People who ski race in their youth are so agile it looks like they were born on skis. Their skis are almost natural extensions of their feet.
Even when they stumble, they look graceful. They catch an edge that would send most of us tumbling, do a little hop to regain their balance and barely miss a beat.
If you’re like me and came to skiing later in life, you’ll have to work hard to develop this level of skill. It’s challenging for us, but not impossible. Practice, patience and some drill work are what we need.
Here’s a simple, but effective and fun drill you can use to improve your agility and coordination. There’s a video demo, followed by some tips.
The Crazy Eight Drill simply involves skiing in a figure eight pattern. You have to take quick steps, pushing out to the sides. When you change direction at the centre of the 8, you change the pushing leg, so each leg gets equal practice.
This drill helps develop your
- Skate Ski Push
- Step Turns for Cornering
- You can practice on classic or skate skis, but skate skis will be much easier because of their shorter length. Also, they should be stiffer than your classic skis, providing you with a little “spring” which makes this drill more fun.
- Stay low! Keep your centre of gravity low to maintain stability. Usually when cross-country skiing you need to keep your weight forward, but this is one instance when you actually need to sit back.
- Slow down! Always slow down when you are trying to learn a new ski skill. It makes it so much easier to think everything you are trying to do.
- Stay off the ice. Choose softer, forgiving snow to practice on. A few centimetres of soft snow is ideal. You won’t sink and the snow will “hug” your edges, making you more stable.