After graduating from the beginner slopes to more challenging terrain, most intermediate skiers just want to enjoy themselves. Now’s the time to ski the blues! Add speed! Take it up a notch! After all, the landscape is more interesting and the possibilities more open. Which makes what happens next a disappointing surprise: as they up the ante, bolstered by new skills and confidence, intermediate skiers get more tired, quicker.
And it’s not the increased difficulty that contributes to exhaustion; it’s their form.
Bad form makes you tire out more quickly
“It’s common for intermediate skiers to feel like they need to be on the back of their boots, which is not a functional stance,” says longtime Beaver Creek instructor Coker Baldwin. “When skiers do that, turns become more difficult and the skier becomes more fatigued.”
Also known as “skiing in the backseat,” these skiers are unbalanced. Their weight falls toward the backs of their skis, putting tremendous pressure on their quads to hold up their bodies and their knees to support the quads. In this position, they’re also more likely to cross their ski tips and fall.
Ideally, skiers want a dynamic athletic position—knees flexed, leg pressure on the front of the boot—for a more powerful, efficient approach, Baldwin says. Instead, many intermediates experience skis that feel unwieldy underneath their feet, thighs that burn after a few turns, and turns that are tough to execute.
“It’s easy to lean on the back of the boot because it will hold you and your thigh muscles are strong, but that’s not what the boots were made for,” Baldwin says. “When skiers do that, they’re not setting themselves up for success.”
This is a common intermediate mistake.
It comes when skiers are intimidated—intermediate runs have a steeper pitch than they’re accustomed to, and there are likely to be more obstacles like trees or bumps. Other times it’s because intermediate skiers are still learning how to stack their shoulders over their hips and their hips up over their feet. Intermediate skiers tend to drop their inside shoulder during turns, which can also throw them off balance. Correcting these errors can transform a skier’s experience, says Baldwin.
“If we can get people into a functional stance, that’s the difference between quitting at 2:00 p.m. or 3:30,” Baldwin says.
So how to overcome this physiological setback? Here are a few exercises to try:
- Start by bouncing in your boots (you’ve seen racers do this on television) to find your center and then concentrate on staying there.
- Another balancing act: one-inch hopping, where you hop off the ground to find your balance. (“If your hips are back or your chest is forward, it doesn’t feel right,” says Baldwin.)
- One dynamic exercise is to tap the inside foot through the turn so you rely on the outside ski to create the turn’s arc.
The most effective tip to look and feel better skiing: take a lesson.
Whether it’s a family private, where instructors focus on parents and kids, an individual private, which allows for personalized fine-tuning, or even hiring a mountain guide, where you and up to five friends have a professional lead around the mountain, offering tips throughout the day and revealing terrain you might otherwise miss, Beaver Creek Ski and Snowboard school is designed to help skiers safely progress.
Lessons are beneficial for everyone, from parents trying to keep up with your little bomber to skiers looking to advance to more expert terrain to those who just want to feel more secure and energetic on the intermediate slopes. More, a lesson can make the difference between a stellar ski vacation or a tiresome one.
We recommend taking lessons whenever you're getting back on the slopes each season so you can move ahead with the right knowledge and practice in place.
Info: To book a lesson with the Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School, click here