Intermediate ski techniques focus on building on the fundamentals to become a stronger, more confident skier. This guide provides key techniques to help intermediate skiers improve their performance on the mountain.
Proper body positioning as an intermediate skier is absolutely essential for maintaining balance and control. Without a solid stacked stance over your feet and proper alignment down the fall line, you'll struggle to turn and manage speed efficiently. That's why dialing in correct body positioning should be a key focus.
The foundation starts with keeping your body stacked directly over the top of your skis in a neutral, athletic position. You want to avoid sitting in the backseat with your weight too far back. This is a common mistake that compromises balance and makes it hard to engage your edges properly. Instead, stay centered by bending at the ankles and knees, not at the waist. Keep your back straight and chest open while flexing both legs equally.
Also, be sure to keep your weight pressed firmly into the front of your boots by driving your shins against the tongues. This centers your mass towards the tips of your skis for better control and handling. When your weight falls backward, you lose power and precision. Stay forward in your boots at all times. Engage your core muscles to maintain this centered stance by drawing your belly button gently in towards your spine. Activate your core throughout each turn to remain stable.
It's also crucial to keep your shoulders, hips, and feet aligned down the fall line as you arc across the hill. Avoid allowing your upper body to twist or pivot independently from your legs. Keep everything integrated together in one fluid, athletic motion that follows the downhill path. Any twisting or misalignment diminishes edge control and balance.
Dialing in proper body positioning over your feet with weight forward, knees bent, and aligned down the fall line takes practice. But it's the vital foundation for intermediate skiers looking to master carved turns, moguls, variable conditions, and more. Take time to isolate this fundamental skill through specific drills on easier green runs first before moving to more challenging terrain.
The ability to effectively tilt your skis on edge is an art form that intermediate skiers must diligently practice. Edging means angling your knees and ankles to tip your skis onto either edge and engage the metal to grip the snow below. This edged angle is what allows you to carve turns and control your speed down the mountain.
To initiate a left turn, you'll roll both ankles inward and draw your knees together to engage the uphill edges of your skis. The key is timing this edging before you pivot the skis across the slope to smoothly transition into the new turn arc. For right turns, simply repeat this movement in the opposite direction with ankles outward and knees pushed apart to engage the other edge set. Avoid twisting your upper body independently of your legs during this motion.
The actual angulation or degree of edged angle will vary depending on snow conditions and the desired turn shape. Subtler-edged angles work well for long-radius turns on groomed runs, while more dramatic edging is required for short-radius carved turns. Play with modifying your edged angle and notice how it impacts turn tightness, speed control, and handling.
You can complement effective edging with angulation of your lower body. Angulation refers to pushing your uphill hip and shoulder downward during a turn, which increases the edge angle. The combination of edging your ankles and knees together while simultaneously angulating through the hips and core creates a very solid platform for precise carving.
Mastering edging takes time and mileage. But with a better edging technique, you'll be able to eliminate skidding and side-slipping. You'll carve perfect arcs in the corduroy and control your speed with confidence. Don't underestimate the importance of this key skill in your intermediate progression.
The ability to make a consistent series of smooth, linked parallel turns is a major milestone for intermediate skiers. It demonstrates proper edging, timing, and precision. Here are some key tips to help you master those satisfying railroad track arcs:
Each parallel turn should begin by angulating into the new turn and edging uphill before pivoting the skis across the fall line. This means tipping your uphill edges while looking in the direction you want your skis to turn next. Time this properly so your skis are already carving when they become perpendicular to the fall line.
Avoid turning your skis too quickly or skidding the tails around. Be patient and let the edged angle smoothly transition you into the new turn radius once the skis are pointed downhill. This is where finesse and subtle movements come into play.
As you arc through each turn, finish by guiding the skis around to complete the full radius turn. Reach the bottom of the turn and flatten the skis back to parallel before initiating the next turn sequence. Linking each turn smoothly together takes coordinated timing and rhythm. Planting your poles in time with transitioning edges can help establish this flow.
You can also control the shape of your turns by adjusting the degree you angle the edges during initiation. A more edged angle produces a tighter, carving turn, while subtle edges make for wider radius turns. Use this to regulate speed and add style to your technique.
Mastering clean parallel turns requires developing your limb independence and timing. But once you start linking arcs smoothly from edge to edge, it’s incredibly rewarding. The harmonious sequence feels effortless when everything clicks. Keep practicing!
Mogul runs with their bumpy uneven terrain, are challenging for intermediate skiers, but mastering them will rapidly improve your balance, edging, and precision. Bumping down a mogul field requires absorbing the bumps while maintaining control. Use these key techniques:
Before entering a mogul section, first, visually spot your line down the field. Pick a consistent path between the bumps that sets up a good rhythm through the run. If halfway through your run you lose your line or have a deviation from your planned path, keep your eyes up and look for the next best line. Keeping your eyes up and looking down the hill allows you to make adjustments to your line, and smoothly continue down the mogul run.
You want to keep your knees soft, yet responsive. Don't fight your knees coming up - allow them to gently absorb the mogul and then actively carving down the backside of the mogul. Keep your arms forward for better balance and to counterweight your core. As you approach each bump, make sure to tip your uphill edge by angulating your knees to keep that edge engaged rather than skidding off the bump.
Time your turns to happen on the trough in between moguls where possible. This avoids having to absorb the deepest part of the mogul, a much more advanced technique. Keep your chest tall, allowing your lower body to do all of the work as you play in the bumps. Try to maintain good ski-to-snow contact through soft knees on the absorption, and active carving on the backside of the mogul, during extension and making your next turn. Avoid sitting back as you go over the top of the mogul.
Mogul skiing requires explosive power to punch through the rough terrain combined with finesse to carve quick turns on the backside of the mogul. Your legs will burn after a mogul run, but the added balance and precision control will improve all aspects of your skiing. Embrace the challenge of mastering the bumps!
Learning to ski backward, known as switch skiing, is an advanced skill for intermediate skiers to start developing. Switch requires rewiring your muscle memory and balance to perform mirrored versions of your normal turns. Here are some pointers for mastering the backward basics:
Start by trying to switch skiing on very gentle green runs where you can go slowly.
This gives your body time to adjust to the reversed sensations and weight distributions required. Don't worry about trying to make advanced switch turns early on. Just focus on your balance, and stance and become comfortable moving backward.
Visualize your normal skiing technique just in a mirrored image. The same principles of balance, edging, and turning apply. Lean uphill into turns and allow your edges to initiate direction changes while keeping your weight centered. It can help to ride the switch on a chairlift first to get used to the backward view of the slope.
Expect some falls early on while your body adapts to this new skill! Take it slowly, and don't get frustrated. Improvement at switch skiing takes time and mileage. Be patient with yourself and celebrate small achievements as your comfort slowly increases. Once you've developed solid backward balance, you can start working on basic switch turns. Keep these very rounded and flowing to start.
Learning to ski switch opens up new challenges and possibilities for intermediate skiers. It improves overall balance and control by breaking old habits. The switch also enables skiing to fakie off jumps or tricks in the park. Go slowly, but stick with switch practice over time. That feeling when the switch clicks is very rewarding!
The ability to adapt your technique to different snow conditions is critical for intermediate skiers. Powder, ice, crud, and constantly varying conditions require adjustments to stance, edges, turn shape, and more. Here's how to modify your skiing when the snow conditions aren't ideal:
Powder skiing demands wider skis with rocker to float through the deep snow. Bend your knees deeply and sit back slightly to prevent diving forward. Rounded, skidded turns are better for powder. Subtly weight and unweight your skis while staying balanced over your feet to maintain the float. Use your poles lightly to gauge snow depth.
Icy conditions call for consistently keeping your edges tilted at higher angles to ensure they hold without skidding. Use short radius carved turns that engage the edges fully through each change in direction. Avoid pointing your tips straight downhill for long on sheer ice. Control your speed and remain nimble.
Chopped-up crud can feel like hitting endless moguls. Stay loose through your whole body, keeping knees and ankles flexed to dampen the uneven terrain. Avoid being stiff or static, which will bounce you around. Absorb actively with your legs as you make your way through the crud.
The most advanced skiers make continual subtle adjustments depending on the exact snow texture. They adapt edging, pressure distribution, turn shape, and timing moment by moment. Learn to read conditions and make changes proactively. Staying centered and flexible is key.
Rhythm is key for smooth, flowing intermediate skiing. Here are tips for improving rhythm:
The shape of your turns directly impacts speed. Here's how to control velocity:
Intermediate skiers should continuously tune their technique and balance. Try these drills:
As you progress, you'll ski more advanced terrain. Here are some terrain-specific tips:
As your intermediate technique improves, it's critical to stay safe by skiing responsibly. Both your own safety and that of others depend on making smart decisions. Here are some key areas to focus on:
Always obey trail rules and closures. Only ski terrain marked within your ability level. Don't go out of bounds or venture onto runs that are beyond your skill range. This risks injury to yourself and endangers others if you can't control your path.
Be aware of skiers and riders around you at all times. Yield to those downhill from you and leave space for their fall lines. Pass carefully with ample room and announce yourself. Avoid stopping where you obstruct the trail or can't be seen below a rise.
Watch out for crowded trail intersections and slow zones where collisions are more likely. Keep speed in check at merges and bottlenecks. Consider taking less busy routes when possible to reduce risk exposure.
If you fall, quickly move to the side and regroup in a safe spot off the active trail area. Don't just sit in a blind spot. Also, keep your gear in good condition for the conditions. Always have a charged phone for emergency situations.
Responsible slope conduct protects the whole mountain community. Set a good example for others less experienced than you. Uphold safe riding etiquette and procedures at all times, even when others don't. Staying safe keeps our amazing ski areas open.
Following these intermediate skiing tips for body position, edging, parallel turns and more will help you ski with more control and confidence. Focus on continuous improvement through drills and mileage. Precision and finesse comes with practice, so keep at it!
Here are answers to some common questions about intermediate ski techniques:
When skiing moguls, stay loose in your knees and ankles to absorb the bumps. Pick a consistent line through the moguls and keep your eyes up, looking three to four moguls down the hill. Keep your weight forward and arms up for better balance. As the technique improves, work on taking a more aggressive line through the bumps, allowing you to go faster.
Start by skiing easier blacks and challenging yourself progressively. Focus on proper edging technique and turn shape to control speed. Check speed before sections with narrow or off-camber terrain. Lean downhill when traversing and resist uphill edge pressure. Keep your weight forward and knees bent to stay centered. Take breaks as needed and build confidence over time.
For powder skiing, use wider, rockered skis that float well. Lean back slightly to avoid diving forward. Make rounded, Sugoi turns and ride up onto the uphill edge to keep the tips above the snow. Pole plants should be light taps to gauge snow depth. Stay balanced over your feet and use subtle movements to steer. Powder requires a loose, playful technique.