10 Steps To Skiing Nirvana – The Snoworks Philosophies

Phil Smith, director of Snoworks Ski Courses briefly describes some of the Snoworks all-mountain philosophies.

Many years ago when we begun our journey into all-mountain skiing we quickly realized that conventional ski instruction that was associated with the ‘closed’ world of piste skiing did not fulfill the needs of all-mountain skiers where the world is ‘open’. We more or less have had to redefine ski teaching over the years in order to meet the needs of skiers with aspirations to ski the whole mountain, the open environment. Although the teaching of all-mountain skiing is as open as the sport itself we have found it useful to clarify some of the philosophies we have embraced within Snoworks.

These are 10 of our philosophies with a very brief synopsis of each. Of course there are loads more and they are also not a replacement for all the hundreds of drills exercises, activities tips and training that form part of Snoworks courses but these 10 philosophies will improve your skiing faster than you ever thought possible. Over the next few months we’ll be producing videos to go with each philosophy. Where we already have existing video of the philosophy a link has been provided.

Open and closed sports differ in how they are learnt and how they are performed. Closed sports are pre-planned, rehearsed and repetitive. Open sports are spontaneous and varied.  All-mountain skiing is an open sport. The mountains, the snow and the terrain are infinitely varied and your skiing must be too.
watch the video

In every sport there are two surfaces that work together. In skiing it’s the edges of your skis and the snow but our concentration gets pulled away from this contact point by stuff bombarding us from all around. Instruction, hazards, terrain, snow, weather and even perceptions of how we should ski. Learn to connect with the mountain and you’ll connect with the sport.
watch the video

Either the snow moves you or you move the snow. The more snow you move with your skis the slower you go. The less snow you move with your skis the faster you go. Learn to control the amount of snow you move with your skis and you’ll learn to control your speed with the same skill as driving a car or riding a bike. Yes it’s as easy as riding a bike!
watch the video

It’s not a dance, it’s the three things you can do with your skis. Twist them, edge them and push them. The more variation you have in these three skills the more variation you have in your skiing and the more varied the terrain you can ski. “Let’s twist again like we did last summer” – ok enough said.

Skiing’s got confusing and the message of why skiing started in the first place has become lost. Skis were originally for transportation, to travel, go places, explore but somewhere along the way skiing became something different. Skiers trying to ski ‘right’ or ski ‘a particular way’. Skiing has almost become a ‘demonstration’ rather than a mode of transport. For all-mountain skiing you have to go back to the original roots. To travel, explore, move around, enjoy and have fun. Or as they say in Star Trek “to boldly go where no man has gone before” – well not quite!

“The past is history, the future is a mystery, now is a gift that’s why it’s called the present”. It may be a quote from kung Fu Panda but it’s as real in the world of skiing as everywhere else. Focus on the now, be aware of the future, let go of the past. Ah yes and if you’ve not seen Kung Fu Panda you must, it’s brilliant!

Try explaining how to run through a crowded bar carrying a tray of drinks, impossible.  The chances of repeating it exactly, 10 million trillion billion to one doesn’t even come close to the odds. But that’s what many skiers are trying to attempt. To ski a particular way in a repetitive, pre-determined manner. In all-mountain skiing the movements are far too complex to try to emulate or copy. True you can practice repetitive movements and groove them as we say, but when you are ‘free skiing’ focus on the output and let the inputs take care of themselves. Just like running through a crowded bar.

Citius, Altius, Fortius. As many will know is the original Olympic Motto, Faster, Higher, Stronger. Of course the Olympics have changed since those days and now many sports are judged. But what about skiing, judged or measured? If it’s judged you need to know the criteria for the judging and that’s the problem. All the judges are different, depending on the country, the ski school and the instructor. Adopt a measured approach to your skiing and you become your own judge. Faster (or slower), Higher (or lower), steeper, icier, bumpier and deeper or as they say – citius, altius, fortius.

Everyone knows who learns the fastest, children. But why? They don’t judge, they live in the now, they ski for themselves, they don’t analyze and they have so much fun. If you want to learn as quickly as a child then you need to be one! Off course there’s no turning back the clocks but you can adopt most of the attributes that contribute to children learning so fast and you’ll have as much fun as they do.

Don’t try to be someone else and as the song by Bob Marley goes, “don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright”. Be you, don’t be critical, don’t ski for others, ski for yourself, develop your own style of skiing and above all enjoy and have fun. Remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As Oscar Wilde once said “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”.

For a full listing of all Snoworks up and coming ski courses click here.

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