Ask 10 people why they turn on skis, and nine will tell you it’s to control speed. They’re not necessarily wrong. Most skiers—even really good ones—turn to thwart the forces pulling them down the mountain. But the best skiers use their turns to generate power. The higher your skis’ edge angles, the tighter an arc they’ll carve. The tighter and more precise the arc, the more momentum you’ll generate throughout your turn. Your power output depends on your ability to keep your skis on edge throughout a turn and to minimize the time you spend on a flat, disengaged ski.
Part of being a great skier is knowing you can always get better. The key isn’t just to build strength or speed, but rather to fine-tune the base you’ve already built, pushing for greater angles, quicker movements, more flexibility and increased stability. Use these exercises to develop the speed, stability and range of motion necessary for counterbalancing and putting your skis on edge early in the turn.
If you’re comfortable skiing the whole mountain, you probably know how to scope out smart descent lines and how to turn in the most logical places. But maybe, occasionally, you guess. Shopping for turns puts you in a state of mental purgatory that pulls you out of the fall line and kills your rhythm and flow. Great skiers are able to turn anywhere, anytime, even in the illogical places. They carry their upper bodies and, therefore, their momentum down the fall line while their legs do the work of turning their skis. In fall line skiing, especially on narrow trails, you have to separate your body’s upper and lower hemispheres to maintain a consistent rhythm.
In sports-think, it’s usually best to consider the body as one unit with different parts that work together. Technically, that concept is true for skiing, too. But until you’ve nailed PSIA-perfect technique, it can be helpful to think of your upper and lower body as independent units. These exercises teach you to do just that, as well as develop the lower-body agility and coordination you need for quick, powerful turns.
To change the way you perform on the mountain, you must reprogram your body to move in new ways. And the more you’ve done it the old way, the harder you have to work—both physically and mentally—to adapt to the new. These dryland drills will not only boost your strength, stability and mobility, they’ll also train your neuromuscular system for efficient technique that’s flowing, not forced.