Instinct vs. Contemplation

Definitely for ALL skiers
For All Levels
Once you reach a certain level of skiing you move beyond getting to the bottom of the trail, of course most of us are in that phase before the expert level in the intermediate phase.

Still, when skiing at expert levels you will often ski in situations that are driven nearly 100% by instinctual action. However, I am convinced that from time to time you should go slower and seriously study and observe what you are doing.

Being a capable skier I can ski at high speeds and in challenging situations. Such situations mean little thought and immediate action — quite simply there is no time to think only time to act.

However, to get to that point you must practice in situations where you can think about what is doing and repeat. Think back to the days when you were in organized athletics. I wrestled in high school and in practice we would drill on moves starting out in slow motion and slowly turning up the speed dial. Then when on the mats in actual competition it would be full out no-thought action and reaction. We reacted solely on the basis of the drills we did in practice. It should be the same for your skiing too.

You do not want to start new techniques on fast slopes. Start practicing them on trails you have absolute comfort on and gradually turn up the challenge dial. When I work on such items there is a lot of conscious thinking that has to happen and on fast runs there may be not enough time.

I remember seeing on some show about the athletic mental state. The show noted (wish I could find it or some underlying research) distinct differences between brain function when training and during actual performance. My recollection is during performance the brain’s commands take a much shorter route to the muscles.

Take your time in moving a new method or ski technique to hotter runs, the key is to push your abilities firmly not quickly.

Good Stuff!


  1. I love it! I am always practicing many many movements and I feel very comfortable skiing anything on the mountain. Hop turns, jump turn entry, skiing on one, doing turns exceptionally slow on flat terrran (really gets you to understand how you are moving through a turn). You can step it up a bit with faster moves on a bit steeper terrain – converging and diverging step turns for example really excentuate the extension of the legs in turns and how to get your body moving into a new turn. Many mountains have a steep followed by a flat section of terrain you have to go accross to get back to the chair lift. I try to use every bit of the flat terrain for drills before heading back up the chair to the steeps.

  2. Scott,

    Yeah, a pattern a lot of our ski resorts have, some steep and a lot of runoff. However, I usually practice my stuff on slower runs. Where I usually ski has three runs where the terminal drop does not have a lot of runoff , but they have a number of green blue runs where it is easy enough to practice new tricks. One of those green and easy blues leads to my favorite back hill lodge so I have a good reason to run.

    In the past I’ve tried to practice new tricks on the more challenging runs only to become intimate with the snow.

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