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.
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.
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.
Harbor chop, Sierra cement, mank, moguls: These are all tough conditions to ski in—the uneven snow and terrain can make minced meat of you—so it’s natural to respond in kind, with brute force. But the flailing arms and gyrating hips that come with it betray a skier absorbing too much impact with his upper body and not enough with his legs. Experts’ upper bodies, on the other hand, remain smooth and steady—like a duck’s above the water’s surface—while their legs and feet do the work of absorbing uneven terrain. Only when you move your feet, ankles, knees and hips through their full athletic ranges of motion can you respond to rough terrain with fluidity and grace.