In the last column we focused on our rock star airplane turns and this week we will focus on skiing drills.
Every ski coach and instructor uses drills to teach skiing skills, but do you ever wonder why? How could holding your poles over your head while being told to jump up and down by some big ego ski bum in a uniform possibly help your skiing? If it feels awkward does that mean that I am doing it right?
This season I have found a new appreciation for drills and a key to making them work. The key is to take ownership over the drill. Make the drill your own and set a goal to master it. In this process you will discover why you are doing the drill and how the drill will make you a better skier.
Make sure that you choose a drill that will get you to your goal. If you know that you need to be more forward,then there are drills that focus on this. The Whitewater snow school or the Whitewater Ski Team can help you choose a skill to focus on, and then a drill to match. Oh, and Youtube is a great resource as well!
When you first do a drill it can take all of your focus just to get the mechanics of the movements without losing your balance. Once you feel coordinated, you can then make the movements more fluid until it feels like the drill is part of your skiing.
Drills are designed to get you to do a certain movement with the right joints at the right time. All skiers take some short cuts to get the job done and when we change these movements we will feel awkward at first. If you are truly committed to improving your skiing then you will work on it until you own the drill.
I am going to give you a drill that any skier will benefit from. It is the “get over it” drill and it promotes well timed use of our lower joints.
1. Always try a new drill on a groomed easy slope. I like upper Yankee Girl.
2. At the transition, pole plant with your skis pointing across the hill, lift your new inside ski about 15 cm.
3. Roll your outside ski up on edge using only your ankle, then knee and patiently initiate your turn.
4. Halfway through your turn put your inside ski down on edge.
5. At this point in the turn you can now use your hip, so move your body towards the center of the turn while keeping your shoulders level and the zipper of your jacket vertical.
6. Once you are getting success, then add speed, more complex terrain, snow conditions, unbuckle your boots, without poles …
So how will this make you a better skier? The difference between a good skier and a great skier is often in the fine movements and the use of ankles. This is where the magic happens, so don’t rush into the big movements,or the sparks won’t fly.
Be patient and be aware of the timing of the ankles, knees, then hips. You will be pleasantly surprised when you bring this new awareness into your skiing.
So, take it from this big ego ski bum in a uniform, and let me know when you are ready for your next drill!
Dylan Henderson is the head coach for the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified development level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association.His goal is to give you something to keep your skiing fresh every week even if the snow is not.