What is all-mountain skiing? How to be a better all-mountain skier by top level ski instructor, Mark Gear.
I’m Mark and I run All Mountain Performance in Chamonix. I’ve been teaching all-mountain skiing for many years and run over 20 ski courses per season for intermediate, advanced and expert level skiers. Here’s my thoughts on what all-mountain skiing means, and some of my top tips for better all-mountain skiing.
What is an all-mountain skier?
An all-mountain skier can ski the whole mountain, in any conditions and on any terrain with control, versatility and expression. This is the true hallmark of the all-mountain skier.
Why learn to ski the whole mountain?
All-mountain skiing – the ultimate goal of most skiers.
All-mountain skiing is probably the ultimate goal of most recreational skiers. To be able to ski the whole mountain with a skillful performance is like the holy grail for the majority of skiers.
It’s also a natural progression obtained only after years of refined practice, experience and learning through trial and error. Once gained, the skier senses a profound connection with the mountain that produces a fantastic feeling of freedom with the ability to ski and enjoy the whole mountain.
All-mountain skiing is a common goal.
In my long career as a professional ski teacher, having coached thousands of skiers from novice to expert, inlcuding professional instructors, I’ve noticed some things most skiers have in common. Firstly, it’s all about having fun! A lot of that fun comes from improving. It’s also a natural human trait to get bored if we do the same thing all the time. For example, if we never progess off the red run, we could easily get bored, stagnate, and loose the fun aspect, which is the primary reason for doing the sport in the first place. Therefore, there seems to be a consistent yearn to learn the next thing which keeps the fun alive.
Whether it’s the novice wanting to tackle that first blue run, or the expert aiming to master a steep off-piste face. Whatever the level, skiers share a common goal and would rather not be restricted in what and where they can ski. Instead, skiers prefer to expand their horizons and share an ultimate goal of becoming all-mountain skiers, capable of skiing any terrain in any conditions. Although it might take years to master this, there are concepts all skiers can focus on at any level that will help the process.
Here’s 5 of my top tips for better all-mountain skiing.
All-mountain skiing tip 1: Goal setting.
It’s important to set achievable goals. Goals should be aligned with where you are in your skiing progression. For example: If you would like to learn to ski the bumps for the first time, be sure to start with small bumps first, and not difficult, big bumps that could knock your confidence. Once a realistic goal is set, it’s all about sound technique and practice. It’s also wise to book a ski instructor from time to time to get more personal and professional help.
All-mountain skiing tip 2: Versatility.
It’s important to develop versatility in your skiing. This means to vary the size, speed and type of your turns. Aim to be able to ski many different ways and develop a repetoire of skills. If you always ski the same way, you will lack in versatility which can hinder your ability to ski the whole mountain. Mountains are variable places. Weather, slope gradient, terrain shape, snow depth and snow texture are constantly on the change as we move around the mountain. The versatile skier will prevail.
All-mountain skiing tip 3: Ski in the now.
Skiing is a sport that requires us to react in the moment. We must learn to set our attention and focus in the present moment whilst skiing. As you ski, start focusing on what the skis are doing at each moment in time. Instead of, for example what you just did. This is mindful skiing. Too much past or future attention focus can distract us from what’s really happening right now. Just ski, focus and react in the moment.
All-mountain skiing tip 4: Feel for the snow.
There’s a lot to be said for developing snow feel. If you are skiing in the now, you will start to feel certain qualities of the snow, for example, it’s texture and depth. Does the snow feel firm and grippy, or firm and icy? Or is the snow soft, wet or deeper and causing resistance against the skis? Often, you can feel a combination of these snow conditions in one run. If you feel and tune into these sometimes subtle changes in snow conditions as they happen, you will be better able to make the subtle adjustments needed to acheive your desired outcomes.
All-mountain skiing tip 5: Match your skiing to the terrain.
It’s easier if you match your skiing to the terrain. In other words, it’s best to choose an appropriate skiing approach that will match the slope. For example, let’s say you are skiing a wide open slope which runs down to a narrow, steeper section. In this situation, it’s wise to use longer, more energy conserving turns on the wide open slope, then time the transition to shorter more energetic turns for the steep and narrow section. In this way, you will match your skiing appropriately to the terrain changes as they happen.
Join Mark on an All-Mountain Performance Ski Course. Check out the different levels and dates here: