When skiing downhill, maintaining a balanced stance is no easy feat. If you’ve never stood on anything as slippery as skis, your body won’t know how to react to zero friction on a slope. It’s why so many first-time skiers do a Humpty Dumpty off the chairlift. Moreover, you need to lean forward on steeper slopes, which is counterintuitive to the impulse to lean back, clench your teeth and pray. Once you’re sliding along the snow, you’ll be speeding up, slowing down, changing direction and making turns. You have to constantly adjust your stance to stay balanced.
The ability to balance on one leg is a fundamental skill required for Alpine skiing. If you can’t balance on one leg on a floor, you’re not going to be able to do it on the slope. To test this ability, perform a single-leg squat. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your weight centered over one leg as you slowly lower yourself into a squat. At the same time, extend one leg straight out in front of you until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat the squat three times on each side with slow and fluid movement. If you’re shifting your position to compensate for lack of balance, place a block under your grounded heel. Don’t allow your knees to warp inward or outward. If you’re bending at the waist or your shoulder is dipping, your alignment is off center.
Exercises on Level Terrain
Find a flat area on the slope to practice a variety of exercises for balance with your skis on. For example, assume a standing position and lower and raise your body. While moving up and down, flex and extend your hips, knees and ankles. Visualize a glass of water on your head. Keep your upper body erect as your perform the exercise, trying not to topple the imaginary glass. A second exercise is to lean as far forward and backward as possible, figuring out at what point you’re using your boots versus your body to stay balanced. Rock front and back until you find the stance where you’re using only your body for balance. Jump up and down in this position. If you’re brave, lift one ski and rotate the tip and tail. Swing the lifted ski to right, center and left, pausing in each direction.
Exercises While Skiing Downhill
When you make a turn, you’re essentially performing it on one ski. If you’re executing a series of connected turns, you’re shifting your weight from one ski to the other. Good skiers use various exercises to balance on one ski while on a straight run downhill. For example, alternate between lifting the right and left skis or lean forward and then backward. If you’re sliding along a traverse path, lift the uphill or downhill ski. For two-legged balance, try shuffling your skis and feet fore and aft.
Using Balance Boards
Improve your balance for Alpine skiing by standing on a balance board, such as one that is wedged in a groove on a roller. Lift one foot, curl into a tuck position or put on a backpack to increase the challenge of staying balanced on the board. The rectangular rocker board has a plank running down its midsection and moves in both fore-to-aft and side-to-side directions. Hold a dumbbell in one hand while straddling a rocker board to work on your balance on two planes. The circle- or rectangle-shaped wobble board sits on a half circle and challenges your ability to balance on three planes at the same time.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.