National Academy 2018 Presentation: Alpine Fundamentals and Freestyle


In one of the premier presentations at PSIA-AASI National Academy 2018 in Big Sky, MT – the biggest National Academy ever – PSIA  Alpine Team members Dave Lyon, Ryan Christofferson, and Stephen Helfenbein detailed how the Alpine Fundamentals apply to ski racers, freestylers, and also big mountain skiers.

Here, Christofferson summarizes his presentation and explains why he was so excited to share it with Academy attendees: “Since the roll out of the Alpine Fundamentals, and as membership has become familiar with them, a question I often hear during freestyle clinics is, “What’s new?” or, “What’s different?”

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By Ryan Christofferson 

The best part about the fundamentals is that across various applications or arenas in skiing, the fundamentals stay true. In many instances in the park and pipe, especially at the entry level, the fundamentals are used the same way we would use them out skiing around on a groomed run. When we don’t utilize the fundamentals verbatim as written, the principle behind the why will still remain.

Sliding a box or a rail is an example of where one fundamental is the same, but utilized differently than when we are skiing the mountain. The ability to control edge angles comes from a combination of inclination and angulation. When we are skiing, we are often focused on such aspects as how we are creating edges, where we start tipping from, how much edge we want. When we are on a sliding feature like a box or rail, we want to have a flat ski since there is a lack of friction. The skills involved in creating an edged ski are the same for creating the flat ski that we need to slide the box or rail. We just don’t often think about staying on a flat ski.

Where sliding on a box becomes different for us is our orientation to the feature while we are on it.  Most of the time when we are on a flat ski out on the mountain we are moving our COM (center of mass) in the same direction of our skis, moving through the transition and our body is moving along the length of the ski, as well as across the ski to go from old edges to new edges. Or we are in a tuck as our body is moving in the same direction as the skis. However, on a box, we are on a flat ski and moving perpendicular to the skis.

This is something we usually try to avoid when skiing because we don’t want to catch our downhill edges while skiing. But on a box that is less of a concern because of the lack of friction.

This is just one of many examples of how – through the fundamentals – skiers already possess skills to utilize in the park and pipe. The fundamentals are just that, fundamental. By breaking down a desired trick the same way we do a desired ski outcome when we are out on the hill, we will start to see that the skills are already there. They might just need to be applied in a different way than we have thought to apply them before.

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