Rhythm romance: How to become a fluid skier
By Dan Egan
Watching a great skier is like watching a live dance or theatrical performance. There is lightness and a touch to their movements, each of which is accented by the constant fluid motion of energy.
In skiing, fluidity is the point where dynamic tension no longer limits motion. Rather, the skier’s motion is innate and instinctive, happening in anticipation of the terrain, not in reaction. Fluidity adds the art of dance to the movement of skiing.
How do you become a fluid skier? Situational skiing is the best way to find the dance within yourself. This means constantly readjusting your body position to stay in control.
It doesn’t mean tackling the most challenging terrain you’re able to get down, which is how many skiers judge themselves. They wear the runs they’ve skied like badges of honor, defining their day by what and where they skied. This is all fine; however, if your chosen terrain causes you to ski with dynamic tension, you won’t ski fluidly.
If someday you want to dance down a steep or bumpy run, you need to step back and relax on terrain you can move confidently through, rather than just survive. The result will be a more fluid style.
As I often tell students in my clinics, the best way to break through on skis is to pick a run you can master and ski it again and again—maybe five or six times in a row—taking roughly the same line each time. This will help you build confidence and discover how to anticipate the terrain rather than react to it. It’s why racers train on the same course throughout a day. The repetition allows you to relax and let your body take over. You’ll release the dynamic tension you’ve been holding, and move with more dynamic motion.
Being relaxed like this also helps you tune into your body position. You will start instinctively understanding how your skis feel and react in certain situations, and how to use them. You’ll also start naturally anticipating changes in conditions and terrain. Speed will no longer scare you; rather, you’ll be able to control and enjoy it.
As you begin mastering terrain, you’ll end up trying out different body positions. Through this experimentation, you’ll develop new ways to change direction and turn your skis in a wider range of motion.
Just watching someone who moves like this is a delight—experiencing it for yourself is transformative. In time you’ll begin skiing the mountain instead of letting it ski you.
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, Val-d’Isère, France. He’ll be in Big Sky Feb. 20-22, Feb. 27-29 and March 5-7, 2020. Visit skiclinics.com for camp dates, online coaching tips, photos and information.