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Initiating a Turn

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
I am skiing at an intermediate level and I still do not know how to initiate turns correctly. I will take a few private lessons this year and plan to address this issue first, but would like to understand and be able to visualize this skill.

I've been told:
  • initiate a turn with the downhill ski (which will become the new uphill ski)
  • press down with the opposite big toe (to turn left, press down with the big toe on the right foot)
  • press down/out with the little toe of the side you want to turn toward (to initiate a turn to the right, press down and out with the little toe on the right foot)
  • roll ankles to the downhill side
  • move body laterally over the front of the downhill ski (puts weight toward the outside tip of the downhill side)
What is the currently accepted correct method for initiating a turn?

[Puh-leeze don't say "roll your ankles" ... that's the one that makes my brain hurt! I can't even imagine my ankle rolling after all the trouble I've gone to to get it seated securely in my boot.]

I was all set to purchase the "Sofa Ski School" DVD but when I previewed the part on turning and he mentioned leaning the knees, I froze -- out of fear that I might learn his method and then be told yet again that I'm doing it wrong.

Help! Is there a good, solid correct a-b-c process for initiating a turn?
 
#2
I love it! I have been told all of these and more (don't roll anything, just turn the skis; roll your knees; all weight to your outside ski...). I don't even know what I do at this point, but my skis turn. I'm looking forward to the responses because I too wonder what most people do.
 

SuZieCoyote

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Well, actually....

Rolling my ankles really does work for me. Because the boots fit so well, the skis instantly move to their edges. I have been taking lessons from some really good people and they all tell me (and I observe) that the turns should be all in the feet. The knees and hips follow, but it is about moving from edge to edge by turning the feet. Other good advice I am getting is bend at the hips to get a little lower when the terrain is steep or challenging, but not at the waist. Makes the ankles easier to roll.
 

mountainxtc

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
When you say you are skiing at intermediate level, does that mean you are comfortably parallel or do you struggle to initiate a parallel turn?

The mechanics of turn initiation will change slightly depending on whether you are making a skidded or a carved turn. But I will say this: the turning effort must start at the feet.

I personally dislike the "press down on the outside ski" teaching method as I find this encourages students to push the outside ski away from them instead of balancing on it.

As a very simple breakdown of mechanics: as you complete a parallel turn, the two uphill edges of your skis are providing grip on the snow. In order to initiate a new turn you must simultaneously roll the skis off those edges to allow them to turn freely without getting "stuck", progressively rolling across the base of the ski through "flat" and finally back to the new uphill edges.

Try the following. Find some terrain with pitch (a blue run is ideal) and stand still with your skis parallel across the hill. you will find that your two uphill edges are providing you with the grip you need to prevent you from sliding sideways down the hill. Take a moment to ensure you are getting this edge hold by rolling just your lower joints up the hill rather than tipping your entire body into the hill. practice flattening the skis by rolling your lower joints (knees and ankles) away from the hill so you are sideslipping. if this idea of "rolling" doesn't sit well with you, think instead of shifting your weight across the bottom of your feet from the uphil side towards the downhill side. progressively roll those joints back into the hill to engage the edges and come to a stop. practice this a lot.

once you are comfortable with this move, go to flat terrain on a green run. begin skiing across the hill and try this move to flatten your skis with a little momentum. one your skis are flat, stop moving and do nothing while you balance on the flat ski. wait until your skis are pointing straight down the hill before you stop. this is called a patience turn. the sidecut (parabolic shape) of your skis means that once they are flat they will turn without further input from you. you will pick up a little speed doing this exercise which is why you are on flat terrain. repeat this many times, single turns until you are super balanced just flattening the skis and waiting for them to turn.

Next try linking some turns like this. don't rush. make sure you flattening the skis and waiting for them to turn down the hill all by themselves. finish the turn simply by pointing your toes the way you want you skis to go. this is an exercise to help you to acquire the correct feelings. obviously you cannot do this on a steeper pitch or you would be going at warp speed! Once you are comfortable linking patience turns, try turning your feet a little sooner. roll the skis flat as before, but continue turning them as soon as you feel them go flat. you should never have a moment in a real turn where you are just standing on your skis waiting for them to turn by themselves. if you struggle to initiate the turn you probably aren't being patient enough in the flattening phase. wait a split second longer to ensure you are not trying to turn your skis while they are still stuck on the old uphill edges. you will need to be more patient on flatter terrain or at slow speeds. once you have this feeling of rolling from your uphill edges through flat so you can initiate turn without getting "stuck" you will be away.

Let me know if this makes sense - again, it is hard explaining something like this without demonstrations!
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#5
You need to video that with the explaination. Good!!

Steve Young was all about touch and grip at convention and it seems to work, just like you've described. And our Venus on Snow seminar was exactly that - patience turn, delay turn, is was all about the process and not to make it too fast.
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
When you say you are skiing at intermediate level, does that mean you are comfortably parallel or do you struggle to initiate a parallel turn?

The mechanics of turn initiation will change slightly depending on whether you are making a skidded or a carved turn. But I will say this: the turning effort must start at the feet.
I am very comfortable parallel skiing, but I honestly can't tell you how I initiate a turn. I know that I muscle the turn a lot because late in the day, I can feel the fatigue in my legs when I try to turn though they aren't bothering me otherwise. And this is one of the reasons I want so badly to learn to turn correctly. Legs that are too tired to turn are a liability on the slopes -- and should find a comfy place in the lodge.

I should be skiing tomorrow and Tuesday. I'm printing your instructions and taking it with me! In a group lesson this week, we did pivot slips and I learned to do "falling leaf". This should all fit together well for practice on the slopes.
 

PNWSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Thank you mountainxtc for that great explanation!

I understood what was meant by "roll your ankles" by doing side slips. With that said, I do suffer from wanting to start the next turn too soon and when I do wait, what a difference! I just need to make that part of my routine.
 

little one

Certified Ski Diva
#9
pivot slips and falling leaf will SAVE YOUR LIFE if you ski in the east ... especially yesterday on all that eastern hardpack. if you've mastered that you can ski anywhere!!
 
#10
pivot slips and falling leaf will SAVE YOUR LIFE if you ski in the east ... especially yesterday on all that eastern hardpack. if you've mastered that you can ski anywhere!!
little one's right on for us eastern skiers, I also find learning to ski the fall line is the best way to have 'perfect turns' and easiest way that you can 'feel' what's going on with your turns.
So.. how do you find the fall line? it's fun and pretty easy.. I pretend a stream of water or a ball is rolling down the hill, & imagine it rolling down the hill taking the easiest path, just going where the terrain 'takes it' that's the fall line.. if you follow it, ski this trail and turn 'around' the stream or ball it will be the easiest turns and will help you feel your turns better. You'll notice how hard you have to push when the fall line goes where you can't!
I think it makes you a better skier, Lessons are the Best, It takes just the right something that will click and you'll be turning like a pro! Turning is A Blast and I think the most fun in skiing, following & seeking terrain that lets me swoop.. I can't wait for tommorrow!!
 
#11
once you are comfortable with this move, go to flat terrain on a green run. begin skiing across the hill and try this move to flatten your skis with a little momentum. one your skis are flat, stop moving and do nothing while you balance on the flat ski. wait until your skis are pointing straight down the hill before you stop. this is called a patience turn. the sidecut (parabolic shape) of your skis means that once they are flat they will turn without further input from you. you will pick up a little speed doing this exercise which is why you are on flat terrain. repeat this many times, single turns until you are super balanced just flattening the skis and waiting for them to turn.
Could someone explain this a bit more? (I've put the esp. confusing part in bold). Am I traversing or going straight downhill with my skis flat? Are both skis flat or just one, and which am I balancing on?
 

mountainxtc

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
Am I traversing or going straight downhill with my skis flat? Are both skis flat or just one, and which am I balancing on?
1. balance on the outside ski
2. flatten both skis equally
3. start in a traverse and you will end up going straight downhill, the sidecut of the skis will take you there.

NB, this is an exercise only, it is for flat terrain and there is no point in a "real" turn where you are doing nothing.

hope this clears things up a little. fire away with any other questions. like I said, I'm used to demonstrating....
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
This was some seriously good information!

I had developed a mental block. This took me back several steps and then began rebuilding in small increments. Much like when a car is spinning its wheels on ice, you back up a bit, get traction, and can use that momentum to get past the troublesome spot.

I did a couple of hours of drills Monday morning. Later that day, I went back to practice some more, then tried putting it all together. About halfway down the hill, the "Eureka!" moment happened.

No complacency now, though. I need to continue the drills on easy slopes and build muscle memory -- plus private lessons to assess, correct, and reinforce.

On another thread, I found an interesting tip I may add to the drill --
http://www.theskidiva.com/forums/showthread.php?p=119201#post119201 (post #15) to reinforce upper/lower body separation.
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
I had a lesson over the weekend. Told the instructor what I'm having a problem with (initiating turns) and the tips I've gotten. [By the way, he was pretty excited about the forum.] We skied very, very briefly and he said ...

The problem is not the initiation of the turn. It's just before that.

Let's say I turn, traverse some, then turn again. During that traverse, my uphill ski is ahead of my downhill ski, sometimes by 6 to 8 inches. So I'm not ready for a turn. I have to make adjustments to get ready, then turn.

He said that I am actually rolling my ankles some into the turn (thanks to tips and practice); that when I get the pre-turn fixed, I'll be ready to increase the roll.

This is a real different feeling ... but feels promising, so I think we're onto something!
 

mountainxtc

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
that's great that you had a good lesson!!

I'm curious what the "adjustments" are that you worked on. The symptom you described is called tip lead, and it could be caused by a number of things. If you tell us what you used to address it, we should be able to figure out the cause....

your traversing brings one of my most used catch phrases to mind... "if you're not still turning, TURN!!"
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
I'm curious what the "adjustments" are that you worked on. The symptom you described is called tip lead, and it could be caused by a number of things. If you tell us what you used to address it, we should be able to figure out the cause....
Correction: The way I was turning required me to make adjustments in order to be ready to make the next turn. I had no awareness that I was even doing that, so I can't begin to tell you what adjustments I was making. The one thing I was aware of was a lot of up-and-down movement, which I've read is not so good ... but I didn't know how to get rid of it. (Y'know, when you have several bad habits that all work together to keep you upright, you can't just let go of one of them!)

The instructor had me do (what he called) an advanced drill -- ski across the hill ... downhill ski on edge, uphill ski edging and de-edging so that the uphill ski is turning a little more, then less, then more, then less. He did it really well ... left a slithery track from the uphill ski. My uphill ski just messed up the snow! That's when I realized how little weight I put on the uphill ski. The downhill ski was doing the turn, the uphill ski was just along for the ride.

So what I focused on was bending my uphill ankle more and pulling that foot/ski back under me.

As the extra bend of my uphill ankle began to feel okay, I started shifting some of my weight to the uphill side. It didn't all fall into place and become my new "normal", but I was beginning to lose some of the awkwardness on the green and blue slopes.

Geez, I hope that made sense ...
 

whitewater girl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
[Puh-leeze don't say "roll your ankles" ... that's the one that makes my brain hurt! I can't even imagine my ankle rolling after all the trouble I've gone to to get it seated securely in my boot.]
probably don't want to hear this, but...if the thought of rolling your ankles makes your brain hurt, maybe your boots aren't sized/fitted right? When I finally got boot that really fit, leading with the ankles/feet quickly became second nature - before that, it was pretty much impossible (can't lead with the ankles/feet when your foot is slipping in your boot...or your boot cranked down so tight you have next to NO ability to move that joint!)
 
#20
What's wrong with tip lead??

I understand that it may not always be desirable (when skiing bumps, for example), but I thought it was perfectly acceptable for doing carved turns on groomed slopes. Is that not the case???

Also - I subscribe to the "there is no one right way" to make a ski turn.

Having most of your weight on the downhill ski with the uphill ski along for the ride is an older technique. And I see that two footedness is all the rage these days. But there are some really wonderful aspects to that older style - one of them being that it works! And that it creates almost effortless turns. And it is extremely easy on your legs because you are essentially "walking" down the mountain and giving your uphill leg a mini "break" during each turn.

It may not be a technique you want for every situation (powder and crud come to mind) but it's great tool to have in your technique tool box, in my opinion.
 

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