Always remember the golden rule of skiing: keep the right body posture! This is one of the main things to keep in mind when enjoying snowy slopes. Your speed, the direction in which you are going and the snow conditions on the slopes constantly change while skiing. Therefore, having the right body posture is crucial for adapting one’s technique fast but also safely to the current conditions. Even professional skiers are constantly working on improving their body posture in the hope of beating their fastest time over and over again
Do you want to ski like the pros? Then keep reading because, in this article, the experts at CheckYeti explain how to do it the right way, what you should keep in mind in particular and how to avoid the most common mistakes.
The perfect body posture: alpine skiing
The right body posture ensures the freedom of movement and the flexibility needed for correct and smooth turns. Having the right position allows you to adapt your skiing technique to the terrain and the conditions in every situation and to change your body position easily, for example when changing the direction or the speed.
The basic rules of alpine skiing
- The skis are hip-width apart and in a parallel position
- Ankles, knees, and hips are bent equally
- The body weight is transferred onto the downhill ski
- The upper body is leaning slightly towards the valley
- The arms are bent as well and positioned at the sides of the body
- Body tension helps to react quickly to new situations. However, do not mistake tension with stiffness, the position should be comfortable and easy to hold
CheckYeti Tip: In order to better visualise the right posture, it is helpful to picture axes through the ankle, knee and hip joints. These axes should be parallel to each other.
Adopting the right body posture for carving
Carving combines the thrill of skiing downhill at high speeds with nice and long turns. The right technique guarantees not only fun but also safety on the slopes.
The difference to classic parallel turns is that it requires a more inclined position of the body while making a turn. What is more, the skis don’t slide but instead carry the skier, as if they were on tracks, across the slope. It is very important to push the edges of the skis deep into the snow. The traces you leave in the snow will tell you whether you carved well or whether your skis slid downhill. As you need to push the knees and hips uphill, the upper body has to compensate for that movement in order to not lose balance.
Short and sweet: short turns
On narrow or busy pistes, knowing how to do short turns is definitely an advantage. Short turns have a smaller radius and can be done at a higher interval one after another. Because of the particularly short turns, it is important that the legs, especially the ankles and knees, initiate the movement and that the upper body stays still. This means that the upper body is kept steady and faces the valley at all times while the legs move and make the turns. When doing this type of turn, the skis should leave the fall line as quickly as possible.
Avoiding the most common mistakes
In this part, the team at CheckYeti will explain the most common mistakes skiers do and how to avoid them.
For skiing, the right position of the lower body is essential. The ankles, knees and hip joints are particularly important. A mistake that can happen here is that the joints are kept too stiffly. In that case, they cannot cushion bumps and skiers lose their balance. However, when the joints are bent and loose, they are ready to react to irregularities on the slopes.
The legs should always be hip-width apart and the skis parallel to each other. Skiing becomes difficult if the stance is too narrow or too wide. If the legs are too close to each other, holding the balance and letting the skis glide becomes difficult. On the other hand, if the feet are too wide apart, it is harder to manoeuvre the skis.
Another common mistake is that the skis are kept too flat on the snow. It is important to keep the skis on their edges in order to be able to steer them easily. A good exercise to get a feeling for the edges, is to stand sideways on the slope and push the edges into the snow. Then, let some of the pressure go until you start sliding down the hill. After some seconds, push the edges into the snow again to come to a halt. Repeat this several times on both sides until you get the edges under control.
Upper body & head
A correct upper body posture is just as important as having the lower body in the right position. Naturally, there are mistakes that happen but should be avoided. For example, it happens that the upper body and the head lean too much to the inside of the turn. Consequently, the skier loses the pressure on the outer ski and the control while steering. Also, do not force the turn with a rotation of the upper body but initiate the turn with the legs. The result of both mistakes is that the body weight is shifted towards the inner ski and it is thus not possible to exercise enough control over the skis during the turns.
In the best case, the upper body is steady and upright. Upper body and head are leaning towards the valley and over the downhill ski in order to compensate the movement of knees and hip towards the hill.
A good way to practice this is to hold the poles together in front of the body and to always keep them parallel to the slope while skiing. This creates tension in the upper body. The important aspect is that the arms are steady and the whole upper body moves towards the valley. Tension is also needed to avoid the rotation of the upper body. This can be achieved by pressing the hands into the hips. The exercise continues with keeping the upper body steady and then starting the movement only with the legs.
Also not to be forgotten is the right position of the arms. Sometimes, skiers only focus on the arm that’s making the pole plant – the other arm is often neglected.
However, both arms need to be on the side and a little bit in front of the body with the poles in the right position, which means they are placed at the sides. The ends of the poles are facing backwards.
If the weight transfer is not carried out correctly, it is not possible to navigate precisely. A mistake that can often be seen on the slopes is that skiers lean back too far. This might happen because of insecurity on the skis or fear of either the slope or the speed. By doing so, the pressure on the outer ski is not enough and, therefore, skiers lose control.
Can you feel your heels all the time or do you have a burning sensation in your thighs? That’s a sign for a wrong posture! To avoid this mistake, lean to the front and push your shins against the ski boots. The feeling might be unusual in the beginning but the movement is very important for a smooth descent. An exercise to counteract a bad posture is to cross your arms or to keep the poles together in front of the body to force the forward movement.
No doubt, winter is my favorite season. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on skis or my snowboard – as soon as I can race down the slopes covered in snow, I’m in my element.