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Skiing technique for more speed control

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

The skiing technique for more speed control can be yours.  You need a little more understanding in order to gain it.

Ski in control
Ski in control

It's hard to do something you don't understand! This skier does. Frantic activity is no substitute for knowledge.

If you found yourself skiing too fast, but you want to learn how to ski black runs, for example, just trying to do it won't work.  You need to understand what you need to do (physically) before you try it.  Trying it first, and learning afterwards can be painful! 

What do you mean by fast?

Do you mean having the skis sliding along their length fast - 25 miles per hour rather than 10 miles per hour?  Or do you mean losing height down the mountain fast?  There is a big difference.

You could be travelling at 40 mph and not losing height at all.  Or you could be doing no more than say 5 mph, and losing height down the mountain at exactly that speed if you're skiing straight down the slope line.  Let us assume you simply don't want to be travelling in any direction too fast.  "Too fast" is whatever you decide is too fast.

You have two options.  Either you must skid your skis, or you must execute far more arcs.  Those arcs will have to have shorter radii - lots of 'little' ones instead of a few big long ones.  The bigger the radius of the arc you perform the nearer to a straight line it is.  You could think of a straight line as an arc with an infinite radius.  Straight lines tend to be faster.

If your skis are carving (what coaches like me call 'sliding') you will need shorter radius arcs than if your skis are skidding in order to control your speed. They'll need you to ski more directly down the slope line rather than sweeping across the piste if you want to practice how to ski black runs for example, not too fast.

Ski carving vs Skidding

Both of these require skill.  They are not "skills" in themselves they are techniques at which you may be either skilful or not.  They are very different.

I will discuss carving/sliding on another occasion; in this post, I'll address how to stop yourself skiing too fast and how to stop on skis.  This means you will need to become skilful at skidding your skis.

Skidding skis Rule #1

You need a good quality posture.  Skiing like this will not do.

Incorrect ski stance

And this won't be any better!

Bent at the hips ski stance

You need to look at least like this

Correct ski stance to ski in control

You have my permission to look a little more cheerful than "Stickman Bob" while you are doing it .  Or at least not with so blank an expression!

Skidding skis rule #2

Keep your hands LOW, and WIDE.  Take a look at the top picture.  Bear in mind that the skier has slightly raised his left hand, solely to plant his pole.  Once he has done so then both hands will be LOW, like his right hand in this shot.  He is not skidding - just notice his hand carriage.

Skidding skis rule #3

All you now need to do is to either pivot your skis directly under your boot or push out the tails of them.  You can now see that Stickman Bob in the first and second pictures would have awful difficulty doing this.  For Stickman Bob #3 it would be not only easier, but it will also be much more stable.

N.B. These are things you can practice at home.  You do not need to be on snow, going too fast, or even on your skis or in your ski boots.  Do my favourite thing - stand in front of a full-length mirror, check your posture (Stickman Bob 3) and get to understand what it feels like to either pivot your feet directly under their centres, or to slightly load the ball of your foot, and push your heels out to the side.

Hockey stop skiing

Both of these actions will place your skis somewhat across your line of travel.

Provided your skis are also tilted then the more across they are the more deceleration you will achieve.  If you manage to get your skis fully across your line of travel at 90 degrees, you will do what is known as a "hockey stop" and decelerate super fast.

There is more on this topic elsewhere on the blog

And very shortly on my YouTube channel - Ski In Control with Bobski

Check out your ski level

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