Ski light

The other day in a session (sessions are ski school for ski instructors) Colleen made an interesting observation.

By Keith Leggit

The other day in a session (sessions are ski school for ski instructors) Colleen made an interesting observation.

“If your lower body remains in control and flexible, your upper body will be quiet.”

At first this sounds like a ‘huh?’ but on further thought there is more than kernel of truth. There is a Ski Commandment.

Watch a good skier drop down a face. Their upper body is seemingly still, facing mostly downhill, arms reaching with each pole plant. The legs are little pistons moving from side to side, up and down, taking up the bumps and extending into the drops. Pretty simple.


Now watch a skier on the same pitch who seems a little out of control. Arms wagging, accelerating as they drop into the fall line and pushing hard on their skis at the end of the turn, spraying lots of snow and the whole time waving their arms around like they are trying to direct traffic around a New Years Eve wreck.

What’s up with that?

Watch them again. Look at their legs.

Their legs will be locked. The bottom, downhill leg, will be absolutely straight with no option for shock absorption. At the very least, they will be rigid and stiff in their legs and how their lower body reacts to differing snow conditions. They start a turn in a fixed position and remain rigid in their lower body and they thrash their arms around trying to stay upright. Every time they hit a bump, they are forced to use their arms and upper body to regain their balance.

Watch the good skier again.

They ride their skis. In balance, they seem to simply stand over their skis and effortlessly drop down the hill.


First. They are centered using their entire ski. They are balanced and control the ski from a middle position of action versus reaction. Their actions are fluid, without sudden sprays of snow and an acceleration/deceleration in every turn.

Second. Good skiers are flexible in their legs. How does that happen?

On moderate terrain, stand tall to start your turn. As you drop into the fall line, sink as low as you can using your knees and hips to drop—don’t just bend forward at the waist and keep your legs straight.

Last. Good skiers seem to float lightly down the hill.

Gentle motions. No big movements. Gentle. Quiet. Centered.

Ski light.

Always turn. Always flex.

Be gentle. And be quiet.