This time of year we often see readers asking for activities to improve their skiing. In some cases these questions are seeking global advice but in most cases they're about a specific issue. It's sometimes hard to convince these folks that very often these specific issues come down to improving their fundamental balancing skills. So in an effort to start out the season well, I'm hoping to offer and solicit from our other pros, some global tips that will help our readers develop and refine their fundamental skill of balancing upon their skis. Especially as they get back on the snow for the first few days of the new season.
Perhaps the best way to start this is to point out that for the first few days just standing up on the skis and finding a balanced stance is a big enough task. So what I do is just work on reaquainting myself with how it feels to balance on the skis. No formal drills, no high end performances, I just play around. After a week of that it's time to start some specific technical training but it needs to start with a strong focus on fundamentals. I realize that not everyone has the luxury of a lot of snow time but I'm hoping we can share some off snow "teaching for transfer" type activities along with ideas of what to do and what to avoid when you get back on the snow for the first few days of the new season.
Schancey once told me that he raises his game more in the summer than during the winter and that for him that process starts with inline skates. Diagonal striding for fitness is a good place to start. Although the best activity I learned from him was to start making parallel skate turns across flat terrain and work up to making those same turns uphill. It's important to also add that doing this sporadically doesn't do much good. You need to do this every few days. Kent Rhycal told me his regimine included a weighted backpack to help him work on strength while making these same uphill turns.
On the snow this progression is also a pretty good plan. Skating moves followed by round turns on these same shallow slopes. Slow line fast stuff. I know it sound a lot like a beginner progresion but if you think about it aren't we all starting over and just like a beginner we need to find balance before we can move onto more difficult tasks.