Airplane

62 sec Drills

With this exercise we train the alpine basic position as well as building up pressure on the downhill ski. Especially when first learning to ski, it is important to instill the right movements. The hands are held out to left and right beside the body like the wings of an airplane. The upper body bends towards the outside (down the hill) of the turn till the arms are parallel to the slope. In the middle of the turn close to the fall line the upper body bends towards the new downhill side as showen in the video. The up- forward movement to initiate the turn still has to be done correctly.

 

Mistakes:

  • no pressure on the valley ski
  • problems to initiate the turn
  • not enough body angulation (alpine basic position)

Crossed hands

24 sec Drills

This exercise helps you to stabilese your upper body. It is very important in skiing that the upperbody moves as lilttle as possible. Especially big arm movement that result in movment of the upper body. With this exercise we work to reduce this. In short turns bodytension in the core is very important. This ecercise can be used with slightly advances skiers and it will be uses up to the highest levels in skiing.

 

Mistakes:

  • unsteady arms and/or hands
  • unsteady upper body
  • not enough body tension in the core

Rythm in short turns

27 sec Drills

This exercise is used to reach two goals. First to reach the right bodyposition in a turn and second to help you to get the right rythm for your turns. The hip is pushed towards the inside of the turn with the downhill hand and the uphill hand is placed on top of you head. The hands change at the moment where the edges change on to the new side. It is essential to do this exercise correctly, because otherwise a wrong position will be trained. This exercise can also be used for coordination training.

 

Mistakes:

  • wrong hip position (body angulation)
  • no or bad feeling for rythm
  • bad coordination

Window towards tha valley

29 sec Drills

This exercise is used to stop any kind of rotation in the upper body (rotation or counterrotation). At the rotation the upper body rotates towards the inside of the turn, at the counterrotation the upper body rotates towards the outside of the turn (towards the valley). Both is bad for skiing. The upper body always faces the valley whilst doing short turns and the legs move rythmically left and right underniath the static upper body. Boths poles are held high in front of the body and form a window as showen in the video. We focus on an fixed point in the distance within our window (tree, liftpole.....) wich will be placed in the middle of the window. Short turns are made in the fall line towards the fixed point. It is important that the choosen obstacle does not leave the window. This exercise can just be used in short turns.

 

Mistakes:

  • upper body rotation
  • upper body counter rotation

Poles in the back of knees

32 sec Drills

This exercise is uses if the general position of the skiier is to upright (ancles, knees and hips are not bent enough) or if the bodyweight is to much forward (results most of the time in a siccor position of the skis). The poles are placed on the back of your knees. To reach this the ski joints have to be bent more and the body weight has to be moved a little bit backwards. This exercise can also be used in long turns.

 

Mistakes:

  • stretched legs
  • siccor position of the skis

Clap hands

27 sec Drills

This exercise is used to train the feeling for the right rythm wich is especially improtant in short turns. The radius and distance of the turns should always be the same especially at the beginning. The chance of  quicker learning success is bigger if the rythm is always the same. The skier claps his hands alternatly (one clap for every turn). The rythm of the turn is defined by the clapping. that means the skier claps always in the same rythm and the legs move in the rythm of the clapping. This is also a very good coordination exercise.

 

Mistakes:

  • no feeling for rythm
  • turns have different sices
  • bad coordination skills

Hands on hips

46 sec Drills

With this exercise the right body position (alpine basic position) is trained. The so called body angulation is very important for being able to transform the arising inside- and outside forces into pressure on to our downhill ski. The downhill hand pushes the hip towards the inside of the turn. The uphill hand is high and in front of the body to avoid upper body rotation towards the inside of the turn. We change the hands when we change edges close to the fall line.

 

Mistakes:

  • bad alpine basic position
  • upper body rotation towards the inside of the turn

Poles in front of the body

50 sec Drills

The goal of this exercise is to get a statice upper body and arms. This is very import and as to much movement in the upper body and arms results in a bad alpine basic position. The poles are held on the inside of your hands in front of your body at shoulder hight as showen in the video. The poles need to be parallel to the shoulders as well as roughly parallel to slope. To make this exercise more difficult the poles can also be balanced on your back of your hands or your index fingure.

 

Mistakes:

  • unsteady upper body
  • unsteady arms

Swallow

48 sec Drills

To make the so called swallow (bird) will help you to get the right fore- sideward movement and to improve the alpine basic position. The poles are held like a hammer. The downhill pole draws a line in the snow as far away from the body as possible on the downhill side. The uphill pole is held high in front of the body to avoid upper body rotation towards the inside of the turn. The poles chane when the edges are changed near the fall line.

 

Mistakes:

  • not enough fore- sideward movement
  • not enough alpine basic position

Valley pole on shoulder

50 sec Drills

With this exercise the shoulder position above the skis is trained. There should be no evidence of rotation of the upper body eather (twisting towards the inside of the turn) as well as no counter rotation (upperbody twisting towarads the valley). The shoulders are parallel above the skis, the uphill shoulder is slightly in front of the downhill shoulder. The downhill pole is placed on the downhill shoulder as shown in the video. The uphill pole is high in front of the body to avoid upper body rotation towards the inside of the turn. Poles are changed when the edges are changed near the fall line.

 

Mistakes:

  • rotation
  • counter rotation