You’ve probably encountered numerous skiers (alpine racers, mogul skiers, big-mountain skiers, professional ski instructors), who have told you that their technique is superior. I’m here to tell you that they’re all correct. Luckily there are a few key things that transcend any specific technique, and they’re things that every single professional skier will tell you are critical to your success and improvement as a skier.
Keeping your vision high, instead of down at your skis, will allow you to see the terrain in front of you so you can ski more proactively. This is also one of the most valuable ways to improve your balance. As you look forward and down the hill, your body will naturally face more down the fall line. Why do you want to maintain your body in a downhill-facing position as well? Less movement in the upper body gives you a stronger core to support your legs (which do the real work), and it allows you to more easily adapt to terrain without being thrown off balance. If you’ve had the opportunity to watch a world-class slalom or mogul skier, you’ll notice their upper body hardly moves at all.
How to Practice
Pick a point down the fall line from you—one that’s farther than you would normally look—and try to keep your eyes and body facing toward it while using your peripheral vision to take in your surroundings and maintain awareness of other people on the slope.
The pole plant is a pivotal part of skiing technique, and it should always be utilized for timing and turn initiation. However, it’s especially important when the terrain changes rapidly or becomes more challenging. This is an ability that’s become second nature to every high-level skier. The timing of a pole plant should be just as you’re finishing a turn; it will automatically help bring you into the new turn. A good pole plant can be used essentially as a “reset” button, pulling you out of your last turn or out of the backseat and into a recovery on your way to a new turn.
How to Practice
Practice makes perfect. Rip around for a few days pole-planting at every turn, and everything will start making a lot more sense. When you pole plant, be sure you’re getting all the benefits—don’t just tap your pole in the snow in front of you, but do your best to move your hips up and forward when you do.
Every ski and boot you put on your foot is designed to help you turn more easily and have fun sliding on snow, with the one caveat: to make the ski turn, you need to have pressure on the front of the boot. Getting this pressure on the boot is a result of doing the things above correctly and maintaining an aggressive stance. Having pressure on the front of the boot will allow you to charge through crud, shred the pow, or rip the groomers; you just have to have confidence in yourself. A scared skier is one in the backseat, and the backseat makes you more susceptible to injury.
How to Practice
Work on feeling the pressure on the front of your downhill boot through the entire turn. Work on this in conjunction with keeping your vision and body downhill and practicing your pole plants. If you practice these things, you’ll be rewarded by a ski that reacts quicker and more easily and holds a better edge.