Effortless Power VS Powerless Effort In Skiing

09 Jan 2017, Posted by Ski NASTC in Latest News

By Chris Fellows

The first in a series about how advanced skiers can continue to improve despite limited days on the slopes. These insights come from a proven NASTC approach that has transformed our students’ skiing giving them access to more terrain, ingrained efficient movements, comfort with speed, safety awareness and ultimately more fun on the slopes.

Why does it seem that expert skiers can make immediate adjustments to speed, direction and intensity on the fly while negotiating the most challenging terrain and conditions without looking like a freight train about to jump the track? Like most people who have mastered any dynamic sport, the finished result always looks effortless. Through accurate and progressive skill building processes, experts have ingrained efficient and precise fundamental movement understandings that can be directly transferred to their performance. In skiing there are five basic barriers and solutions that will shed new light on effortless power.

Students of skiing who have not mastered precision and accuracy often struggle by muscling their skis around using fast unguided movements to change direction and control speed. This is an example of powerless effort. After all this work, they soon lose energy and begin to feel like a wet noodle. Its no wonder that 85% of all beginners never return to the sport. Its too hard and way too exhausting. Imagine if there was a quicker, more effective way to reach the higher levels of proficiency without all that squandered effort. There are many of us who have found the perfect combination of effort and precision that gets the most out of the skis. But first one needs to look at where efficiency is lost. When powerless effort is the dominant force against the skis then its called a power leak. Power leaks will gradually drain all energy and precision from the body.

The first proactive steps we can take is to eliminate the barriers that block us from Effortless Power.

Nervous body tension and mental hesitation– Fear and uncertainty pushes our center of mass back toward the tails of the skis. The most common ski instructor comment is,”you are in the back set”. You think: No kidding, I am scared and my life preserving instincts are telling me to back away from the downhill side of the slope. The first step is to move to less steep terrain where you feel comfortable moving over the skis toward the downhill side. Practice here until your confidence builds and you are ready to fully commit to a steeper pitch.

Weak positioning– Skiing is a dynamic sport that requires athletic body movements while sliding on a slick surface. The moment that balance is lost the chances of having a powerful effect on the skis is marginalized. Grab a broomstick a few inches from the top and reach down to the floor and try to break off the end of the stick. Good Luck. Hold the stick in the middle and push on it and see how easy it breaks. The same applies to skis. To be powerful you have to be able to stand against the middle of the ski, not the back end.

Poor Timing– Students often over exaggerate movements. The urge to turn the skis quickly on steep slopes to get them around before rocketing into the abyss is a classic power leak. Chances are if your skis stay in the fall line for a second or two longer you actually gain control instead of loosing control. This poised pause in the fall line, will give you a moment to stay aligned with the skis as you guide and direct VS twist and slam.

Limited Versatility– Versatility in skiing does not come from having many different techniques for every condition and terrain situation that you encounter on the mountain. Instead the key to improved versatility comes from having a few basic tactics and techniques ingrained and internalized that have a broad range of future on hill application. Elite skiers take basic movement patterns that have become ingrained and allow the subconscious mind to blend the exact combinations of touch, skill and intensity for the appropriate response to a given challenge.

If you are an advanced skier who has been in the ski improvement doldrums with no real direction or options for improvement, then this series of short posts from Chris and the NASTC team may help shed some light on getting to the next level before you are “another year older”.