While showing some folks around Alta in a wild snowstorm last year I was asked by one of the group what are the best ski tips I know of. This inquiring poor soul was under the mistaken impression that I could offer advice that would help them be a better skier. But it started me thinking about what advice I had been given or read about over the years that I thought was helpful. And yes, I am a ski nerd that always read the technique articles back when we had paper ski magazines.

By the next day when skiing with the same crew I had focused on two tips, in part because each combined simplicity with being nuanced. The first comes from an article from a long forgotten magazine. I distinctly remember reading it and thinking bull****! But the next ski day I tried lifting up my toes and putting extra pressure on the balls of my feet. Yep – that was the advice. Once incased in our ski boots we mistakenly think of our feet as monoliths incapable of  flexible movement. But, in fact, it is possible with properly fitting boots to lift up your toes to the interior roof of your boot and transfer that energy down into the balls of your feet. Believe it or not it forces yours knees forward and down into the perfect carving position. Who knew!

The second tip came from an Alta guide. We pride ourselves on knowing Alta so well that we eschew using them. However, guides have one major advantage unrelated to terrain knowledge – cutting lines! We are too cool for school to hire guides, but are shameless about tagging along when friends hire one on a deep powder day. Enter our friend Mike. On one of our deepest/wildest days last winter Mike hired a guide and was kind enough to allow several of us to tag along.

I have always felt that the hands are oddly enough a key to the ski turn. Keeping your hands forward where you can see them and using the inside hand/pole plant to initiate the turn are fundamental to the turn in my mind. My focus on this aspect of the turn forces me to put energy into my upper body. But back to Mike and his guide. After skiing down to the guide on a run in Hourglass Chute he made two comments – that the snow was soooo deep that most of the time all he could see were my hands and, secondly,  I should relax my hands. In response to my quizzical look he said “Try holding your poles with just two fingers and your thumb and relax!”  Well damn! It works! You still need to keep your hands forward and use them as a key to initiating the turn but my next turns were more fluid, more relaxed and took less energy. Weird I know but don’t knock it until you have tried it!

Be Well; Ski well.


conSKIerge co-founder

Kevin Dennis is a life long ski bum with a 34 year legal career on the side. Now retired, he skis 80+ days a year. While he lives in Alta UT in the winters, he has traveled extensively through skiing and has skied almost every major resort in North America (and many you have never heard of). He continues to hit the road often throughout the western United States and Canada and trips over the last several years have included ventures in British Columbia, Montana and Colorado. Whether you want to know about the behemoths like Aspen or Squaw or are interested in the road less travelled (Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana or Whitewater in BC anyone?), Kevin has been there, has an opinion and you will most likely have to tell him to shut up after a half hour!