There are a number of standard methods we use to ski better, such as: ski often, hire instructors, or take lessons. There are other ways to become a better skier and I present them to you here. None of these entirely replaces competent instruction but they can help to make your time with an instructor more fruitful!
Ski Better by Watching Ski Racing
Watch and pay attention to ski racing. All the better if you can watch the FIS world cup races (Universal Sports broadcasts them in the USA) and listen closely to the commentary. Often times they talk about each racer’s technique both the good and the bad. If you do not understand what they mean by something, google it!
This has helped me quite a bit to become a better skier. I listen closely and google often and then put what I have learned into practice. Sometimes it is very helpful sometimes not so much. This also helps when I am working with instruction I understand what the point of the lesson is.
Ski Better by Watching Ski Video
If watching ski racing is helpful so too watching ski videos on YouTube, Vimeo (or similar). Many such videos are instructional in nature with folks giving you tips, drills, and plain old encouragement. Plus some of the videos are very well done and put together. Not only do they help you to ski better they can be a good way to pass some time. These videos are definitely not ski pr0n they show people on slopes all people are able to access and ski safely down. I often view ski videos by Elate Media.. Also I have found the videos sponsored by Big White Ski Resort to be easy to watch and informative.
Ski Better by Learning About Your Equipment
Learn about your skis and how they work. Once you learn how skis work you will understand better what you need to do with your body to work those skis. Learning about your clothing makes you more intelligent about dressing for the weather which keeps you comfortable in a wider range of winter conditions and that makes it more likely you will ski more.
Learn to care for the equipment. Not only will you save money but that will make you a more intelligent purchaser of ski equipment and a better user. Wax your own skis regularly and you will ski better and your skis will last longer (they may fall in obsolescence, but at least they will still function like they did when you bought them).
Ski Better by Writing about Skiing
You do not have to engage in ski writing to the extent that I and others do, but visit and participate in ski forums, visit and comment on ski e-zines (since you are reading this I suggest starting by leaving a comment). There is a reason why teachers ask students to write papers, the act of researching and making the thoughts coherent long enough to transfer to paper encourages real learning.
Participate in ski-centric Twitter chats (e.g. #SnowChat) the folks there are friendly, encouraging, and knowledgeable!
Ski Better Imagine Your Walk to Be Skiing
I recall hearing a story about a piano player locked away in a prison (for no good reason) and he was denied access to a piano while in prison. When he was finally released his piano skills were much better than expected. He told people he continued to practice every day while in prison and that he did so mentally. He sat and imagined in his mind playing the piano. I do much the same during my days with skiing. I take a corner and in my mind I am planting my pole and changing edges. It almost seems real to me.
Ski Better Work on your Physical Fitness
If you like to ski you know it can be a physically demanding activity. With that in mind commit to becoming more physically fit. Not only does this mean standard leg and core workouts in the gym but it means working on your balance, flexibility, and stamina. I took to cycling, I try to get in a couple of weight sessions weekly, and I try to get to one Yoga class per week. I have also committed to weight loss and have lost about 50 pounds since starting that project.
Do not forget to eat better. Eat your fruits and vegetables and learn to cook. You don’t have to be a Wolfgang Puck to make good food for yourself, but what you make for yourself is better than the restaurant or store equivalents. I am not vegetarian but it makes sense to me that we as a nation and people eat too much meat. Back off of the meat and view it more as a treat than a staple. I have meat on a daily basis but now I usually keep it to one meal per day.
Cut back on alcohol especially when skiing, I have found even one beer throws my timing off, so now I wait until après-ski to throw back a few drinks. Mind you a beer or two does not make my skiing dangerous, but the fine points of my technique become sloppy.
The result is I can now ski all day and rack up tons of runs and not feel sore the next day!
The truth is there is no single one way to become a better skier there is a wide ocean of means available to you and you are free to chart your own way. Do not get me wrong, taking instruction from certified instructors is a valuable means to becoming a better skier, but that is on-beat.
Do you have any off beat tips to ski better?