Whether you're a beginner or an expert, taking a ski lesson at Mammoth can help you get more comfortable with your equipment and improve your skills. And the best lessons come from an instructor who's trained to teach and watch your movements, so they can point you in the right direction to progress.
1. Focus on the inside leg
The inside leg is one of the most important aspects of skiing and should always be used correctly. It is the key to good balance over the outside ski, so if you are unable to use it properly, then it will be difficult to get around and ski well.
The best way to make sure that you are using the inside leg correctly is to keep your feet close together. This will make it easier for you to control the amount of pressure that is put on your inside leg, allowing you to tip it more easily and make a better turn.
As you roll your ankles, keep the ball of your foot pressed against the floor of your boot. If you are able to do this, then it will help your body turn more easily and your skis will bend much further.
Finally, be sure to drive your inside hip forward when you are tipping into the new turn. This will enable you to push down on the little toe edge of your new outside ski as you are bending it, and will get you properly forward and countered for the start of the new turn.
This is a great way to practice turning on the edge, especially when the conditions are challenging. Many people struggle to link turns when things are tight and cruddy, so focusing on this simple tip can be a great help.
2. Make the inside ski bend more than the outside
Many skiers struggle with making their turns tighter. There are two ways to do this: twist the inside ski or tip it more over. Twisting creates friction and makes the ski less stable, while tipping more over allows the ski to bend more.
The best way to do this is to get low and pull your knees and ankles laterally to unlock your lateral range of motion. Once you do this, you can begin edging the inside ski earlier in your turn.
Once you have mastered this movement, try making some bigger more complete turns. Link some turns together and see if you can start bringing this edging move into the turn at the start of each.
Keeping the outside ski on edge and the inside ski in balance is the key to a strong, stable turn. Often, beginners mistakenly give up the turn too early and end up with a crutch or A-frame.
3. Practice side-slip or skidding
When skiers first begin to ski sideways, they often make a few mistakes. These include:
This small movement only needs to be made a few centimeters to make a difference to your sideways skiing. However, many people don't make this small movement because they are scared of it.
It is important to remember that this is a skill that you will need to learn and practice. If you do this, you will be able to control your sideways skiing better and become more confident in doing it.
When practicing side-slip or skidding you should do it on a slope that is not too long and out of the way so that other skiers can't see you. This will help you develop confidence and keep you from making any of the common mistakes when trying to slide sideways.
Another great way to practice side-slip or skidding is by taking lessons. At ski schools in Mammoth, you will be taught how to do this on a slope that is similar to the one you will be using in real life.
4. Practice turning on the edge
Turning on the edge is an essential part of skiing, so it’s important to practice it regularly. Many skiers don’t use their edges all of the time, so they struggle to steer effectively.
The edges of your skis look like the bottoms of ice skates, and you should be steering your skis with them. But too often, skiers drive their edges into the snow as they turn, which means they don’t get enough of a chance to flex and grip the snow, leading to less control and more speed.
This helps you feel how the edges engage and start to turn, and it’s an excellent first-run warm-up for any skill level.
To do this, roll (lean) your knees and ankles toward the big toe of the outside ski. This will flex the inside ski, which creates a better turning edge.
While this may sound scary, it’s a great way to practice changing your edges on the slope. It will also help you navigate through the fall line, which is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of parallel turns for newer skiers. Once you change your edges, you should put all of your weight on the outside ski and push it forward and downhill.
5. Keep your balance
Keeping your balance is one of the most important things to learn in order to ski effectively. It doesn't matter if you're skiing off-piste or on a groomed run, if you can't keep your balance, you will be in danger of falling.
To get better at staying balanced, it's best to practice a variety of balance exercises. These will help you to develop sensory awareness so that you can control your balance more efficiently and easily.
1. Practicing the “Falcon Circling” Technique
As you ski, imagine that you're a falcon circling in the sky. The more tilt you have in your wing, the tighter the circle. The same is true for arcing your turns.
This technique is very effective because it involves flexing at your knees, not your ankles. It is a much more efficient move and it will allow your feet to edge simultaneously at the top of your turns, helping you to maintain good balance on steeps and icy terrain.
2. Traverse Over Moguls
To make sure that your legs don't pull you over when going over bumps, try doing a drill where you flex your leg and ski along a number of bumps, pulling your knees and feet up until you get to the top of each bump. Then, you will extend your legs back to their full length as you cross the valleys in between each bump.
3. Single Leg Balance and Stick
This exercise is best performed with a partner, and it is recommended to start on two legs and progresses to one. Having someone nudge you from different angles will activate your saving reactions, which are especially useful when you're skiing at high speeds over rough terrain.
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