Martin Bell's Expert Advice Encyclopedia

Martin Bell's Expert Advice Encyclopedia

By Martin Bell

We've been working with former Ski Olympian Martin Bell for over 15 years and he created our unique PB Martin Bell Ski Academy, which runs every year in Zermatt and Arosa for children, aged 11 to 15.

In this 7-part blog post, Martin shares his extensive knowledge and valuable expertise on everything from the getting ski equipment just right to conquering the mental side of skiing and how to master carving turns. 

Part 1 - Ski Equipment

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Boots

The first item on all skiers' list to buy should be boots. Skiing on unsuitable or poorly prepared skis is irritating, but trying to ski in boots that don't fit can be downright agonising, and can wreck your ski holiday.

Finding the right boot is dependent on two main criteria: flex and fit. Your ideal flex is determined by your skiing ability and style, as well as your body shape. If you are an experienced, faster, more aggressive skier, and if you are heavier or taller (creating more leverage) than average, you'll need a stiffer boot. If you are a less confident skier, and if you are smaller and lighter, you need a softer boot.

All boot companies give a "flex index" for each of their models. Anything around 100 is average, with anything higher representing a stiffer boot and lower indicating a softer boot. These ratings are not standardised across manufacturers but are fairly similar.

The fit of the boot is determined by the "last": the metal template around which the plastic shell is formed. All boot companies now list the width of their lasts, measured across the forefoot. These range from 95mm, which is tight-fitting and best for narrow feet, to 105mm, which offers a more generous fit, better for wider feet. A good boot fitter will be able to take a look at your foot and tell you what shape and width of last would be the most comfortable for you personally.

Almost all boots come with a heat-moldable liner (the "inner boot"). Many of them also now have shells that are heat-mouldable too. For maximum comfort, you should make use of both of these processes. In addition, there are lots of ways that a good boot fitter can reduce discomfort, for instance punching out or grinding out the shell, or adding padding to the liner, so make sure you keep going back to the shop to get them worked on until they're right.

To ensure warm feet, you should dry out your boots thoroughly every night, either on a boot dryer, if available, or by removing the liners from the shells.

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Skis

Over the past 20 years, the shape and design of skis have evolved far more extensively than at any time since the birth of the sport in the 1920s. The range of dimensions may seem confusing, but it is possible to define a ski by two basic numbers: waist width, and sidecut radius.

On most skis, the width measurements of the ski are marked, often under the binding or near the tail. There are usually three numbers: tip, waist and tail. You mainly need to pay attention to the middle number - the waist or "underfoot width" - because the other two widths are dependent upon it anyway. The key point is that narrower-waisted skis (under 80mm) are better on the ice and hard snow, whereas wider, "fat" skis (over 90mm) are better in powder and soft snow. "Mid-fats", with waist width in the 80s, are a good compromise that will do a decent job on or off-piste.

The sidecut radius (sometimes called the turn radius) measures the curvature of the edge. All skis have an hourglass shape: wider at the ends and narrower in the middle. A smaller radius (e.g. 10 metres) indicates a very curvy edge, meaning the skis will turn easily and will be best for shorter turns at lower speeds. A larger radius (anything over 20 metres) means that the skis are straighter, best for longer turns and more stable at higher speeds. "Rocketed" skis, where the tips, and sometimes tails, bend upwards, are designed to be easier to pivot, especially in deeper snow. They are ideal for learning to ski powder, but their downside is that they can be unstable at high speeds on firm, bumpy snow because the tips flap around.

Skis require some maintenance to enable them to work effectively. The edges need to be sharpened with a file or an abrasive diamond stone. The bases need to have hot wax ironed into them, the excess of which is then scraped off when cool. For competitive skiers, edging and waxing needs to be done every night, but for holiday skiers, once or twice a week should suffice.

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Bindings

A quick word on bindings; the initial adjustment is best done by experts in a shop. However, whether you're on your own skis or rentals, every skier should know their ideal DIN setting. This is important because it measures the tightness of the springs inside the bindings. Too tight and the skis may stay on your feet when you crash, causing injury. Too loose, and the ski may release from your foot when you don't want it to, which can also be dangerous. By a process of trial and error, every skier should get to know what setting is right for them. If you are heavier, taller or ski faster and more aggressively, you will need a higher setting. For youngsters that are still growing, keeping up can be tricky. If you are using the same pair of skis as last year, you may need to adjust your binding setting upwards.

Ski equipment is a complex part of the sport. But when you get it right, you can learn to gain trust in your equipment, so that your skis can almost become an extension of your own legs.

Part 2 - Ski Fitness

Fitness

Compared to many sports, skiing requires a very wide range of physical abilities. Skiers need to be all-around athletes, which is why they often do well in multi-sport competitions such as Superstars.

A good skier requires strength, speed, endurance, balance, coordination and flexibility. High leg and core strength are vital in modern skiing, in order to resist the powerful centrifugal forces that are generated by modern skis. Once you get to the level of "carving" or "arcing" your turns, you'll start to notice these forces. You need leg and core strength to maintain a good posture, and to absorb any rougher areas of snow that you may encounter as you are turning.

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You don't need to squat huge weights to develop leg strength. There are plenty of very effective bending, hopping and jumping exercises, which use only your body weight. Cycling is also excellent for leg strength. To strengthen the core, sit-ups and backups are great, but you also need to work your lateral muscles, as well as those that twist your trunk.

Whenever shorter turns are required, like in slalom, moguls, or skiing through trees, skiers need to have speed of movement. Sprinting is a great way to develop general speed and explosiveness, but skiers also need to be able to move quickly from side to side (laterally), so any type of ski-specific lateral jumps, over a box or bar, are great. Sports that require stepping and twisting from side to side, like football are rugby, will also help.

A ski race in a slalom or giant slalom event usually lasts between 45 and 90 seconds. The high-speed events of super G and downhill are longer, but rarely over 2 minutes. So ski racers need to produce a maximum explosive effort over a short burst. However, when ski racers train, they may do 10 or 12 slalom runs in a morning and they often train at high altitude on mountain glaciers, where the air is thinner. They need to be able to recover quickly between runs, and they need to be able to process oxygen efficiently. This means that they need a reasonable level of cardiovascular fitness. Not as high as endurance athletes, such as marathon runners or triathletes, but decent. Cardiovascular levels can be improved by long, steady activities like running, cycling, rowing, swimming or cross-country skiing for at least 30 minutes, several times per week.

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When skiers are carving a turn, they are riding on the razor-thin edges of the ski while encountering changes in snow texture, and ripples. This requires balance - which can be improved with training, contrary to popular opinion. Skiers and snowboarders require lateral and fore-aft balance. Co-ordination is the ability to move different body parts in different ways or to move one body part without moving another (known as "separation of movement"). Skiing is a complex, technical activity, requiring excellent co-ordination. This can be trained, by doing other complex sports, such as ball sports, skating (ice or inline), surfing (wind, wave or kite), or gymnastics.

Finally, skiers need a certain level of flexibility. They don't need to be as flexible as gymnasts or ballet dancers. If they were, they might not have the tension and strength necessary to hold their posture under the action of the high forces that occur in skiing. But they need to have a certain suppleness and mobility because skiing can sometimes put the body into unexpected positions; flexibility will reduce the risk of injury in those situations so a few minutes of stretching or yoga each day is a good idea for skiers.

All of these physical requirements apply to competitive skiers, but they also apply to recreational skiers, just to a lesser extent. The better shape you are in, the more enjoyment you'll get from your ski holiday.

Part 3 - Carving Turns

Carving turns on ice and hard snow

Natural snow that falls from the sky is soft and fluffy but it doesn't stay that way forever. In ski resorts, groomers or "piste bashers" flatten the fresh snow to a firmer surface. In addition, sun and warm temperatures melt the snow, increasing the water content. Overnight, that water can freeze, creating snow that has a hard, icy surface.

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When you're making turns on hard snow, the main part of your ski that is in contact with the snow is the edge. Hopefully, you'll have had those edges sharpened recently.  If you want your skis to grip on hard snow, you need to have them tipped over so that their edges bite into the ice; and you need to be exerting downward pressure on to those edges.

When you're going around a turn, it is safest to have most of your pressure on your outside ski, i.e. your right ski if you're turning to the left, and vice versa. The reason for this is simple: with most of your weight over your outside ski, if that ski skids out from under you, you'll have your inside ski to save you. On the other hand, if you habitually have most of your weight over your inside ski, and it happens to skid out, then you're doomed to falling on to your inside hip ("hipping out"). You need to tip your skis over while keeping pressure on your outside ski.  The only way to do that is by curving your body into the shape formed by the letter 'C'. This is often called "angulation" because it requires creating angles at your knees and hips. It is also sometimes called "separation" because the upper and lower halves of your body need to move in separate directions.

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Perhaps the most common fault amongst all skiers is that they try to edge their skis by tipping their whole body inwards, in a straight line. Doing this gets your skis on their edges very quickly but tends to put the weight on to the inside rather than the outside ski, so is inherently unstable.As you start to lean your shoulders outwards, to keep your weight over your outside ski, you'll find that this movement becomes easier if you turn your shoulders slightly outwards, to face the outside of the turn. Doing this means that if you just bend slightly forward at the hips, and round out your back so that your shoulders move forward, you'll automatically move more weight over the outside ski. In fact, you'll find it easiest if the whole inside half of your body - your inside foot (i.e. your left foot if you're turning to the left), inside hip, inside shoulder and inside hand - are all ahead of their outside counterparts. This principle is called "countering" because it involves turning your shoulders counter to the direction that your skis are turning.

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Once you can edge and pressure your outside ski, you're ready to learn to turn by "carving". Instead of turning your feet to turn your skis, you can just tip your skis up on to their edges, and let the sidecut (the curved shape of the edge) take you around a turn in a long arc. This is a very stable, predictable way to handle ice because it allows your ski's edge to slice forwards through the ice, rather than scraping sideways across it.Once you can carve, you'll be able to glide smoothly around your turns, which is not only a fun sensation but also the fastest way to make turns if you ever want to take on a race course.

Part 4 - Conquering Bumps

If you can only ski on pistes that have been groomed to a perfectly smooth surface, you'll always be limited as to the areas of the mountains that you can explore. If you want to progress towards becoming an advanced or expert skier, you'll need to learn how to handle unprepared surfaces: off-piste snow (which may or may not be powder) and bumps.

Bumps, or "moguls", are created when lots of skiers make turns on a slope where there is soft snow. Each turn gouges out a small amount of snow, creating a hollow with a small pile of snow below it. Eventually, these piles are noticed by other skiers, who start to deliberately use the piles to start their turns. As soon as they start doing that, the process immediately becomes amplified; each skier starts a turn on top of a pile or small bump and finishes in the hollow beneath. This scrapes even more snow out of the hollow, which is then deposited on top of the next bump.

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If you encounter an unexpected mogulfield, you'll have to do the same: start your turns just as you go over the top of the bumps. For a split second, your skis' tips and tails will be off the snow, making them easier to pivot. A pole plant will also help you to pivot your skis. Then finish your turns off in the hollows beneath the bumps.

Every time you go over a bump, remember that you're going from a small flat platform to a small steep "slope", i.e. the lower side of the bump. As always, when skiing from flatter slopes on to steeper slopes, you need to rotate your body forward, so that you remain perpendicular to your skis. If you do nothing, you'll end up leaning back relative to your skis.

When the moguls get really big, and the gaps, or "ruts", between them very narrow, it is sometimes necessary to adopt a different route down the mogulfield. Instead of turning over the tops of the bumps, you can turn from "rut" to "rut", linking the ruts by starting your turns on the little "saddle" that can always be found between the ruts. This is known as "skiing the zipper line", and is very difficult, for four reasons:

1. You have to able to turn your skis very quickly; the only way to do this is by turning just your legs underneath you, while your upper body remains facing the mountain. Solid pole plants are a must.

2. It's tough to control your speed because there's so little room to finish your turns. You have to actively skid your skis down the downside of each bump to slow yourself down.

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3. As you get faster, the little saddles between each turn will give you an upwards "kick". Unless you can “swallow up”, or absorb this kick, by bending your ankles, knees and hips, you'll be thrown into the air, where you'll have less control of your skis.

4. Not only do the saddles kick you upwards, they're constantly pushing you backwards. You have to fight constantly to stay forward on your skis, or once again you'll lose control.

Skiing the zipper line down a whole slope like they do in World Cup and Olympic moguls competitions is tough technically and physically. But in the real world, there are no rules, so you can always do a few zipper line turns and then cut out, by doing longer turns that take you over the tops of the bumps. Controlled, strategic side-slipping is also a useful skill in moguls because it can take you down to exactly the right place to start a turn on top of a bump.

Skiing bumps remain one of skiing's great challenges; if you can nail a steep zipper line, right underneath a busy chairlift, you can win a lot of praise and respect from other skiers.

Part 5 - Off-Piste Skiing

Going off piste

If you can only ski on pistes that have been groomed to a perfectly smooth surface, you'll always be limited as to the areas of the mountains you can explore. If you want to progress towards becoming an advanced or expert skier, you'll need to learn how to handle unprepared surfaces: off-piste snow (which may or may not be powder) and bumps.

When snow has recently fallen, it is often light, soft and fluffy. This is powder, and it can be wonderful to ski, creating a floating sensation that feels like flying. But it can also be tricky and frustrating if you're only used to skiing on the snow, rather than in it.If the fresh snow is only 10-20 centimetres deep (so-called "boot-top powder"), things are relatively easy, as you're still effectively skiing on the older, firmer surface underneath. At first, it'll feel weird to look down and not see your skis. You should use a slightly narrower stance, and you should keep your weight evenly spread across both feet; this will lower the risk of one ski being "snagged" and dragging you off balance.

Once you get into deeper snow, say knee-deep, it's even more important to keep your feet together and evenly weighted so that they act as one "unit" as they sink into the snow. If you stand on your outside ski more than the inside one, your outside leg will sink deeper into the snow, and you'll topple outwards. This happens to powder novices so often, that it even has a name: the "powder flip".

To make turns in very deep snow, you need a "bouncing" action. Every time you bounce up out of the snow, your skis will come up to the surface, making it easier to pivot them to start your turn. Then as you sink back down into the snow, you can finish your turn and control your speed (usually, the pure depth of the snow will help you slow down).This bouncing action also helps you to balance, and here's why. Imagine standing on a pogo stick; if you just stood still, you could never keep your balance. But if you bounce on it, you can stay upright. This is because you can make tiny corrections on each bounce. With short, bouncy turns in powder, you need to stick to the same principles as with any short, pivoted turns: you need to set your rhythm with solid, regular pole-plants, and you need to turn just your legs underneath you, while your upper body remains looking straight down the slope.

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Heavy snow

Off piste snow is not always light and fluffy powder. If the air is too warm during the snowstorm, the snow will be wet and heavy. This generally means that you have to work a little harder to get your skis up to the surface of the snow to start the turn. However, the upside is that you won't sink quite as deep at the end of the turn; the thicker snow will give you more "support".

Breakable crust

Too much sun or wind can create a hard crust on top of the snow - while it still remains soft and powdery underneath. If this crust is thick enough to bear your weight, great - it's just like skiing on a piste. But if it is thin enough to be breakable...well these are the most difficult snow conditions of all. The only way to handle breakable crust is to jump entirely clear of the snow on each turn (hard work), or, if the slope is gentle enough, you can step your skis around each turn.

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Fat skis

The last decade has seen the emergence of skis that have a wider shape - known as "fat skis", "freeride skis", or "big mountain skis". Because they have a greater surface area, they float nearer the surface of the powder. This means you no longer need to use the traditional "bouncy" technique and can use a more surfy, carvy style. But, the risk of snagging the inside ski still exists, so you need to keep a certain amount of weight on both skis.

Once you learn to ski powder, you'll be hooked on the sensation. Just remember, you'll often need to know how to ski the bad off-piste conditions too, in order to get to, or return from, that perfect powder bowl.

Part 6 - Racing

The first downhill ski races, over 100 years ago, just had a starting gate and a finish line. Skiers had to navigate their own way down the mountain, through the forests and farmlands, to the village. Fairly soon, however, "control gates" were introduced; these were pairs of wooden poles which the racers had to pass through on their way down the course. Failure to do so ("missing a gate") led to disqualification. Eventually, "alpine" skiing (so called to distinguish it from the "Nordic" events of ski-jumping and cross-country) evolved into the four types of race that we have today. These four disciplines are, in ascending order of speed: slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, and downhill.

Slalom

With the shortest, quickest turns, slalom requires precision, speed of movement and agility. At the top level, racers are turning more than once per second. A typical slalom course might contain 60 turns, lasting between 45 and 55 seconds. Two runs are held, on different courses, and the result is decided by the total time over the two runs The racers make turns around plastic poles which have spring-loaded hinges at ground level, allowing them to bend down easily when hit. This enables the racers to ski "through" the gates; most of their body passes inside the line of the gate, with only their feet going around the base of the gate. In fact, according to the rules, only the ski tips and the feet have to pass around the gate.Slalom makes for a great spectator sport because, in contrast to the faster events, the whole race course is often visible from the finish area. Increasingly, World Cup slaloms are being held in the evening under floodlights, to enhance the atmosphere.

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Giant Slalom

It is often said that Giant Slalom, or “GS”, is the easiest discipline to do, but the hardest to do well. The medium-sized turns are the most similar to the typical turns made by recreational skiers on the piste. The most important element of GS is to carve clean turns - using the shape of your skis to glide around the turns on your edges, with the ski slicing forwards through the snow - not pivoting or scraping sideways across the snow. GS speeds are higher than for slalom, up around 40-50mph. Each run may last between 50 and 80 seconds.

Unlike in slalom, where the racers turn around single plastic poles, the racers have to turn around a cloth "panel", which is stretched between two poles. (These panels are also used in super G and downhill.) As in slalom, the winner is determined by adding together the times from two runs on different courses.GS is usually where non-racers first learn about ski-racing, in a ski school race or a resort's pay-to-race course. They soon realise that there is a massive difference between choosing where you turn and having your turns dictated to you by a race course. The most difficult part to get right is the "line" - this requires that you get most of your turn done above the gate, so that, as you go around it, you are already pointing across the hill, towards the next gate. If you don't do this, you risk getting "late" or "low" with your line, struggling harder and harder to finish your turns beneath the gate in order to make it to the next gate. If you do get late, and you don't rectify it immediately, you risk missing a gate and being disqualified.

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Super Giant Slalom

The most recently invented discipline, Super Giant Slalom, or “Super G”, was introduced in 1982, as a compromise event midway between GS and downhill. Throughout the 1980s, I personally witnessed the evolution of Super G on the World Cup tour. At first, there were huge discrepancies in the course-setting. Some Super Gs were just like a widely-spaced GS. Others were like a downhill course but with a few extra turns. Eventually, super G settled down into a bona fide event, with its own challenges. The main issue is that the speeds are high (50-65mph), but there are no prior training runs on the course, unlike in downhill. So the course inspection before the race is crucial, especially over the blind rollers. In Super G we always see a high rate of "DNFs" ("did not finish").If you make a mistake in a run of Super G, there is no chance to make amends - this is a one-run event. A super G run typically lasts between 70 and 100 seconds.

Downhill

Downhill is a bit different; it is the only event to have all red gates (the others alternate between red and blue) and it is the only event where there are official training runs on the course (between one and three of them) before the race in order to improve safety.

Downhill is glamorous because of the danger. There have been fatalities and the speeds are high - typically between 70 and 90 mph, although racers have even been clocked going over 100mph in a World Cup downhill. Another risky element is the jumps. Super G races occasionally have small lips, where the racers take air, but downhills have massive jumps, where the racers might fly as far as 40 or 50 metres at World Cup level. That is half the length of a football pitch. The ideal technique is to absorb or "press" the lip of the jump, in order to fly as small a distance as possible. This is actually faster, as you can get back on the ground sooner, and start accelerating again.

Because of the speed, aerodynamics are more important in downhill than in the other events. Racers have to crouch low in the "tuck" position, with their poles held tightly under their arms. Extra long skis have to be used, for stability - sometimes as long as 218cms.

Downhill is not all high-speed straightlining though. There are turns, and these are often decisive. Racers might come into a particularly tight turn, carrying 80mph, and exit the turn with 60mph. The racer with the most technical skill, who can exit at 65mph, will probably win the race.

A downhill race consists of one run, down a 2-mile course that usually lasts close to 2 minutes. For a World Cup event, the vertical drop from start to finish must measure at least 800 metres (2625 feet). In cases of severely difficult weather or snow conditions, a two-run downhill can be held over a shortened course.

The beauty of ski-racing is its simplicity. There are no arguments, no judges' opinions - the only thing that matters is the number on the clock at the end of your run. It is also very measurable. When you start racing, you can measure your deficit behind the more experienced racers very precisely and track your improvement just as precisely.However, ski-racing is also a very harsh sport. If you have technical weaknesses or deficiencies in your skiing, these will usually be honestly reflected by the clock at the end of your run - there is no place to hide.But when you manage to pull off a perfect, cleanly-carved run, and achieve a good result, there is no better feeling.

Part 7 - The Mental Game of Skiing

Skiing is a dangerous sport, there is no escaping that fact. Indeed, it's a major part of the sport's appeal. As humans, we have a basic need to scare ourselves slightly, while knowing deep down that the risks are controllable and acceptable

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There are several aspects of skiing that can create fear: speed, poor visibility, steepness, ice, and jumps or drops.However, all of these elements allow the risk to be controlled by technique and planning.

Speed is fun! As a former downhill racer, I cannot deny this but, of course, it is risky as unexpected things can happen more quickly, and you have less time to react. Nevertheless, humans can become accustomed to anything, and it is easy to become used to the pure sensations of skiing fast: the wind rushing in the ears (even with a helmet), the skis being shaken about by undulations, the exaggerated effect of terrain - floating you or squashing you. I remember going through this process every November. But when you're not used to speed, your mind's first reaction is to become defensive with your body language, and this invariably leads to moving your weight further towards the tails of the skis which unfortunately leads to a loss of control. It is the front of the ski which decides where the rest of the ski will travel. If there is no pressure on the front of the ski, it cannot guide the rest of the ski into a turn so, at speed, you need to become more aggressive and attack the slope, so it doesn't attack you. This will naturally put your weight forward on the front of your skis, giving you more control.

Poor visibility because of fog, flat light, or just the early dusk that comes around 3.30pm in December, has the same effect as speed. It causes skiers to become defensive and sit back. Again, the cure is to have positive body language: push the hands forward, and make sure the whole body moves forward with them. In bad light, it's also important to stay loose. Your feet will encounter unseen bumps and if you can remain relaxed in the ankles and knees, your legs will naturally absorb them. Try to learn to become more sensitive to the messages being sent up to your brain from the soles of your feet. In bad light, you may "feel" the bumps before you see them.

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A steep slope is always intimidating - but there are other factors at play as well. Often, the scariest thing is a contrast in gradients; so going from a flat ridge to a steep slope is far scarier than being on a slope of consistent steepness. The length and width of the slope are also huge factors.The instinctive reaction on a steep slope is to shy away from the downhill side and lean into the slope. But of course, this reduces your angulation and makes your skis far likelier to skid, giving you less control. What we call "learning good technique" is really overcoming that urge to lean into the hill, and instilling new instincts of creating angulation and edging our skis. These new instincts have to be learned in less threatening situations so that they become second nature when you find yourself in a tough situation.

Any skiers who say "I don't need to learn good technique because I just cruise on-piste all day" are kidding themselves. This is a fallacy. If you don't get in the habit of good technique, then sooner or later you'll get caught out of your depth, either through poor navigation or inconsistent piste grading.The principles for dealing with icy slopes are the same as for steep ones. Eventually, if you have sharp edges on your skis, and confidence in your own technique, you'll feel much more secure with skis on your feet than you would without them.

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It is a little-known fact that ski technique can actually be learned without ever even putting your skis on. "Mental rehearsal", also known as "imagery", can be hugely beneficial. Scans have shown that the same parts of the brain are activated, whether you are actually performing a technique, or just imagining yourself doing it.

Another useful principle is "take it one turn at a time". In golf, it shouldn't matter if you're driving straight on to a fairway, or over a water hazard - but it does. And it shouldn't matter if you're making a turn on a 30-metre steep pitch or a 1000 metre one - but of course, there's huge mental pressure in knowing that a fall could result in a long slide. The more you can shut out the long slope below, and just focus on the next turn, the better chance you'll have of skiing that pitch successfully.

When dropping off a cornice or a cliff, there is always a fear element - that's part of the fun. But you can tip the odds in your favour with a little planning. The ideal thing is to check out the landing on the previous run, to judge the snow consistency, depth, and whether there might be unseen obstacles.If you cannot check out your landing, then check out other people going off drops nearby. Or even take a look at recently-made tracks. This can give you a feel for the type of snow you're about to land on.Of course, there is a happy medium between jumping in blindly, and too much planning. The longer you stand above a drop, the bigger it tends to look. So once you're up there, don't leave it too long. "Look before you leap", but remember that "he who hesitates is lost".Fear is an emotion that creates a physical state in the body: faster pulse, shallower breathing, tight chest. But this process also works in reverse. If you can slow your pulse, breathe more deeply, and relax your chest, it is possible to reduce your levels of fear.The ultimate extension of this principle is the type of mental training and self-hypnosis pioneered by Lars-Eric Unestahl. I found Unestahl's teachings to be particularly helpful in reducing stress levels back in my competition days.

Skiing is a physical sport, but your body will only perform at its best when the mind is also in the optimal state.

For more information on the PB Martin Bell Academy, click here or call 020 8246 5300.