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As an avid skier, I’m always looking for ways to improve my technique and challenge myself to reach new skiing speeds. The average speed of a recreational skier is around 10-20 mph (16-32 km/h). Olympic skiers can reach up to 85mph (136 km/h) with Ivan Origone smashing the world record in 2016 in speed skiing at 158 mph (255km/h).
In nutshell, you can reach higher speeds on your skis by more than simply tucking into a human cannonball and skiing in a straight line down to the bottom of the mountain. It actually comes down to what gear your using, your technique, and of course your mental mindset. Focusing on improving your carving skills alone will build your confidence and naturally develop the strength to control your skis at adrenaline-inducing speeds.
Medical Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Even if you’re an advanced skier, shooting down the slopes does mean the possibility of injury, so always wear a helmet and be aware of your terrain and other skiers. Ready to take up your skiing game up a level? Experience the thrill of racing down the mountain at top speed with these 5 tips guaranteed to improve your skiing speed.
Three Major Factors
If you’re serious about improving your average skiing speed, there are a handful of factors that play a key role in how much faster you can race down the mountain.
Using beginner or intermediate-level ski gear can be dangerous at high speeds. When it comes to boots, we suggest choosing firmer, professionally fitted boots with a forward flex for precise control needed for high speeds. Trade your short, soft skis out for a longer and stiffer set with a shallow sidecut for fast cruising. You don’t need to go as far as getting World Cup skis, but having detuned race skis that are designed specifically for advanced to expert recreational skiers will make a huge difference in your ski game.
If you’ve been skiing for at least a season, you’ll understand that how you ride your skis has a huge effect on your speed and control. Most skiers will subconsciously slow down a little with every turn. This is conditioned during the early learning stages of learning to ski to prevent beginners from bombing down the slopes. You’ll find that even if you want to go faster, your muscle memory will subconsciously shave off a little bit of speed so that you’re not straying from your comfort zone. This is when carving technique comes in and knowing how to execute a smooth turn that speeds up is key to reaching higher speeds.
Just like any other sport, skiing is all about having the right mindset. Nothing slows you down like doubt. When racing down the slopes, your brain will kick in at a certain point and ask “What if I crash at this speed?”. This is quite natural and if anything it means that you should work on controlling your speed rather than ignoring this thought. Like many other sports, skiing is a mental sport, so you gain confidence in your technique, and you will feel less nervous at higher speeds.
Break New Personal Speed Limits
1. Carve, Carve, Carve
Rather than pointing your skis downhill and gunning it down the mountain without any turns, you’ll actually ski faster by carving your way down. Beginner skiers often find themselves doing skidded turns, but working on your carving technique will result in you skiing way faster than ever before. Consider spending a day or two simply focusing on your carving technique with a professional ski instructor. By learning to control your turn radius by applying pressure and the correct edge angle, you’d be surprised at how quickly you’ll hit new personal speed limits.
Learning how to carve is a skill that takes time, but you’ll notice how each muscle in your body plays a role in making that smooth, sweet turn. Generally speaking, you need to move your hips laterally over the skis as they slide into the new turn, using the edge of your skis to grip and carve out a clean line behind you. Keep your upper body still and tuck your elbows in. Gradually increase the radius of your turns to build up speed.
2. Tune Your Skis
Whether you’re a serious skier or a casual winter sports enthusiast, keeping your ski gear in top condition is a must. Making sure that your skis are ready to shred the slopes is key to maximizing your day, but also keeps you safe when you reach high speeds. How you take care of your skis depends on the snow conditions:
* Hard Snow
If you’re skiing on hard snow, it’s best to get a full tune-up (including a base grind) every 3 to 4 ski days. Keep the edges of your skis sharp daily and don’t forget to wax them, too!
* Heavy, Wet Snow
Textured ski bases using 60 or 100 grit sandpaper is the way to go before waxing. As alarming as this sounds, this technique actually breaks up the surface tension and increases ski speed. After waxing, use a brush such as those sold in supermarkets for cleaning dishes to add a fine layer of texture. In reality, this is best left to the professionals, unless you’re confident in what you’re doing!
Drop off your skis at your local ski shop for professional tuning and waxing and feel the results for yourself on the ski field.
3. Strengthen Your Core & Leg Muscles
Training your body to handle high speeds on skis is often skipped over, but it’s an important factor to consider. Your skis and body need to be working together as one well-oiled machine to reach adrenaline-inducing speeds. This means increasing your back, abdominal, and leg strength.
High-speed skiing requires supple joints to absorb higher vibrations in high-speed turns, and a loose back and hips to maintain a good tuck. You can use leg presses, practice front, and side lunges, and develop core strength using a stability ball. This is actually something that you can work on during the warmer months and can help you mentally get ready for the upcoming ski season.
4. Work On Your Tuck
Now mentioned earlier, developing your carving technique is a more efficient way to increase your speed on skis. Once you have that skill mastered, we challenge you to work on your tuck:
* Aerodynamic Tuck
Your feet should be under your shoulders. While skiing down a straight section of a course, you need to make sure that your feet aren’t spread too wide when folding into a tuck or you’ll end up gliding on the inside edge of your skis. At faster speeds, when your skis are flat against the snow, it’ll feel like you’re floating. Fight the feeling of leaning on your edges and make sure that your hands are together in front of your face, not dropped by your sides.
* Know When To Tuck
A common mistake made by even experienced ski racers is either over or under tucking. If you don’t feel your skis skidding across the snow, don’t tuck! It all comes down to practice. Short turns have the same mechanics as long turns, just faster. So knowing the difference between when to tuck and carve will all come over time. Seek advice from a ski instructor at your local ski field for personalized advice!
5. Be Aware of Your Body
Your posture and stance also affect how fast you go on skis. Your feet may be the ones steering the skies, but it’s your upper body that controls the balance and aerodynamics to execute smooth carve turns. Keep your upper body relaxed, your arms tucked in, and keep your hands in a forward position.
A Final Piece of Advice
We’ve thrown a lot of information at you and let’s be honest, how much of it is going to stick when you’re out having fun on the slopes? Our final tip is to simply focus on one thing at a time. Whether this means working on your carving, pushing your body to lean forward on those steep slopes, or keeping your eyes ahead, you’ll get faster as you build confidence.