What to teach
Our teaching system is called "Ski MovesTM", it replaces natural moves with ski moves that provide clear visual goals. The most basic move in skiing is keeping the body moving continuously downhill when turning.
We teach this smooth flow right from the start using a gliding wedge with speed to make slight turns. The speed reduces friction and creates more force so the skis respond quicker. With this speed and minimal turning, momentum not only makes turning easier, but it then moves the skier into the next turn which develops offensive skiing. Video
1- Before using the lift- Walking, static exercises, athletic stance, straight run. Teaching the athletic stance statically and in motion is the most important thing. There is a difference between private and group lessons especially in what you teach before using the lift. In privates it depends on the student, but in a group it is either minimal for student lessons or can be a lot for kid programs that are taught for multiple weeks. Side stepping, herringbone, skating, and boot work take a lot of time and are hard to learn for most. They can consume a lot of the time in a student lesson so they should be used sparingly.
2- On a gentle slope- Athletic stance, gliding wedge, touch knees, bounce with chest over toes, wedge change up, speed to wedge stops. Athletic stance and wedge runs video
3- Wedge turns- in an athletic stance using a narrow gliding wedge with speed make a slight turn, go straight, then turn the other way. Make turns by turning both feet or push on one big toe then the other(done by flexing ankles) or both. Link turns and turn to a stop at the end. Wedge turns video
1- Evaluate and review athletic stance and bounce in a wedge, make a specific number of small and larger turns, either turn feet or flex ankles or both, link turns and turn to stop at the end.
2- Work on making the skis match so they are parallel by using the Big 5: on a gentle slope, in an athletic stance, with a small wedge, ski straight downhill with speed, slightly turn both feet or push on one toe then the other (ankle flex). Touch hand to outside knee. Bounce on outside ski. More deliberate matching can be practiced if necessary with active matching of the inside ski and the fan exercise which works on the the bottom part of the turn.
3- Make early weight transfers, add down & up, pole swing and touch. To actively match sooner, statically stand in a wedge across the hill step on the uphill ski and actively match the skis. Do this in motion by starting in a steep traverse to work on matching in the first half of the turn. Video
1- Evaluate, review athletic stance, review pole use if necessary.
2- Exercises for SWIFT including progressions and opposite/extremes. Uphill christie for progressive ankle flex and tip (angulation) drill. This "flex and tip uphill christie" is a fundamental exercise for smooth offensive skiing. Turning both feet for skidded turns will be a realistic goal for most students
3- Add a variety of turn, sizes, shapes, speeds, steepness, conditions, moguls, and park for those interested. Smooth (continuous) flow over the feet while loading and unloading the skis, keep Big MO going downhill. Know the "visual skiing position" that shows the ski moves.
More details on Ski MovesTM
Ski Moves is the system we use to teach skiing, it covers what to teach and how to teach. The most fundamental Ski Move is keeping the body moving continuously toward the next turn. Skiers often experience this as flow from turn to turn. Think, "big MO" (momentum), let it go, go with the flow! This is done by progressive flexing the ankles and tipping the upper body to the outside of the turn.
Understanding this simplifies skiing with a clear understanding of cause and effect that makes evaluating skiers easier. But simple does not mean easy, ski moves require a lot of work to perform well.
Ski moves are opposite the natural way people move, so it is a constant challenge to develop and maintain them in a variety of speeds, slopes, turn sizes, and conditions. It is even more challenging because it is hard to know how we are moving, so it takes clear consistent goals and specific feedback. If goals are regularly changing with new trends, it becomes very difficult to improve.
From the start
This approach teaches skiers how to keep their momentum moving down the hill (go with the flow) as they turn just enough to start to slow down. Then there is enough momentum remaining to move them into the next turn as they head on a straight path downhill that aligns with gravity.
Ski Moves uses "minimal turning" to preserve momentum, "go with the flow." They will feel like they are moving downhill through the end of one turn and into the next. "Big MO, let it go, go with the flow!"
This is in contrast to skiing across the hill and trying to get the momentum moving downhill to make the top part of a turn first. We teach downhill skiing, not skiing across the hill.
The Ski Moves "minimal turn" approach develops comfort moving downhill. It results in offensive rather than defensive skiing. Common problems beginners have are: turning too soon before there is enough speed, turning too far across the hill which slows them down, and rushing from one turn to the next rather than going straight first. This rushing encourages people to turn their shoulders rather than their feet. Skiers traverse when they are back, not comfortable with speed, and do not turn well.
When new skiers move with momentum from the start, they often start matching their skis so they are parallel within a few runs of trying to turn. But they will often go back to the wedge quickly when they go to steeper terrain too soon. Friends and family often want to take students to hills they are not ready for right after the lesson. That is why it is important to always tell students what to practice and where to ski at the end of the lesson.
To develop parallel skiing use the Big 5 to work with momentum: use a gentle slope, in an athletic stance, small wedge, with speed and making slight turns, the forces will spontaneously help to match the skis. More active approaches can be used for matching in the first or second half of the turn.
Most more advanced just want to make some improvement, maybe control their speed better or ski steeper slopes, they are not trying to become a top skier. Focus on what will be most effective given the limited time. This is usually working on athletic stance, turning the feet rather than the shoulders, and tipping to the outside of the turn.
They may have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a lesson. Help them understand that it takes time and work to improve, top skiers getting regular coaching. Natural moves are hard to change, especially after years of reinforcement.
Higher level skiers can focus more on progressively flexing their ankles as they tip their upper body to the outside of the turn which is called angulation. Timing is critical, the flexing of the ankles and tipping must be progressive until the end of the turn to maintain momentum through the turn and into the next turn. Think ski like PAT; Progressive, Ankle flex, and Tipping. The uphill christie focusing on progressive ankle flex and tipping is the fundamental exercise.
The Ski MovesTM image
You can develop your eye to see when Ski Moves are happening. This is what to look for at the end of a turn: the ankles are flexed, and the upper body is tipped to the outside of the turn so the shoulders are level which is called angulation, and the inside half of the body is forward to allow for angulation.
The progressive ankle flex and tipping keeps the body moving forward and downhill while turning and then keeps moving into the next turn. Moving the inside half forward allows the upper body to move out as the hip moves in (angulation).
Timing is critical, the flexing and tipping must be progressive until the end of the turn so the body moves over the forces of the turn that push the skier back and inside.
These ski moves are simple (which does not mean easy), tested, and timeless. It provides a clear visual goal to look for in your students.
Lindsey Vonn turning right
Ski Moves are TIMELESS
Ski Moves in small mogul turns by
Patrick Deneen former US Freestyle Team
Many will not be able to perform Ski MovesTM, because it is hard to change natural moves especially when they have been reinforced into habits. Moving back on the tail of the skis is the biggest problem. So it is important to make as much progress as possible in the short time you have. This means that you can't spend all of an hour lesson trying to create an athletic stance which many will not achieve.
Most people do not have the time, money, or desire to rebuild their skiing. Realistic goals for most are to develop a bit more athletic stance, and to turn their feet more than their shoulders while tipping over their outside ski (angulation).
Turn forces push skiers back and inside the turn. The goal is to keep moving over theses forces. Momentum smoothly moves skiers over these forces into the new turn. Motion is in a straight line when there is no turning force.
Going too slow, turning more across the hill, and natural moves back and inside the turn reduce downhill momentum.
The more across the hill a turn is made the more momentum changes direction, this is how many skiers learn to turn by making turns across the hill to a traverse. It can enhance defensive natural movements and teach skiers not to go with the flow down the hill. If your student is back on their tails and overturning, go to a more gentle slope.
There are 3 moves necessary to support progressive ankle flex and tipping (PAT). Together there are 5 moves: start in an athletic stance, transfer weight to the outside ski, move the inside half forward, and then progressively flex the ankles and tip.
To remember them think ski SWIFT-
1- Stance- Athletic flexed over feet, move forward as skis are loaded and back when released
2- Weight transfer- as soon as the skis are released
3- Inside lead
4- Flex ankles progressively and /or turn the feet
5- Tipping to the outside of the turn (angulation) progressively while edging
This is a formula of how to apply moves that includes timing so the momentum keeps moving toward the next turn. It is much more specific than than the traditional listing of skills without a detailed formula of how to use them.
It applies whether the tipping ends near the fall line or later. If later it makes a slower more completed turn shape. Quicker moves make smaller turns. But quick tipping moves made for a longer time will turn the skis further across the hill. Keep clear the difference between rate and duration.
Developing the feel of pressure building under the ball of the feet when turning, and the upper body moving forward and over that point will create a solid base and flow over it. Think of it as developing ski feet!
Ending a turn
The skis are loaded with pressure when turning, and it is released at the end of the turn.
If the turn is ended near the fall line, the momentum will move sooner toward the next turn. This is before the turn forces align more with gravity and greatly increase the pressure.
It is possible to keep the momentum heading toward the next turn by flexing the legs while still edging. This is especially useful the more across the hill the skis turn to keep the downhill momentum going while loading the ski. It would occur before either retraction or extension which comes after the edging is completed.
To ski slower, turn more across the hill. As speed and direction change it will make it harder to start the next turn. Skidding the skis during the turn will also reduce the speed.
The end of a turn is traditionally thought of as when the edges go flat at crossover. But viewing the end of the turn as when the tipping ends (also called edging or angulation) focuses on a earlier point when the momentum of the body starts to move into a straighter path. It also makes just two parts to a turn, loading and unloading the skis which is easier than the traditional approach of dividing turns into more parts.
When starting a run, the bottom or top of a turn can be made first. But when liking turns, progressive ankle flexing and tipping will carry momentum through the turn to start the next turn. In addition to the momentum which is what initially moves the skier downhill, transferring weight and extending on the new outside leg after release will help to move the skier toward the next turn.
Using the back of the ski
Many skiers flex their knees early and quickly. Some can maintain momentum into the next turn with enough flex, but they ski more on the back of their skis. This can be very hard to change, so it is often best to move beyond this in the limited time of a lesson. But adding pressure to the front of the skis tightens the radius of turns and provides a greater sense of control for students.
Even World Cup skiers can't always make the turn they want, recoveries can be on the tails and inside ski, or the tails may be used to achieve the best tactics in a given turn.