With ski holiday research well underway for next year, my mind is constantly preoccupied with hopes that when I next stand at the top of a snowy slope, I will cruise down with impeccable elegance and not a shred of nerves.
I can dream, can’t I?
‘Impeccable elegance’ may be a little out of my league, but I think that being able to negotiate a red run without a major panic attack is a realistic goal. So how can you improve your skiing during the snowless months?
1. Find a dry slope or indoor slope
Yes, I know I have banged on about my good fortune in living near a fabulous dry ski slope, but its benefits really can’t be over-emphasised. Although dry slopes have a very different feeling to snow, they are great for practising technique and building confidence. The Norfolk Snowsports Club hosts a variety of different classes to cater for all abilities, so you’re bound to find something that suits you. My slope also has free sessions, so you can (occasionally) find me worming my way down on a Sunday afternoon. This is great for keeping your muscle memory fresh.
It may also be a good idea to try out an indoor snow slope. Again, they are not the same as snow, but they give you a good opportunity to hone your technique. Milton Keynes and Hemel Hempstead both possess indoor snow slopes that are worth a look at. (N.B. This is likely to be more expensive than a dry slope.)
2. Learn as much as you can
If you are not as bathed in good fortune as I am with a dry slope, then the next best thing you can do is to read and watch as much as you can about skiing. I’ve been watching this series of videos on YouTube, which are a bit like an online ski school. The videos are broken into easy steps, ranging from complete novice to off-piste expert, and all of the videos give you useful tips and exercises that will boost your technique. I believe these videos are also available as an app, so you can download them and re-visit them on your ski holiday. Genius!
Reading material will also help you to gen up on your skiing know-how. There are hundreds are ski and snowsports magazines out there, so why not check them out?
3. Employ a little sports psychology…
Don’t underestimate the power that mind training can have on your physical abilities. I confess that I forgot about these techniques last year, but I shall definitely be trying them out over the next few months.
I’m particularly a fan of visualisation. I used to use this technique a lot when I rode horses, and it really seemed to work for me.
For effective visualisation, go somewhere quiet and close your eyes. If you can, imagine that you are skiing down a slope. Imagine that you are doing everything perfectly and think about how that feels. The more able you are to visualise the sights, smells, sounds, and the very motion of skiing itself, the more effective the technique.
If you are less able at visualisation, it can still be helpful to practise it. If you can’t imagine yourself skiing from a first person perspective, try it from the third person. This means that you visualise yourself as if you are watching yourself on TV. Think about how you look when you are in the perfect position, and how smoothly you are carving.
As you get better at visualising, try doing it from the first person perspective. It is this perspective that creates a sort of mental muscle memory, which will help when you ski for real.
So, don’t let your skiing slack off during the summer! Try out these tips and let me know how you get on.
(Hello Sasha if you’re reading this!!)