eSmartr’s Sports Drills for Skiing
The mountains are calling! Skiing is a sport with a rich and unique culture that, when done by experts, looks effortless and like loads of fun — and it is! But it’s also deceptively tricky, and the skill gap between a beginner skier and an intermediate skier can be intimidating. So whether you’ve been shredding the gnar for years or you’re a bunny hill newbie, here are some quick and easy drills you can take with you the next time you hit the slopes to improve your skills and enjoy the ride.
For balancing and steering: You’ve probably seen this one in action before, and the concept is extremely simple: find a smooth, easy slope, make your way down, and lift one foot — and the ski with it! — off the ground. As you go, try to make turns and steer using the ski that’s still on the ground, swapping which foot is in the air as you turn. This is not only great practice for balancing, but for better steering and control of your feet while you ski, helping you learn how to shift your weight and use your edges.
For your turns: Often while skiing, you’ll find you need to make the barest adjustments to your path to avoid things like other skiers, unintentional bumps, and other obstacles. Find an area where you can enjoy smooth sailing down, likely on what they call a “groomer” run, and practice altering the speed of your turns. Try long and wide turns where you’re using more of the run, as this will help you to get a feel for your ski’s edges, learn how to brace for bumpy or imperfect terrain while maintaining control, and learn how to pick your next turn (bonus: this is also a great exercise to improve your pole planting). Next, try making the shortest, quickest turns you can make, as this is greater for improving foot speed, but most importantly for being prepared for when you may need to quickly maneuver due to something unexpected - you see an icy patch, a skier falls in front of you, there’s an unexpected terrain change, and son on. Mixing between wide, controlled turns and quick, rapid turns will help you find pace, your current level of control, and expose areas where you need to improve very quickly.
Jumps: Jumping with skis on might look a little daunting, but it’s not so bad as it seems. Practicing your jumps can give you confidence and technique for when you really need it! An easy way to practice your ski jumps is “springing;” bending your knees to put your full body into the air. Try to land as straight as possible so you can bend your knees back down and absorb the impact of the jump. This helps for when you’re dealing with snowier conditions and your skis are grabbing, so you can pivot better from turn to turn; feeling confident and in control for when you go over uneven terrain and get some air; and overall having more feel for your skis being an extension of your body.
Jumping, balancing, and turning — these are three crucial skills to get you down any slope in one piece. Always start your drills at a slow, comfortable pace, picking up speed only as you become confident in your technique. As you train your body, you should also find that you’re giving your mind something to enjoy too — because skiing really is a lot of fun!