Need Early Edge Engagement

How Do I Learn To Edge Higher In The Turn?


Hi Rick,

As I start preparing for the season and my second attempt at my PSIA Level II certification in early February I have been reviewing my Examiner feedback and come to a conclusion as to what the basic "flaw" that I need to fix is.  I look to you to possibly suggest drills from your DVD's that I can use for the 8 days or so of early season training before the Snow Pro Jam (a 5 day PSIA event I'm doing in mid December for exam prep.)

My skating is not good (not that I can't get around with skating, but the technique is off.)

My speed control is an issue and I believe that this is a related issue.

Getting to my new edges sooner.  I think I've made huge progress in my edging skills, both getting higher edge angles, and getting my skis flat for pivot slip type maneuvers.  It seems it's the edge change that is getting me in trouble.

So from the day after Thanksgiving until Dec 13 I want to focus on skating and moving my edge change up higher in the turn.

What do you suggest I use from your DVD's for this.  There are SO many drills and so little time for them all I'm hoping you can suggest a progression of drill for those roughly 8 days on snow.



Hi Steve,

As I'm sure you're aware, my program is skill development based.  Students begin at square one, and build their skill base in a broad and progressive manner.  If any of the foundation skills are missing in their skiing, the students ability to climb the development ladder will be prematurely stalled.   As such, even skiers who consider themselves "intermediates" need to be taken back to square one in the skill building venture, because it's almost always the holes that exist in the foundation skill base which has them stranded on the intermediate plateau.

I've expanded here on my training methodology, because it relates to the request you've made for a couple drills to address the specific "flaw" you've identified in your skiing.  All the things you mentioned having problems with, skating, speed control, and early edge engagement, are technique areas dependent on the possession of a full package of foundation edging and balance skills.  If some of those skills are absent, or not refined to a high enough level, successful execution will be out of reach.  Trying to focus on achieving a successful execution of the desired task can become a futile and frustrating endeavor, resulting in repetitive failures.  To achieve the success you desire, you'll need to step back and work on refining the foundation skills that the tasks you're trying to master are composed of.

Let's start with early edge engagement.  This is an area that my Building Blocks program addresses at the very beginning, in the BASIC EDGING DVD.  Early edge engagement is nothing more than the elimination of all pivoting.  The skis are tipped on edge, and pressure is allowed to develop, before any change of direction is pursued.  This applies, whether the coming turn is to be carved or steered.  If your trainers/examiners are prompting you to "engage sooner", what they are seeing in your skiing is a pivot.  You're actively redirecting (twisting) your skis into the new turn before you allow pressure to build and the edges to bite into the snow.  How to overcome that tendency is addressed right at the beginning of the BASIC EDGING DVD, with a step by step progression for achieving success.  It's a crucial skill, which must be developed early on if a full package of high level edge control skills are ever to be achieved.

Once you shed the pivot from your turn initiations, speed control is the next area to work on.  Again, how to do it is all spelled out in great detail in the BASIC EDGING DVD.  It involves nothing more than developing the ability to manage your turn shape, and your skid angle.  When you've gained full command of those skill areas, you will possess complete control of the speed at which you descend the mountain, regardless of the line you choose to ski, and regardless of the nature of the terrain.  These are foundation edging skills that you need to develop, well before carving even comes into play.  They're the key to being able to ski the entire mountain in complete control, comfort and confidence.

Finally, skating well while descending the mountain requires both well refined balance and edge control skills.  Skating downhill, or through a turn, requires a skier momentarily stand and balance on the outside edge of his/her inside ski.   If you've not yet developed the ability to ski comfortably on your inside ski, you'll feel reservation in making the required commitment to the outside edge when skating, and you'll find the task more challenging.  This is especially true with the thousand steps drill, in all its variations.  It will also limit your ability to execute diverging step transitions.  Here again, the problem is not in the task itself, but the foundation skills that support it.  The balance skills needed to skate well are all taught in the BASIC BALANCE and ADVANCED BALANCE DVDs.

So, being the no nonsense coach I am, I'm going to tell you straight here, Steve.  There are NO short cuts to getting to where you want to be, no one or two drills that will work magic.  Go back to the BASIC BALANCE and BASIC EDGING DVDs, and follow them diligently, from start to finish.  Take your drill cards to the mountain, and do each drill, and all the variations the card suggests, until you become proficient at them. The DVDs are structured to lead you gradually through the skill development journey, providing multiple levels of achievable success which build confidence, and at the same time the foundation skills needed for achieving success at the higher level skills that are to come later.  There's method to the madness, but it only works if the student commits to following the program to a T, and refuses to give in to impatience and the desire to jump ahead.  What you get out of the Building Blocks program is limited only by what you're willing to put into doing the work.

Think long term, Steve, beyond the test.  This is about developing the skills you will use for the rest of your life on the slopes.  They're the skills that will transform your skiing, and make passage of any test you take down the road a piece of cake.  These skills allow you to adapt to any changes in technique and equipment changes you'll encounter in the years to come, which I can guarantee, you will be subjected to numerous times.


Rick Schnellmann

Your Ski Coach