Make a break-through on skis more easily than you might think. When you drive a car the “line” you drive gets smoother the further ahead you look. Gets less jerky. Beginner drivers look too near to the front of the car. For bike riders looking well ahead is even more important because you go where you look.
The same principle applies for skiers – sometimes with a vengeance. I did an experiment at home this morning while the grass was frosty.
Make your skiing smoother
For years I have been asking my skier pupils to look further ahead to make their skiing smoother and more predictable for them. It's not that easy to do, because you have to take your courage in your hands and put your trust in what you feel rather than what you see.
One of the things that makes this sometimes not so easy is that our brains are geared mostly to process visual feedback, and those are not the best ones for skiing. What works best for our skiing is what we feel. And we're not generally used to that. It's why we need to practice better skiing technique.
Anyway, back to the picture. I lined myself up initially by looking at the tree in the distance. Then I deliberately began walking towards it whilst looking down at the ground only a little way ahead of me. Now and then I looked ahead to see how I was doing – you can tell where I did this, because that's where the direction corrections were made! The track on the right is my outgoing track. I genuinely was trying to walk a straight line.
It happens to aircraft too!
I recall discovering some years back that an aircraft heading, say for New York along a Great Circle route, only points along that route for a tiny fraction of the time in the air. Most of the time it is pointing to one side of the route or the other and the computer is in the process of bringing it back on line, only for it to wander off the other way.
As you can see from the picture, this is what happened to me this morning despite my best efforts.
When I got to the far end I turned round and changed my focus of attention. Just like when you're skiing a nice long cruising blue run, I picked a spot way into the distance and determined not to take my eyes off it.
Just like when you are skiing, the field has bumps and folds in it, so the ground under my feet kept changing. Keeping looking ahead wasn't easy. But it worked. The track on the left is my returning track, while I maintained looking a long way ahead.
You can see how much straighter – and more importantly smoother – my return track was.
Break-through on skis
If you want to make a small break-through on skis this season, try this little game. Pick a nice long gentle piste with not too many folds and rolls on it. Choose a spot well into the distance. Don't ski it in a straight line, like the one I walked it'll get too fast. Instead do what you need to do in order to effect some gentle arcs one way then the other – and keep looking at all times at the spot in the distance that you picked.
If you lose it, and need to look nearer to you, that's fine; don't curse yourself. Just come to a safe stop, and start again – it's not the end of the world, and you are perhaps only just beginning on this new change to what you do.
You may already have come across my books, Ski in Control, and Skiing from Greens to Reds and beyond. Along with my training videos and on my Youtube Channel. Time and again I strongly suggest practising your skiing while you are at home. Usually I recommend your bedroom mirror – this time you could take to the garden! There are opportunities all round us every day that we can use to keep mindful of our skiing.
Good luck – enjoy your walks!
You may also like: