Skill School – The Eyes Have It

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I think we can all agree: Staying on one’s feet is the fundamental goal in skiing. Now, isn’t it nice when we all agree about things?


The feat of remaining upright while sliding down a snowy hillside depends on refined use of our sense of balance. Our balance system monitors our position while the brain adjusts our joints and muscles based on how the balance system tells the brain we are positioned at any given moment. I won’t bore you with the details, since I don’t understand them, and also because it involves the dreaded brain, which is something I always find best to avoid talking about.

The balance system monitors our position using our eyes and inner ear (which, weirdly, is just under the brain). If we tip our head to the side, the system will start telling our muscles to adjust in order to bring the body back to an upright position from what it perceives to be a tilted one.

Therefore, it follows that in skiing, or any other balance sport, we should try to keep the balance system travelling on a level path.

Focus on keeping your eyeline level so that the balance system can operate at maximum efficiency. And you never know, you might stay on your feet long enough to make it to après-ski bar, where you can finally start to let the balance system go.

from Buyer’s Guide 2022 issue

Nigel Harrison
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