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Chocolate Turns.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
hey I have Halloween on the brain...

mmmmm candy! (in Homer Simpson voice)

anyway... I first learned about Chocolate Turns from Stu Campbell last year at ETU.

so, we have a dominant leg/foot - turning side... how can we "catch up" the other side? (drills, exercises, techniques, etc)

love to hear from all you instructors out there.

thanks in advance,
post #2 of 6
Good question, Kiersten.

My first thought is that it's important to be aware that we have a dominant side, but also important not to worry about it. Even Phil Mahre had always claimed he turns better one way than the other. It's normal, and if you can win a World Cup with it, it's obviously not a problem! (I'd have bought Phil's weak one, though!)

Worrying about it makes it worse. If my left turn is my stronger one, I might be more confident with it, and just allow my body to make my turns to the left, without interference from "me." But if my self-talk says something like "time for a right turn now, and I never get enough edge angle, so I'd better try harder..." or something like that, that right turn will NEVER catch up. You can never become more skillful by trying harder! Any such self talk just interferes with the application of the skills you already have.

Having said that, I'll also say it is important to recognize which side is the weaker side, and to figure out specifically why. Is it an equipment or anatomical issue? A strength issue? An injury? A confidence issue--am I making it worse by worrying about it? (just the recognition of this can help.)

Is it a skill issue? I should give that side a little more practice, and take time to work on the specific skills that are lacking. It's common to practice the strong side more, just because it's easier and more comfortable. Do you find that you stop to one side way more often than the other? That's probably your strong side. Make it a point to stop to the other side.

But recognize that you'll probably ALWAYS have a stronger and a weaker side, just as we are better at some things with one hand or the other. It's not a handicap. Keep on making BOTH sides better.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bob. (this time it's the secretary's voice from the Bob Newhart Show!)

I hope I didn't convey that I was beating myself up over this.

I have been spending time in the gym getting ready and this year I have started to see some interesting differences in my body's right and left sides (strenth and flexibility).

So, just like I do things in the gym to correct the differences - I was curious to hear what an expert instructor suggests to correct the differences we see in our turns out on the hill.

Thanks again,
post #4 of 6

Practical advice

First, a caveat: I'm not an instructor, just a fellow skier who has struggled with similar issues, but I do have some specific, practical suggestions I have used.

What causes one turn to be better than the other could be a wide variety of things, but (1) IMHO, strength imbalance issues should be addressed in dryland activities that are similar to skiing, in that they require a balance component--psychologically, there may be an issue about trusting the outside leg on the weak turn; (2) having a better turn is a teaching/learning opportunity; and (3) because of human nature, if you don't make a conscious effort to the contrary, dominant-leg, better turns tend to get reinforced while free skiing: If you're at the top of the steeps (or, making a sudden turn or, heck, a garden variety hockey stop) you find you always use that dominant turn. By not trusting your weaker turn, you're using it less in challenging situations, and not practicing it.


1. In the gym, do an exercise that combines strength and balance, one leg at a time. Walking alternating lunges with dumbells fits the bill there, as long as, when you step forward out of the lunge, you balance on one leg at the resting position (standing tall) before lunging forward. If that's too much of a balance challenge, there's a minor cheat that helps: You can press the front instep of the lifted leg against the calf/back of the ankle of the leg you're standing on, for a little extra help in balancing.

2. Do one-footed balance exercises, working up to balancing the same amount on each side. Just standing on a crumpled towel (uneven surface) is good. If that gets too easy, close your eyes, which makes it much harder. I have a foam roller I stand on (because it's good for fore-and-aft balance at the same time) and alternate, standing on one leg for a certain count then both legs, then the other leg. (You can get foam rollers at Jump USA,

) Or you can just practice (subtly) standing on one leg at a time, while you're waiting in line. (Lots of information about balance excercises is available on-line, in ski magazines, outdoor fitness magazines, or physical therapy sites since proprioception training is quite the modern training emphasis, and balance training is something that stroke victims, etc. often need to do as part of rehab.)

3. Observe, and learn from your dominant turn: Are you doing something differently and better on the good side? Last year, just before a league slalom race, I figured out in free skiing that the reason my turns to one side were much, much better than the other side was that I was getting lower. I applied that to both sides and jumped a whole skill class as a result.

4. In difficult situations, and at other opportunities, practice your weaker turn: At the top of the bowl, having to nail that first turn? Use the weak one. (Gulp.) Coming to a stop to wait for your ski partner? Always use the weak turn/hockey stop. First turn--always the weak turn.

Anyway, my 2 cents, worth what you paid for.

(Sitting at the computer instead of flying to race camp at Mt. Hood, because inclement weather cancelled the clinic. Let's try this all together: Think snow, not freezing rain....)
post #5 of 6
Hi Kiersten--no, I did not get the impression that you were being too hard on yourself. Hope my post didn't convey that impression! My comments are generic, meant for anyone they may apply to (you know who you are).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 6
You need to have acceptable ability on both sides, so practice your weaker side. Breakthroughs come with your best techniques on your best side, so practice it more often, unless the difference in sides becomes too great. How big a difference should you accept? I'd say no more than 15 to 20 percent better, but it's a personal choice.
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