Ski Techniques and Tips for Carving - 2 Turn Initiation
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Carved Turn Initiation - Positive Cross-over
When you're carving, one of the most important things to feel is a positive cross over. The cross over is the part of the turn when your body needs to move across the skis to tilt the skis onto the new edge. It starts at the end of one turn and continues until the skis are tilted onto the new edges to start the new turn.
Some skiers lack confidence at this stage and some skiers lack skill. To make confident and skilful crossovers we have to focus on a few areas of the body that are key in making the whole process work smoothly without any blocks.
Know your Hips
Many skiers, even at the advanced levels, make turns and cross over their skis with restricted use and knowledge of how to get the full use of their hips and when and where to move them.
Sometimes skiers will throw their shoulders first across their skis and follow just after with a minimal hip movement.
Sometimes skiers will move their hips but only up and not across.
Skiers may move their hips across their skis but later in the turn, usually after they have already steered their feet across to skid their skis through the initiation of the turn.
To get the hips to move effectively for you work on some ‘Hands On’ exercises to first get some awareness of what the hips are doing and then to encourage the hips to move in a positive way.
To start try skiing down simply with you hands on your hips. Feel what’s happening as you initiate a turn and go through the process. Raising awareness of a part of the body is always a good idea before you start to work on exercises.
When you’ve had a few runs like this move on to breaking down the turns and use the exercise of ‘hip encouragement’ to start to get the hips to function best for the carved turns
First, find yourself a shallow terrain and then when the slope is clear and you have enough space, start to traverse across the slope. As you are approaching the point at which you will be starting your turn slowly put your hand on the side of your hip facing uphill and apply pressure against it. The direction of the pressure is effectively the same direction as you would want your hips to go in a normal turn, across the skis to help change onto the new edges for the new turn.
Start with a very gentle turn shape almost in the fall line on the flattish slope and then progressively begin the turn more and more across the fall line.
Eventually, with continual practice of the exercise you’ll get the idea and build up a good level of skill and understanding of when, where and how the hips should move across the skis to initiate a turn.
Many skiers at the initiation phase of the turn are blocked from making clean and smooth crossovers because their knees are not always the same distance apart. Sometimes to far apart, but most of the time to close together in comparison to the distance their feet are apart. In an ideal world all skiers would go from turn to turn with their hips, knees and feet the same distance apart, symmetrical so as to have the skis working at the same angle.
In the real world many skiers don’t. One part of the turn that a lot of skiers suffer from is having their knees too close together in the end of one turn and the start of a new turn, right around the initiation phase. There are several reasons for this.
-One is that we all learn to ski from Snowplough to Basic parallel and for most of that time your knees are inside your feet. As you learn to ski parallel, usually in ski school situations or self taught, you learn to work, steer, pressure and generally concentrate on what your down hill ski and leg is doing. Because of this many skiers have a lazy inside leg or an inside leg that just isn’t as effective or skilful as the outer one. Because of this your inner leg will never be working or steering the ski as effectively and in turn will be slower leaving the knee positioning in an a-frame
-Another reason can be that as you go through a turn you don’t have a strong enough edge platform towards the end of the turn to press against and support you and as a result the outer ski breaks away leaving you with your knees again closer together than your feet
Once you know this and become aware of what you are doing from your hips to your feet you will hopefully become more conscious of your knees and the extra active use needed of your inner leg when you steer and lean through your turns. Also the extra sensitivity needed towards the end of the turn to prevent the edge from breaking away sideways.
An easy way to unlock this a-frame blocking the turn initiation is simply get rid of your poles for a few runs and use your hand to encourage the leg that is blocking the turn to move across and get active earlier. As you make your turn gently place your hand inside your leg and pull the leg across. One you’ve tried this a few times then grab your poles back and keep the awareness with your inner leg that was causing the block. You’ll eventually become more skilful with the inside leg and no longer blocked for your turn initiation.
To avoid the A-Frame being caused by the ski breaking away in the last half of the turn, try to think about what’s happening at that point. Something that’s usually very effective to think about and work on is the idea of how you are dealing with pressure under the foot. A lot of the time skiers at the intermediate level and sometimes even advanced tend to aggressively push the pressure under their foot sideways actually breaking the edge away. It can almost be a movement that puts to much pressure against the edge of the ski for the ski to handle. Try to think about keeping the pressure under the foot and not letting it break away. To achieve this simply think about standing on the edges of you feet and turning the sideways pressure into a downwards pressure forcing the ski more into the ground.
This will give you the stronger grip in the last half of the turn and avoid the break away a-frame.
Discuss Ski Technique with Warren Smith
If you would like to ask Warren any questions about the ski techniques or exercises described above, or otherwise discuss them, please write in to our Ski Technique Forum.