If you’ve mastered short turns you’re on the way to skiing the whole mountain, off-piste and on, including steeps, gullies and tricky bits, says Mark Jones
Regular keen skiers have got used to carving out long fast turns. With the current design of skis it’s blindingly obvious that they need to be tipped onto their edge and then they will grip and steer beautiful arcs. It is, without question, an awesome sensation which is addictive and is one of the main reasons we get hooked onto this sport.
Inevitably over time this has pushed the previously beloved short turn firmly into second place, and it’s completely understandable – after all, why force the skis when they can do it all for you? Why make something more physical effort when it can be easier?
The reality is that often terrain, conditions or the situation leave you no choice but to be proficient at short turns. How will you deal with that tricky gully? What’s the best way of coping with a narrow steep piste? How will you deal with those crowded pistes? Here are the key skills you need to make a great short turn.
1. THE SHORT TURNThe short turn often gets misunderstood. Many skiers launch into this type of turn as if it is an all new complicated dance move, with the mantra of ‘Upper body facing down the hill and just turn the legs’ on repeat.
Ignore the constant nagging in your head and just start the turn the way you normally start in a long turn. That is, get balanced onto the top ski, stand against it and start to steer into the turn. Just make the movements a bit quicker than you would in a long turn.
2. THE MIDDLE
As you start to face down the hill this is when the short turn starts to feel very different to that old friend the long turn. While being balanced over that outside ski it’s time to allow your body to move to the inside of the turn while simultaneously steering the legs and feet into the new direction. The key moves are using the outside ski as a platform which you can balance against, which will give you the confidence to move laterally to the inside of the turn. Steering more predominantly with the feet and the legs does require more physical effort and relies upon your ability to separate movements between the upper and lower body. There are lots of drills which will help you develop this skill and essentially the final goal is to have a stable upper body while both of your legs steer into the new direction while being balanced over that outer ski. These drills will help develop leg steering:
- Hold your poles in the middle of the pole and hold them up vertically up in front of you as if you are looking through a picture frame. Hold the frame, keep the upper body stable and focus on just turning the legs.
- Try skidding sideways with both skis at slow speeds. Move both skis flat at the same time and rotate both feet into the new direction and repeat.
- Leave your poles and practise short turns with your hands folded in front of your body. Focus on maintaining a stable upper body while the legs turn.