All the experts agree that the more skiing you do, the better you’ll become; improving your performance and learning new tricks is all about putting in the legwork on the slopes. Practicing in a range of locations and on different terrains will help you get a feel for the variations and your confidence will quickly increase.
In these early stages you won’t be quite ready for the expert slopes, but you’ll be aware of your own strengths and abilities. This is a great time to start weaving in a few simple tricks if you feel you’re able. Challenging yourself will not only help build up your core strength but, in time, should see you leaving the red and blue slopes for good.
Here are five of the best tricks for intermediate skiers to try out. Don’t forget – before you start always make sure you have the right kit for the conditions and wear a helmet for protection.
The Spread Eagle
The spread eagle is the most popular first move with intermediates skiers. After taking off at a jump, spread your arms and legs to form an ‘x’ shape with your body, and then return to the regular position to effect a smooth landing. In order to maintain your balance and avoid taking a tumble, you’ll need to concentrate on keeping those limbs as straight as possible in the air.
The Daffy builds on the skills learned while perfecting the spread eagle trick. This time, fully extend each of your legs in front of and behind you whilst in mid-air. If balance is an issue, use your arms in a similar way to compensate. Take great care to pull your back leg in before hitting the snow – coordination is the key.
The Iron Cross
To perfect the iron cross trick, you need to get your skis into a cross position beneath you while jumping. It sounds deceptively simple, but timing is paramount. Landing with even slightly crossed skis could lead to a painful fall, so get enough air to enable a safe recovery.
The tail grab is a more advanced move that includes your entire body. Once in the air, the skis are pulled in behind you and, using one hand, you reach back to tap or hold them. Remember, holding on until the last second may look impressive but the slightest miscalculation can result in a tumble, so it’s best to let go way in advance.
Once you’ve mastered the rest and have built up a good level of confidence, balance and strength, a 180 is the next step. As you jump, turn your head in the direction you are planning to rotate, then twist your body through 180 degrees and land facing up the slope. It’s probably best not to attempt this one until you are a pretty competent skier…landing on your back won’t look as good as a perfected 180 turn.
Top ski resorts for honing your skills
The Development Centre in Val d’Isere, France, is a British institution staffed by a youthful team of teachers from the UK. They work on the principle of developing each skier’s individual style, and making it a fun experience in the process. Students can attend a group session of between three and six others, or take lessons with a personal instructor. One to one coaching tends to be a little more intense, but the time can be focused on the exact skill you want to master.
Steamboat Springs in Colorado boasts an impressive array of Olympic level alumni – more than any other resort in the United States. Getting lessons at this school from Billy Kidd and his team of Steamboat Olympians is an enthusiasts dream come true.
Getting the most out of skiing and riding
It’s all too easy to feel intimidated by expert skiers when you can only holiday on the slopes once or twice a year, but don’t let their confidence put you off. Spend time thinking about the tricks you’d like to perfect and adjust each day’s skiing to the conditions; not every new skill can be learnt on ice, for example. Finally, never lose heart, if you are struggling with a trick it may be down to a small factor in your movement, so always speak to your instructor and get constructive advice on your performance.