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Four "Perfect Turns"

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Four Perfect Turns


1.Perfect Turn – there is no such thing, but for the purposes here, I mean a turn that has no negative movements
2.Negative movements – movements of the CM or the skis that do not match the flow of the CM down the mountain (the well discussed step up the hill error that someone can do in a lift and tip) or the direction of the turn (sliding one ski sideways in a closing move for instance)

You can easily see which style of turn a person is making by paying careful attention to how the two skis are being handled as the skis cross the fall line.

These four turns are presented in their order of difficulty to execute:

Turn One: - the two footed release

State at the fall line of the two skis:

even pressure and flat to the snow

Here both skies are flattened. When the skis cross the fall line they are both evenly pressured and flat to the snow. Rotation is supplied by any combination of the skis natural tendency to seek the fall line when skied flat this way, and by the body facing down the hill more than the skis are. The skis will pivot into the new turn and carving may occur in the bottom of the turn. This turn may be a wedge Christie or a parallel turn depending on how the float part of the turn is handled. Typically the removing pressure and tipping from the down hill ski (the downhill ski at fall line transition) will occur late in the turn.

Pros: Very easy for a beginning skier to do. This is a very gentle turn. This is also useful way to start a turn, to drift into the turn, in powder. (especially the first turn)

Cons: Carving occurs late in the turn. In bumps or crud, the pivoting sliding of the skis at the top of the turn is not as stable as carving the top of the turn.

Turn Two: - Bob’s Perfect Turn

State at the fall line: even pressure and flat to the snow (thus why I class this in my own warped little mind as a variation on the two footed release turn described above)

This is similar to the turn one above, except there is active tipping and pointing occurring at the top of the turn. This is one approach to achieving a carve in the top of the turn. Requires good timing and coordination skills to keep everything in balance. This is Bob’s famous Perfect Turn described and repeated over the years. You remove pressure and tip the inside ski/lower ski at transition to help move the body CM over the skis. See Bob’s excellent description of this turn.

Pros: It’s a great dynamic turn. Works with a variety of stance widths.
Cons: Requires some active steering movements to get the feet to balance where the body is going compared to the turn 3 described next. This can lead to a stemming error more so than the next turn. (remember – this whole thing is just my opinion as a discussion starter)

Turn Three: - The Super Phantom

State at the fall line transition: all pressure is on the upper ski the lower ski has no pressure on it and is tipping

As the prior turn is ending and just before the fall line transition, all pressure is put onto the inside ski/upper ski and removed from the lower ski. This lets the LTE (little toe edge) of that upper ski engage and frees the downhill leg for aggressive tipping actions.

As the this move occurs the CM will be helped to move over the skis in a more forceful way than turn 1 or 2 above. This more dynamic movement of the CM over the skis lets the body’s own angles provide the tipping and change of the uphill ski from it’s LTE to its BTE.

Pros: Allows for a more passive action for carving the top of the turn without active pointing and tipping to stay in balance at this point. The edge change is very fast and positive as the pressure is fully on the new outside ski right from the very beginning of the turn, rather than building as the turn progresses. Thus it is an easy turn to keep the high C part of the turn carved.

Cons: the change of pressure from lower ski BTE to upper ski LTE is an advanced move that many people will have trouble with since that is a weaker edge to have the turn’s pressure on. If they flatten the uphill ski due to lack of strength when the pressure is changed to it’s LTE, this turn will not work.

Also, people can make an error by stepping onto that uphill ski and disturb the CM movement down the hill rather than simply changing edges and pressure from ski to ski.

There is no way to avoid this being a stepping move if the stance is wider than a functional stance (functional stance: where the legs dangle out of their sockets). Turn 2 above will work in a variety of stance widths. This one will not.

Turn Four: Weighted Release

State at Fall Line Transition: The downhill ski is fully pressured and being tipped. (the opposite of “lift and tip”) The upper ski still has very little pressure on it as it is still coming out of the last turn. Most force is on the downhill ski. While the focus is on tipping this ski at fall line transition, the ski is flat. This ski is not flat as in staying flat, but just a momentary event as it’s being forcibly switched from it’s BTE to it’s LTE as the ski crosses the fall line.

Description: Here the foot that has the pressure still on it from the last turn is tipped into the new turn without removing pressure from that foot. The outside leg of the new turn is kept on the snow and will follow the angles of the fully weighted inside/downhill ski. As the turn develops the outside ski will gain pressure as the skier naturally balances against the building turn forces.

Pros: Very fast transition. Effect of this turn can be applied to a one ski style or two skis style so it is very versatile. No lifting or removing pressure action occurs with the tipping motion so lifting related misunderstandings and errors can not occur. This style turn has great versatility as it can be done as a one ski style of turn, or a more balanced two ski style of turn, or anything in between. Both skis stay on the snow. This turn is very adaptable to even pressure and two ski carving. In a strict sense, this may be the most perfect turn since it has the least extraneous movements of these example four turn types.

Cons: Requires good ankle strength since the ski must be forcibly tipped from BTE to LTE while fully pressured. (or ½ pressured if in a two ski mode). A unpressured ski is easier for most people to tip. This turn does not engage the outside leg as soon as turn 3 above so the skier must be prepared to carve the top of the turn on the weaker LTE edge of the inside ski as there is a delay in the weight shift to the outside ski.


There are a gazillion ways to turn. Which turn style do you use yourself? In what circumstances to you prefer one turn type to another? How would you improve my descriptions above? Are there any other turns that are perfect in terms of economy of motion?

Personally I most often use type 3 or 4. 4 is great where you want to relax and keep both skis on the snow without great pressure changes. 3 is great in icy or difficult conditions as it engages the outside ski highest in the turn and has the most pressure for carving.


Just a reminder – the above is just my opinion. I have not said “always”. No turn is right or wrong. I’m just exploring turn styles here and putting my personal perspective out there and am interested in everyone’s views.
post #2 of 18
Nice descriptions, John. I feel the Turn 4 approach (two-footed for an old geezer like me) contributes the most to a sense of CM flow from turn to turn. I spent half of last season trying to incorporate it into my skiing.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

And you looked very good to!

It was much fun skiing with you at Nubs Nob (even though it wasn't your home mountain so it wasn't free, you made a point to come over and say hello, which I greatly appreciate). I liked your wiggle your toes hint for Warren. That really helped him loosen up. I love picking up good stuff. We had him at A-basin a few weeks later. (with SCSA no less) We skied down from the top. (I kept him under control, I'll let you imagine what SCSA did with him)
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

A pic or two

Here is warren day 2 of his skiing career on the top of a-basin and then at the bottom of the top part.



Here is his son on day 1 of his skiing making some tracks at a-basin.


Warren really enjoyed meeting you and so did I. Hope you have a great season at Boyne.

Here am I stuck in a snow pit later the same day. Dan tried to help me out and promptly sunk in (my younger son).


Here is SCSA beginning to sink into the same stuff as he was approaching the black hole area. He wisely came no further.


This was a groomer day, but this area of snow had bushes under it that could not be seen from above. A few days later in the same type of bush covered snow on the same mountain slope a skier on his own just off piste tripped, fell in head first, suffocated and died. That seems like sound advice when you hear never ski alone off piste.
post #5 of 18
That kid's skiing is very impressive for 1st day. Did you teach him?
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 


we were at a-basin on the bunny with a magic carpet

he was pretty timid about it all

We just did traverses and edge drills (like the one in the picture) (he was 8 then, turned 9 in August)

then two footed release garlands so he got the idea how he could go down and speed up and edge and go back up and slow and stop and get use to some dynamic balance (balance while adjusting his turn from no turn to turn over and over again - just simply basic dynamic balance while in a parallel stance)

then we did two footed releases that cross the fall line with a carve back up and stop

then after he was really really comforatble he did one linked turn

after than he pretty much got it and was all over the bunny slope

he had a great time (he can't wait to do it again - which'll probably be Nubs Nob on Thanksgiving weekend - not quite a-basin, but it's close to where they live)
post #7 of 18

You wrote the following at realskiers;

You might be right. But it sounds like you haven't actually seen BB ski. Your generalizations, however, I agree with.

"In BB's description of the SP back to me on Epic, I'm still not sure he really gets it. His own Perfect Turn has active steering at the top and a late transition and steering to shape the turn. All of this would be a natural result of what you would do in a turn without understanding or using the super phantom (which I clarified a bit with the post one up from this one). He still seems to equate the super phantom with a step, as in the old racer's step to change angles. But as my post just before this one shows, it's more of a mental hook to make sure when you release pressure from the downhill ski, you properly hook up the new stance ski instantly so it's edging on it's LTE. You don't want it floppy flat at that point. In BB's perfect turn, at this same point in transition he would have the skis flat to the snow and not start the tipping till after the fall line transition point. This is way too late, and would require the leg steering actions he talks about to keep from falling. It's a subtle but still stemmed turn. If that's how he skis, it would certainly show up on the hill.

But I certainly have not seen BB ski. His point of view on Epic is that he understands this turn and can use it if he wants but chooses not to. I'm still not sure about that since he still sees it as a negative movement rather than a key to making the most efficient type of turn that is generated by balance instead of foot steering/pointing."

Your first point....."I'm not sure he gets it"

He has been teaching in the Rocky Mountain Division for twenty years, taught for the Mahre's for seven years, is a member of the RM division ed staff, AND YOU ARE SAYING AFTER ONE YEAR OF SKIING HE DOESN"T GET IT?

You have not skied long enough to understand. I'm sorry. You don't understand the concept of leg steering and your mention of subtleties and stemming are also way off base.

Stand on a hill in a traverse, flatten your skis or merely release your edges, YOUR SKIS WILL EITHER SIDESLIP OR THEY WILL POINT DOWNHILL AND YOU WILL HEAD DOWNHILL WITH NO STEERING!

Call this whatever kind of attack you want, however, I'm tired of listening to a guy who has ventured out of Indiana for one year making MORONIC statements about anyone who has been teaching skiing at Bob's level for twenty years.

Say what you want about PSIA. It has it's problems. There are no divisional examiners who are weak skiers. Period.......case closed.
post #8 of 18
I just spoke to Bob.....make that 25 years in the RM division and 15 for the Mahres.
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Rusty - your a hijacker

and your leaving a context out

A guy on realskiers said he has seen BB ski and he skis nothing like HH. Ott and I both have been trying to get Eddie to admit he probably hasn't seen BB ski to make such a judgement.

Yet, both you and BB responded in my prior post as you quoted which make no sense if you actually, truely use this turn style or are familiar with it.

So I'm assuming you and Bob believe you're familiar with it.

Either, we are not communicating correctly about this turn. There is a turn like I do, what most people are taught in different venues, but you call it something else and describe it differently. Thus we may be disagreeing about nothing.


as you no doubt believe, I should not discuss or have an opinion on this as I'm inexperienced


You don't actually have this turn style in your reproitore. Bob explained in the massive post that he does this turn for fun and plays with it sometime, but then describes it in a way contriditary to that turns effects.

I don't know what the answer is. The only thing that is clear is that you are taking a thread and attempting to hijack it.

two more thoughts:

On realskiers I have been trying to build a bridge and tone down the rehtoric. Many people have commented on this over there. Sorry you don't see this. Good movements are good movements no matter who teaches them.

There is a person that goes over to realskiers and is rude and offensive and full of venom that uses the name Guest. Most people feel this is you.

If it is then shame on you. If its not then shame on whoever. If you disagree state so. But don't hijack, get rude, and be so immature. Are you like this off forum? Some people get weird in the forum world. I hope you're not this way in real life.

I think we have found something to agree on. You have hijacked my thread.
post #10 of 18

In response to mechanic's straight out question eddy admitted that he hadn't seen Bob ski but knew how Bob must ski because he is a ski instructor and therefore is by definition a poorer skier than an ex high level racer. Smell that smell.

post #11 of 18
John, if I or BB or any good skier are shown by you or anyone that turn initiation you like I assure you that we imideately will do it and evaluate it and if it is something new that we haven't done before we will add it to our quiver of turns and we will be greatful for learning something new.

If you are a decent skier or instructor it is easy to emulate ANY turn, turn initiation as your's is, or any other maneuver on skis. What you describe doesn't seem to be too hard when novices can do it What limits me in doing some new stuff is physical inability, like in doing the half pipe stunts and heavy mogul zipper lining, but a simple release turn initiation shouldn't be a problem.

So I'm looking forward to have you demonstrate it to me in a few month.

post #12 of 18
John you should be very proud of your nephew and yourself for that result. Good job!
post #13 of 18
Originally Posted by John Mason
There are a gazillion ways to turn.
I agree with that

Originally Posted by John Mason
Which turn style do you use yourself?
All of the above I'm sure, plus a whole lot more. Sorry, I don't know all the names or numbers....

Originally Posted by John Mason
In what circumstances to you prefer one turn type to another?
In most conditions I prefer, and have been working on, something akin to BB's perfect turn (however, I disagree with your interpretation of it.) If I have my slalom ski's on, then I'll lean more towards the carving spectrum where it's appropriate. In powder and moguls I'll dial in more steering. On icy steep moguls, maybe even full pivot and drift ...just cause I'm chicken!! But these are just generalities, I play with different things all the time.

Originally Posted by John Mason
How would you improve my descriptions above?
When I read your descriptions above (and your prior writings), I get the understanding that you feel a turn ends at a specific 'point' ... then you do something at that 'point' to cause the next turn? I don't agree with this perspective.

You are referencing the transition and having it take place when the skis cross the fall line. What is happening leading up to that 'point'?

At this time in my skiing, I am trying to begin my work towards that next transition before the apex of the current turn ( knowing in advance where I want to "go" ), so I can exit this turn (progressively) and flow right thru that 'point' of transition with my CM heading 'on-track' into the next turn; that can be on a track to carve the top of the turn or a track requiring I steer my skis into line to support it - no matter, the point is that the transition happened as a result of everything that came before it rather than something that was done at that 'point'. [Progressively does not = slow! It can be slow, likewise, it can be very quick] Your thoughts?

Also, yes, there are a lot of times where things wont go as planned and a turn, or the brakes, need to happen NOW ...not arguing that! And I wont argue that my skiing lives up to this ideal ...but I'm working on it:
post #14 of 18
What turn style do I prefer?
ummmm - sort of depends what I am skiing..... carving is bad on bushes and grass! - as is my balance......
mud - I try for no turns at all

If it feels like it works & I hit no rocks then it was probably an OK choice.... if it is a bit tricky then maybe I needed a different choice.....

Just come back from 3 days learning to ski in a narrower stance. Wide & mdium width stance turns are strong but my narrower stance width stank - so I am working on this to improve my diversity. One very short pitch the snow changed 3 times. Started as corn(almost) ended as very slushy. (8C daytime temp is bad for snow)
I think you would find even my instructor changed his turns in that short run - doing what he needed to keep control of his skis (powder skis to demonstrate short turns in slush require hard work!)
post #15 of 18
About John's nephew

I'd like to point something in the photo. We see two strong arcs left in the snow by the boys skis. Notice that the inside track is the deeper of the two and really shows how soft the snow is. Such a track can only be produced if the pressure is predominately on the inside ski. I've seen tracks like that hundreds of times. They are produced by children who want to turn and just follow the instinct to lean in the direction that they want to go. This lean produces tipped skis and if the child doesn't lean too far just the tracks that we see here, two grooves in the snow with the inside track being the deeper of the two. If the student leans too far the skis wash out and the student falls. Anyway that is my take on the tracks we see in that photo. This photo was taken very early in the boys skiing experence.

I'm also sceptical about a child of this age being developmentally ready to understand, process and perforn the fine small muscle movements asked for in the PMTS progression.

I do not doubt that he made the progress in skiing that John states and with John's emphasizing actions of the left leg/foot to go to the left and the right leg/foot to go to the right I don't doubt that his skiing progress was quite rapid. I would only argue that the progress wasn't necessarily due to the PMTS progression used but to other factors such as one on one attention and a childs inate ability to figure out how to do things. I've seen many children figure out skiing and end up skiing as well as John describes in spite of some horrendous instruction.


post #16 of 18
Ydnar -- I agree.

Also, IMO such a track would also be left if the child has right foot dominance (ie. is right footed). If that is the case, a photo of a left turn/traverse would show the deeper track on the downhill side (his more trusted side). Since he was described by JM as "pretty timid about it" the dominant leg would be the weight bearing leg when turning in either direction.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 


At my nephew's level, that turn has a different purpose than when introduced later to an intermediate. I agree with ydnar that they aren't going to understand or use that level of carving in a real turn.

The much simpler purpose of this turn was to teach a basic concept that a beginner needs, especially a very timid one like my nephew.

That concept is that the skis can turn you. Simple as that.

We went on from this and did a variety of side slip drills along with how to walk side slip fashion up the hill. This creates awareness of releasing or engaging and edge and the way I taught it, a focus on LT edges rather than BT edges.

The first turns he did were, much different than the "railroad" track, gentle two footed releases.

If I continue to work with him, we'd re-do that drill with an expanded purpose, ie - railroad turns accelerating smoothly to gs turns. He has 2 days of skiing total now, so he is, if he gets some frequency/consistant mileage which is doubtful, about 28 days of skiing away from doing that. (in my case it was about the 50th day when I was able to do that little drill (railroad to gs) well)
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

It was the same both directions

Originally Posted by BigE
Ydnar -- I agree.

Also, IMO such a track would also be left if the child has right foot dominance (ie. is right footed). If that is the case, a photo of a left turn/traverse would show the deeper track on the downhill side (his more trusted side). Since he was described by JM as "pretty timid about it" the dominant leg would be the weight bearing leg when turning in either direction.
You hit the nail on the head BigE. It was his timidity that made the deeper grove the uphill one. Or more simply, a slight bias to wanting to keep the body leaning up the hill. Or even more correctly, anything to prevent the body leaning down the hill.

He had the same upper track bias both directions.
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