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Tweak your technique – BASI answer your FAQs

BASI team sking in formation on the slopesNotebooks at the ready people? Here, as promised are our chosen top tips to improve your ski and board technique from our good friends at BASI.

BASI’s Chairman Gareth Roberts and Alpine Director Alex Leaf are both BASI trainers. Read through their answers below to pick up some pointers to get that carving up to the next level….

How do I adapt from an old style of skiing (very one legged) to the more modern style with a wider stance?

Practice ‘cowboy’ turns. Imagine you have a football between your thighs as you make the turn. Start using the inner leg and thigh to help you steer. Learn to ‘Flow’and balance your body against the forces as you travel around the arc, by softening your three skiing joints, namely the ankles, knees and thighs.

How do I stop myself swinging my shoulders so much when I turn on my skis or snowboard?

Lean more Rotary drills, practice ‘body separation’. Ensure your hand and arm carriage is out and away from your body, keeping them close will assist body rotation. Hold your poles across and in front of you, hold your poles like swords and drag them against the snow.

How do I force myself to be more aggressive and keep my weight forward when I’m skiing?

No need to ‘force’ yourself into being more ‘Aggressive’ it is not an aggressive stance you should be taking. Firstly, start making much slower turns to be aware where you are balancing (along the whole foot, feel the ball, instep and heel) and anticipate the speeding up as you enter the fall line. Ensure you stay centred over the feet at this point. Imagine you are getting up off a chair! You are aiming to be over the centre of the skis rather than ‘leaning forward’.

I’m not finishing my turns properly and get too fast too quickly, what am I doing wrong?

You need to ‘rotate’ the legs and feet further around the arc or start pressing the skis against the snow at the top of your curve. There are several exercises you can do to enable better rotary skills. Learning the new skill of ‘body separation’ is important to any skier. It is having the ability to isolate the leg movements from the upper body movements. Imagine you have car headlights on your knees and you need to shine them across the slope in your desired direction.

When skiing in deep snow (not fluffy, but maybe two or three days old snow), where do you put your weight on the ski? Does it depend on the grade of the slope?

Your weight should be in the centre of the skis. When skiing in deep snow, whether fresh snow or older snow, the pressure control under the skis is paramount here. The pressure control is dealt with by flexing and stretching the legs. The weight can be distributed over the two skis by say, 60% lower ski and 40% uphill ski, but this will change as you continue around the curve. It will vary also on the density and gradient of the slope.

Skiers admiring the views in the Dolomites, ItalyAre there any exercises I can do to improve the angulation of my skis to help me carve better?

Before you start each turn be aware where your weight is. It should be over the ‘new’ turning ski. i.e. what is to become the lower (downhill) ski early in the turn. This should get your body in a more ‘ dynamic’ position as you travel around the arc. Then, as the skis start to grip, you will need to let the hips drift inwards (inside the arc of the turn) this will then put the skis onto more edge and your upper body will balance outwards over the lower ski (angulation!) There are many exercises you can do to improve edge, they would need to be carried out with the supervision of a qualified ski teacher.

I’m a good intermediate skier – how do I start learning to do jumps and rails in the park?

Firstly, get some good protection! It’s important to be well balanced against the centre of your skis. Practice exercises that will help with this, perhaps boots open etc. Your edge control needs to be good too, you don’t want to be catching edges whilst grinding a box. Go to your nearest skate park and start there.

Is there anything I can do to make skiing in flat light or low cloud easier? It can make me feel sick and I lose all my technique.

Unfortunately this is a common issue. Often focusing on piste poles, lift pylons or other skiers can help. Create greater feeling from your skis, continue to make your movements and don’t hesitate. Taking a simple sea sickness pill can help too.

BASI Instructor skiing in powderHow do I practice skiing moguls without too much undue pain?

Slowly! Most people try to ski the moguls too quickly and end up battling each bump and eventually flying off, or even worse – being jolted about from bump to bump! Practice simple knee and ankle flexibility and allow them to bend and stretch over the bumps. Tip: Imagine you are in a very low room which forces you to flex at the knees and ankles. Then imagine you have your head ‘stuck’ to the ceiling and as you travel across the bumps your legs remain in constant contact with the snow. This means you will need to allow the legs to ‘retract’ upwards as you approach a bump and then ‘extend’ the legs into the hollow. By doing this slowly and over easy bumps you will soon feel the ease of flowing over the snow rather than ‘bouncing’ from one bump to another. You can then turn at the top of each bump or in the troughs.

How do I master short turns? I can carve well, but can’t seem to keep control if I try to ski short turns.

Short turns are different from carved turns. The main element apparent in carved turns is edge, in short turns you need to blend in pressure and rotation. Practice pressure control and rotational exercises. Find the edge of your ski at the beginning of the curve and push against it powerfully but progressively around the whole of the curve. Allow the hips and upper body flow towards the fall-line. Taking instruction from a qualified BASI instructor will also benefit.

Learn more about BASI’s international instructor programmes on their website. Love all things ski and snowboard? Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

Read more technique tips from BASI in part 2

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