Our guest blog this week comes from the team at European Snowsport Ski and Snowboard School. Their ski schools in Verbier, Zermatt, St Moritz, Chamonix and Nendaz offer lessons of all levels, and are proud leaders in adaptive skiing, making the mountains accessible to everyone. Find out more at www.europeansnowsport.com
Ever heard the phrase every day is a school day? It’s totally applicable to skiing. But, obviously in a more fun way. There is so much different terrain all over the mountain, learning how to ski it is all part of the fun. You may have started off in a snowplough and progressed to turning with your skis parallel on steeper and steeper slopes, but where do you go from there? What else is there to learn and why should we learn it? Well, let us explain…
Long turns (also known as carving) are great. If you like going fast you’ll really enjoy carving. But what is it? Carving is essentially turning without skidding; you change from edge to edge with your skis but instead of rotating them across the snow to control your speed, you let the shape (or the sidecut) of the ski dictate the turn shape. Carving is a technique used by racers to get as fast as possible round the race gates without scrubbing off any speed, and it’s also the most energy-efficient way of skiing quickly. But you don’t always have to carve super-fast. You can use the angle of your body to dig the ski edges into the snow to make your turn shape shorter and rounder, and thus, stay at a moderate speed.
We need to make short turns when we only have a narrow strip in which to ski, or when you’re trying to navigate a busy piste in February half term! They feel very satisfying when you get them right but are one of the hardest aspects of skiing to perfect. Short turns help you maintain a constant speed when you don’t have much space, and if you’re doing them right, your skis will make nice c-shaped turns and pass underneath your body while they move from side to side to make the turns. The most important aspects of a good short turn are keeping your body position balanced, making sure you’re flexing and extending your legs throughout the turn and having a good pole plant. Plus, learning to do short turns well will massively improve your overall skiing.
A lot of people shy away from skiing bumps, but that’s because they don’t know the correct technique. But unfortunately, most of us will come across a mogul field at some point in our skiing careers, however hard we try to avoid them. Moguls are an unfortunate consequence of skiers navigating their way through a lot of fresh snow, and they often occur when it’s very busy or hasn’t snowed in a while. Having a strong pole plant will help you ski moguls because it will help you pivot around the bumps and keep you in a rhythm. Unlike skiing short, long or just standard parallel turns, skiing bumps requires you to flex your legs in the middle of the turn and extend them at the beginning and end – the complete opposite of what you’ll be used to! Skiing moguls can feel weird at first, but after a bit of practice it feels great. It’s also highly aerobic so it’s really good for you!
Skiing off-piste is some of the most fun you can have on the mountain; nothing beats the feeling of floating through deep powder snow on your skis, but to enjoy it properly it requires a slightly different technique. Narrowing your stance, a strong pole plant, and keeping equal pressure on both skis while you turn will help, but it takes a little while to master! Leaning back as far as possible to keep your tips above the snow is one of the biggest mistakes people make when learning to ski off-piste, and it’s a sure-fire way to get tired legs. Staying in balance is much more effective and less tiring! A good off-piste technique can also be taken into the late afternoon when most of the lift-accessible powder becomes choppy and bumpy.
Learning to ski just a few of these techniques can work wonders for your overall skiing and will ensure you’ll have maximum fun all over the mountain. European Snowsport operates in Verbier, Zermatt, Nendaz, Chamonix and St. Moritz, so if you’re visiting any of these resorts over the winter, get in touch! We’re more than happy to help you improve your technique and have as much fun on your skis as possible.