Maintain Consistent Stance Width For Better Skiing
A useful ski tip that helps many of my students regardless of their age, ability level, or goals is to maintain a consistent stance width. Many students make movements that cause them to vary their stance width from narrow to wide. Focus on finding a stance width that is effective for each individual and have them work to maintain that stance through all phases of the turn. This is a simple cue that has a positive effect on most people's skiing. When a student accomplishes this task they will be skiing with more subtle movement patterns, have a more active inside half, and be much more balanced.
Children frequently start each turn by powerfully pushing their outside ski away from them. This move is common in basic up through dynamic parallel turns. This push tends to move the child's weight back which puts them in an unbalanced position. The push also makes the child's outside leg straight and rigid and makes it difficult for them to absorb variations in terrain. Because the child is pushing the outside ski away from them their stance width will increase. Showing the child how to ski with their feet a more consistent width apart will help them stay more centered and balanced and make their turns by tipping and steering their skis. It is easy to explain and demonstrate regardless of the child's learning style.
More than anything most adults want to feel balanced and natural on their skis. Using the cue of consistent stance width immediately helps many of my adult students feel more balanced and feel that they are using less effort in each turn. Determine what appears to be a natural stance for your student, describe it to them and have them demonstrate it while standing there. Then ask them to maintain this width throughout a set of turns, or to make it simpler start off in a traverse or a straight run and work into turns.
Many intermediate-level adults have similar movement patterns as those described in children. Their push out on the outside ski may be more subtle but it is very often the primary engine for their turn. Maintaining consistent stance width will help eliminate this push into the turn and help the skier have a smoother initiation and maintain better balance. They will have a smoother more balanced transition into each turn because they will be tipping and steering their skis into the turn. They also will remain in better balance through the apex of the turn as their hips will remain over their feet and their skis will not begin to converge due to differing edge angles.
Maintaining a consistent stance width is a good pointer for the skier who is looking to freshen up and improve their skiing. It also works well as a starting point for a more motivated student who wishes to further refine their skills and movements. The majority of adults who are advanced skiers learned to ski by doing everything with their outside ski. Regardless of their individual style the most useful part of modern ski technique they can benefit from is having an active inside half . Rather than tipping, steering, and standing exclusively on their outside ski and allowing the inside one to go along for the ride, it is easier to engage, tip, and steer both skis and stand mostly on the outside ski. Having an active inside half makes it easier to smoothly release the skis out of the turn and move easily into the new turn. These movements are much easier to accomplish with a consistent stance width.
I have found that this tip is one of the simplest ways to help my students enjoy the benefits of modern skiing. It demands only a simple adjustment in a person's skiing and produces noticeable results in a short period of time. It is also a great focus for your first day on snow this winter. Try it yourself and see if it helps you feel more balanced.