Hello fellow skiers!
Skiing on the outside ski is one of my favourite exercises and a great way to get your ski legs back at the start of the season.
It is one of the best things you can do for your skiing because any issues with your technique will immediately become apparent, making it difficult to successfully perform the task.
The idea is to be able to lift the inside ski and balance on the outside ski throughout the entire turn. At the end of the turn, put the ski down, lift the new inside ski and turn the other way.
Why ski on the outside ski?
Recall from my last post that balance on the outside ski is equivalent to getting grip. Skiing on two skis can mask issues with your technique, allowing you to get away with balancing on the inside ski. Lifting the inside ski forces you to balance on the outside ski. Any tendency to balance on the inside ski will result in having to put it back down on the snow.
How to ski on the outside ski
Balance on the outside ski is a result of other skills/movements. Recall from my overview of ski technique that:
- Turning is led by the lower body and the ski design
- Managing upper and lower body separation allows for angulation to provide grip (balance on the outside ski)
- Use of all joints helps maintain a centred stance and provides the ability to manage forces acting on the ski and skier
Turning the legs creates separation which, in conjunction with angulation (bending), provides grip and balance to the outside ski.
A centred, athletic stance is necessary to be able to turn the legs. If you are too far back or forward in your stance, you will not be able to effectively turn your legs. To compensate, you must involve the upper body in the turning effort, which will result in a lack of separation and no amount of angulation will create grip and balance to the outside ski.
Skiing on the outside ski is challenging and demands refined skills. If you’re having trouble, try the following progression to work up to being able to balance on the outside ski throughout the entire turn.
- Balance on the downhill (outside) ski:
- Stationary (on a slope)
- In a traverse
- In linked traverses
- At the end of the turn
- “Tap” the inside ski throughout entire turn – lift and place back down in a controlled manner
- Balance on the outside ski throughout the entire turn
If you’re still having trouble, try to figure out why. Are you turning the legs? Are you managing separation effectively? Are you angulating effectively? Is your stance centred and athletic?
The easiest way to find out is to ski with an experienced instructor/trainer/coach.
Take what you’ve learned into skiing on two skis
As with any exercise, the objective is to develop your skills to improve your skiing (on two skis). It’s no good being able to ski on the outside ski if you then go and stand on your inside ski as soon as you go back on two skis!
The key is to focus on the feelings created when doing the exercise.
What are some of the feelings to focus on?
The most obvious is a feeling of weight on the outside ski. When skiing on the outside ski, it supports 100% of your weight. As you transition into skiing on both skis, try to keep your inside ski as light as possible.
You might also choose to focus on the feeling of pressure under the arch of the outside foot associated with increased edge angle and grip.
If you have difficulty skiing on the outside ski and have identified the underlying cause, focus on feelings associated with this.
For example, if your stance is not centred, focus on feeling your weight evenly over your whole foot. If you have difficulty turning the legs, focus on separation – the upper body facing the outside of the turn as a result of turning the outside leg – or the feeling of muscular effort associated with turning the leg from the hip joint.
How to take this into skiing on two skis
Once you are ready to have a go at bringing these improved skills into skiing on two skis, choose one feeling to focus on. Start doing the exercise, focusing on your chosen feeling. After a few turns, transition into skiing on both skis, trying to maintain that feeling.
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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