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No such thing as an athletic stance in skiing Subscribe Pub

Yup - guaranteed to make you look - this assertion goes against a lot of current thinking in ski coaching and ski racing, doesn't it: how can you not think skiing is athletic??

Of course, I know that skiing is athletic, but that has nothing to do with there being an athletic stance or an athletic position.

When we think athletic stance, we imagine a sumo wrestler, or a receiver, a goalkeeper, a tennis player preparing to receive etc and some seem to think that this concept, very common in other sports is applicable to skiing! Let's consider for a second the thought that this is not only wrong but very detrimental to ski teaching!

Circular motion in a wide stance

Circular motion in a wide stance

Skiing is movement

To imagine that there is a moment in skiing where the skier is just waiting for something to come to him or her is really, I think you can easily agree: wrong! You're likely confusing your sports: performance skiing is all about turning !

We don't want to be in the back seat, or the passenger seat, reacting to things, but in the driver seat, moving! There is really no point in skiing (let's say technical skiing) where the skier is waiting in a certain "position" or "stance" for more than a fleeting fraction of a second!

You're never really waiting, but moving into and out of angles... so the thought of there being a "position", athletic or otherwise, is not something that I can picture as related to skiing!

Two footed skiing

The other thing that the notion of an athletic stance imparts is the image that we balance the body between the feet, on a strong, two-footed stance.

That cannot be further from the truth, for performance skiing, which is all on the outside ski! In that case, what does the very notion of "stance" mean?


The other thing commonly depicted in an athletic stance is the wide base of support, required for stability. That, again, has nothing to do with technical skiing, where a narrow stance is favourable to continuously shifting the balance from foot to foot! See:

I think this wide or athletic stance approach is a limiting factor in developing strong skiers, ironically. I think that the roots of the wide stance approach are the "snow plow" position via which most people get acquainted with skiing, where a wider stance makes you feel more stable, but which has nothing to do with performance skiing and carving (which is on the outside ski).

The basic contradiction between a "wide stance" and "balancing on the outside foot" are, I hope, obvious at this point.


If we put aside speed skiing for now, where you may have to prevent losing either foot when going fast over varied terrain... some don't even seem to realize the basic physics involved in thinking that the inside foot can take over the balance from the outside foot, in a wide stance.

The fact of the matter is that, in a wide stance, with significant horizontal separation and where the body is also balanced over the outside ski, the inside ski is so far outside the line of the resulting force, that it is virtually guaranteed that we cannot balance on it, once we lose the support of the outside ski!

You'd have to move the body significantly the other way, to restore balance, with even more negative effects!

Remember, I am not in a wide athletic stance below, but in fact in a narrow stance, with a lot of vertical separation:

Skiing - i.e. circular motion with a narrow stance
Skiing - i.e. circular motion with a narrow stance

The inside ski is closest to the resulting force vector (against which we balance) when we are in a narrow stance. Look at the photo above and draw the imaginary line between the base of support and center of mass - the inside ski is closest to it when you're in a narrow stance, at whatever degree of inclination you can muster!

The inside ski is closest to the resulting force vector (against which we balance) only in a narrow stance. This implies a small movement to shift the balance from foot to foot, as opposed to a large movement when in a wide stance.


In pretty much all other sports, we need to push to move: walking, jumping, running, skating, they all require us to push the body against the ground. All, except skiing - in skiing, to keep moving, the exact opposite is true: the more we oppose gravity, the slower we go.

In skiing, to keep moving, we need to stop resisting with the long outside foot and do the exact opposite of pushing: relax and flex the long leg, so it stops resisting gravity!

This is related, because the athletic stance is normally one where you are ready to push against the ground,to move in any direction, like a goalie. But, as you're starting to see, that has nothing to do with good skiing... where we don't play to get moving but simply so residents, to keep moving!

So, why is it... pushed so much?

There must be some reason behind this "athletic stance", isn't there? Too many great skiers bring it up, for there not to be something behind it!


Yes, in performance skiing, there is a moment of floating between turns, one where the skier is "ready" or readying for the next turn, but if at that moment, when the skis are flat, you have significant weight on the skis, it means you've done something wrong - in transition you should be light and... floating ! Also, there is no need or benefit from being in a wide stance between turns - in fact, a narrow stance encourages mobility, i.e.shifting balance from the old outside ski to the new outside ski and tipping.

Tense, ready to react

The other part of it is that indeed, we need to be tense. As skiers, we go through several "phases": in the beginning, we are very tense and the body is locked up and we can barely move. As we get better, we start to relax and that allows many break-throughs in technique. As we get even better, we understand that performance skiing requires a fair bit of tension in the body.

For instance, we discover that maintaining coiling in transition requires a fair bit of tension etc.

Coiling through the transition in short turns
Coiling through the transition in short turns

So, yes, the body is tensed and ready to react at all times while skiing, but in a very different way than all other sports, when you're generally pushing against the ground...

Here are a few definitions for "stance"

Let's take a look at this from a language use perspective - maybe we got it all wrong!

the way in which someone stands, especially when deliberately adopted (as in baseball, golf, and other sports); a person's posture.

Most definitions refer to "standing":

the position or bearing of the body while standing:

But in skiing... we never stand!

Here's another one:

sports. the relative position of the feet, as in addressing a golf ball or in making a stroke.

So, from this point of view, we could talk of a "wide stance" and a "narrow stance" or a "forward stance" (when the feet are back?) but never of an athletic stance!

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By: Razie | 2018-09-30 .. 2020-01-07 | Tags: post , stance , balance , technique

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