Practicing on-snow fundamental drills is the best way to start the ski season. In fact, December is commonly “drill month” for ski racers.
Ski drills are a way of exaggerating the correct or proper ski movements. They are used mainly for two things:
a) acquire new movement patterns/sensations
b) improve/tweak movements already learned
The main goal of the drill is to exaggerate or intensify that particular movement or technique, to discover, automate and/or refine it. During normal skiing, these movements are present, but in a lower range/amplitude than the drill requires.
We must always develop new skills on familiar terrain. We instructors must avoid at all times introducing new skills or gestures in unfamiliar slopes for students. But it’s absolutely right to take already learned skills to new trails.
Basic drill progression:
When you are learning a new drill, it’s very important to start on easy and straightforward terrain. Perfect the drill there, and then move to more challenging trails. When you master that, you can move towards a more challenging part of the same drill (for example with the boots unbuckled, without poles, etc.). In a nutshell:
1) Learn new drills on easy slopes and master it.
2) Move to steeper terrain and practice it until you do it well there.
3) Make the drill more chalenging. Find ways to increase the difficulty of the drill.
That being said, it is important to mention that some ski drills are even harder to do when you’re going slow and it’s flat (that’s the case of the drill we’re goint to discuss in this post).
My number 1 choice for ski drills is called “Stork turns” or “tip on snow, tail up drill”. When I first discovered it, back then when I was doing my level 1 Argentinian instructor certification course, this drill changed my skiing forever.
The drill consists of unweighting and lifting the inside ski tail up from the snow, at the beginning, and throughout the whole turn. Making short turns and with the upper body facing straight down the hill at all times.
It is a very complete drill because it targets the three main ski fundamentals:
-Proper fore-aft balance
-Complete balance over the outside ski
-Counter-rotation of the upper body
It is very important to lift the inside ski from the tail and keep its tip touching the snow at all times, so that way we are skiing centered over the skis in the fore-aft plane. If we lift the tip and the tail keeps dragging the snow, it means we are in the backseat.
Lift the new inside ski tail before starting the new turn.
Once you master it, you can make it more challenging by slowing your speed down as much as you can. Going slowly makes balancing only over the outside ski a much more difficult task.
This drill is a must in learning proper short turns. It’s a key exercise to be able to make round “C”-shape turns in which we load the outside ski shovel at the beginning of the turn.
Here’s a very good video that also covers this amazing drill…
See you on the slopes!