What to teach- Ski MovesTM
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 downhill when turning.
People naturally make these moves that we replace with ski moves
1- Leaning back when standing on a slope
2- Turning the shoulders to make a turn
3- Tipping the upper body inside a turn
We teach Ski Moves right from the start with
1- Focus on an athletic stance and maintaining it with speed in gliding wedges
2- Then we keep the skier moving downhill while making very slight turns from the feet up
3- When they can make minimal turns starting from the feet up, we change turn size and shape as we add terrain
The speed in a gliding wedge reduces friction and creates more force so the skis respond quicker. With this speed and minimal turning, momentum makes turning easier, and then it moves the skier into the next turn which develops offensive skiing. Student can point the toes, push on one big toe then the other, or both.
Ski intermediate terrain and usually have trouble controlling their speed and skiing parallel. The natural moves have become habits that are now even harder to change. Skiing too fast on terrain is too steep often causes this defensive skiing.
The Big 3
1- Go to more gentle terrain
2- Use an athletic stance in a small wedge
3- Ski straight downhill with speed, and make slight turns to match the skis.
A more active approach to matching can be used if necessary. Pole touches are added. Early weight transfer along with down and up movement will help with the timing and matching. Touching the outside hand to the knee is a basic exercise.
1- Evaluate by look for progressive ankle flex and tipping outside the turn, review athletic stance, review pole use if necessary.
2- Turning both feet for skidded turns will be a realistic goal for most students. Uphill christies for progressive ankle flex and tip (angulation) drill. This "flex and tip uphill christie" is a fundamental exercise for smooth offensive skiing. Exercises for the other key ski moves: Stance, weight transfer, inside lead, flexing the ankle, and tipping the upper body to the outside of the turn (angulation). For exercises use progressions: make the move statically, in a traverse, up hill christie, garlands, fan exercise, one turn, and link. Make opposite and extremes move to increase awareness.
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 right timing of the ski moves.
The Ski MovesTM image
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). Progressive ankle flex and tipping, ski like PAT
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. At the end of edging, ski moves that are well timed look like this-
Lindsey Vonn turning right
Ski Moves are TIMELESS
Ski Moves in small mogul turns by
Patrick Deneen former US Freestyle Team
Ski moves are timeless. They they provide visual goals that make providing specific feedback easier.
They make evaluating skiers easier with a more simple understanding of cause and effect. However a more simple approach 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. But without clear and consistent goals it is very hard to improve. It is hard to know how we are moving which also makes improving challenging.
So it takes clear consistent goals and specific feedback. If goals are regularly changing with new trends, it becomes very difficult to improve. Think, "big MO" (momentum), let it go, go with the flow!
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.
Many advanced students 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, that top skiers get 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.
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.
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