It feels great when you first become an intermediate skier — you now can ski most of the trails and enjoy going faster than many skiers (note the definition of an advanced skier is not that you can ski a black diamond trail, but that you can ski black or double black diamond trails skillfully, almost like skiing on a green run). But this feeling could fade, being replaced by realizing that it is hard to improve yourself over years. As a result, you cannot feel the pulse of more advanced skiing, most notably carving and mogul skiing.  Jack Heggie described this frustration in Skiing with the Whole Body:


“… one day, late in the afternoon, near the end of the ski season, standing at the top of a run, after what seemed like the ten thousandth day of trying to improve and not getting any results, I had about decided I had had enough of skiing.  I was sick and tired of being stuck at a low level of ability, and not being able to improve.  I was ready to quit” (p. xi).

How to make this intermediate stage temporary instead of permanent?  Well, every skier is different and there are often multiple approaches to getting the same results.  Therefore, the following tips are not exhaustive.  Feel free to share your experience!

1. Get the right feel. What you feel may differ a lot from what you actually do in skiing. Therefore, it is important to feel good skiing.  For example, can you feel ski edges changing?  Can you feel your outside ski’s reaction when you put more pressure on it?  Can you feel the struggle when you hold your breath and round your back all the way down?  Can you feel the difference between bending your skis vs. riding on them?  … …

To get this feel, taking a few videos is useful.  Pay attention to the moments when the video shocks you – you feel great on snow but look “horrible” (in your picky eyes) on camera.  When you try to fix your form, you may feel some discomfort at the beginning but soon you will feel better and better.  Finding a few similar-ski-level friends who share your interest in improving skiing would be nice.  You can analyze the videos together.   A good ski coach can certainly help learners “feel what is right.”

2. Do drills. Intermediate skiing is a tough stage because as you accumulate experience, you might have also built bad habits, such as unnecessarily steering the coming inside ski, upper-lower body co-rotation, etc. Most (if not all) of these bad habits can be traced back to problems in fundamentals.  You will need to “dissemble” your skiing by doing drills specifically addressing your problems, one at a time.  Once you truly grasp a drill, go back to free skiing and see how things go.  Drills may be boring, but remember even world cup skiers typically start their day doing drills.  Fun comes after boredom.

3. Be patient. Don’t expect miracles in ski learning. They might come but it’s very rare.  If you can get rid of one bad habit in a few days, you should buy yourself a drink to celebrate.  Don’t try to fix multiple problems in one day.  Step by step; one by one.  You will get there.

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