“Freestyle is for everyone” with Ryan Christofferson – PSIA
PSIA, showcasing Ryan Christofferson PSIA freestyle examiner
Ryan led a very insightful on snow clinic presenting the PSIA freestyle technique as it relates to the PSIA Alpine Techincal fundamentals. These are 5 statements that describe great skiing. Both what the ski should be doing on the snow and how to move the body in order to achieve that.
The take away of the clinic was to explain that skiers already have the necessary skills to enjoy freestyle they just need to know how to manipulate the 5 fundamentals in a way that delivers a different outcome.
Ryan took us through 2 of the fundamentals in hi 1 hour 45 minute clinic and how they relate to freestyle skiing.
PSIA 5 Alpine fundamentals
- Control the relationship of the center of mass to the base of support to direct pressure along the length of the skis.
- Control pressure from ski to ski and direct pressure toward the outside ski.
- Control the skis rotation (turning, pivoting, steering) with leg rotation, separate from the upper body.
- Control the angle of the ski to the snow through a combination of inclination and angulation.
- Overall Magnitude: Regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction.
1st Fundamental – Control the relationship of the centre of mass to the base of support to control pressure along the length of the skis. This a F/A movement focus and is used at the beginning of the turn in regular alpine skiing. Ryan explained that in freestyle this statement refers to the action of the skier as they extend and go off a jump in order to have the trajectory of the skiers mass moving forward enough to make the landing centered and smooth.
He explored this with a ‘basic jump’ task of not flexing the leg joints at all as you go through the air. The self-reflection was, can you land on the whole ski? If you felt more tail pressure you didn’t move your mass along the length of the ski on take off enough and if you felt tip pressure as you landed you moved your mass along the length of your skis on take off too much.
I tell you what, not bending your legs when moving through the air is a very scary feeling, but I liked the challenge as it made me focus on my take off extremely well.
The 2nd Fundamental he explored was Control the angle of the ski to the snow through a combination of inclination and angulation. This is a lateral movement focus and can be explored through the release phase of your turn when trying to de edge the ski. We had fun exploring this skill so to have no edge angle when sliding a box. If any inclination was apparent the skis would slide out in front of the skier, resulting in a crash.
I’m sure most of you reading this can sympathize with that experience! I loved how this task made me very aware of where my center of gravity was in relation to my skis laterally and what body parts I was using to de edge my skis. In my personal alpine skiing, I am very focused on using the lower leg to control edge angle. This focus was crucial to staying upright on the box/ rail. Any hip dumping and down you go!.
The cool thing about Ryan’s message was that the PSIA recognize the need for all instructors to have freestyle skills as the lesson climate is showing an increase in learners wanting to learn freestyle and also the fact that it is super fun and there is no need to be afraid of freestyle, in fact, you already possess all the necessary skills to safely learn and enjoy the freestyle environment.
It was interesting to learn that just as it is compulsory to have a freestyle specialist qualification to be considered a qualified L3 Alpine Instructor in the NZSIA pathway, the Irish, Norwegian and Swedish alliances also require specialized freestyle qualifications to be qualified at the professional level.
Personally, I love running NZSIA freestyle courses as we all have so much fun and inspire each other to explore the fundamentals in challenging and exciting ways. Hope to see more of you in the winters ahead.
Happy jibbing everyone.
Report written by Sarah (Sem) Walls, member of the NZSIA Interski Alpine Team.