LEAP OFF THE SKIING PLATEAU
Skiing isn't only about having perfect technique. You need to be able to constantly change and adapt to the variable terrain and conditions, and have the confidence to do this! There are 6 areas that we need to consider if you want to leap off the skiing plateau, as outlined below...
Technical - this is probably what most people will think of when trying to improve their performance on the slopes. Encompassing posture, balance & how to turn the skis. Here it is important to understand the why's and what's and a lesson with a qualified instructor is likely your best bet to improve in this area.
Tactical - the ultimate tactic is controlling your speed & line and being able to do this whatever the gradient & conditions underfoot. Woven into this is finding the best runs & routes down those runs for your ability, understand when & where to change the speed & line and how to do so in different conditions. We can also employ different tactics when skiing, for example, in flat light find some trees for definition, on a busy slope keep your corridor narrow & to the side. Consulting a qualified instructor will help you gain better insights into different tactics that can be used, when and how.
Physical - the physical demands of skiing are numerous. Consider the fact that on your ski holiday you will be engaging in physical acitivity for the majority of your day, combined with the higher altitude & resulting reduced oxygen levels. This takes a certain level of fitness & strength. Working within this area is up to you, start that ski prep early. Take a look at my post HERE. Then of course you also need to ensure that you are probably hydrated & fuelled as well as warmed up.
Psychological - a huge part of skiing is played out in the head! Using gravity to slide down a slope on slippery planks goes against the majority of human survival instincts & pushes most people's comfort zones in the beginning. Confidence is key to letting the skis slide whilst also remaining the "boss" who is the one in charge of them. Any hesitation and the skis will take over, and they take no prisoners! It may seem daunting at first so build up steadly. In moments of self doubt you need to change your mindset. Rather than thinking "I can't do it", trying adding one little word - "yet" and see where that takes you.
Equipment - such an important consideration. Make sure you're on the right skis for your personal aims, have the right boots for your strength/ability, clothes are comfy etc. If you are skiing gentle slopes slowly and have a stiff race boot then the chances of you bending your ankles and maintaining good balance and posture on the skis are slim. Similarly, if you're trying to master fast carving turns on short soft skis you probably won't feel very stable. Be honest about your ability at the rental shop & remember that you can always go back and change your equipment if it doesn't feel right.
Environment - keep the environment right for you. Not just the slopes you ski on but also the company you keep! Don’t push too hard too soon & set yourself back with a confidence knock. If you've mastered your technique and confidence on a blue run don't rush onto the blacks. Work on familiar slopes to ingrain the skills & thinking. After this move on to finding short steeper sections on familiar slopes, which will give you the mental upperhand. And then move on to steeper slopes or more variable terrain. Start small & build gently. As for the company you keep - choose your ski buddies wisely! Be honest about your aims and make sure theirs are similar. You'll never be happy if being contantly criticised or pushed to ski black runs for 8 hours solid, if all you want to do is take in the scenery as you ski from coffee to lunch to apres!
For more information on building confidence skiing take a look at my blog post here