It’s ski season and the lifts are open — but only Lift Four, Lift Five and Lift Six to See Forever. What’s a ski bum to do with only a few groomers to cruise on?

The way I see it is you have two choices: 1) Use the claim “I’m going skiing” as a good excuse to ski to Gorrono and a have a few beers or 2) Use the early season cruisers to focus on a few fundamentals and improve the technical side of your skiing (then grab a beer).

During the intermittent times throughout the season when the skiing is limited, take advantage of the time to get back to the basics. Hit the groomers, slow it down, and seize the opportunity to improve the fundamentals of your skiing. If you do, on the next powder day, or the next time you find yourself in a steep couloir, you’ll be more confident than ever and ripping like never before.

To boot, you might also find yourself enjoying the satisfaction of carving a Giant Slalom turn like Bode Miller down Bushwhacker (or at least it will feel that way).

I grew up ski racing and had the good fortune to spend time at a few of the sport’s most esteemed institutes. Returning to snow after time off, and intermittently throughout the season, we always did what we called “drills” and “focused free skiing” in which we would concentrate on one technical element of skiing.

At the beginning of the season, the concentration was “balance”. In skiing, balance is broken up into two categories, “fore and aft” balance and “side to side” balance.

The goal: To have our weight in the front third part of the center of our ski and to be on the balls of our feet.

To learn five drills, or on-snow exercises, that you can try in order to master fore and aft balance, click on the video above.  If the drills are too easy for you on flat terrain, try them on steeper terrain.

Then, after some focused free-skiing, don’t forget, it is skiing after all, and make sure to grab an après beer!

Special thanks to my videographer, Jen Groves.


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Jesse James McTigue

Jesse James McTigue

Jesse James McTigue moved to Telluride when she was eleven. She has left many times –to attend a ski academy and college on the East Coast, to travel in South America, and to teach middle school in Oakland, CA –but she always seems to return. She returned (again) in 2008, married with kids, and thinks this time it may be for real. When she’s not chasing her kids, she’s searching for sanity on her skis or bike and makes her living freelance writing, grant writing and tutoring.

4 Responses

  1. Jon Law says:

    Pretty good stuff, although CENTERED, not “balance on ball of foot” and eyes/head up on hop turns. Looking down at the tips of skis will screw with inner ear balance and posture.
    But keep up the writings and video.

  2. […] the meantime, Telluride Inside and Out contributor, former ski racer and Telluride Ski Resort ski model Jesse James McTigue gives us some […]

  3. jesse johnson says:

    love it! Great ideas…..thanks jesse

  4. Ted Shred says:

    Jon proly doesn’t rip chair 9. In San Miguel County i’ll stick with “ball of foot” (if I can). Thanx for the tips Jesse !