Natural Moves

Most skiers learn on their own or from a friend. They take natural movements they use every day and apply them to skiing. But skiing is not intuitive, the moves needed for skiing are opposite natural movements. Golfing legend Bobby Jones said, when a person gets ready to hit a golf ball every instinct they have will be wrong, and this is even more true in skiing. Here are the natural moves-

1- Leaning back

2- Rotating- turning the upper body in the direction of the turn

3- Banking- leaning inside the whole turn 

Leaning back- When standing on a slope people naturally lean back to keep their back vertical if they are not wearing skis. This is because their feet are too short to stand in a skiing stance perpendicular to the hill and not fall forward. Leaning back can be done at the ankles and waist. But skiers also naturally tend to flex their knees too soon, too fast, and too far relative to their ankles which puts them on the back of their skis.

 

Even on a flat surface, if people flex just the ankles without skis on they will fall forward, so it is hard to flex just the ankles. Skiers will also lean back: out of fear, because their feet can move ahead first  before their body when starting, and boots can restrict ankle flex forward. Leaning back is the most common natural movement in skiing and causes most people to ski more on the back their skis. This is an instinct that all skiers have to continuously deal with, especially as as things get more challenging.

Rotating- People naturally turn their upper body before their feet when walking, and they move this same way when skiing. Skiers have an even greater tendency to rotate when they are back and not using the front of their skis to help start the turn. Rotation reduces edging, and moves the upper body inside the turn.

 

 

 

 

Banking- Once skiers rotate, their hip often moves forward with their shoulder which restricts the upper body from progressively tipping to the outside of the turn; this tipping is also called  angulation. Progressively tipping: increases the edge angle, directs force more into the slope, and keeps the upper body moving toward the next turn.

 

So skiers will lean inside the turn to edge their skis which is called banking. This is also how people naturally move against the forces of a turn when they are in a car or on a bike. Fear makes this an even stronger instinct on a steep slope.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            Turn Forces

Natural moves are reinforced by turn forces that push skiers back and inside the turn. As speeds increase, slopes get steeper, or heavier snow occurs, these forces increase.

                                                        Endless challenge

It is very hard to change the way we naturally move without clear and consistent goals along with specific feedback. If the goals are always changing it will make this endless challenge even more difficult, and can cause frustration, confusion, and a sense that instruction does not help.

Stance is a big issue starting with beginners who will often drop their hands and lean back at the waist. They will often flex just their knees which moves their hips behind their heels. Some also flex back at the ankles or some combination of all of the above. It can be hard to physically position them statically on the slope because their instincts are so strong. When you ask them to put their hands up and forward they may lean back at the waist, or if you have them stand up so they don't look like they are sitting, they may lean back at the waist. 

 

When people use natural moves for years and they become habits that are even harder to change. Skiers can become very competent using the back of their skis, even up to the World Cup level. They may resist attempts to use the whole ski, and it can be very difficult for most people with limited time and budget. But getting even a little more centered, will make it easier to work on changing the other natural movements.

The frequency, duration, intensity, and type of practice determine how much improvement skiers will make. Even once natural moves have been replaced they must be worked on so they not return in more challenging situations. Improving can become a fun challenge with clear goals and specific feedback.

                         


 

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