HOW TO TRANSFER WEIGHT EFFICIENTLY
Shifting weight is an integral part of skiing at all levels. It is taught in a variety of ways and different countries approach the weight transfer differently. My objective in skiing is to achieve maximum results with minimal movement. This efficiency creates a powerful yet relaxed picture and is very pleasing to achieve. I often see weight transfer coupled with rather large movements of both extension and upper body which goes against my objective of efficiency. As such I thought I’d share a short progression that all intermediate and advanced skiers should consider and practise to add another tool to their tool box.
By relaxing one leg and tensing the other leg you will force the tense leg to bear the weight of your body. You can try this stationary by relaxing or lifting one leg. The challenge here is to do this with the smallest possible movement of any parts of the body, almost as if you are a statue. Obviously the leg that is left on the ground is the one supporting you. If you do this with your feet hip width apart then your centre of mass (CoM) will have to shift a very small amount to align itself over the top of the foot that remains on the ground. However this movement of the CoM to one side is very small (a matter of centimetres if you’re truly standing hip width). Also it does not require any increase or decrease in height off the ground.
You can try this again but rather than lifting one leg try to relax the leg completely. Reduce the muscular tension in this leg so that if it were to bear load, it would collapse and you would fall over. If you have done this correctly and you remain standing then your CoM must have slightly shifted over the tense leg. This movement might be so small however that you may not have even realised it. If you did notice, see if you can try this to minimise any movement even further.
The next step is to try this sliding forward on very flat terrain to get a feeling of shifting weight while moving. Again lift one leg and then the other with as small a movement as possible.
This does not require major movements with the upper body over one leg, or rising up. The larger the movements, the more disruptive this will be to your balance. It requires a tense core and the coordination of tensing one leg and relaxing the other as seen in the video and photos below.
LOW PERFORMANCE TURN
As you feel confident with this you can try to execute this weight transfer in a slow moving turn. The ‘early stork’ turn is the perfect exercise for this. The stork turn exercise is simply turning while holding one foot in the air (inside foot) and the ‘early’ stork turn is when the inside foot is lifted off the ground before you initiate the turn.
This can be a little confusing at first as the foot that needs to be lifted is the downhill foot when travelling across the hill. The down hill foot at this time will become the inside foot when you start the turn.
In this exercise, it is very important that the weight transfer happens before the edge change and before any turning occurs. As such it may feel like you’re balancing on the little toe edge of your uphill ski as you transition. It is even good practice to pause after the weight shift and count to two before the edge release and direction change. This further supports the need for smaller, more refined movements to achieve the weight shift rather than larger movements that can disrupt balance. The video below demonstrates the exercise with a 2 second pause.
I often see the edges release and the skis start turning prior to transferring weight. This often (but not always) creates a stem christie (small snowplough to initiate turn). Later weight shifts can result in twisting without edging and subsequent skidding. It can also encourage an extension or heel push to initiate the turn.
HIGH PERFORMANCE TURN
Now let’s explore a high performance or carved turn. The video and photo montage below shows the exercise still being demonstrated at a carving performance. The downhill ski through the transition is being softened or relaxed causing a weight shift and also prompting the crossing of the CoM across the skis and into the new turn. You can see that it is not combined with a dramatic rising or extension upwards and the travel of the CoM is not disrupted unnecessarily.
As one becomes more confident with the timing of this movement, it can be refined to allow both skis to remain on the snow while the skier still benefits from the efficient weight transfer and subsequent transition.
The above weight transfer coupled with the transition it creates, allows a skier to cross the skis from one turn to the next in less time, and engage the new edges more quickly. It is less disruptive to the travel of the CoM and while it demands additional coordination, it requires less overall movement.
The video of this exercise and progression is shared below and I strongly encourage you to view the video to better understand the progression and what the movements should look like.
If this article has inspired you to rethink weight transfer, or provided further clarification, then I encourage you to check out the Project Productions ALL ACCESS VIDEO PASS. You will find hours of ‘how to” instructional videos on topics such as the above, presented by some of the best athletes, coaches and instructors in the world. If you would like to train with Paul Lorenz then join a Projected Camp (all info can be found here). I hope that you enjoyed this article and I look forward to seeing you out on the slopes.
The best equipment for this type of skiing is listed below:
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