Alex, Michael Day 1

The steep entrance to the Vert training slope was very challenging for Alex at this stage – perhaps partly due to the icy surface. Side stepping and side slipping down took a fair bit of attention and time – but every moment was useful and constructive. Michael was clearly far more comfortable and experienced so that allowed me to take care of Alex properly. When arriving at the training slope I decided to start completely from scratch – using the unique beginner’s teaching methods that I’ve developed over the past 23 years. Not only would this give Alex the best chance of rapid success but it was probably also the best option for Michael, beginning again with a clean slate and discovering exercises that would provide clarity and deeper understanding.
Most of the teaching process is shown in graphic detail here: Beginners  (There is a tab at the top of the blog for this too)


The video was taken after most of today’s work. Michael is skiing very parallel and Alex is growing in confidence. Alex is still pushing the ski tail outwards at the very start of turns on steeper ground – especially the left ski – and often twisting the ski into the turn. However in general he skis with a good degree of successful dynamics. There is no “perfection” in skiing and just improving aspects by degrees has an overall impact. Skiing is “holistic” in the sense that you can remove parts but the whole will still function.


There were a few specific things added to the “beginners” exercises that are worth mentioning here. When skating on the flat we used gravity/falling forwards for propulsion. Both feet were rolled onto their inside edges for gripping with the ski edges. I explained that this was a sensation that had to be maintained with the feet and legs all the time – with the skis parallel. The skating helps to get the legs active, mobile (instead of rigid) and to make the sensation of the feet on their inside edges very clear. This would be used in developing further skills later on.

Alex had to become aware of his tendency to stare at the ground and lose perspective of his speed – but he did a good job of overcoming this.


We used my standard teaching progression for dynamics. There is a tab at the top of the blog named “Dynamics” which takes you to a fixed describing the teaching and principles behind it.
The most important point to remember is that “You have one job; to fall over. The ski has one job; to lift you back up”.


  • Stand on the front of the heel – directly below the ankle joint
  • When flexing use the hip and knee – the ankle stiffens reflexively if weight is kept on the heel
  • Shin muscle “anterior tibialis” tenses up – ankle only bends to around 12° – same rake as the boot shaft
  • Shin touches the front of the boot
  • Use the subtalar joint beneath the ankle to rock the foot onto its inside edge
  • Forefoot turned outwards – away from the turn
  • Feel this activating the adductor muscles – inside of upper leg
  • Feel the knee pull laterally inwards but stop at its limit (instead of wobbly and twisting inwards as happens when the ankle collapses)

Turning – In this order: Foot / Adductors / Centre of Mass – this is what you say to yourself when moving the centre of mass into a turn. The outside leg is all you have to be concerned with. Meanwhile both feet actually remain on their inside edges all the time.

The ski boot alignment and size were checked and static exercises carried out with one boot off. This is important because you cannot see what’s going on inside a boot and you cannot feel the function of the joints clearly either.

Centripetal Force

The turning ski drives you “inwards”, away from a straight line. This why it is called a “centripetal” force. With the strong stance on the outside ski and by rocking the foot on its inside edge (forefoot turned outwards) and holding the adductors taught – driving the centre of mass inwards – you develop the turn. Everything “pulls” inwards. In the “beginners” exercises we principally learn to propel the Centre of Mass inwards with skating steps – instead of pushing the ski tails outwards.

Don’t push the ski out

The skis are always trying to flatten – which is how the actually lift you up if you work properly with them. If the ski tails are pushed outwards then the leg twists and this causes the foot to flip onto its outside edge and the ski to flatten – losing almost all functionality.  In addition the wrong muscles are used – on the outside of the leg – pushing out instead of pulling in.


Your basic stance on skis should not be “leaning forwards”. Just stand on the horizontal across a hill and feel what it’s like to be “vertical to gravity”. This should be the same feeling when sliding straight downhill – the body perpendicular to the slope now. In mechanics the component of gravity pulling you into the ground is perpendicular to the ground – the other component pulls you downhill.

We did some straight running while working on perpendicularity, using skating steps into turns and then just the motion of the centre of mass.

Side Slipping

Keeping both feet close together vertically beneath the body and both feet on their inside edges the aim was to sideslip down a steep incline – using the motion of the centre of mass to both slip, stop or go diagonally forwards or diagonally backwards. Michael noticed correctly that the Centre of Mass become like a Joystick control. This of course fully applies to skiing in general – not just side slipping. The side slipping would take us onto “Pivoting” – where in its pure form there is no forward motion of the skis and the ski pole is used to control the centre of mass because there is no real lifting up effect of the ski.


Standard progression was used here. There is a detailed page with full demonstrations accessed from the tab at the top of the page: “Pivot”You have to work on this diligently – but only in small chunks at a time as it can be frustrating.

Combing Dynamics and Pivot

The reason for working on the Pivot at this early stage was to get across the message that it’s absolutely not necessary to get the outside ski onto its inside edge to turn – and eventually to see that all that’s important is being on the inside edge of the foot. The ski will turn from either edge – following the centre of mass.

Avoiding Rushing The Turns (With Dynamics)

Alex had a tendency to anxiously rush the starts of the turns on steeper terrain. Once the “acceleration” phase of the turn is accepted and that this is not a thing to fear – the second half of the turn bringing speed under control – then it’s easy to avoid that impulse to rush the starts. Good skiers avoid forcing the ski around to get it downhill and skid  to brake – instead controlling speed just through the overall line and change of direction. Alex was able to feel how he could obtain better control with this change. 

Independent Leg Action

I wanted to make the starts of the dynamic turns more solid and effective for both Alex and Michael so we did an exercise of turning with a very wide stance. The uphill leg is bent as a turn is being completed when the stance is very wide so you use it to force the body – by extending that leg – both out of the existing turn and strongly into the new turn. This gives a powerful and stable grip at the start of the new turn and ensures competent dynamics.

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