If you only have six days a year on the snow, you’ll no doubt be keen to make some progression in your skiing ability during your holiday. Tim Scott has been a ski instructor in Les Gets and Morzine for over 15 years and has his own ski school LGS. We asked him for a 5-step progression to help you improve your skiing skills, all by yourself.
‘Are you comfortable cruising blue and red slopes but when you get on something steeper your performance starts to break down? In order to stay safe, maintain a constant speed and avoid excessive leg burn on steeper slopes, you’ll need to spend some time perfecting your smaller turns.
Middle for diddle
Use an easy slope to wake up your feet and find the ‘sweetspot’. You can remove tension from your body by focussing on where you balance along the length of the soles of your feet. Rock backwards and forwards, feeling the pressure change from your heels to your toes. Now find the middle (or ‘sweetspot’ as us instructors like to call it) which should be somewhere under the centre of the arches of your feet. Experiment with the many different ways you can influence this subtle balancing act. Now ski for miles and miles with the sole aim of trying to stay balanced over the ‘sweetspot’. It will make a massive difference to your skiing, I promise!
Still on an easy slope, one you’re completely relaxed on, focus on the quality of your turns – are they smooth or rushed, rounded or sudden, even or uneven, S-shaped or Z-shaped? Do you feel like one turn flows effortlessly into the next or is there a delay? Is your speed staying constant or do you accelerate or decelerate?
If you think you’ve passed the ‘quality control’ test, up the tempo of your turns. In other words, make your tracks look like smaller ‘S’ shapes in the snow and stay within an imaginary ‘corridor’. Even on a steepish blue run this is harder to achieve whilst maintaining good balance, speed control and flow from one turn to the next. Keep practising until your body starts to take over… eventually it will go into ‘auto pilot’ and then you’re ready for something steeper.
Remember how wide the corridor was when you were fine tuning your small turns on the easier slope. Now, on a slightly steeper run, try and stay within a similar sized corridor whilst travelling nice and slowly. You’ll need to pivot your skis / feet / legs a little more actively and by a larger degree, in order to ‘scrape’ the snow and keep the speed down. Don’t worry if you slide sideways a bit, it’s more important to get a feel for that nice pivoting, ‘windscreen wiper action’ of the skis. As before, make sure you practice, practice, practice before you’re tempted to head for the black runs!
Ramp it up
By now you should have performed hundreds, hopefully thousands, of small turns to help program your body with the necessary movement patterns and improve your balance. As a result of all your hard work, you’ll hopefully feel undaunted by a steeper slope, but it may take a few turns to find the rhythm again (NB. If your anxiety levels are too high, your body will be tense and unable to perform, in which case it’s best to choose a gentler slope).
Fundamentally, the same principles apply on steeper terrain, only with a smaller margin for error before you lose your balance and / or speed control. Your movements need to be accurate and well coordinated, taking into account the many variables, such as snow conditions, slope angle, obstacles and changes in terrain. You will now need to start playing a more ‘tactical’ game with the mountain!’
You can find out more about Les Gets Snowsports and their lesson options on their website or call +33 (0) 6 15 10 52 11