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How To Rapidly Improve Your Skiing Or Snowboarding

How to progress your skiing and snowboarding skills in 5 easy steps.

Going on a winter vacation can evoke exhilarating or nerve-racking feelings depending on your skiing or snowboarding skills. If you're new to the sport, it’s only natural to feel intimidated by skiing with a group of people who are above your ability. This is why I have developed 5 easy steps to quickly improve your skiing or snowboarding skills.

A handful of SkyRun locations received snow last night! When snow falls, we start to think about skiing or snowboarding and winter vacations. If you haven't already booked a SkyRun property for a winter vacation, now is the time! The season is still early and February-March usually produces the most snow.

Local snow forecasters and ski reporters from OpenSnow display a nice map of where the snow fell last night:
Below is a list of last night's snowfall totals. Please keep in mind most of these totals came from what the resorts snow stakes showed:

5 Ways to Rapidly Improve Your Skiing and Snowboarding Skills:

Master Your Ability
What the heck does that mean? In a nutshell, it means knowing your skill level to keep you safe. Knowing which runs and terrain are the right matches for you and which ones you are working towards or should avoid. Here are the types of runs to consider depending on your skill level:

  • Consider taking a few lessons to understand the fundamentals. Take your time.
  • Stick to green runs. They are groomed, low angle, bump-free, and wide open.
  • Think about applying what you know on a blue run. Go a little faster….
  • Blue and blue-black runs have mixed terrain. Expect to see steeper groomed slopes with the potential for some bumps or trees.
  • It’s time for black, and eventually double-black diamond runs. Have no fear!
  • These are the runs where you will put your skills to the test as anything goes.
  • Expect to see steep bump runs with scattered or dense trees and perhaps some hazardous terrain you will need to navigate through.

Master Your Carve
You know the people making beautiful carved turns down a run followed by a perfect imprint of an S left behind? That’s is someone who has mastered their carve. When you feel like you have mastered the basic turn from side to side, it’s time to master your carve to increase your control and speed. The best thing is, it’s straightforward to go from turning to carving.

  • Your body will naturally begin to initiate the turn from your upper body. Resist and initiate from the hips, not the arms.
  • Breathe, stay loose, and keep your knees bent so your shoulders are over your feet.
  • Keep your arms around a 90-degree angle to find a comfortable position.
  • Lean into the turn.
  • Your body will naturally begin to initiate the turn from your upper body. Resist and initiate from the hips, not the arms.
  • Use your front (downhill) knee to steer the board.
  • Shift your weight from front to back as you carve from side to side. Avoid being stiff and think about always moving.
  • Start by leaning downhill and into a turn while twisting the front leg with your hips to help initiate the turn.
Master Your Edge
Mastering your edge goes hand-in-hand with mastering your carve. The difference between turning and carving is your edge. The base of your skis or board usually stay flat on the ground when turning whereas, your skis or board will be on their edge when carving. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • When the ski or board is flat on the ground, you have less control and are more prone to catching an edge.
  • Be on one edge or the other, switching back and forth when carving from side to side.
  • The higher the edge angle, the higher the performance.
Master The Powder
Powder can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When you first begin dabbling in powder, chances are you’re going to get stuck, a lot. To get to the level of powder skiing that people dream about, you need to understand the fundamentals.
  • Begin with smooth gentle motions. Powder slows everything down and can throw off your balance, so you too must slow down and anticipate your moves.
  • The deeper it is, the more you need to lean back.
  • Shift your weight from the middle to back of your board depending on how deep the snow is and if your tips keep going under the snow, lean back more.
  • Keep your speed up and a maintain wider stance on a snowboard or keep your feet closer together on skis.
  • If you have the opportunity to use gear designed for powder, use them. At the very least, they will save your legs. 
Master Finesse
Once you are comfortable with skiing or snowboarding, I believe this is the most important tip. Mastering finesse means skiing or snowboarding with flow; using the mountain’s features with you and not against you. For example, predicting the angle of a bump so when you come across it, you can smoothly glide over it. Finesse comes with first-hand experience and time. So, next time you’re out skiing, think about making your way down the mountain as water smoothly flows down a river.
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