Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The skiing topic everyone wants to avoid. Why?

The topic I'll present is how and where to stand correctly with a fore/aft balance sense on your skis.

First, let's define fore/aft balance. 

In the photo below notice, my hips are forward of the boots or looking at it more precisely, my feet are behind my hips. You don't hold this for very long because you can make a super short radius arc from the tip engagement in this stance, but the difficult part is getting there.

Harald Harb

Yes, this slope is as steep as it looks here, yet I can still get my feet behind my hips at this crucial part of the arc. I do this with a specific set of movements I  practice. These movements happen during the transition, they do not magically appear at the moment you need them. Therefore part of learning how to get to this point shown in the photo is knowing how and where the movements should happen.

Harald Harb

There is one thing you will notice about everyone for these examples, there is no or little collapse at the hips, meaning the upper body is not folded forward at the waist. Also, keep your attention in the inside foot, in every situation the inside foot is back not scissored or leading. 

Richie Berger

Here is the best skier in the world for the last 10 years. Again the angle forward and foot back creating the inside shin angle, it is amazing. How does this affect fore/aft balance? It keeps the hips ahead of the boots. If that inside foot were to move forward the hips would immediately move back and the skis would shot forward, out of control. 

                                                              Marcel Hirscher


How is this achieved and when is it right to keep it and when do you let it go? These are the questions you should be asking because ideally, your fore/aft balance point on the ski changes as the turn develops, moving that balance point relative to where you are in the arc or your place in space. 

How do you achieve fore/aft balance in the first place? This is a conundrum for all ski coaches. The standard advice given is to move your hips forward. Logical but rarely effective advice or for many skiers this is not the advice translatable into the right movements. There is no "moving the hips forward" muscle in the body. In most cases when this is unsuccessful the next piece of advice is standup more and extend your hips forward. This involves pushing against the ski and against the ground with your outside leg. Probably the worst thing you can do in transitions or on a steep slope. This totally disconnects you from the snow and it delays the new turn. In steep or off-piste conditions you end up gaining speed and losing control. Our students always ask us,"I have speed control on blue slopes but when I get on black terrain I pick up too much speed and lose control. Sure, it's logical when you use an extension system in your skiing on black terrain making it very challenging. In our courses and in my Harb Ski Systems videos, "Essentials of Skiing" we explain how Fore/aft movements are created properly so you can keep your balance, control, and speed in check. Visit us at

As a follow up to this presentation, I'll demonstrate for you how the balance point on our skis is achieved and where fore/aft balance changes during the arc happen with video animation, so come back soon to see it. In the meantime have a look at the latest way to control your speed in this video.