Skiing is a little bit like golf: it’s a sport you can constantly improve at and that you can do for your whole life. But also like golf, it’s a challenging sport and making progress can be difficult. The best way to get better at skiing is to take a lesson with an instructor like Telluride Ski Resort’s John Balmain. Balmain has been teaching people to ski for two decades, in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Austria, Canada, and then here in the United States. He is so passionate about the sport that he spent several of those years in back-to-back winter seasons, spending half the year in the winter of the southern hemisphere, and the other half in the winter in the northern hemisphere. Here are a few of his best tips:
1. If the Boot Fits…
It’s important that all of your equipment is properly sized, says Balmain, but it is especially crucial that your ski boots fit. A good-fitting boot will help the skier be able to feel their weight on the ski and to make better turns.
2. Pressure’s On
According to Balmain, probably the one thing that makes the biggest difference in someone’s skiing is putting pressure on the outside ski, from the start to finish of a turn. He advises students to make sure that they are balanced above the outside ski.
3. Flex and relax
Let’s face it, sliding down a hill on two long planks can be a little stressful. Most people get tensed up and can’t relax, and that means that they’re not flexing their knees and ankles. Balmain says that you should have enough of a bend in the knees that you feel a little bit of contact on your shin with your boot. And often people are unused to the stiffness of a ski boot, and their ankle is not flexed, and they end up with their weight on the back of the ski. He says sometimes he’ll tell a student to unbuckle the top buckle of the ski boot, allowing them to get the sensation of bending their ankle more.
4. Think NASCAR
Ah, those pesky moguls. They can be a little intimidating, no? Balmain says to imagine taking a line like a NASCAR course, making banked turns on the inside bank of the bump, and keeping pressure on the outside ski to make it bend and turn more easily. Of course, it’s a little counterintuitive to think of speed and car racing, because the turns are what helps you check your speed, but it will help you find a good safe line down through the moguls.
5. Pro Tip for Powder
“Don’t lean back,” laughs Balmain. “That’s just a myth.” He says that putting your weight in the backseat will actually stop your skis from working in the snow and stop your legs from being able to turn properly.
Keep these tips in your mind, and keep improving your game. The better you get, the more fun it is to ski, and even when you’re having an off day, remember that at the bottom of the hill is a chance to aprés ski and that the lifts will be running again tomorrow.