A Pro's Notebook: PreSeason TuneUp 1

from the September 1999 issue




PreSeason TuneUp, Number One


Most of my ski teaching, over the years, has focused on the same goal: making average skiers into great skiers. More than anything else, this translates into polishing parallel turns from something awkward to something remarkable. Nowadays, nobody remains a beginner for long. Everyone, it seems, can quickly learn some sort of sloppy, wide-track, parallel turn, or a skidded christy and use this as a basic technique for getting down the mountain on skis. What then?... What now?...

Now, of course, is September, a long time before the snow flies, long before that first run of the season. So I want to use these monthly ski instruction Pages of my web site to sketch out a series of Images, and off-the-snow practice moves that I hope will be helpful when you finally put on skis again, months from now.

To make an effective transition from rough-and-ready parallel skids to graceful, efficient arcs, we’ll spend a lot of time concentrating on the critical role of the inside foot and leg in modern turns. But today we’re going to start at the beginning, by making friends with our feet. No part of a skier’s body is more important than the feet. Think about it. Only your feet are connected to your skis. Any communication with your ski has to pass through your foot. If you want your ski to edge, your foot has to edge first. Your foot is the only part of your body that directly affects your ski.

Conversely, whatever your skis are doing, skidding, carving, twisting, edging or flattening, you should be able to feel that action through your feet. It’s a two-way street. You send commands to your ski, and you receive messages from your ski, all through the foot.

Let’s get started today, months before the ski season. Put your boots on, and step into your skis, on the floor, at home. Now close your eyes? This will help you to become sensitive to pressure on the soles of your feet. Lean forward and wiggle your toes. Feel your weight pressing down on the balls of your feet. Then lean back, feel your weight pushing down on your heels. Rock back and forth, but less and less each time, till you find the very center of your foot. Next try to feel that your weight is spread evenly over the soles of both feet. This will be your home-base position on skis. Now, with your eyes still closed, shift gently from foot to foot, right to left, and back again. Then shift more completely from foot to foot, moving totally from one foot onto the other, then totally back. Naturally, you can do all this. It’s easy. But why bother? I simply want you to start tuning in to all the different sensations in the soles of your feet, without any distractions. Nothing else in skiing is more important.

Naturally too, you can do this on snow, this fall? But why wait?...


Check your alignment, before the snow flies. Stand on a hard, smooth floor in your ski boots. In your normal stance, does it feel as though both boot soles are totally flat on the floor, or do you feel more pressure on one boot edge? If so, you are a likely candidate for professional boot alignment. Rock from side to side, from one set of boot edges to the other. Does this movement feel the same on both sides? If not, you almost certainly need boot alignment.    A Pro's Notebook: PreSeason TuneUp 1
© Lito Tejada-Flores

These PreSeason TuneUps are adapted from an instructional series I created for Skiing magazine last season. Once the snow flies, I’ll return to my Ski Pro’s Notebook series of longer ski technique essays....