Jimmy's Ski Tips and Tricks

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Monday February 12, 2018

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast is the mantra at my current ski school. What we mean there is not to rush beginners through the progression. If you move ahead quickly, students don't master each drill, and then struggle on later tasks. If you spend more time on the early tasks, and really master the basic movements, then they'll progress quicker overall as they struggle less later in the lesson. But can that same mantra be applied at all levels of skiing?

Yes, of course. We can all use more time practicing the fundamental movements of skiing. To become really good at skiing, you need to balance skiing near the upper limit of your ability with skiing easy terrain where you can concentrate on making movements properly every time. A perfectly executed run down an easy slope will train you better than a gnarly run where you just barely hold on.

In training, speed is not your friend. Imagine riding a bicycle - the slower you go, the harder it is to maintain balance. Furthermore, at high speeds its more difficult to sense what exactly you're doing. Many skiers will move their legs sequentially, rather than simultaneously, with the outside leg releasing the edge before the inside leg, and thus beginning rotation before the inside leg. At high speeds, there is almost no time between the two movements, and it will feel correct - but at high speeds, even a little flaw that you can't feel will still make a big impact on your skiing. Slow the speed down, and you can sense the little flaws in your skiing and work on them.

I'm not saying that you should always ski slowly. But any time you're trying to evaluate your own skiing, or trying to work on your own skiing, make sure you slow it way down. I love to take ski instructors onto a green slope, and have them make parallel turns at no more than a walking pace. It allows me to quickly divide a group between the great skiers and and merely good skiers. Even if they all looked good to my eye on the blue, suddenly I can see big differences between those who struggle and those who do well. And when we do drills at that speed, I can see them all improve quickly, as they can see for themselves what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.

For more information about me, check out the About page. All content copyright 2017 James Brokaw.