The Skills Concept & Skiing Fundamentals By Jonathan Ballou

In the 2014/15 season PSIA released a long planned and welcome update to the National Standards.  This update altered the way we look at and use the national standards and, for the first time in recent history, was the result of collaboration from key players in every division.  At the heart of the skiing portion of the standards is Alpine Skiing 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 edge angles through a combination of inclination and angulation

·         Control the skis rotation (turning, pivoting, steering) with leg rotation, separate from the upper body

·         Regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction


These five points are a result of the PSIA Alpine Team asking the question “as a nation of skiers, what do we value as ‘great’ skiing?”


PSIA has used the Skills concept as its technical framework since the mid 1970’s, and will continue to use this timeless model for the foreseeable future. Simply put, a skier is constantly changing, adapting and managing three things:

·         The direction of the skis (Rotational Control)

·         The angle of the skis to the snow (Edge Control)

·         The pressure created through turning and terrain (Pressure Control)


The Skills Concept serves as a way of inventorying all that we can do to affect these simple outcomes of the skis or, the ‘skills’ of skiing.

As a technical framework this is very effective. This model dose not value or discriminate against any particular technique or mechanic, it simply categorizes them.   Therefore, while this model can help us to organize the enormous amount of information that is available about how skiing works, it does not answer the question “as a nation of skiers, what do we value as ‘great’ skiing?”


Intro the Alpine Fundamentals.   These five points, while written in a specifically vague manner, have just enough specificity to say “this is what we see as ‘great’ in almost all the varying interpretations and styles of skiing that we value.”   What is most important to understand as an instructor pursuing certification, or a trainer helping those with that goal, is that the Skiing Fundamentals are derived directly from the skills concept.

In short, the Skills Concept inventories and categorizes everything we can do that effects going left and right on a pair of skis. The Skiing Fundamentals filters that information into what we see as mechanical imperatives for great skiing.


Jonathan Ballou
Alpine Committee Chair
PSIA-Rocky Mountain-AASI



Scroll to Top