Technique vs Style

Hello fellow skiers!

I recently read a great article by Josh Foster – CSIA Level 4 and Director of the Big White Ski School – in which he discusses the difference between ski technique and style.

His message is that technique and style are two different things and in order to progress your skiing, you need to have both.

While I agree that a good skier will possess both, my thought process to get there is slightly different.

Josh’s definition of technique is similar to that in my last post on ski technique (unsurprising given that we are both qualified in the CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance)), while he appears to define style as the “look” or visual form of a skier.

At this point I’d like to point out that style is very personal and people will have their own opinions. I am just presenting my own thought process.

He concludes that the two are “very different” on the basis that they have the potential to negatively impact one another, saying “don’t let style affect your technique, and don’t be so focused on technique that your skiing doesn’t have any style”.

In contrast, I believe that technique and style are directly related. While it might be “possible to be very stylish but have a weaker technique”, in most cases, if a person’s skiing looks good it is generally because they have good technique. Style is a product of good technique or as we like to say in the CSIA:

Form follows function!

Furthermore, while I absolutely agree that focusing “too much on technique can leave your skiing with an unappealing, boxy or rigid look”, this is not a case of too much technique having a detrimental effect on style. Instead, it is a case of being so focused on trying to ski with good technique that your technique actually suffers as a result. Your form then suffers as a result of your technique suffering.

To me, this would appear to be the result of a deeper issue: either a lack of understanding of ski technique – not appreciating the importance of being relaxed and mobile – or a lack of awareness of one’s own skiing – not being aware that you have a tendency to stiffen up when you focus on your technique.

Josh goes on to say that “you can have the best of both worlds if you don’t let style get in the way of technique”. To me, this is a moot point since they are a package deal. If you choose technique, form will follow!

Josh also says that “most people equate technique to high performance skiing and edge grip” but in trying to create high edge angles to get the ski to carve a tight arc, their “inner weirdness” comes out and their form suffers. Again, I believe that this reflects either a lack of understanding of ski technique and how to ski with a high level of performance, or a lack of awareness of one’s skiing.

I understand what Josh is saying and I think he is absolutely right. If you focus too much on how you look when you ski and neglect your technique, your skiing will suffer. Similarly, focusing too much on your technique may actually have a negative impact on your technique.

My advice would be to focus on developing a technique that is functional – that enables you to ski efficiently and effectively, achieving your desired turn shape, speed and level of performance in given terrain and conditions, within the constraints of physics, biomechanics and equipment. This requires a good understanding of technique as well as an awareness of one’s own skiing. If you do this, you won’t need to worry about how you look when you’re skiing. Remember:

Form follows function!

Happy skiing!

Click here to read Josh’s article.


Interested in skiing with me?

If you are interested in joining me for some on-snow coaching and you are able to make it to Idre Fjäll in Sweden, you can book a session with me through the Idre Fjäll Ski School. Just be sure to ask for James Nunn!

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