It is rare for a skier or even a racer at the World Cup level to have more than a very basic knowledge of anatomy. When I ask an elite skier or racer to describe what they do to initiate a turn what they tell me invariably has nothing to do with what they are really doing. Often, what a skier describes they are doing is physically impossible. “Rolling the ankle” to initiate a turn is a classic example. Rolling the ankle or “pronating the foot require a conscious effort that uses concentric muscle contraction. This bears no resemblance to what racers like Mikaela Shiffrin or Marcel Hirscher are doing.
Watch the video of Mikaela Shiffrin Flat Lining at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Beaver Creek (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StrKDP92qxQ). Listen to her describe what she really does in her ski boots at the initiation of a turn.
“Once you figure out how to loosen up your ankle and kind of just go with the rope a little bit……”
When she says “kind of just go with the rope ….”, Shiffrin is really saying that she is relaxing her ankle to allow the central load-bearing axis to transfer her weight W to the flat line so her CNS can modulate her balance at a subconscious level.
This is an excellent example of lateral learning using tactile and deep joint proprioception to improve balance. This input leads to synergistic reflex proximal muscle responses. Vestibular inner ear sensory uptake and cerebellar (brain) proprioception sites elicit a reflex controlled overall postural response creating a balanced stance. Some so-called “natural athletes” have an inherent higher level of balance. However, it should be emphasized that most athletes can improve body control through balance training.