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The Best Ski Instruction Tips Happen to Be Timeless

There's no right or wrong way to ski. But there is a more efficient way.

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You can learn something new on the internet every day, even when it comes to skiing. Whether you’re a lifelong skier or a newcomer looking to dip your toes into the snow, our pals over at PSIA have practical tips to make sliding on snow easier, more efficient, and more fun. Here, we’ve collected the pro tips that proved most popular with SKI’s readers this year. From learning how to control your speed on steep terrain to understanding, once and for all, how to use your poles when skiing moguls, these mini lessons cover essential skills that will help you level up this season.

How to Control Your Speed in All Terrain

2021 ski test
(Photo: John Howland)

Not everyone wants to slide down the hill at mach speeds, and even those who do need to know how to shut it down when terrain, crowds, and obstacles dictate it. In this video, PSIA pro Michael Rogan breaks down the basics of using turn shape to manage your speed.

“You need to be able to slow down when you need to, and speed up when you want to,” explains Michael Rogan, professional ski instructor and head coach of the PSIA Alpine Demo Team. Intermediate skiers may know how to slow themselves down and maintain a constant speed, but advanced skiers can change their speed at the drop of a hat using different turn shapes and edge angles.

Watch the instructional video here. 

The Skill That Separates Intermediates from Experts

(Photo: John Howland)

Expert skiers know how to turn their skis without turning their full bodies. They can initiate a turn just by engaging their ankle, knee, and hip joints while keeping their upper body completely still. It’s a difficult skill to get the hang of, but one that’s crucial to carving, skiing moguls, and navigating steep, technical terrain. If all of that is on your ski agenda this season, make it your mission to learn how to keep your upper body still while your legs turn beneath you.

This video tutorial and accompanying drills will get you started. 

When and Where to Plant Your Poles in Moguls

Glen Plake Moguls Pole Plant
(Photo: Keri Bascetta)

Skiing legend Glen Plake isn’t one to preach perfect form. After all, bashing bumps is more about individual style and learning how to improvise one move after another. But one thing he’s pretty firm on: pole plants. If you don’t know how, where, or when to plant your poles in moguls, you’ve got no chance.

As Plake says, “You can’t make a turn without a pole plant, and you can’t make a pole plant without a turn.” That’s true of any type of skiing, but especially true in moguls. In this video, Plake demonstrates why pole plants are important, outlines how to get your timing right, and talks about how to use pole plants to stabilize your upper body instead of encouraging excess movements.

Learn how to bash bumps like Glen Plake in this video.

Learn How to Tip ‘Em and Rip ‘Em With These Carving Drills

Michael Rogan in the middle of a deep carving turn on skis
(Photo: Bailey LaRue)

Carving is the mark of an expert skier, and with some focused training, any advanced skier can get there. The key, says PSIA pro Michael Rogan, is learning how to engage your edges instead of skidding your skis in the middle of your turns.

“To carve, you need to learn how to tip your skis on their edges instead of pushing or turning the ski,” explains Michael Rogan, professional ski instructor and head coach of the PSIA Alpine Team. Pushing your skis through turns result in skidding or sliding. Tipping your skis on edge results in carving.

“It takes your body a while to learn how to balance on your skis’ edges. Begin with small tipping movements. Don’t expect that you will lay down full railroad tracks right away. Keep experimenting and working on getting your skis to work as a tool for you.”

Start practicing with these helpful pointers. 

This Is How You Stay Balanced in Powder

Powder skiing at Monarch Mountain, Colo.
(Photo: Keri Bascetta)

Skiing powder is the ultimate joy for a skier, and if you don’t agree with that statement, you’re doing it wrong. Skiing powder doesn’t have to be difficult or exhausting if you learn to ski this type of snow efficiently. Hanging out in the backseat is not going to make your life any easier.

“As slope changes and get steeper, a lot of skiers tend to let that push them back,” says pro big mountain skier Wendy Fischer. “That engages your hamstrings and quads, and powder skiing becomes tiring and frustrating. You need to stay over the center of your skis so that you’re able to use your ankles from side to side and flow from turn to turn with less effort.”

Watch this video to learn how to stay balanced in powder.