I wrote this “Basic Relaxed Position” article in about 2003....
In this time when new techniques and styles are evolving, I think some skiers lose sight of the core fundamentals of body position and technique. To become a more accomplished skier is to master the fundamentals and then find the refinements that will take you to the next level. Below is a look at one of the most fundamental building blocks of proper skiing.
Proper skiing position is simple and comfortable and is not very different form your posture walking down the street. I call this a Basic Relaxed Position. By Relaxed I mean muscular exertion equal to but not significantly greater then the forces exerted on the skier by the boat and the water. Since the day you learned to walk you have practiced being stable in this position. Any time I see a skier on the water in a position that does not mirror a natural position off the water I have to ask, Why?
Starting with simply skiing behind the boat, a skier (Slalom, Trick or Jump) should feel comfortable and relaxed. Head up, shoulders upright, roughly equal weight on both feet, knees and ankles naturally bent. If you relax and walk over to a full length mirror you will be looking at a better then average skiing position. Add just a little more ankle bend and you are nearly perfect. Since the boat is pulling the skier along there is also a natural, proportional and comfortable whole body lean way from the boat. This position should not require much more strength then walking down the street. Once this position is achieved, skiing straight behind the boat, it needs to be maintained for nearly all aspects of your skiing. This covers all the basic coaching about head up, shoulders back, hips up and so on. To the novice skier this position is perhaps the most important concept to be mastered.
To the more advanced skier this may sound too basic to even think about. I believe that ignoring this concept is a mistake at any level. If you will think about the spring skiing that is around the corner, I think you will see that this “Basic Relaxed Position is a clear formula for a single wake cut to the ramp, practicing fundamental tricks and getting your slalom legs back after the winter. Later in the season when things are just not clicking at any level, one of the best things you can do is to just relax and focus on the Basic Relaxed Position. As you work on the more advanced concepts of skiing just about everything you will work on builds from this fundamental position.
Some very advanced skiers have developed body positions that look like a departure from the Basic Relaxed Position. These are techniques to improve the bio mechanical efficiency of the basic position. These new styles are really only variations on the Basic Relaxed Position.
The best skiers I know seem to just stand on their ski and make it look easy. Personally my highest point tricks ever landed, highest point runs ever run, longest jumps, and best slalom rides were all the easiest, most stable and relaxed. These performances required physical work but no more then necessary.