SKI TIPS: Pressure your skis

Whitewater's Dylan Henderson teaches you how to improve ski performance by applying pressure.

This photo shows level shoulders

The last column we focused on powder skiing and this week we will look at outside ski pressure.

The average skier’s ability level at Whitewater is higher than most resorts due to a high percentage of skier visits being seasons pass holders. The local skiers are serious about having fun in the mountains and are always looking to take it to the next level, which means adding to their skiing performance. The key to improving ski performance is the ability to maintain pressure on the outside ski, or downhill ski through the turn. This will translate into turning quickly and powerfully without wasting any of that precious gravitational energy that fuels our skiing.

So how do we maintain outside ski pressure? Picture yourself on a merry-go-round that is spinning and in order to keep yourself from getting thrown off you need to lean into the middle. Now imagine yourself doing this with skis on while trying to weight the outside ski as the spinning increases.

The trick is to keep your shoulders level, moving your centre of mass towards the centre of the “merry-go-round,” or centre of the turn, and reaching your outside hand out over your outside boot. This body movement is called angulation, and is a skill that our local soft snow shredders often underutilize.

In order to work on your angulation and to increase the pressure the outside ski I suggest going to an easy groomed run and practise keeping your outside hand over your outside boot through full turns. When you get to the end of each turn you can bring your hands forward for the pole plant, but then immediately put the outside hand back over the outside boot. Continue doing this while increasing speed and increasing turn shape but watch you don’t get thrown off of the merry-go-round and into the playground!

We refer to the outside ski rather than the downhill ski because at the pole plant your new outside ski is actually uphill from you if you are quick on your feet and skiing well. Think about this next time you are linking turns on the hill.

Have fun and see you on the slopes!

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 other week even if the snow is not. Check us out on Facebook at Whitewater Ski Team.

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