The One-Ski-Method

“Not we, but the slope turns the ski“

This is the knowledge on which the One-Ski-Method is based. It is the surprising result of Kassat`s (1985) research on the technique of skiing that it is not just the skier but the interaction of the whole system (skier, skis and slope) that turns the skis. This awareness of skiing technique has added a new level of understanding to the development of a more practical method of learning. The result is the easy to understand One-Ski-Method.


The basic elements of skiing technique are learned on one ski and then are transferred to two skis.  Another aspect of the One-Ski-Method is that the beginner only needs to learn the key elements required for downhill skiing. Troublesome skills, like snowplough and stems, are unnecessary. And interestingly, the simple use of a long-pole is of surprising help. If the One-Ski-Method is taught appropriately, learning parallel skiing will be no problem.

About the One-Ski-Method

The idea of teaching and learning skiing on one ski comes from the observation that controlling both skis simultaneously seems to be too challenging for beginners. Yet the One-Ski-Method should not be misunderstood: training is not only on one ski, skills are taught on both skis. The advantages of the One-Ski-Method can be summarized as follows:

  • Safety: Learning on one ski and one supporting leg prevents falling and reduce the risk of injury
  • Economy: Practicing on one ski minimizes stepping up
  • Training-effectiveness: The aid of a long-pole makes learning effortless and quick
  • Transfer of learning: Learning on one ski, transferring the skills to two skis
  • Inside and outside ski: Both sides are equally trained from the outset
  • No Snowplough or stem: No troublesome learning detour needed
  • Soft methods: Learning through sensory and motor skills

An important methodical aid: the long-pole
Using a long-pole for training seems to be simple, but it is very effective – as long as the pole is used in a specific way. One holds the long-pole in both hands, drawing a thin line with its tip into the snow. This will ‘magically’ cause a turn. With practice, the turning of the ski starts even before the pole touches the slope. The long-pole makes learning parallel skiing easy, and so beginners as well as advanced skiers will quickly progress. Regardless, basic training should never be neglected, and thus it is recommended to switch between the long-pole and the ski sticks during class.



Methodical approach
The One-Ski-Method has developed numerous training exercises that have proven to be practicable. All the exercises are applicable to the slope, and thus provide material for numerous school training courses. Not all exercises need be implemented; rather, they should be selected as needed on a case-by case basis.  The exercises are not necessarily applied in a methodical sequence of easy to difficult. Rather, the exercises used will always differ due to the complex interaction of skiing-technique, learning process, and the individual situation. One has to consider both slope conditions and the school group desires. The specific learning target determines which exercises the skiing-instructor will accordingly choose. It makes sense to use short modules and to vary between one-ski and two-ski training frequently.


One ski method for all cases.
Since it is necessary to choose the appropriate exercises from the methodological possibilities for each learning situation - knowing the circumstances - the collection of exercises should be seen as a basis for each age and learning objective. The selection and the learning pace will of course be different in each case. The pedagogical-didactic intention determines the way of dealing with the exercises and the learners. And, of course, the methodical exercises for children are to be used in a playful way; on one ski and with a pole this lends itself anyway. Beforehand, it is necessary to gain some experience with the methodical exercises - even if they seem simple.


A special case: skiing in the rehabilitation of children with cancer
The One-Ski-Method has proved particularly successful in the rehabilitation of children with cancer. Ski rehab was founded by Dr. Walter Kurpiers (University of Münster) with ski courses at the Zaferna-Hut in the Kleinen Walsertal (Austria) in 1994. Since then, many hundreds of children with cancer and their relatives have temporarily forgotten their problems while skiing and have once again experienced the fun of movement and the joy of life. The children are very weakened by the long, stressful period of cancer therapy, and the parents are themselves traumatized and anxious to protect their children from exertion and further stress. The children cannot be "ordinary" children who want to move. They are overprotected. It takes a lot of convincing to return to normalcy, to let the children rediscover their own capabilities and trust their physical abilities.
The One-Ski-Method restricts the child's urge to move less than starting learning on two skis. The free standing leg gives the necessary security at the beginning, enables a faster and more energy-saving getting up and the first gliding on the one ski promotes more strongly the sense of balance. In particular, the pole, the tip of which draws a line on the side and serves only as a "mental support", makes it possible to easily find dynamic balance in an arc. Of course, in rehab, no physical or psychological demands are made, but the fun in the snow and the joy of movement are paramount. In this way, failures and excessive demands can be avoided and a quick sense of achievement creates motivation for further learning efforts. The ski rehab is now continued by Prof. Dr. Nico Kurpiers (University of Hildesheim).


Latest Publication:

Kurpiers, N. & Kersting, U. G. (2017). The one-ski-method—effects of an alternative teaching approach on selected movement patterns in alpine skiing. Cogent Social Sciences


Teaching methods in skiing have marginally developed within the last decades. An intervention comparing the conventional approach (SP) and the One-Ski-Method (OSM) is proposed in which the main body actions are first trained on one ski and successively transferred to two skis. The OSM teaches the main body actions towards a proper position on parallel skis. The snowplow gets avoided as it implies obstructive body actions. Two groups were trained using each method. Video footage from the first and the fifth day were evaluated by experts following selected criteria. OSM learners showed significantly larger improvements compared to SP. Results indicate a faster acquisition of key elements of alpine skiing and provide a foundation for further investigations of the OSM method.