Rippin Skier Strategy: Keep Your Hands Forward

Welcome to the off-season! While it may not seem like a consequential action, hand position can mean the difference between a first- and last-place slalom finish. If you’ve ever watched a race (or a super-fast skier doing his thing), your eyes won’t immediately gravitate to the hands and arms. However, this small detail could be what you need to take your speed to the next level.

So, as you’re approaching a turn (or a gate, for slalom skiers), you might be inclined to drop one or both hands. The former will cause pressure to leave the downhill ski, and the latter will cause your shins to lose contact with the boot tongues (in the front of the shoes). In both cases, this will result in a slow-skidding ski.

The fastest racers keep their hands forward, and if they’re thrown off their line, they drive their hands forward to regain balance. However, beware the “zombie position,” which occurs when you hold your arms stiffly forward. If you watch racers, you’ll notice they appear both fluid and agile; refrain from “steering” with your hands around each corner and turn, as this will release pressure from the downhill ski. The more weight you have moving forward, the faster you’ll go.

Similarly, the fastest skiers will have a calm upper body. Racing and speed require athletes to be strong all over—not just in the legs. Use your upper body to hold your torso and arms up and forward as your feet move from side to side. Too much upper body movement is not aerodynamic and can both slow you down and waste energy. Additionally, this will throw off your balance.

Basically, what I’m saying is: keep your body stable, forward-leaning, and held upright. Don’t move your upper body too much—including your hands and arms—and let your core and legs guide you down the slope. This will both increase speed and save energy.