What to teach
Walking, static exercises, stance, gliding wedge, wedge stops, wedge change up, wedge turns from a gliding wedge by turning feet or flexing ankles video
Better wedge turns- Stance, small wedge, small/larger turns, steer/flex ankles/combination, turn to stop.
Matching the skis so they are parallel can happen spontaneously almost right away with the first wedge turns if skiers are in a good stance. Skiing fast on terrain that is too steep causes skiers to lean back and use a wide wedge.
Create matching with the big 5: use a gentle slope, centered stance, small wedge, ski straight downhill with speed, slightly turn both feet or flex one ankle then the other.
Then try adding down & up, early weight transfer, touch hand to outside knee
Stance, weight transfer, inside lead, flex ankles (&/or turn feet), and tipping (angulation). Pole touches
Do exercise progressions, and then add variety, turn size, speed , steepness, conditions
Visible SkiingTM Compare your moves How V1 can change a sport with Tiger (now with most tour wins) skiing is next
Visible Skiing was created by more than twenty years of slow motion side by side comparisons between skiers from beginners to the World Cup level, it is the approach we teach. The goal is to replace natural moves with skiing moves. For most this means: get more centered, turn the feet, and tipping the upper body to the outside of the turn(angulation). A goal for advanced skiers is on using the whole ski starting from the tip, but this is something many skiers will not achieve because it is so natural to ski on the back of the skis. Visible skiing is simple(not easy), timeless, and tested.
Big MOTM (momentum) Is the key
In the beginning with a very young or unstable skiers some speed can increase stability. Then in the the first turns, momentum will help the skis react quickly and then can move skiers into the next turn. They learn to turn just enough and keep moving offensively, not defensive braking to a stop or traverse. Big MO also helps to weight the outside ski and match the skis.
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 whether carving or skiing moguls. Timing is critical. Think, "big MO, let it go, go with the flow!" Going slow, turning more across the hill, and natural moves back and inside the turn reduce downhill momentum.
Visible Skiing ImageTM Ski through this position
Here is the Visible Skiing Image, in this case finishing a turn to the left. The goal is to move progressively forward and downhill while turning and then keep moving into the next turn. Notice the inside lead, ankle flex, and tipping, also called angulation, that creates the level shoulders. Timing is critical, move progressively while edging.
Ski Moves create this Visible Skiing ImageTM
Lindsey Vonn turning right
Ski Moves are TIMELESS
Ski Moves in small mogul turns by
Patrick Deneen US Freestyle Team
Overview of Ski MovesTM
"PAT"- The main goal is to keep moving smoothly over the feet through one turn and into the next. To do this progressively flex the ankles and tip(angulate). Upon release the skier flows smoothly into the new turn. To remember think, ski like your director PAT-
Progressive Ankle flex and Tipping
"SWIFT"- Three moves support this main goal which makes five Ski Moves. To remember them think ski SWIFT-
1- Skiing stance- skiers 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
More details on Visible Ski MovesTM
Skiers achieve the Visible Skiing Image by progressively flexing their ankles and tipping (angulation) to keep their body moving forward and toward the next turn. The inside half of the body is forward to allow the tipping to occur. Skiers stand on the outside ski and then quickly transfer weight to the new outside ski as soon as tipping ends.
This is a formula of how to apply moves that includes timing so the momentum keeps moving toward the next turn, whether the tipping ends near the fall line or later. Timing is critical to keep the skier smoothly flowing over the turning forces which are back and inside the turn.
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!
Momentum changes direction and magnitude the further across the slope a turn is made. Turning more across the hill and reducing downhill momentum slows skiers down.
Flexing the legs before tipping ends can keep the momentum flowing, especially when turning more completely across the hill. Releasing the ski can be done with extension or retraction. Keep the downhill momentum going while loading and unloading the ski.
Most 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 moves can be forced to change the timing.
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.
Timeless TurnsTM A consistent goal
You turn the skis or the skis turn you, or both. Turns can be finished close to the fall line or later. When pressure is reduced in a turn, skiers start moving out of the turn on a straighter path quicker than the skis. It can be confusing because the crossover point is also discussed as the end of the turn, but that is the end of the turn relative to the skis. In addition to how pressure is created; when and how pressure is released will affect how the skier moves toward the next turn.
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.
Quicker moves make smaller turns. Longer tipping movements turn the skis further across the hill in small or larger turns. The more across the hill a turn is made the more momentum changes direction relative to gravity. 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.
More details for each level
These are general points for each level, for specifics on each type of lesson program go to that program.
Right from the start teach how to go with the flow so beginners feel their momentum moving downhill through the end of one turn and into the next. Do this by skiing straight downhill and making the second part of the turn first. This is in contrast to skiing across the hill and trying to get the momentum moving downhill to make the top of a turn first.
1- Do some exercises on the flats, and then use a gentle slope for straight runs and wedge drills.
2- To make the first turns start by skiing straight downhill in a good skiing stance using a narrow wedge for about 3 seconds to build speed. Turn both feet to make a very slight turn, ski straight downhill for 3 seconds before turning in the other direction. Later try flexing one ankle then the other (or push on one big toe then the other,) or combine ankle flex and turning the feet. Don't turn very far so they feel how the momentum moves them back downhill.
3- Make three turns then six in the same distance. Do exercises if needed such as touch the hand to the outside knee when flexing the ankle (this is not doing big lateral moves like airplane turns which kids often reverse and lean inside), or bounce on the outside ski with ankle flex. Link turns to a stop.
Give specific feedback and position them or do static practice when necessary. Be very encouraging. Go at the proper pace, which may mean different assignments for some students. Keep them moving; it isn't a lecture. At the end, tell them to ski in control, review, and give practice exercises.
Many go to terrain that is too steep after their first lesson and end up stuck in the back seat with a wide wedge, so they have trouble turning. Focus on the big 5 to create spontaneous matching:
1- Use a gentle slope
2- Centered stance
3- Small wedge
4- Ski straight downhill with speed
5- Slightly turn both feet or flex one ankle then the other
If necessary, statically practice the weight transfer and matching. Match the uphill ski to the downhill ski for matching after the fall line(brown patch), or with the uphill ski to match earlier(blue patch).
Focus on transferring weight earlier, add slight down and up to encourage matching and to improve rhythm and timing. Introduce pole swing and touch. For an exercise touch hand to the outside knee. We teach many lessons at this level, so see the bottom of this page for more details.
Most skiers taking lessons 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. They may have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a lesson. Help them understand what it takes to improve. Natural moves are hard to change, especially after years of reinforcement. It can be difficult to get students centered let alone flexing their ankles to move forward.
1- Advanced students have usually been on steeper terrain which has reinforced using the back of the ski. Use progressions starting with static exercises to get them more centered, but this can take a long time for a small improvement. They will usually revert to their original position many times before being consistent with the new stance. So don't spend the entire time working on stance.
2- Rotation is common; work on turning the feet and creating inside lead, rather than turning the shoulders. Even if they are still back this can provide more control.
3- Then do exercises for progressive tipping(angulation), because when they are rotating it is very hard to tip the upper body to the outside of the turn.
Use exercises to work on Ski Moves- SWIFT. Add a variety of speeds, turn sizes, terrain, and conditions. Finish close to fall line; then later. Make skidded and carved turns.
Team teaching groups-
Superstars, Kinder sparks, Discover, student lessons
Beginner group lessons are usually three 15 minute periods: 1) before the lift,
2) wedges on the wonder carpets, and 3) turns on the rope tow
1- Start off walking, turning in a circle, and doing static exercises. Compare standing tall to a skiing stance: hands in front and flexed down, or try bouncing and stopping before the top. Flex ankles forward and return to the center. They will often flex their knees not their ankles, train your eye now to see the difference. Make small and large wedges, the wider wedge to go slower. This may be all you have time for especially if the group has trouble moving. In private lessons or strong groups you can do the following, but don't take too long and make it boring.
Do exercises for any of the four moves if necessary: up/down, fore aft, lateral, rotary. So that includes bouncing, stepping, flexing forward and back, and turning one foot at a time. If there is time and they are coordinated enough, side step and do a straight run. Make small slow side steps with knees pointing uphill. Support students on the side of the hip if necessary. The instructor in boots is very active helping students move and positioning them when necessary. The goal is to keep students off the ground and moving so the lesson is fun for them and the instructors.
2- Make a lot of wedge runs on the wonder carpet to get them comfortable sliding on skis and to develop a sense of control. The instructor on top stands perpendicular to them to show and tell them what to do (don't bend the knees too much): hands up, look ahead, get forward (stand on your toes and chest over toes). Talk loud with enthusiasm, shape their performance with positive reinforcement as soon as they get it; say, good that is it! Position them in a wedge on top and bottom if necessary. They may need a gradual push to get going, or held back at the hips part way down the hill.
Verbally coach them as they ski: push your heels apart and point your toes at each other. Make several runs: ski down in a small wedge, make 3 wedges from a straight run which are called wedge change ups, make a wedge stop half way down then at the bottom, finally straight run to just one big wedge (stay centered). Some of these runs may have to be repeated. If it is crowded on the carpet some of them can be done on the rope.
When team teaching the instructor on the bottom can gather the group on a busy night to keep them together. Correct any problems such as driving the knees together, crossing tips from leaning to one side, or leaning back. Do a lot of practice with wedges before turning.
3- Go to the rope Video and do a run making a wedge stop or wedge change ups. Both the instructors will be in boots to load and unload the rope. The instructor on bottom positions the student and supports them and the rope even giving a push when necessary or catching if they grab too fast. Leather work gloves are helpful. The skier on top will make sure the students exit and get set up in a skiing stance. So spacing is critical; the instructor on top needs time. Touch the students in the middle or side of the hips just enough to support them if necessary. The goal is to keep them off the ground so the lesson is fun for them and you.
Introduce turns by having them ski straight downhill in a narrow wedge for 3 seconds. They are not thinking of turns just going straight at first. Turn both feet very slightly one way then back at the bottom. Ski straight for 3 seconds and then turn both feet slightly in the other direction. Speed straight down the hill reduces friction and increases their momentum. They will want to try to turn immediately, turn too much, or turn from one direction directly to the other direction which can cause rotation.
This usually ends the beginner lesson. If there is time they can work on what would be yellow lesson material. Make a specific number of turns. When they can make a given number of turns, say 6, have them make only 3 in the same distance which will make bigger turns. If they are having trouble try the other way to turn, by flexing one ankle at a time (or pushing on one big toe then the other). Face the same direction as the class and practice statically with the downhill ankle. Flex the left ankle to go right, and the right ankle to go left. Be sure they are flexing their ankle forward, not moving the knee inside and edging the ski which is very common (train your eye now), or bending the knee.
You may need to combine turning the feet and flexing the ankles in either order. Students may start to automatically ski parallel if their wedge is small, they have some speed, and they don't turn too far. Do exercises: bouncing on the outside ski, flex an ankle and touch hand to the knee, quickly flex one ankle hard then the other for small turns.
If they have progressed quickly, see if they can end a series of turns by turning across the hill to a stop. End the lesson by telling them to ski in control; they must be able to turn and stop before going very far up the hill so they don't run into anyone. Be sure they know how to take their skis off, reset their heels, and put the skis across the hill to put on. If they have big smiles and are excited, congratulations you did a great job and may have made a new lifelong skier!!
Matching the skis- more intermediate details
Students will often start making parallel turns almost right after their first wedge turns if they are in a good stance, using a small wedge, have speed, and are not turning too far. The problem is they usually go with their friends or family and ski slopes that are too steep so they move back on their skis and into a wedge again.
To start to ski parallel, there is a spontaneous and more active approach.
1- Ski on a gentle slope, in a good stance, in a small wedge with some speed. Ski straight downhill in a narrow wedge for at least three seconds and turn both feet slightly from one direction, downhill, then in the other direction. The forces may start to match the skis, but make sure the inside ski is turning enough to create some matching. Try the same thing by flexing one ankle at a time, rather than turning the feet.
Students must be in a skiing stance over the center of their skis; so hips over the feet and chest over the toes. Try touching the outside hand to the knee in the second half of the turn.
Then try stepping on the new outside ski sooner at the start of every turn, this is early weight transfer. Next make smooth down motion to finish the turn, and an up motion to start the turn.
2- If necessary use a more active or deliberate approach. Stand in a small wedge with skis across the hill, touch the downhill hand to the knee, and actively match the uphill ski to the downhill ski. Try lifting the ski, tapping the tail of the uphill ski, pushing down on the little toe of the uphill ski, or turning the uphill ski if necessary. Do uphill christies in both directions, then link the slight turns starting with some speed.
For earlier matching before the fall line stand in a small wedge across the hill, plant both poles below the downhill ski. Transfer weight to the uphill ski and match while projecting the body downhill onto the poles. This can also be done with the skis parallel to start. Start in a steep traverse on a gentle slope and link turns.