Posted by Richard Jameson on

Drills for Your Skills

By: Richard Jameson

Hotham Academy Head Trainer & APSI Technical Director

You see it all the time while riding up the Heavenly or the Roadrunner lift and gazing out onto the runs below.  Skiers performing funny looking drills/exercises that don’t quite resemble our normal run of the mill ski turns.  Typically if you spot a skier doing one of these random displays of skiing weirdness they are not far behind a Hotham ski instructor.  Rarely will you see a skier out on their own practicing these drills to be a more disciplined and competent skier.  Why is that?

Finding the right exercises to fix up a technical flaw in your skiing is the first step.  Then building this exercise into your daily routine or warm up is an excellent way to train in the movements that will ultimately make you a more efficient and dynamic skier so that you can enjoy the mountain experience even more.  Athletes across the skiing world have been implementing these theories for years and here at the Hotham Academy Carving Camp our aim is to de-mystify some of these secrets to help you on your way to ripping up the slopes this season.

Two exercises our top trainers find themselves using a lot on the snow with both guests and ski instructors wanting to improve their skills are the swords drill and a snowplough wedeln.  Of course there are many others and some more customised to individual weaknesses, but let’s have a quick look at these two drills to better understand how they can help elevate your carved turns.

Swords Drill (Double pole drag)

Swords or “Double Pole Drags” are an excellent way to develop two fundamental skills in your skiing, balancing against the outside ski and creating strong edge grip by angulating your body affectively.  If you’re a ‘banker’, where you lean into each turn with your whole body, this exercise is a great one for you.  No need to think about anything else other than having your pole tips connected to the snow and just skiing your normal turns.  The above fundamentals will be forced into your skiing by keeping your shoulders and hips level to the snow surface, creating the angles and outside ski balance you need.  Be careful not to sit too low while training this drill.  You still want a reasonably tall athletic skiing stance for the other skills to work efficiently.

BEFORE – Banking into the turn, skidding and balancing on the inside ski AFTER – strong edging and angulation to balance against the outside ski

Snowplough Wedeln

Above Shauna Rigby from the APSI National Demonstration Team shows how the Snowplough Wedeln exercise should be executed.  Constant training and mastery of the SP wedeln will build strong leg turning and upper/lower body separation into your skiing.  These fundamental mechanics are needed to ski a powerful and versatile short turn that you can use all over the mountain.  The snowplough shape will hold your upper body and pelvis in a good position while the legs can be turned underneath.  Lots of practice will develop a disciplined movement pattern, however, tune in to the feelings of what it’s like to turn your legs and then transfer these sensations over to your short turns.

Upper/Lower body separation is essential to a good short turn used in mogul skiing

For more tips on what exercises best suit your common problems, join us on one of our Hotham Academy programs this August!!


Posted by Richard Jameson on

The Interski Experience

by Richard Jameson


Interski 2015 proved to be another invaluable event for the APSI to be a part of and a great learning experience for all of the team and supporters that attended the event in September this year. Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina was a difficult place to get to but an awesome cultural experience for all involved. Meeting with the other countries national demonstration teams, listening to their thoughts on snow sport education and watching their demonstrations is always the highlight, but the connections and friends made at these events can last long after the 48 hour flight home and be invaluable for the growth of the APSI in the years to come.

Personally, this was my 3rd Interski congress as part of the APSI Demo Team and although different to all of the others I have been to, it will prove to be just as beneficial and memorable. Out of the 32 countries that attended the event there was a noticeable high standard of skiing/riding amongst all of the teams and although you may have liked some more than others, I definitely saw this year’s event as having a much narrower gap between the stronger/weaker teams. The information gathered was also quite similar amongst the countries with a heavy focus on learning through experiences/doing and a clear shift away from being overly technical and bogged down in too many explanations.

It’s hard of course to get a real gauge on this as I was only able to attend 3 on snow workshops during the week with 6-8 small indoor lectures in the afternoons. It is an honour though, to give you all an insight into a couple of the countries that I visited during the workshops and share some of their ideas with you. I hope I do their trainers, countries and concepts justice in the following report.



The use of radio communication between ski instructor and guest

Our clinician “Agoston Dosek” presented the use of the VOX one way radio and its usefulness during every day lessons with resort guests or during instructor training. The instructor skis with a small portable transmitter and the students carry a small receiver with earpiece so that communication can be continuous throughout the lesson. The devices are very similar to those being used by tour guides in destinations such as museums or art galleries etc.

The instructor can convey all sorts of information to their guests, including technical information about their skiing, tactics regarding the terrain ahead or just to point out certain aspects of the environment like the beautiful scenery, snow conditions etc. The devices are not used for every single lesson, but can be rented at the resort as part of the snow sports lesson product.


The devices have a range of up to 200m so communication is effective for most trails as long as you stay close enough to the instructor. They were also quite helpful when used on the chairlifts as Agoston demonstrated how information can be given to the whole class during the chairlift ride as to minimize wait time when unloading at the top. It was suggested that this type of communication could add up to 20% skiing time to the lesson, making the technology useful during short lessons or large groups etc.

Trying the devices personally during the workshop, I found them to be a fun and unique way to be guided around the mountain and through the clinic. It had many benefits especially in regards to safety such as where to stop, what the snow conditions were like ahead etc. It would be an interesting concept to try with group and private lessons as a novelty or something fresh to keep them motivated and to try something completely different. I’m not sure how relevant it was in regards to making tangible change in your students’ performance, though it would be fun to experiment with and see how these devices could have a real world application in the Australian ski industry.


Workshop 2:
Experience-oriented lessons:
Awakening emotions through various learning / teaching process for varied and experiential lessons.

Both workshops offered by DemoTeam Germany had a primary theme revolved around “teaching”. I had the pleasure of attended their 2nd workshop on experience-orientated lessons conducted by German Ski Association coach Nina Perner and German Ski Instructors association trainer Alemax Meier.

The session emphasized that each student learns differently and individually and their workshop aimed to show how a successful ski instructor can address all students by designing inspiring and motivating ski classes. The ultimate goal was to increase the student’s movement skills by empowering them to find their own solutions/strategies. Therefore, the ski instructor takes over the role as a coach and companion to support this development of skills.

There were 3 chosen areas to help show this strategy of promoting movement skills, while creating a positive learning environment and to help trigger emotions in the learner. The 3 areas were:

– Senso-motoric learning

– Feel Effects – Stress Information System

– Images and Active Language

Images and Active Language

During the 1st part of the workshop Nina led the group through an imaginative story of travelling to Interski and at each step of the journey a task was given to the group to try. For example – “driving to the airport on the busy highway” was an early part to the story. During this segment we had to ski in pairs doing short turns 1 in front of each other. The task involved the person (car) behind trying to overtake the car in front so that the leader kept having to swap turns down the run. All of this was of course told as a story rather than a technical directive. All of the tasks through the story were designed to teach the student through an experience or by doing.

Through pictures, stories, comparisons or metaphors the students were learning technique or movement skills by doing the pre-determined tasks, without much guidance as to why they were performing them from the instructor. The tasks are designed to be fun which invokes an emotional response in the learner, keeping them motivated and driving a deeper connection to the learning process.

Senso-motoric learning & Feel Effects

Alemax then took our group for a run using all of the body’s senses to develop a change in movement by using various tactile and kinaesthetic tasks. We performed tasks with our boots unbuckled, eyes closed and in pairs to help each other perform the skills. Understanding how or what the student feels during these tasks were just as important, so as to develop a connection between the learner and the task.

The information in this clinic again reinforced for me just how crucial it is to set up the learning environment and facilitate the learning process as an instructor. Rather than getting in the way of learning with too much information on how and why we should be performing each drill/task/progression etc.