Performance

Skiing Technique: 3 Drills that Work

Get an early start on the season with these terrain-specific ski tips.

Ready to ski faster, stronger, and better than ever? Take advantage of the limited terrain available during the early season to practice drills that will benefit you on the groomers and beyond when the season really gets started. Start with these drills that focus on terrain-specific skiing technique and tactics that will build a solid foundation for your skiing the rest of the season.

Groomers: Carving 

Michael Rogan carving at Taos SKI Test
SKI’s director of instruction, Michael Rogan, aka Master of the CarvePhoto credit: Keri Bascetta

If you haven’t already, it’s time to master the carved turn. The most common mistake intermediates make when trying to carve is to enter the turn with their head and shoulders, which takes them out of balance laterally and forces them to pivot their skis in a skidded turn. Instead, start turns by rolling your skis on edge with your feet and legs. It should feel as if you are trying to ski on the sides of your feet. Sidecut will bend your skis into carve-ready arcs as you balance your weight on the edges. Use cat tracks and flat slopes to practice this skill.

Bumps: Short Turns

Marcus Caston, Bumps at Squaw Valley
Warren Miller athlete Marcus Caston bashing bumps at Squaw Valley. Photo credit: Ryan Salm

Bumps are possibly the hardest condition to master. To ski them well, you have to be able to make great short turns—emphasis on short. To practice, start a run making short, skidded turns at a normal cadence. After a few turns, speed up until you start to lose coordination. Back off a few beats to regain control, and then speed up again. This drill improves coordination and turning speed.

Off-Piste: Pressure Control

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

Practice this drill on flat groomers at slower speeds to start. Lift your outside ski just a few inches off the snow.

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

While keeping your outside ski off the snow, begin to shift your weight in the direction of you next turn. 

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

Roll your ankles and knees of your skiing leg in the direction of your next turn. 

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

Keep hands forward and maintain athletic stance with knees and ankles flexed as you initiate your next turn. 

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

As you begin to turn, your ski that’s off the snow becomes your new inside ski, and your weight that’s shifted over your standing leg is your new outside ski. Good skiing technique involves pressuring your outside ski. 

Michael Rogan demonstrates a one-ski technique drill to promote good pressure control.
Photo credit: Bailey LaRue

This drill is challenging. Success depends on shifting your weight appropriately over your standing leg, and maintaining an athletic stance with flexed knees and ankles. Make sure you turn across the hill to maintain control and slower speeds. 

The ever-changing mix of ungroomed conditions requires the ability to shift weight between your feet quickly, smoothly, and purposefully. To develop this skill, try skiing on one ski. Most people can lift the inside ski off the ground once the turn has been started. To make it harder, lift the outside ski off the snow before you start a turn. Then try lifting each ski off the snow multiple times during the same turn.

Looking for more tips and tactic to improve your skiing technique. SKI Magazine teamed up with Michael Rogan and PSIA to design the online course, How to Break Through. This comprehensive, step-by-step course covers everything from the fundamentals of good skiing technique to drills to improve in all kinds of terrain and conditions. Learn more and enroll at skimag.com/breakthrough