Mogul Mick's Skiing Secrets

Learn the New Ski Techniques

 

Develop a Solid Foundation

Why do so many new skiers get stuck at the beginning or early intermediate level of skiing? What is it that keeps novice skiers from advancing in the sport? Make no mistake, skiing is definitely a sport. As with most sports, skiing requires a certain level of strength, endurance, flexibility, balance and coordination in order to perform well. Inadequate physical conditioning accounts for only part of the novice skier's problem. The main reason why aspiring skiers run into a dead end is that the ski schools at most winter resorts employ a one-size-fits-all approach to ski classes. While their standardized teaching methods may be acceptable for the least capable students in a class, everyone else gets bogged down in bad habits.

Resort owners consider teaching masses of beginners how to safely get themselves down the easiest ski runs to be a wonderful accomplishment. After all, it creates a lot of revenue for them. Unfortunately, the resort's goal works to the detriment of people who have both the ability and the motivation to become competent skiers. Getting yourself down a hill on a pair of skis should not be confused with skiing. The sport of skiing involves graceful, efficient, rounded turns on edged, parallel skis, with little or no skidding. Go to the intermediate runs of almost any resort, and you'll see no more than ten percent of the people skiing like that. Considering the technology that is built into modern skis, the main reason that people aren't skiing well is that they haven't been taught how.

An unintended consequence of the mass-production approach to ski instruction is that many people who were capable of becoming good skiers will get turned off to skiing after a day or two of making wedge turns. Because teaching people to make wedge turns and stem christies requires them to "steer" their skis using rotary or twisting movements, they develop inefficient movement patterns that become very difficult habits to correct later on.

I was originally trained and certified in the American Teaching System (ATS), as taught by PSIA, the Professional Ski Instructors of America. As instructors, we used to joke that ATS stands for "Always Teach Steering." That may have been a useful technique in the "old days" of skiing, but with today's ski construction technology and computer-aided designs, modern skis are essentially able turn all by themselves when pressure is applied and the skis' edges are engaged at a sufficient angle. All the skier has to do is maintain their balance and go along for the ride. Well, not quite, but you get the idea.

Early in my career, while teaching intermediate skiers, it became obvious that their steering habits made the development of carved, parallel turns much more difficult, if not impossible, for them. Although my more athletic students were perfectly capable of learning to ski parallel without going through the wedge and stem, this ATS progression was taught to everyone taking group lessons. I have consequently become an advocate for the "New School" of ski instruction, employing methods that diverge from the ATS approach and offer a direct path toward reaching the goal of carved parallel turns in a variety of terrain and snow conditions.

So here is my advice: If you must take group lessons through a resort, insist on a class that teaches students to go directly to parallel skiing using very short skis. If you can afford private lessons, then insist on working with an instructor who does not teach any rotary movements when developing the essential skills of skiing. The three links below should help you start developing a solid foundation of basic skills that will accelerate your progress to the advanced levels of skiing.

Dealing with the Fear of Falling

Beginner to Intermediate Ski Techniques

Advanced Ski Techniques

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