Most skiers play either golf or tennis in the off season and some even try to improve there game by going to a golf or tennis school in the summer. Since I work at a golf school, let me compare the golf school experience to what you should do at the ski area to improve your game.\rAt all the golf schools I have experienced the days are broken up into going to practice areas, playing lesson time and just playing. The latter is what most skiers do; they just ski, have fun and don’t think too much, which is what good golfers do when they play well. For golfers to arrive at this stage, where they can go out and play well without thinking a whole lot, they probably have spent many hours at practice areas like a putting green or driving range and have also taken some playing lessons where they learn to manage their game.
So, what I am suggesting you do to become a better skier is take some lessons or dedicate some of your ski time to practicing some drills and tasks. Then do your “playing lesson” where you work on the tactics and variety of skills that skiers use to adapt to our ever changing ski conditions.
Skiers need to practice a blend of skills to become an expert skier just like golfers have to practice how to have sufficient power to play the game while also learning to have touch and finesse. Skiers blend edging movements, rotational movements and pressure control movements, all while under the umbrella skill of balancing and then apply these skills with power or finesse. If someone is practicing to be a good ski racer, they need to be highly skilled at edging and pressure control movements while trying not to use much turning or the legs (rotation).
But if someone was training for mogul skiing they would practice lots of pressure control and rotation (turning the legs out of the hip socket without much torso rotation) while edging angles are minimized. My point here is that if want to be a versatile skier, you need to be good at the art of skidding and the art of carving plus the areas in-between. My best analogy to describe the areas in-between is to pretend you are an artist given only white paint (skidding skills) and black paint (carving skills) to paint something nice on the canvas we call ski areas. Now, after getting bored painting with only white and black paint, how about you mix the two thus creating many different shades of gray to work with.
I think when golfers’ practice chipping and putting it relates to when skiers practice the art of skidding and here are five tasks to practice for your skidding skills. No-stop hockey stops, linked pivot slips, side slipping down different corridors, whirlybirds and the falling leaf. To do a no-stop hockey stop go straight down the hill and touch your pole to trigger the pivoting of both skis and once your skis are across the hill, keep sliding down the hill on the straight line you started on. Linked pivot slips are just like the no-stop hockey stoops only you pivot your skis left and right as you slide down a narrow corridor. Side slipping different corridors is just like it sounds but requires some edging skills to move over from one corridor to another and should be done facing a different direction with each corridor. Whirlybirds are just like a helicopter or 360 but your skis stay on the snow and one hint is that you need to have most of the pressure for the first 180 on your tips and then on your tails for the second 180. Now for your final trick the falling leaf is a side slip that moves forward and backwards while sliding down the hill (picture a leaf falling from a tree). While I do this trick I try to stay in contact with the tongues of my boots while slipping downhill and add flexing and extending my legs for extra finesse.
Now comes the playing lesson part. Take these skills into a trail that is not too steep but has some small moguls to prepare for the fun of tree skiing. Keep trying to slide more than you hold (edge) and be prepared for your balance to be challenged. Whenever you get shopping for the next good bump, try to slip while going across the hill rather than edge across the hill. Once you have done this enough to “not think too much” while in the bumps, take it to the trees. [Chip]