The (incredibly) basic movement of edging – Little toe, big toe.

Edging is such a vast topic when discussed but at it’s core it is a ludicrously simple movement. The skill of edging, in isolation, starts with the inversion and eversion of our ankles. (Here’s an article on anatomical biomechanics if you’re into that stuff.) That’s fancy speak for rolling your feet from little to to big toe using our ankles. Once you’re on big toe, stay balanced and keep rolling it in further as required. There really isn’t much more to that in terms of what we actually feel in our boot

Rolling from little toe to big toe.

So why move the feet? Why not move the knees or hips? Try moving your knees or hips but keep the entire sole of your foot on the ground. You’ll notice it is possible for you to move your knees/ hips without getting the feet onto an angle. The purpose of an edging movement is to tilt our skis onto an angle against the snow. We haven’t achieved that. Now the rigidity of a ski boot somewhat restricts this from happening in its entirety. However, there would at least be a delay and therefore an overcompensation in edge angle achieved if you used your knees/hips instead of your ankles.

Edging with feet and ankles.
Edging with knees and hips.

Tracks of an edge roll drill.
Different foot sensations as speed
and edge angle increases.

It’s also not easy to feel how much our knees and hips have actually moved without looking down at them. Most skiers who use them usually do more than is required, just to be safe. You will have a much better gauge of what your edge angle is by feeling how much you’ve rolled your feet in your boot. (Refer to diagram for foot sensations).

The drill of edge rolls is one way to develop refined edging movements. Find a long and flat trail that’s not too crowded. Go straight at a slow speed. Start rolling from little toe to big toe. Consciously focus on doing just this. As you go faster (and you will), you’ll need a higher edge angle so your knees and hips will start coming into play naturally. Your ‘turns’ will gradually become wider as well. But just think about rolling the feet and don’t twist your skisStay on your edges and rail* on them. (Please stop and start again when the speed is faster than you’re comfortable with). This isn’t skiing. It’s a drill to develop edging awareness skills. 
Too many skiers are overly concerned with their knees, hips or upper body positions when it comes to edging or even skiing in general. That’s working backwards and more often than not it’s trying to make two wrongs become a right. Yes, those things do matter but you’ll be surprised how easy all of that falls into place when you start from the feet.

*rail – Skiing with your skis locked on edge. The tracks are pencil thin lines with no skidding.

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