Facing winters is a challenging enough experience for people who come from hot countries like – India. However, to lift the gloomy winter mood that was settling in me, I decided to push myself to embrace the winter, greys and snow by going on a Ski trip. My interest in Ski was a quest to explore the experience and at the same time make the most of what Nordic countries have to offer the foreigners. I have seen videos of people skiing and it always occur to me as a difficult sport for the reasons you it seemed like it requires a lot of coordination of mind, body and skills. I started asking a bunch of my friends who are here with me in Copenhagen to plan a Ski trip and in no time I had four friends excited about the trip. Among the friends, Peter suggested that we should go to Isaberg Mountain Resort in Sweden. Since, he had been on this trip it came as an easy choice.
In this blog, I want to share my experience and learnings that I drew while going through the process. First of all and before we go into details, it is required to be with trusted people who are willing to be with you when you are going as a beginner. The four friends I had – they were absolutely committed to my learning and each one of them played various roles in different moments from being a motivator, mentor, doctor and above all my fav is my rescue team who lifted me after my falls. If not them, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this experience or learnt to be on Skis 🙂
I owe my friends for teaching me Skiing with a lot of patience and commitment, and I will always be grateful to them for their contribution. If you are a beginner and planning a Ski trip, these points will help you gain some confidence. Before my trip began I watched one video every night for 7 days in a row. Just one video and that taught me enough of theoretical knowledge on basics like – how to carry, wear, and use the skis. This video served as my guide and made me feel that I could do it, please check it out here.
Every word mentioned in this video is a gold mine, below are some of my key learnings from this trip –
Being comfortable with the idea of falling – Ski is a physical sport and if this is your first time ever, falling is inevitable. To resist or dislike falling is only going to make the experience worst. Embracing the falls is the first step to make progress towards sustaining yourself in this sport for a long run. I saw many kids who were young as 2-3 year olds, and they were doing great, one of the main reasons were – Kids don’t have any fear of falling. The fearless nature allowed them to push them beyond their comfort zones. They weren’t ashamed of falling and had no inertia to explore themselves. I borrowed this nature and an instinct, which might be natural for kids for few hours on my first day of Skiing. I embraced falling in various scenarios and had bruises all over my knees and elbows. In short, there is no gain if there is no pain (literally).
Make transition to accurate falls – Unlike some falls that are accidental and out of your control, a good fall is in our control. Sometimes while skiing I knew that I was going to fall and it is important to make the most of those moments by falling accurately. I learnt that the correct way of falling is falling on the sides, any other fall will hurt. Inaccurate falls will make you loose more energy and would make it harder to get up. The side fall prevented me from hurting my back and neck. It also allowed me to retain the energy, which saved me from the energy burnouts.
Start with no poles and accurate postures– I would vouch for this, the best way to attain balance and correction in your posture is to start without the ski poles, full credits to my friends to start my training without it. I read it later that ski poles help in timing and rhythm, when you don’t have the pole, the legs and hips are forced to do all the work. To use the poles, I needed to gain the confidence with my posture. Before utilising the interdependency of poles and skis, I got started with working independently with the skis to gain balance. I tried variety of options but holding the poles parallel to the ground in my hands was the worked for me really well.
Stop to start again – Now that I was comfortable with falling and understood what were the correct ways of falling. I began to move on my skis, the next step for me was to learn how to stop. I began to focus on ‘how not to fall’ or ‘how do I stop’. The snowplough position is a useful technique for controlling the speed and stopping on the slopes. A good way to remember how to stop is making a pizza shape with your feet. Snow plough is a position where you keep the distance between the skies wider at the back and smaller gap at the front of skis (V shape).
Parallel to turn– Learning to turn can be the most difficult yet a thrilling experience. Proper turns are called parallel turns because the skis are parallel at the end of each turn. I am not sure if I really got the hang of the parallel turn but theoretically I learned that it helps by scraping the edges of the your skis against the snow, which provides control. My next trip will focus on becoming better at taking parallel turns. But the way I learnt to turn was by leaning on the other side of the ski opposing to the side I wanted to go in. For ex – lean on left to take turn on right and vice-versa. Might seem counter intuitive but it helped me again balance against the turn.
Control on your body– The most important aspect of learning to ski is having an understanding of where the centre of your body is, which enables you to gain balance. I don’t have a strong core and that made it hard for me to lift myself after every fall however, what saved me was avoiding to fall by regaining the centre. I will give complete credit to my yoga practise for this.
Bending your knees like squatting will help utilising the equipment to it’s best capacity, as much as you trust your body, trust your equipments. It helps to understand when to utilise what and the strength of all components at play. Here is diagram that explains the angle that should be maintained when you are on ski.
Incorrect posture can cause knee pain and undesired injuries. Below is the video showing me unitising the strength of all the components like – poles, skis and body balance. Also, a successful attempt of coming down hill.
After coming back, I tried to look up to understand the mechanisms of skiing in a more theoretical and structured fashion and found this resource very helpful.
Above all it is very important to enjoy the experience of being challenged and have fun during the process!