Want to know how to ski on ice?
No matter the ability, or skill level, no recreational skier enjoys skiing on ice. Snowboarders find it even harder. It will probably baffle you that I absolutely love it! To me it is consistent; I know what to expect and have learned over many years how to trust myself to ski on it. However, most people aren’t as fortunate as I am to have had that type of training. Therefore the most frequent question that I have been asked as an instructor is: “How do you deal with ice?”
Confidence is key!
Improving your confidence can start from having sharp edges. The edge of the ski is designed to cut through ice and is made from metal. The edge is only effective if pressure is applied in the correct way, and that they are sharpened. If it’s been a while since your skis were serviced, you’ll struggle to find grip, as edges will be rounded. Skis can be serviced at specialist shops in the UK or once in resort. They can even be done with an edging tool, if you have been shown how to do it properly. An aggressive edge angle makes it easier to grip on ice, however they also get blunt more quickly. The majority of skis are set at an 89° angle, and this is perfect for most people.
Where to turn
Tactically, you can look ahead to the softer patches of snow between the ice sections. You can then aim to make the second part of your turn there. If the snow has built up to bumps at that point, aim to make the same type of turn, but absorb the mogul at the end of the turn by bending the knees. Doing it this way will also lower your speed as you connect with the soft snow.
Learning how to ski on ice involves the psychological and technical factors of skiing. These are heavily interlinked- with better technique comes greater confidence. It’s important that you are positive in the way you approach the ice.
Fighting your instincts
Naturally you will back away as soon as you see it which will make the ski tips flap. This means only the small section of edge at the back of the ski is there to grip with; making it almost impossible. If you widen your stance and squat in an effort to feel more stable, this will make you slip further. Another common mistake is to move your shoulders forwards, making your hips drop back.
You must have the hips high and then commit to leaning your shins against the front of the boot. It is a bungee jump moment: you have to be assertive or you won’t succeed. If your shins are pressing hard against the front of the boot, the edge at the tip of the ski will connect and grip on the ice. If you approach the ice in this very strong forward position, you have built a platform where you can then stand wholly on your downhill ski, particularly pressing the shin against the boot. Applying pressure to the ski gives even more grip. You can increase this grip by lowering the downhill shoulder even further down the hill. It must be as if you’re standing between two walls and you can only move your upper body laterally.
Skiing on ice starts and ends with the confidence to commit to that strong skier position. It also involves the courage to press completely on one ski (the outside). Only once you feel this movement will you understand how the ski can actually grip, and keep you in control. This holiday, have conviction on the ice; you are already sliding, so what have you got to lose?
For more information and ski tuition, head to: alpinemojoskischool.com