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What is a paddle turn? - Page 2

post #31 of 38

Sounds like what level II candidates do when they attempt the skating task or a beginner does in their first attempts to side step up the hill where the head is over the uphill ski creating more of a pulling of the downhill leg over or up rather than pushing off a strongly platformed ski?

post #32 of 38
I remember the Paddle Turn from my Level-1 Exam here in the PNW. This Task is still one of our requirements and is described on page 21 or our latest (Jan, 2010) version of our Alpine Cert Guide.
Straight run over shallow terrain, paddle turn out to stop - Demonstrate a balance stance
with legs slightly flexed, hands and arms in front of body while in a straight run. Transferring
weight from one ski to the other in a scissoring fashion, step across the fall line to a stop.

The Paddle Turn is a type of Turn, specifically, it's one of the easiest turns for an absolute beginner to do on Flat or easy Green terrain. The idea is give beginners a "Walking-Type Turn" instead of a Sliding-Type Turn since that's what they're used to already. It's a great thing for them to know when they start sliding down a slight slope and panic - they just start taking diverging steps until they get across the hill and come to a stop!

This method also trains beginners in one-footedness on skis and improves their lateral balance. Further, it trains them to establish a reasonable F/A balanced position on their stance ski as doing so makes each step that much easier.

The Paddle Turn is not a variation of the 1,000 Steps drill and likely predates that drill by a few decades (if not a few milliennia) as it's one of the very first ways beginners try to "change direction" instinctively - picking up one ski and rotating it into the direction they want to go. Not sure how/why it got the name 'Paddle' Turn though.

There's a 'Steven's Pass' here in Washington State but no 'Steven's Ridge'. There is a 'Steven's Ridge' in the Washington DC area though.

In WA we have "Concession Ski Schools" that actually built most of our skiing industry throughout the area. Early on, Concession Schools around here took on the responsibility for finding potential new skiers and did all the marketing, training of instructors and teaching of students. Some of these ski schools were formed by local business interests like Fiorini Sports in Seattle who opened the Fiorini Ski School.

Concession schools were (and remain) dedicated to ski/snowsports instruction and instructor training with no distractions related to food delivery, ticket sales, beer gardens, grooming efforts and such. We focus (almost) entirely on snowsports training (but we also manage student transportation via bus).

Since most of our local Ski Areas have now been purchased by out-of-state conglomerates we're systematically being destroyed. Steven's Pass dumped a number of their concession ski schools a number of years ago and Crystal got rid of all their concession schools except a couple of special-purpose entities shortly thereafter. Summit at Snoqualmie remains dedicated to support of concession schools which represent the vast majority of skiing activity on winter weekends for them.

There are probably articles about our local concession schools and the recent erosion on the 'Net somewhere.

post #33 of 38


May 12, 2011


Hi .ma,


Yes, I stand corrected.  The ski area I was referring to in Washington State is "Stevens Pass".  From your e-mail, I take it that you are coaching with a "concession ski school"?  I was wondering how wide spread this mode of ski coaching is nationwide.  I know that in the local DC area, there is one ski school which is independent from any mountain and takes their students to various local mountains for skiing and coaching.  I forgot the name of this outfit though. 


Think snow,



post #34 of 38

So would walking in circles in ski boots, then repeating that with skis on be a similar activity? If so that would represent an even lower level maneuver that would introduce stepping to turn activities to a beginner. Repeating that movement to turn the skis out of the fall line after a straight run sounds like a modern day usage of this idea. Is it fair to say Wedge first progressions don't use that move since both skis stay on the snow with partial edge engagement?

post #35 of 38
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post

...The Paddle Turn is not a variation of the 1,000 Steps drill and likely predates that drill by a few decades (if not a few milliennia) as it's one of the very first ways beginners try to "change direction" instinctively - picking up one ski and rotating it into the direction they want to go. Not sure how/why it got the name 'Paddle' Turn though...

Similar to some types of canoe strokes, would be my guess.


For Nordic skiing (particularly XC), you see this a lot on sharper turns that you can't really carve thru.  Even more for nordic roller-skiing on big downhill sections with turns, as the carve component on roller skis is even more limited. 


I hadn't thought about the historical aspect, but I bet you're right: "Paddle Turns" probably have been around for a few thousand years in one form or another on skis. 


post #36 of 38

I didn't know this had a name -- at my first ski school the "step out of a straight run to a stop" maneuver was part of the beginner progression. 

post #37 of 38
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

funky noodle:

starting from a straight run on 

beginner or moderate terrain, roll 

both skis onto outside edges so side 

cut of skis makes them turn away 

from each other.  When your legs 

are apart, roll the skis to inside 

edges so they turn back towards 

each other.  Must start with and maintain

a good balanced stance to ensure 

consistent rotary movements and 

pressure control along the skis.


Good job. One of my coaches called that "spaghetti legs" (as your legs look spaghetti-like while doing it--rolling outside, then rolling inside). It also looks like a "swizzle" in ice skating, though on ice skates the technique is completely different. 

post #38 of 38
Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

 this is from Otto Gangl:


"you are referring to the paddle turn, something the ski mountaineers have always done, especially while carrying a heavy pack of untaxed cigarettes while smuggling them into Austria from Italy.

It is basically a diverging turn, at the end of one turn weight is transferred quickly to the uphill ski, the downhill ski is lifted and pointed down the hill as if skating and weight is promptly put on that ski and the other ski is brought parallel. When linked, much of the turn is done on the inside ski."


Which is exactly how 1000 step turns are initiated and done.  Step and match, step and match, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Nothing I've read here points out any difference between the two.  Calling one a drill, and the other a turn does not qualify as a difference.  Give someone doing a series of 1000 steps turns a backpack full of contraband cigarettes and they'll actually be making paddle turns.  biggrin.gif


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