Twisting Pushing Edging – Your Controls

Phil Smith, director of Snoworks Ski Courses chats about the skills of steering. Photo: Lee Townend using his edges.

What are Twisting, Pushing and Edging?
These are things you do with your skis using your legs and feet to control your descent. We call them the skills of steering. All three are present all the time when skiing in different and varying quantities. For simplicity lets compare each steering element to another form of transport – your bike.

TWISTING – Your Handlebars.
Twisting is equivalent to using the handlebars on your bike. When you twist your handlebars you twist the wheel of the bike. When you twist your legs and feet you twist your skis. Twisting allows you to change the direction your skis point.

EDGING – Your Grip
Edging is equivalent to leaning your bike. Lean the bike when negotiating a change of direction and your tyres grip the surface. Lean your legs when negotiating a change of direction and your edges grip the snow.

PUSHING – Your Brakes
Pushing is the equivalent of using the brakes on your bike. Push the brake pads against the rim of the wheel using your brake levers and you create resistance between the two surfaces and slow down. Push the edges or base of your skis against the snow using your legs to move and displace snow and you create resistance between the two surfaces and slow down.

These three steering elements exist in most forms of transport.
Something that twists
Something that grips
Something that controls speed

When you ride your bike you use all three elements in an infinite blend. Nothing is ever the same, everything is changing. Skiing should be no different.

Many skiers focus on developing a particular ‘technique’ in skiing rather than developing versatility in using the steering skills. Their technique often has a particular blend of the steering elements and thus they become good at skiing certain terrain where the blend of the steering elements matches the terrain. We often hear skiers talking about the difficulty of skiing ice, narrow paths, awkward shaped bumps, steeper terrain, off-piste, heavy snow, slush, even the difficulties of skiing when visibility is limited. Sound familiar?

To become a truly skilful skier your goal must be to develop versatility in using the steering elements then all these awkward places become so much easier.

Lets take a few examples in how the blend of the steering elements need to change depending on the terrain or task. Skiing in awkward situations with not much space such as bumps, steep couloirs or narrow paths requires you to be able to twist your skis quickly and effectively. Skiing steep terrain where speed control is essential requires you to be able to create and vary the resistance between your skis and the snow so you can travel safely at your desired speed. Skiing at high speed safely requires you to be able to use the edges of your skis effectively, along with the ability to slow down quickly when needed.

In skiing the terrain and the surface of the snow are constantly changing along with your objectives. Slow down here, go there, stop here, speed up here etc so a set technique clearly does not work. Your goal should therefore be to develop versatility in using the steering skills then the terrain, the snow, the task determine the blend of these skills – just like riding your bike. The better you get at the skills the better skier you become. It is really that simple!

At Snoworks we choose to use the three terms TWISTING, PUSHING and EDGING to describe the steering skills. We have found they work brilliantly in practice. Most skiers relate to them and more importantly can easily use them to develop their skiing more than they ever thought possible. It’s worth bearing in mind different organisations, instructors and coaches may use different terms to explain the same thing. As a skier it’s the actions rather than the terms that you need to understand and these actions are:
Something that twists.
Something that grips.
Something that controls speed.
What we call the steering skills.

For further insights into ‘Pushing’ or what we also term ‘Snow Displacement’ to control speed click here.

Twisting, Pushing and Edging are developed on All-Terrain Ski Courses.
Click for a full listing of the All-Terrain ski courses coming up


All-Terrain (15) Ski Instruction (6)