Ready to make the first move?
The Whitewater Ski Team is focused on love this season, with love of process, love of team and love of yourself as top priorities. As we get back on snow we need to review the process and make sure we are building a solid foundation that includes an athletic body position and the correct sequence of movements in order to add performance and complexity as the season progresses.
The pole plant marks the transition between turns signaling the end of one turn and the beginning of the next. Take a close look at the first movement you make when you start a turn following the pole plant. We all just naturally know how to turn but we might have some unnecessary, inefficient movements mixed in to the sequence.
So what is the first move? Simply roll the skis up on to edge with the ankles. After that, the knees add to the edge angle, and then the hips engage while you manage the pressure created by the centrifugal force of quickly changing direction.
If each turn is started with good body position and clean edging then we can build more pressure through the turn, go faster, and have more fun!
The drill that I will give you is very simple. Slide forward down the hill, do one turn and keep turning until you are carving back up the hill, slowing down and finally coming to a stop.
I use this drill with all levels of skiers to allow focus on a single movement within the sequence of movements that make up this complicated dance that we call skiing.
As you begin sliding get into a stacked body position, meaning hips over knees over ankles, and stand up taller than your usual skiing stance.
Next, focus on that first movement! Simply use your ankles to roll the skis up on edge and patiently and wait for the ski to carve. I call this the leap of faith moment because you have to trust that the ski will turn without you steering it!
A common error is to get impatient and begin steering the skis with your feet which causes skidding or braking. Looking back, your tracks should be twin pencil lines in the snow, drawing a half circle.
Once you do this with success in both directions, start linking big turns while continuing to focus on that simple ankle roll. That simple movement is the spark that lights the roaring fire that is the run leaving you breathless, laughing and hungry for more.
Dylan Henderson is the head coach of 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. Henderson was also named 2017’s top ski coach by B.C. Alpine.