When I heard of the book Soft Skiing I had to check it out.

At age 84, that’s how I ski— with minimal effort, smoothly, cruisin’ the blues. The subtitle of this small paperback was encouraging: “The Secrets of Effortless Low-impact Skiing for Older Skiers.”

The author, Lito Tejada-Flores, was “born at 13,000 feet in the Bolivian Andes,” and he was age “68 and counting” when he wrote it in 2010. I hoped I could learn from this youngster who promised “ . . . if you can walk you can ski. Gracefully, efficiently, elegantly.” It’s a concept he promoted during years of instructing at major Western resorts.

Lito begins with two reasons why effortless skiing is possible. First, gravity “the motor” that pulls the skier down the hill. Second, the phenomenal improvement of skis, so that “great turns are somehow built into our modern gear.” The secret is to let gravity and shaped skis do most of the work.

After a brief admonition to stand “tall and loose,” centered over one’s skis, with hands spread and reaching forward for balance, Lito reminds us of why skis turn. The sidecut of our skis creates a smooth turning arc when one ski (the “outside” or “downhill” ski) is simply weighted.

All skis to some degree are shaped and, thus, they naturally want to turn when curved by a skier’s foot pressure. Today’s shorter more radically shaped skis carve better than ever if we just let them do their thing.

How do we initiate these soft carved turns? Simple, says Lito. Just “walk in slow motion” onto, say, your right ski, stay balanced there for a second or two. Voila!! A carved left turn happens on its own. Walk again in slow motion onto your left ski and your skis carve to the right.

What about the inside ski? It merely rides along, possibly rolling slightly toward the inside of the turn, a move Lito calls “phantom edging,” that actually causes a stronger edge angle on the weighted outside ski, creating a “shorter, snappier” carved turn.

Lito admits that this last move is “difficult to demonstrate without lifting the light inside ski off the snow.” Sure enough, the cover photo clearly shows that his inside ski is lifted.

There’s more detail to all this, of course, including subtle pole action and “anticipation,” but the essentials are as I summarize. His DVDs “Breakthrough on Skis 1, Expert Skiing Simplified” and “Breakthrough on Skis 3, The New Skis” beautifully demonstrate his method. The lifted inside ski is very obvious in these excellent instructional video, and he includes videos of useful practice exercises.

FYI, Lito’s #2 DVD covers bumps and powder, but I have not viewed it. I’ve learned to handle powder pretty well after living in Utah for fifty years, and I no longer ski bumps. (My wife says, “You never did.”)

I found Lito’s concise description of his approach plus the illustrative videos convincing, partly because they duplicate methods that I’ve worked out myself. While he imagines soft skiing as walking in slow motion down the hill while carrying a tray before you, I’ve thought of it instead as biking slowly down the hill—depressing one pedal after another—while “steering” with wide old-fashioned bike handlebars.

Order Lito’s books and DVDs from his website www.BreakthroughOnSkis.com. Also offered there is This is Skiing, a large-format book of stunning ski photographs accompanied by some of Lito’s writings on the joys of skiing. A free PDF file of the book may be downloaded, while the hardcover edition costs $45. As Lito points out, That’s cheaper than a day of skiing.

That’s also soft sell if I ever heard it.

5 Comments

  1. I have enjoyed this report. My problem is that the weight of my boots and skis is too much for my legs now and I tire out quickly trying to keep up – in sight of my grand children! Where are these so called light weight boots and skis?

  2. Avatar Patrick Purcell says:

    Yes Lito has helped me immensely especially during the transition of moving up from intermediate to an advanced level of skiing. I still go back and watch his teaching fundamentals. Lito explains numerous aspects of sakiing well in an easy to understand manner. Awesome instruction and I would love to thanks him one day.

  3. Len, don’t try to keep up with your grandchildren. They should stop and wait for you!!!!! Ski at your own pace rather than fighting the speed!
    Mike Roth

  4. Avatar John Murphy says:

    In the ’70’s & ’80’s, I devoured Lito’s DVDS. I’ve been lifting my inside ski ala Lito whilst turning for years. Thusly, being able to more easily “weight” my outside/turning ski. I found that this enabled me to actually carve when I made the transition to shaped skis. Last year, whilst taking a series of lessons the PSIA instructor spent most of the time trying to get me to keep the inside ski on the snow when turning !! Once I accomplished this, he then had me do a couple of exercises which…..WAIT !!…had me LIFT the inside ski !! ” Murphy’s Law” strikes again.

  5. Lito is great. It is instructive just to watch him ski. I started with his Breakthrough book, then the videos, and then a Breakthrough clinic at Aspen. Headed back out to the slopes in 2020 after four years off. And I’m watching Lito’s Breakthrough video again. Jan, I like your bicycle analogy to weight shift and the idea of smooth transition not suddenly stomping down on the new Turing ski.

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