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Short Radius Turns: How short is short, and is there a such thing as too short?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Back when I used to race in high school, I remember GS turns being fairly effortless, but SL (Short Radius) turns were much harder.  It seemed this way for just about everyone on the team, and I recall hearing comments at race camps and from coaches along the lines of "Anyone can make their way through a GS course, but SL is where you thin out the herd."  So over the years, this thinking has stuck with me, and I devoted a HUGE amount of time and effort towards Short Radius turns.  I take pride in knowing that I can cram more Short Radius turns into a run than probably anyone else on the mountain (at least those that I've seen).  Part of this obsession with SR turns has to do with the amount of control it creates, and the ability to crawl down a 30 degree slope while others blow by you accelerating at every turn because they simply can't control their speed.  

 

This was all during the mid/late 90s when sidecuts were rather modest, and the carving craze was just getting started. So lets skip ahead 15 years to the present.  I've made the transition to modern skis, and I've adopted (still tweaking) modern techniques, and welcomed the concept of a Short Radius Carved Turn.  However, I've noticed that I can only pull off clean Short Radius Carved Turns (RR Tracks) at what I would consider the upper limits of what I might consider Short Radius turns (bordering on what I might consider Mid Radius Turns).  I have also noticed that in order to maintain a level of control, the turns tend to become longer to allow for a better finish.  If I try to turn a shorter radius, I either lose some of the control, or I lose the RR tracks.  

 

So getting to the actual question of this thread; Am I attempting to make turns that are not reasonable to expect from a typical advanced skier? Is there a limit to how short a Short Radius Carved Turn will be (Again, typical advanced skier)?

 

NOTE:  This isn't really critical to my skiing, or my enjoyment of the sport, but is more something I've been thinking about on a more academic level.  If I need a shorter turn, rest assured that I will make that turn with or without perfect RR tracks.  

post #2 of 7
Consider this as a physics puzzle.

In order to make a pure carved turn, there can be no skidding..

If the curve of the side cut combined with force to bend the ski will only create a 14m radius curve then that is the shortest pure carved turn possible.

Anything else shorter will be skidded and steered to some degree.

Racers going at much higher speeds (i cant squat 600lb with my legs) will bend the ski more..
post #3 of 7

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a short radius carved turn. Consider this: A good SL ski might have a radius of 12 or 13m. A good skier can decamber that ski and shorten up the turn radius to probably something in the area of an 8m radius turn. Now think about that, and dig back into your high school geometry knowledge. Radius is half the diameter of a circle. So when you're making an 8m radius rounded turn, you're ending that turn 16 meters downhill from where you started it. That's 52.5 feet. I don't know about you, but a turn that brings me over 50 feet downhill is not a short radius turn by any stretch of the imagination. And that's considering the ideal combination to make a short carved turn. Most skis have significantly bigger sidecut radii, and most skiers cannot decamber a ski enough to cause a 33% reduction in the natural radius of the ski. 

 

And to clarify, my definition of a true short radius turn is a turn with a radius of under 2m. Think about one placewhere you are likely to utilize short turns: in the bumps. Go look at your average well developed bump field. Most of those bumps are probably in the range of 8-12 feet long, some probably shorter. You will never make a carved turn in that short a space. 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post


Racers going at much higher speeds (i cant squat 600lb with my legs) will bend the ski more..

Neither can they... The strongest maybe a few reps, but wha they have is the technical skill that gets them excellent alignment/structure/stacking to manage the forces involved at high speed.
post #5 of 7

On a hard surface, sidecut radius (e.g. 13 m) times the cosine of the tipping angle (e.g. 60 degrees) is the radius of the carved turn (e.g. 6.5 m).   Tip your sl ski to 60 degrees on the carpet floor.  It won't take much to make the centre touch the carpet. 

 

If you want to make a 2 m radius turn, you probably will want to make a non-carved turn or as some would call it a "brushed carve", or as others would say simply a short radius turn that isn't carved.  Of course carve means different things to different people.

 

Depends on what the meaning of is is...

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

If you want to make a 2 m radius turn, you probably will want to make a non-carved turn or as some would call it a "brushed carve", or as others would say simply a short radius turn that isn't carved.

Right.

Where I ski, I have LOTS of occasion to make turns in tight spaces. Don't expect or want to be making edge locked carves there. Most common, if unglamorous, example is just wanting to stay on the edge of an already-narrow run to keep in better snow. Even if I could go arc to arc there I wouldn't. Took much risk of being catapulted into the trees if something goes awry.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Neither can they... The strongest maybe a few reps, but wha they have is the technical skill that gets them excellent alignment/structure/stacking to manage the forces involved at high speed.

Yeah, i realize that.. Just making a point, especially if someone is in the back seat. You are correct with the technique and being able to stack bone structure . The point was that going faster will generate more force which will bend the ski more and thus create a tighter turn but it takes a lot more than just tipping them over to make them turn and carve a thin pencil line in the snow with a smaller turn radius than what the side cut alone will do.
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