First Day Jitters

The new season is rapidly approaching. The crowds, the excitement, fighting for hill space, and all the other first day jitters, can leave us stressed and uptight. For most of us, early skiing combines all of the above with rock hard, man-made snow. Despite these factors, we diehards will be out there as soon as the bull wheel starts to turn. Although we can’t help you with the mob in the base lodge, we can offer some ideas to help make your first turns of the season successful. When it gets slippery, our instinct is to tense our already stressed muscles and dig in. I see skiers all the time gritting their teeth, trying to hammer their edges into the ice to keep their skis from slipping laterally. The reality is that these moves, although intuitive, will only prove to make matters worse.

Understand that skiing in hard snow requires patient precision and a delicate touch. Allowing the body to tense up in reaction to ice means that when our skis go from slipping to gripping, we are less able to absorb the increase in pressure. This spike in pressure causes the skis to break free all over again. We then continue to chatter on down the hill in a never ending cycle of frustration. Before each run, take a few deep breaths and soften your joints. Skiing with this supple attitude allows the skier to absorb this energy and direct the energy forward, not sideways. When faced with hard snow, we also tend to produce harsh, jagged movements in an instinctive attempt to get our skis on edge quickly and aggressively. Many snow conditions will support these ineffective and inefficient maneuvers without much turmoil. In an icy environment, however, even the smallest inaccuracy can lead to a rough ride. Slow down and approach each turn with patience and grace. If our movements are measured and paced, we can maintain a controlled arc, even when our skis loose grip.

When faced with these conditions, I will often play with a drill that is often used for bump and powder training – retraction turns. In a retraction turn, the skier slowly pulls, or retracts the legs towards the core at the bottom of the turn (when pressure reaches its maximum), then feeds them back out as the new turn develops. In this drill, we soften when we are usually more rigid. When done correctly, retraction turns also feel fluid and graceful, albeit foreign. The perfect way to train your brain to fight instinct and go with the flow.

So… Start the season off on the right foot – forget about the fact that you forgot your socks, revel in the knowledge that your on the hill, not in the office and leave the tension behind. Fight your instincts and ski softly, with precision and fluidity. Happy skiing!

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Learn more about this topic at one of our on-snow sessions or through our V-SYNC Training System.

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