Being agile on our skis is great fun. My most enjoyable days in training we’re doing silly drills with our Swiss coach, making fools of ourselves and having fun. All this jumping around had a point though: it improves your skiing. Having to move in new and challenging ways builds strong links between your brain and your muscles, making you more adaptable and quicker to learn and change. Also, many agility drills rely on good balance and movements. Below are some fun drills of our ski instructor training courses. Have fun!
A very simple agility exercise is to try doing short turns (skiing in a narrow corridor, about the width of a piste basher) on your outside ski. At first you may only be able to stay on the outside ski through the end of the turn but with practice you can ride the full arc on the outside ski. Then to truly build your agility start hopping from one outside ski straight to the other at the transition from one turn to the next.
Not all agility drills involve jumping and being in the air – some are focused on forcing us to perform different or new movements. Compression turns are a classic drill to challenge timing coordination as well as being perfect for training moguls on the piste. In an “ordinary” turn on piste we extend our legs during the first half of the turn and compress during the second. Compression turns are essentially the opposite – we go down at the start then straighten out legs. Another way to think about it is that we go down on the edge change, rather than up. Harder than it sounds!
This involves as the name would suggest jumping your skis off the ground and turning them in the air before landing. The key to jump turns is making strong movements with your legs -starting low at the end of the previous turn and pushing up hard to jump off the ground. You can start making small jumping and turning movements in medium turns at a slower pace, then build up to turning more in the air during short turn. Try seeing how many jump turns you can make over a set distance – the higher you jump and more you turn in the air, the more turns you will fit in.
A real challenge of agility and co-ordination is Norwegian turns, sometimes known as the Courmayeur Shuffle of the Texas Two Step (I have no idea how a State without ski resorts got involved…). To perform this drill we are effectively skipping on our skis while turning in the air. To make matters complicated: we are first lifting our outside ski, hopping off our inside ski, turning while in the air, landing on our inside ski and then bringing outside ski down and completing the turn. Perhaps one to consult your instructor or youtube on!