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    What Is a “Good” Skier?

    female skier, ski skills, merino wool socks, woman skiing, Kim Hess

    Ambassador Marty G

    You see them on the mountain. They move like silk in the wind. They are The Good Skiers and you may not immediately identify the tangible element that they possess besides their inexplicable grace.

    “Good” skiers share two common traits

    1. Efficiency of movement
    2. Ability to leverage options

    The parallels between skiing and the Adult World are profound, with individuals who are skilled at efficiency and creating options often excelling in business, finance, relationships and of course in sports. For now, let’s look at skiing.


    Let’s imagine two skiers.

    Skier one makes a series of movements from their shoulders to their feet to execute a turn.
    Skier two uses movements originating from their feet to execute.

    Regardless of what terrain they ski – skier one could spend all his or her time on double black diamond death – skier two is the “better” skier. That is the skier who is moving like silk in the wind. They are embracing efficiencies of movement.

    Lift service alpine skiing is not a tasking physical endeavor. It should feel effortless.

    The challenge is the most efficient movement patterns of skiing are extremely counter-intuitive to our survival instincts. Our minds don't like that - weekend warrior and champion competing on the world stage alike. Without drilling efficient movement patterns (what I term patterns of grace) on benign terrain, these survival instincts and inefficient movement patterns take over when we are faced with something beyond our comfort level (moments of pressure).


    There are three ways that we can impact our skis

    1. We can rotate our femurs in our hip socket and turn the skis.
    2. We can rotate our skis along their length to put the edges at a more acute angle to the snow.
    3. We can vary the amount of pressure between the left and right ski, and fore and aft along each ski.

    Most skiers do one of those three things really well. The skier who does all three things well is the skier who skis effortlessly regardless of terrain or snow conditions.

    Bumps, groomers, steeps, powder, crud… each requires a blending of rotation, edging and pressure control. The skier who has mastered each of those skills will have the greatest degree of tactical options available to them.

    They will be able to match tactic to terrain and be the skier who flows down the mountain.

    So how do we get to that point of efficiency?

    Over the course of the ski season I will be presenting a series of articles that will help you on your path to mastery. And it is a path, a journey. No matter your age or perceived level of ability we all benefit from gains in efficiencies.

    I get that skiing should be fun and that there are times when you just want to rip. There is definitely a time and place for that.

    But here’s the deal: working to gain efficiencies results in enjoying more of the mountain and a higher stoke. Working to gain efficiencies allows us to be that person who can still send it in their senior years while your age bracket colleagues are binge watching Netflix. Working to gain efficiencies, often times, is not fun. However the results are awesome.

    Skiers and their movement patterns are neither “good” nor “bad”, regardless of the terrain that they ski. They are efficient or inefficient.

    Within that spectrum the goal for everyone is to have a great day outside. The nuance of that statement is that if I can efficiently enjoy the entire mountain my enjoyment increases exponentially.

    © Marty Grabijas 2017

     Marty Grabijas is a PSIA certified ski instructor, PSIA certified Senior Specialist at Purgatory Resort and an examiner for whitewater kayaking. Contact him directly at marty@mothertech.net. To book lessons with him for yourself, your family or private group contact Purgatory's Ski & Snowboard School at 970.385.2149.