5 Common Slope Mistakes Made by Intermediate Skiers

5 Common Slope Mistakes Made by Intermediate Skiers

5 Common Slope Mistakes Made by Skiers

So you're no longer a beginner; your skis are parallel cruising down blues and groomed runs smoothly; you're cruising down black diamonds without breaking a sweat; your mom is bragging to her friends about how great of a skier you are; but you're still getting passed on the mountain by other skiers who are somehow skiing fast while maintaining perfect control. You're wondering how they're doing it, and more importantly, how you're doing it.

You contemplate hiring a private ski instructor at your local ski resort to assist you, but decide that instead, you will search the internet to see if there are any guidelines on how to become a better skier. You come on this post and realize it is just what you were looking for. You learn that the article has all of the keys of progressing from an intermediate to an advanced skier. You celebrate and begin reading the five most critical stages to improving your skiing technique that you've either never heard before or need to hear again.

1. Bend your knees!

This is without a doubt the most common error that skiers make on the slopes, as well as the simplest skiing tip to implement. I see far too many beginner-intermediate skiers out there with a pencil posture. Standing with their arms at their sides and their knees tight. While it has good posture and may suit in at Buckingham Palace, skiing is far too fascinating a sport for this.

Skiing is a workout that is similar to boxing in many aspects. Boxing, to be precise. The sport in which participants punch each other until only one remains standing. However, this is not the metaphor I'm attempting. Instead, I'm referring to the boxer's posture. A boxer is always on their toes, knees bent, arms up, and ready to respond to anything comes their way. This is where skiing is similar. As you descend the mountain, you are continuously adapting to changing terrain. A skier must be able to react to anything, whether it be negotiating past moguls/bumps, trees, or people, changing snow textures, or a fast shift in pitch angle. Bending your knees stimulates your instincts and enables you to react swiftly to events.

The next question you may likely ask is, "How much do I bend my knees?" To be honest, there is no correct response to this. It is mostly determined by the terrain and speed at which you are skiing. The lower you go, the more power you'll have. Of course, there is such a thing as too low, and your buttocks should never be lower than your knees.

In tight terrain, such as moguls and trees, or at high speeds, having your knees bent (enough to feel a burn in your quadriceps) will make a tremendous difference in terms of staying in control and boosting confidence. However, keep in mind that bent knees are only one stage in the process of becoming an accomplished skier and are essentially worthless without the following steps!

2. Use your poles!

Snowboarders love to brag about not needing poles. Until you're on a catwalk and they have to unclip from their bonds as you sail by. However, it is a popular misperception that this is the major function and justification for poles.

In actuality, using your poles for speed is only half of the goal, if not less. Using your poles when skiing on-piste is an important part of skiing properly. Remember when I said skiing was similar to boxing because you had to bend your knees? This is the second half of the metaphor. Fists up, ready to hit whatever is in front of you. Then turn left, then right. Okay, it's a bit theatrical, but in fact, you have to engage your upper body as well as your legs to be in that engaging and responsive stance.

It is not merely utilizing your ski poles when skiing, but doing it correctly. A pole plant should accompany every modest shift in direction (pole plant being the action of the tip of your pole making contact with the snow). When carving and producing large arching turns, each turn should be coupled with a pole plant. It is far more common among moguls; you should place your poles on every mogul you come across.

Even if you're not putting much (or any) weight on your pole, this offers you something to pivot off of. Instead, it is all about finding a happy medium. The act of planting your pole focuses you, preventing you from leaning too much to one side. When paired with bent knees, you may become extremely nimble and rapid in your motions. A true boxer is balanced, in control, and ready for anything.

After hearing this step, I frequently see skiers plant their pole and let the pole fly out behind them, as if trying to propel themselves off the snow. Remember that you are not utilizing your pole to gain speed in this situation. Your aim is not to drive the snow away, but rather to plant and go on. Your pole's grip, or your hands for that matter, should never go behind you.

A plant should be swift, and your poles should be up in front of you, ready to make the following step. This is a critical aspect of utilizing poles because if one of them goes behind you, it will throw you off balance and out of control. A boxer, for example, never wants their hands behind them, right?

3. Lean Forward!

I'll keep this one brief because it expands on the previous two phases of bending your knees and using your poles. Bend your knees and extend your poles in front of you, then lean forward from your ankles. This is the correct skiing posture. Take note of how I said to bend forward from the ankles, not the hips. Your knees should be just above the toe piece of your bindings, with your shins in continual contact with the front of your boot. That is, you are pressing into your boots and, as a result, into your skis to improve pressure and control (more on this in step 4).

The inverse of this is what skiers term "backseat." The word "backseat" refers to someone who is not leaning forward and appears to be sitting in a chair. This shifts your center of gravity to the tails of your skis and disengages your shins from the front of your boots, reducing your ski control. Stay forward in your boots and keep your knees over your toe piece to avoid this.

"What about powder?" some may ask. To stay afloat, I have to lean back!" This brings us to step 5 and the equipment you're utilizing. Even in powder, a backseat posture might be harsh for your control, but as long as you have the proper equipment, you should be able to maintain a front stance and stay afloat. Furthermore, having a forward stance becomes increasingly important while using a stronger ski, whereas a softer, more playful ski may be more tolerant of bad form.

To recap the three phases linked to appropriate ski form, lean forward, bend your knees, and extend your poles in front of you. If you do all of this, you'll be prepared to deal with whatever the mountain throws at you. The more you train, the more muscle memory you will develop, the more confident and in control you will become, and the quicker you will become. If you do not observe any immediate benefits, this may point to the relevance of steps 4 and 5.

4. Tighten your boots!

This one will almost probably frighten a lot of people who read it. It's natural to be afraid of tightening your boots since you believe that having boots that are excessively tight may cause serious agony. It may, but it's more probable that you've overtightened them. Severe pain can and, more often than not, is caused by your footwear being too large.

Any expert skier has to find a great middle ground with their boots in order to have good performance and pleasant days. This step explains the effects of a loose boot and how tightening it will repair them. A ski boot serves as a link between you and your skis. To turn your skis, you must press into your boots, which then push into your bindings, controlling the direction of the ski.

When your boot is loose, it takes a lot more work to push into it and direct it where to go; tightening it makes the entire process much more fluid, efficient, and, most importantly, quicker. Tightening your boot, as a consequence, provides you better control over your skis. This is why advanced-expert skiers, in addition to opting for a stiffer flex boot, typically size down in their boot size (I personally drop down two full sizes!) (more on stiffer boots in step 5).

Have you ever had black toenails or pains on the bottom of your foot as a result of skiing? Your boot is probably too big (but there might be other difficulties; see your local bootfitter). Seems paradoxical, doesn't it? Simply put, when your boot is loose, your foot moves a lot in it while skiing, causing it to slam into the front of the boot and roll around the footbed, resulting in black toes and cramps.

Tightening your boot keeps your foot exactly in position in the boot, suppressing these difficulties and allowing for more pleasant skiing. The important objective of this step, though, is that by tightening your boot, you may have greater control over your skis, and this is essential for improving.

5. Buy the right skis, bindings, and boots!

No, the skis you've owned since you were a teenager, or the skis you borrowed from a 5'6" buddy even though you're 6'2" (or vice versa), or the powder skis you're wearing on snowy slopes because you got a good bargain on them, aren't the proper skis for you. There is a popular notion that all one has to do is buy a ski, any ski, and they are ready to hit the slopes. Ski models vary greatly, and it is likely that one ski will be ideal for you but not for someone else. The perfect ski for you might vary greatly depending on the terrain you ski, where you ski, your height, weight, amount of years skiing, and style.

Even if you follow all four stages above perfectly, your success will be hindered if you are not using the proper equipment. Understanding what the correct gear is when you're new to the sport may be quite challenging, which is why there is an incredible organization that exists where you can talk with an expert who can help you locate the right skis that meet your individual demands. At Curated, you can talk to specialists like myself, Nick Keim, and get advice identifying the correct gear to help you grow in your skiing.

I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference it will make in your skiing, and it doesn't end with skis. Your bindings and boots are likewise one-of-a-kind. Getting the perfect size boot with the optimum flex will influence how much control you have and how comfortable you are after a day of skiing. Making sure you're on the appropriate binding can keep you from disengaging needlessly and may even save your life in the case of a major accident. So, if you believe this could be the huge step you need to take to take your skiing to the next level, come start a conversation with me or another professional, and we'll get you set up on the right gear.


Get in the boxing ring, that is mountain, and start practicing these intermediate skiing tips/steps right away. Tighten your boots, bend your knees, lean forward, and start using those poles, and you'll be cruising down black runs in no time. If everything else fails, you might want to evaluate if you have the necessary equipment, and if so, send me a note here.

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