How to Look Ahead When Skiing in Two Steps by Susan Medville - Rippin Chix Ski Camps
No matter what level skier you are, one of the most important skills you can work on that will always help your skiing flow and ability to charge is to really look ahead and down the mountain. Skiers often think that they are looking far enough in front of themselves, however when asked at what they are seeing it is lucky if they are looking thirty feet ahead of themselves or even more scary, they are looking at their own skis which is kind of like texting and driving. Another comparison to keep in mind is to consider how far ahead you are looking when barreling down the highway in your vehicle, that is about equivalent to the distance you should be looking ahead while skiing.
Photo: Trish Bromley
When you are at the top of a run take a moment to understand what is going on in the terrain around you and as far as you can see down the mountain. Asses what your options are, what does the snow look like, what obstacles and options are below you and even to the sides of the run. Think about what you need to avoid, what features may be fun to ski off of, where can you let your skis go fast and where would you need to shut down your speed. If you are backcountry skiing figuring out where your safe zones are, if there are convex rolls and if there are terrain traps.
Photo: Trish Bromley
Plan out your first three to four turns. As you go into those turn keep looking down the mountain. Your eyes should constantly be scanning what is coming up, but do not stare directly at obstacles you want to circumvent, make that spilt second note that they are there, then keep looking beyond them. In other words, don’t fixate on your fears, but look beyond them and how to move past them. Since you are looking ahead you have a much better chance of keeping yourself flowing down the hill because you will not be caught unaware and can make quick decisions on where to go.
Another couple of added benefits of looking down the hill is it helps you maintain good body position and balance for skiing. Since its generally best to keep your upper body down the hill, your head is a great place to start. If you are looking up and ahead your balance will be improved too. Remember skiing is often a series of linked recoveries but because you are looking at and then past what is coming at you, you will be able to deal with it. So, when skiing keep your chin up and smile!
(Susan is a coach and co-owner of Rippin Chix, a series of ski camps for people who want to ski off the beaten path and to gain skills, experience and confidence. Upcoming camps are at Backcountry Snowcats near Pemberton, BC February 27- March 1 and at Alta, UT March 17-18.)