Some may argue that many ski racers have a love-hate relationship with early season training, perhaps due to the abundance of drills. However, we also know that Gen Z loves instant gratification, bringing in the satisfaction of seeing quick results with effective drill training! Drills are awesome and productive tools to find your edges, practice technical skills, and set yourself up for a fast season.
Try these 6 drills in your early season training progression to start your season with a strong technical base.
1. Edge Sets
The classic drill that is great for stance and ankle-knee flexion. Start by slowly sliding down the hill with a flat ski in a balanced athletic stance with your feet hip width distance, ankles knees and hips vertically stacked, hands forward, and forward pressure on the front of the boots.
While retaining this athletic stance, use your ankles and knees to quickly roll the ski on edge and into the hill with a hockey stop-like motion. After trying this with both feet, you could try holding the inside or uphill ski ski up, as demonstrated in the video above.
Continue your ankle-knee flexion progression with the Garland drill. This is a traversing drill, so make sure you are looking uphill and avoiding other skiers. In your athletic stance, slowly traverse across the hill with a flat ski and then roll your knees and ankles into the hill and roll the ski on its edge. Repeat these two steps as you traverse the hill.
Pro tip, if you are feeling unstable it is probably because you are leaning in and have too much pressure on your inside or uphill ski. Try driving your outside hand down the hill to level your shoulders and maximize balance. The drill is called Garlands because your track should look like a holiday garland at the end.
If you have been to a Keely’s Camp Race Camp, you know that skating is one of our favorite drills. Not only are skate races super fun, they are a great way to practice weight transfer and learn how to create forward energy in your skis.
Practice skating on a cat track or fairly flat surface while thinking about flexing your ankles forward and pushing off of your skis to create glide and speed. Skating is all about using your edges so also remember to think about rolling your knees and ankles. Skating is also a great way to make up time out of the start in your races this season as well.
4. Get Over It
The get over it drill takes weight transfer practice to the next level! One of the most common struggles we see in ski racing is dialing in the transition, or the time in between your turns. Specifically, transferring the weight to your new outside ski while keeping your skis fast and clean is one of the most important skills to work on, cue the get over it drill!
The key to this drill, and many others, is to go very slowly to ensure correct technique. Speed will come! Start by slowly traversing in an athletic stance. Just before you turn, pick up your downhill ski and slide the turn while balancing on the other ski. After you turn, you should now be standing on the new downhill ski.
If the tails of your lifted ski are dragging, it means you are too far in the backseat, remember to pressure the front of the boot!
After practicing the four drills above, you should have a strong grasp on lower body technique. The next step is to work upper lower body separation, meet the airplane drill. This drill is also a great way to practice leveling the shoulders down the hill.
While making controlled and balanced turns, extend your arms and keep them parallel to the slope. You are looking to feel a pinch in your downhill side, indicating your shoulders are level and pointing down the hill. Try this drill on both steep and flat slopes!
6. Mikaela Shiffrin’s Favorite Drill!
Last but not least, is Mikaela Shiffrin’s favorite drill: passing the pole behind the back. In the transition of the turn, forward movement onto the new outside ski is key to finding speed. Take the skills you have been working on in skating and the get over it drill and add forward movement!
In controlled turns on a moderate pitch, practice passing one ski pole behind your back in the transition of your turn. Think about moving your hips up and forward to pressure the boots and skis forward. In drill work, it can be helpful to over exaggerate to get the feeling so don’t be scared to try different things!
Check out this image if you want to learn more about where the transition of your turn actually happens.
Remember, these drills are hard and take lots of practice so don’t be hard on yourself if they feel difficult! Keep trying and ask your local ski club coaches for help. If you are in need of more support, check out our online coaching curriculum!
Also, follow guidance and instruction from your local ski club for all drill progressions.