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Ski tips from Dan Egan

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The breakthrough zone

By Dan Egan Explore Big Sky Contributor

Every year people come to my camps and clinics with the same goal, wanting to break through to the next skiing level. That may include mastering moguls, hard-pack snow, trees, or skiing with greater control and speed. Over the years I’ve discovered that the best way to inject your skiing with new energy and skills is to take a step back from your current skiing comfort zone and enter into the “breakthrough zone.”

Entering the breakthrough zone is the equivalent of reprogramming your computer’s hard drive. We have to update and reboot our physical and mental approaches to skiing. This starts with how and when you arrive at the mountain, with whom you ski, and beyond. Many of the ruts we fall into have to do with who, where and when we ski. Remember, breakthrough-zone skiing is about busting into a new realm of experiences.

Matching motivation. It’s important to find ski friends that match your motivation for improvement. You don’t have to ski every run with these people, but at least two hours of your day will be very helpful.

Skills and drills time. You have to be willing to practice. If you want to ski steeps better you have to focus on the basics, such as upper body position, pole planting and quick edge-to-edge transitions. Or maybe moguls are your thing – here, you have to be willing to start on medium-grade bumps and build up to the steep, rad lines. This is going to require practice time and patience for at least two hours a day.

Turn the “Oh no” into the “Oh yeah.” We are all driven by some form of inner voice. It’s best to flip the switch of this conversation into positive reinforcing language such as, “I can, I will, I’m progressing. It’s going to happen.”

Visualization. Skiing is a visual sport. Find images, videos or other skiers that model your goal. Watch them and embed those images into your mind and duplicate the images as you ski.

Burn to learn. Remember we all fall. Falling is not a negative thing. If you’re going to push past your limits there are bound to be a few yard sales along the way. Be safe and smart but be bold in your exploration of the breakthrough zone and go for it!

Never stop learning. Explore the possibilities of all-terrain skiing and expand your horizons. As your confidence grows, so will your adventures.

Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching Feb. 26-28, March 5-7 and March 12-14. Find more ski tips from Dan Egan at

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