Alta Blog

8 Ski School Tips From a Pro

8 Ski School Tips From a Pro

| 11 Comments | February 27th, 2019 | By Guest Blogger

Whether you’re a beginner or veteran skier, investing in a ski lesson can drastically improve your skills on the slopes. Take ski instructor Robbe Mayall’s word for it. "Everyone can benefit from lessons," explains Mayall, 58, who has been skiing for 48 years and now instructs at the Alf Engen Ski School in Alta, Utah. “For beginners, lessons can really shortcut the process of learning to ski and help create good fundamental skills. Intermediates can find the flow and control that allows them to experience more of the mountain. And experts can learn the tactics and techniques to enjoy steep terrain and soft deep snow.”

The spectacular scenery around Alta draws skiers of all abilities. Photos: Boydechar

Skiing is taken seriously at Alta Ski Area. Located in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in North America, world-renown for the diversity of challenging terrain and the quality and quantity of deep powder---averaging 545" of snow annually. Alta is also home to the honored Alf Engen Ski School.

Alf Engen (right) and his son Alan. Photo: Alta Historical Society

Alf Engen was a world-class Norwegian-American skier, who won several ski jumping world records and is best known for his technique in powder skiing, which he discovered and honed at Alta. The ski school carries on the spirit of its famous namesake. Skiers of all abilities, levels, and ages have access to private and group lessons, specialized workshops and clinics, multi-day ski camps, and individualized coaching led by certified instructors. But more importantly, it maintains an authentic "skier’s mountain" vibe that’s far from elitist and focuses on the pure enjoyment of skiing.

"The Alf Engen School is unique in that we only hire experienced instructors who have attained certification through PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) to provide high quality lessons for all of our students. It is a small group of dedicated ski pros who love helping people attain their skiing dreams.” - Robbe Mayall

From both a personal and professional perspective, Mayall believes that taking a lesson can truly transform anyone’s skiing experience. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to meet other ski enthusiasts and use the full resources of the resort.

Robbe Mayall gives eight useful tips for skiing he’d share with his students out on the slopes:

1. Practice on familiar terrain: Only when you are skiing skillfully on comfortable terrain should you attempt more challenging conditions.

2. Look toward your next turn: Many people ski looking at their feet or skis. You wouldn’t ride looking at the front wheel of your bike, would you?

3. Play with the shape of your turns: Try to make turns that have different shapes. Make turns that look like a big S instead of a Z. How about a C or a J or even a comma?

4. Remember to breathe: Many people hold their breath while skiing, which restricts them from following through movements.

5. In skiing "balance" is a verb: You are never in balance, but rather always balancing.

6. Always direct your weight to the inside edge of the outside ski: That’s the left (big toe) edge of the right ski in a left turn. Skis are made to turn the direction they are tipped (edged). Learn to tip both skis symmetrically in the direction you want to turn.

7. It’s all in the legs: Make movements to redirect your skis with your legs rather than your upper body.

8. Relax and appreciate the experience: Take in the view, breathe in the fresh air!

Find out for yourself why the Alf Engen Ski School has developed such a strong reputation across the country—and why skiers of all abilities return to Alta year after year to enjoy its spectacular powder.

Written by Emily Polachek for RootsRated in partnership with Alta.

Posted in: #SkiSchool

Mary Pat Cieri March 14, 2019 Reply to Post

ah haven't taken a lesson lately cuz they always make you go down a trail that is too steep for the fear factor--used to ski the blues--sticking with the greens these days--namely the sunnyside lift. Haven't ventured further lately--might have to slide down sideways for the turning downhill into the steep! VERY comfortable on the greens. Nice wide S turns and some thinner S turns--don't want to go too fast after 2 hip replacements.

Angie Fielder March 26, 2019 Reply to Post

Do you have women’s ski camps?

Alta Ski Area March 26, 2019 Reply to Post

We do!

Jeannot (nickname) Poirot April 2, 2019 Reply to Post

Hey Robbe, good to read about you. Keep up the good work as we do here at BLUEWOOD (in the Blues of the NorthWest) where you started to teach !

John April 2, 2019 Reply to Post

On tip #6, is it not the right (big toe) edge of the right ski on a left turn, as that is your outside ski?

Ted Brooks April 8, 2019 Reply to Post

@John - It would be your left edge, or the downhill side of the uphill ski.

Nick Nastase April 3, 2019 Reply to Post

Hope some ski instructors will enjoy looking at pirate ski lesson rap on yourube.

Joe Klebon April 4, 2019 Reply to Post

Great tips! Thank you.

Mike April 7, 2019 Reply to Post

#3. Plant your pole in front of you and turn around it. Someone told me that this was "classic skiing". This is the way that I was taught. Your body flows and you can ski any terrain.

Bob Streeter April 7, 2019 Reply to Post

The pole plant is a timing tool. It is true it is planted or touched in the snow at the initiation of the new turn but has little to do with the shape, duration or intensity ( angulation ) of your skis. If timed correctly your pole tap is gone by the timeyour new outside ski is on its new inside (big toe) edge. skiing around a planted pole will pull you into the back seat and give you a full body rotation. Not good for many reasons.

Hillary April 13, 2019 Reply to Post

We live in RI, local ski hill is Yawgoo. My boys, 13,9,7 yr olds, will have ski pass next year at Yawgoo to obtain mileage on the snow after school. Do you recommend they take a lesson at the beginning of season or a few weeks later, after they get used to being on skis again? They have all taken large group lessons, are comfortable on the snow and could definitely benefit from small group lesson to learn edge turning. It is my hope that one day they will experience the beauty and awe of Alta!


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