Few people have the time to train like a racer. But anyone should be able to find the time to run around the block or ride a bike. I find the bike a wonderful way to keep the legs in shape and often ride up and across the Col del'Iseran from Val d'Is�re and back. It takes me about three hours on the bike Jacques Anquetil gave me.
What few people realize is that the stomach is almost as important as the legs. I could never pull myself back up onto my skis after leaning back in an accelerating turn if I didn't have strong stomach muscles. I do about 50 sit-ups every day of the year, with a light dumbbell behind my neck. Skiing is hard on the back, and a good stomach helps support it.
Of all of the items of ski equipment for the recreational skier, boots are the most important. You can ski on a mediocre ski but not with a poor boot. The best boots today are the new plastic ones, even for beginners. They cost more, but they are warmer and keep their fit better than leather. Most recreational skiers should ski on a giant slalom ski, because the giant slalom, more than any other competition, is like recreational skiing. Slalom skis are too soft and downhill skis are too hard for the average skier. I also believe in fiber-glass skis, not only for racers but for you. If any intermediate skier could ski on the pair of skis I used in the giant slalom at Grenoble, he would have found them one of the best pair he had ever used.
Most people use poles that are too long. The old rule that they should come to your armpit doesn't hold—that makes you ski too erect. Poles should be short enough and well enough balanced to swing freely and quickly, like a pendulum, for planting when you need them. Ski with both your arms and poles more forward than you have perhaps been accustomed to. Never leave the downhill arm behind your hip—it is a guide, a steering wheel, a form of balance in a turn.
Racers sharpen their edges every morning, and you should sharpen yours often as well to make your skis react properly to the snow.
It is important to ski off the piste, and in every kind of snow to feel the snow, like a swimmer feels himself carried by the water. Powder is a marvelous school for balance and for position. In powder, if you make a mistake you fall. If you have your weight on your downhill ski in powder you won't be able to make three turns.
To make progress ski a little faster than you have been skiing. Ski with someone who skies faster than you—if you don't it's as boring as playing tennis with a poor partner. Whether I am racing or not I always ski an maximum, but I am always in control. Remember that it is always important to be the chief. One way to ski faster is to ski a piste two or three times, getting to know all its twists, turns and bumps very well, then go all out, relaxed, letting your skis do the work, with your movements as economical as possible.
Skiing is a battle against yourself, always to the frontiers of the impossible. But most of all, it must give you pleasure. It is not an obligation but a joy.