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Ski Tips

Tip # 1 - Pre-Season Thoughts - © (277 words)
Tip # 2 - Skiing with Your Children - © (261 words)
Tip # 3 - Balance - © (346 words)
Tip # 4 - Edge Control, Carving & Sliding - © (295 words)

Tip # 1 - Pre-Season Thoughts
As the ski season approaches there are many ways to get ready for it so that you get off to a good start. It's always a good idea to get into shape paying particular attention to your leg and stomach muscles. Burning thighs halfway down a ski run is pretty common so the stronger those muscles are, the easier it will be. Stomach muscles, on the other hand, have to be strong so that you can recover when you lose your balance.

Look for a conditioning class near where you live, or set up your own program of knee bends and sit ups. There are lots of books available with pre-season training programs for skiing.

Personally I like to use cross training to get in shape for skiing and I find that the crisp fall air invigorates me. I find that power skating, roller blading and bicycling to be great for the ski muscles.

For your first run of the year, pick an easy slope and do as many short quick turns as you can seeking a centered balanced position and once again finding the rhythm as your weight moves from foot to foot. You will find that if you can get on the balls of your feet the turns will be easier. It's always a good idea to take a private lesson early in the season as an experienced ski pro can help you avoid building bad habits. It's really good to take a lesson if you've purchased new carving skis as the best technique for them is definitely different and you won't get the full benefit out of the skis unless you do it right.

Tip # 2 - Skiing with Your Children
Many skiers ask me, what is the best age to start their children skiing. I usually tell them, "The sooner the better." Actually, any time between age three and five is ideal, as they will learn instinctively and will develop a natural balanced stance on their skis. I started skiing when I was three and I really can't remember learning.

It is important to make skiing a fun activity for young children. Don't take them out when the weather is too cold, and pick terrain that they are comfortable on. Little children are often very happy to stay on the beginner slopes, especially if it has a terrain garden for kids, even though this might be boring for parents. At Sun Peaks we have a terrain garden on the Village Platter which the kids just love.

If you are not a strong skier yourself, it's probably best to put your children in a ski school program. They often learn faster in a group setting and the instructors make sure they learn at their own pace and without developing bad technical habits. Children get the most out of ski school classes if they are confident and outgoing. Every child is different and only the parents can know what is best for their child. Whether you teach them yourself, or put them in the ski school, be happy knowing they are learning a sport they can enjoy all their life.

A skiing family looks forward to winter and the adventures they share together on the slopes give them memories to last a lifetime.

Tip # 3 - Balance

In skiing and in snowboarding, being in balance is really, really important. When you are in balance it is easy to turn your skis or board, but being the least bit off balance makes it difficult. How do you know when you are in balance.

I am not an expert in snowboarding, but I do know that balancing on a snowboard is almost easier than on skis because your arms are free to move around and help you regain your balance. In skiing many people try to hold their arms in front making your upper body somewhat tense. I believe that it is better to relax your arms so they can move instinctively to help you balance.

It's pretty easy to stay in balance on a easy slope, with your knees and ankles slightly flexed and the muscles in your legs relaxed. Ideally you should feel that your body weight is spread over the full length of your feet or gently on the balls of your feet. The problem comes when you turn down a steeper hill. The skis speed up and often they slide out from underneath you and you 'sit back'. Instead of thinking about leaning forward to regain your balance, think of making a move to go with your skis. When your weight is on your heels, turning becomes difficult forcing you to rotate the upper body which causes all kinds of other problems.

Tune into your feet. See if you can feel the body weight going from the ball of one foot to the ball of the other foot as you link your turns. Try it first on a groomed blue run and then progress to steeper and steeper slopes. See if you can still feel the body weight landing on the ball of the new downhill foot. This sounds a bit complicated, but actually the concept is simple. If you are having trouble feeling the balls of your feet, check to see if you are holding your arms stiffly. Often just relaxing your arms lets you tune in to your feet!

Tip # 4 - Edge Control, Carving & Sliding
With the new high performance carving skis, there is so much talk about carving your turns that it is important to understand exactly what it means. When you tip your ski over on its edge, it will trace a clean line through the snow and the shape of the new skis makes that line become a beautiful curve. With older style skis we generally pivoted the foot to turn the skis while with the new skis, depending on the steepness of the slope, you can do your turns without any skidding. Racers have always skied this way as its the fastest way to ski. Most skiers on the other hand, have sought to skid their turns in order to control their speed. Fortunately, the new carving skis that are designed for recreational skiing can carve or skid as you wish. Carve turns feel great on easy slopes where you have confidence to let the ski run without a skid. Where you are on steeper slopes and you want to control your speed turn your foot and the ski will skid nicely through the turn. The new carving skis are great because after you have skidded enough to slow yourself down, if you just roll over onto the edge the turn is finished off in a nice round arch. They are very smooth!

With all the talk about carving, it is important to recognize that there is nothing wrong with sliding your turns if you want to slow down. The important thing is to control the slide and to feel comfortable balanced over the downhill ski when sliding. Sliding the edges of your skis is something we learn when we first snowplow and its an intrinsic skill that will always be part of good skiing technique.

Nancy has a good selection of ski tips written that you can request for printing in your club newsletter. Nancy asks you to send her a cheque for $25 payable to the Podium Club for use of her tips. The Podium Club supports Junior Ski Racing across Canada.

Nancy has written an excellent 'Pocket Guide to Skiing' printed on waterproof paper! This little booklet contains a wealth of information and is available from Nancy for $20.00, including mailing in Canada. For USA and international orders, please add $5.00 per copy. See the contact page for Nancy's address.


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