Instructor Pat McCloskey Recommends An Approach To Early Days.

Opening Day, Cranmore, NH, 1938.

I had an interesting discussion with my lift mate this weekend at our local ski area. 

I asked the fellow beside me how his day was going. He remarked, “Well, the hill is fighting me back a little today.”  I chuckled because the guy was a certified PSIA instructor but was feeling a little uneasy with the current conditions.  After all, it is early days for the season, and the snowmaking can bring terrain to life but can also provide less than adequate conditions if you are not prepared.

What did he mean the hill was fighting him back?  As I exited the chair, I began to think about how to tackle ice, scraped snow, and the inevitable sand-like conditions that occur with a big crowd on not so big terrain.  If you started out too fast, you ended up defensive in your stance, and the timing of turns was compromised by too much speed too early, resulting in a skid for life. 

So, my recommendation to anyone starting out on their first run on limited terrain and icy conditions is to begin slowly and finish your turns.  Make a series of turns by finishing them and reducing your speed by the radius of your turn.  Your timing will come back to you and you can eventually increase your speed. 

If you start out slowly and allow the cadence of finished turns to happen at a lower speed, you can eventually ski with a faster cadence once a comfortable series of turns are made.  Be aware of your ankles and make them flex in the bottom of the turn to assist the ski in making a finished, rounded turn. 

I did this for a while and really concentrated on rounded turns and feeling my edges grip the ice.  Then I became more aggressive and said, “Come on Pat, you’ve got this”  and increased my cadence and speed but didn’t compromise my turn.  I was able to do this because of starting the run conservatively and making rounded turns. 

I end up doing this all season long. If you can start slowly and make the first couple of turns correctly and rounded, you can ski any terrain anywhere. 


  1. Round em out! Love it Pat!

  2. Irwin Buchholz, PSIA, NSPS says:

    Thank you Pat,

    I have been doing this to the first runs of the the first of the season since I retired from teaching skiing in 1978.I still get out to ski every year although at 86years of age certainly not as much as in by gone years. So agreeing with Pat it is good to review!

  3. Patty Boy,

    Time for a reality check.

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