Separation is Key
The ability to turn your skis with leg rotation that is separate from your upper body is the fundamental skill that turns a good skier into a great skier. To put it simply: changing the direction of your skis by rotating your upper body and/or entire body is inefficient.
Derek demonstrates a lack of upper and lower body separation
Separation is key. Great skiers maintain a quiet, stable upper body (pelvis to shoulders) and rotate their legs below them to change ski direction. This requires muscular intensity throughout the core so that your legs have something to turn against. When done correctly, a skier can vary from quick and powerful turns to a slow and consistent ones as desired. This degree of versatility makes leg rotation the most efficient source of rotation for most alpine skiing applications.
Derek demonstrates good upper and lower body separation
To practice this skill, find a gentle slope that you are very comfortable on. Then start sliding with your ski, and body, pointing straight downhill. Next, try to turn your skis across the hill while keeping you upper body (pelvis to shoulders) facing downhill by turning your legs below you. Try these one at a time at first, resetting yourself after each attempt, and once you’ve mastered it, begin linking them together. After that, try blending this back into your normal skiing. Try to replicate the same sensations. You should find that not only do you have more control over where your skis are pointing, but also when you can change their direction.
Upper and lower body separation in practice
Read the rest of the series:
Week 1 – Come prepared
Week 2 – Tune ups
Week 3 – Early season conditions
Week 4 – Skills not hills
Week 5 – Use the whole ski
Week 6 – Always be moving
Week 7 – Find your rhythm
Week 8 – Trust your outside ski
Week 9 – Like riding a bike
Week 10 – Carving and Steeps
Week 11 – Edge from your feet up
Week 12 – Enough is enough
Week 13 – Powder & Crud
Derek Althof has 16 years experience in the ski industry and is Deer Valley’s ski school training manager and an alpine examiner and clinic leader for the Professional Ski Instructors of America’s Central and Intermountain Divisions. Derek learned to ski at age 4 and has had a passion for good skiing ever since.
We hope you enjoy our weekly skiing tips. Please remember that they can help but will not eliminate risks, as skiing is a dynamic sport. These tips are meant to help you build skills for a more enjoyable skiing experience.