THE 10 FIRST TRICKS TO LEARN ON SKIS
How to Freestyle Ski
Freestyle skiing is a collection of multiple skiing disciplines, including slope style, half-pipe, moguls, and ski cross. All of these different subsections of freestyle skiing require patience and discipline to learn; before learning any of them you need to be skilled in the fundamentals of skiing. Once you're good at the basics, you'll be ready to try freestyle skiing.
Beginning Slopestyle and Half-Pipe Skiing
Begin with basic slopestyle tricks.Slope style skiing refers to a run with multiple jumps, boxes, and rails set up, on which skiers can perform aerial tricks and grinds. Becoming comfortable with the positioning, balance, maneuvers, and landing of basic slopestyle tricks will give you a strong freestyle skiing foundation on which to build.
Perform a basic box grind.Slopestyle runs will commonly have boxes and rails for skiers to perform grind tricks. Begin practicing this style of trick on a box rather than a rail because boxes offer a wider ledge, making it easier to balance. Additionally, find a low box that requires a less difficult jump to reach.
- Approach the box straight on and in line with the length of it.Approaching in a straight line uses your established momentum to carry you down the length of the box, which is much easier for beginners.
- Pop up just before reaching the box and turn ninety degrees to land. You should land with your feet centered on the box to maximize balance. Keep your shoulders square with your feet as well, meaning turn only your head to track your movement.
- Keep your feet a shoulder-width apart and firmly planted with even weight distribution as you grind down the box. By keeping your feet apart, you spread out your center of gravity on the box. By evenly distributing your weight, you stop your skis from catching and causing you to fall.
- Straighten out as you come off the box. Since your skis will still be perpendicular to your movement, you must straighten out as you dismount the box. By lifting the front of your forward most ski, you can use your boot on the lip of the box to help push off.
Perform a basic 360.One of the most common tricks off a slopestyle jump is a 360, where you turn your body in one full rotation before landing. This basic trick has numerous variations once you get the hang of it.
- Start practicing by jumping a 360 on the ground and sliding a 360 in the snow. Sliding a 360 in the snow means adding spin to your forward movement without your skis leaving the ground. Both exercises are easier than a jumping 360 and help you train yourself in the amount of rotation a perfect 360 will require. The main skills to practice include twisting with your shoulders and arms, as well as leading the direction of your spin with your head.
- Ridges in the snow make great spots to practice 360s before trying larger jumps. A ridge offers very little drop off, making a potential fall less dangerous.
- When trying an actual 360, approach the ridge or jump with your feet shoulder-width apart, crouch down with your weight over your toes, and twist with your head, shoulders, and arms as you pop off the lip. Keep your head up and look over your shoulder until your can see in the direction of your forward movement down the hill. Your feet will naturally straighten out in the direction of your head to help you land facing forward
Beginning Mogul Skiing
Start on a space with fewer, smaller moguls and wider troughs.Mogul skiing consists of a course of bumps, called moguls, in the snow with networks of gaps between the bumps, called troughs. In competitive events, the run is timed, but noncompetitive mogul skiers may simply have fun taking untimed, creative routes down a course. By starting with smaller moguls and wider troughs, you will have an easier time navigating the run and absorbing the bumps as you practice the other basics of skiing moguls.
Practice going across the bumps.By going across the bumps, you can practice important techniques for skiing moguls, such as keeping your balance with your head over your feet and absorbing the the bumps by keeping your head at the same height and instead correcting for the height difference in your knees.
Practice turning on the bump instead of between them in the troughs.By going across a bump and turning yourself in the direction of the next trough (the lower parts of the mogul between the bumps), you can use the angle of the bump to turn more swiftly.
- The ideal path down a mogul run will consist of a combination of going around the bumps (down the troughs) and going across a bump to angle yourself into a better oncoming trough. Practice both skills on their own, and then try linking them together.
Use the backs of oncoming bumps to slow yourself down.With larger bumps and narrower gaps, you will have to cut harder to maintain your route through the troughs, which is more difficult on steeper hills where you gain more speed. By using the initial incline of an oncoming bump, you can appropriately slow yourself while positioning into the best angle of the oncoming trough.
- For best results, begin to turn in the direction of the trough, creating a wider plane with your skis to inch up to the back of the bump in front of you. Combined with the incline, this will help you control your speed even more.
- Plant your pole into the bump just before you feel the major slowdown. By doing so, you help maintain balance as you brake, and you additionally give yourself leverage to push off the pole, which will help you more easily angle into the trough.
Plan your first two or three turns down the run.Don’t just set off down the course ahead. Instead, survey the run and plan your first several turns. This will set your rhythm for the course and help you keep control farther down the run.
- Your initial planning should also take your corridor into account. A wider corridor—one which crosses from left to right across four or five moguls—spreads your descent across a greater distance and means less acceleration. A narrower corridor—only two or three moguls across—will mean a faster descent and greater speed.
- As you decide how to take a bump or trough, begin to execute the necessary maneuver and keep your gaze ahead. This way you can stay mentally ahead of yourself and make a better decision for the next oncoming bump.
Beginning Ski Cross
Get comfortable with skiing at high speed.Ski cross (think motocross) is a timed skiing event with several competitors racing down a run at the same time. It is still considered a freestyle skiing event because of its liberal use of large jumps and high-banked turns. Since ski cross is a race at its core, practice skiing at high speed.
- Do not ever overextend yourself and exceed your own comfort levels. Begin by timing yourself on a comfortable run at your normal pace and try to start improving your time over several runs down the course. Skiing at speed is about comfort and confidence, and you will not develop either without plenty of practice.
Practice taking the best line over jumps.While many freestyle skiing varieties use jumps to perform tricks, ski cross is about flying through the jump efficiently and maintaining speed. This means staying low in the air and propelling yourself forward rather than up.
- Do not pop or jump off a ski cross jump like you would in slopestyle. Instead, crouch down and absorb the jump with your knees. By keeping your head low and knees bent, you maintain the maximum forward velocity off the lip of the jump as well as the least wind resistance through the air. Straighten out past the apex of the jump, so that you can land with the maximum balance.
Practice taking high-banked turns.Ski cross courses regularly change direction with high-banked turns. As with turning anything at a high rate of speed, the angle at which you enter the turn has the biggest effect on the outcome. By starting with a slightly outside line and diving down into the turn, you create a wider turning radius, thus leading to less deceleration.
- Half-pipes make great places to practice several high-banked turns. Instead of using your momentum to carry yourself off the lip of the half-pipe, simply drift up the side of the bank and use the wall to carve down and across the other side of the half-pipe.
Practice skiing with others.Since ski cross events always involve a field of skiers, you need to become comfortable skiing in a pack. The basic rules of skiing right of way do not change, but following them in closer quarters takes practice and mindfulness.
- Do not practice this by encroaching upon the space of other skiers on normal runs. Look into ski cross clubs and events where you will find others interested in ski cross with whom you can practice these techniques.
- Freestyle skiing requires a strong grasp of skiing basics and fundamentals. A beginning skier should anticipate spending several years developing the necessary skills for freestyle skiing.
- Small skis are easier to take in crowded forested areas.
- You will need dual-tipped skis (with a tip on both the front and the back of each ski) if you plan on performing any tricks that require moving backward, such as doing a 180.
- Know your limitations and push them gradually with practice. Do not ever bite off more than you can chew on the slopes.
- Always use a safety-first approach to these difficult and potentially dangerous forms of freestyle skiing.
- Always wear the appropriate safety gear when freestyle skiing, including a proper helmet.
Video: Ski lessons: Freestyle skiing | Online ski course
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