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Newbie Question

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
What does it mean to 'engage the tails' in a turn? Does that mean to lean back on the back of the skis?
post #2 of 3
Good question X Man!

It is possible to lean back and "wash out" the tails (like the back end of a car skidding out in a turn). But with skis you can increase the edge angle to match the amount of pressure put on the tails. In this case, the tails will "bite into" the snow instead of skid. It is possible to engage the tails without leaning back. Typically racers will "sit back" a little to engage the tails at the end of the turn in order to accelerate at the end of the turn. They then use their ab muscles to bring them back to a centered position so that they can repeat the process in the next turn.

Although you need to match your pressure to your edge angle, you also need to factor in snow consistency. In softer snow, racers will not pressure the tails as much because they need to stay on top of the snow versus jamming their skis into it and having the soft snow slow them down. But on harder snow, the further they can get their skis into the snow surface, the better edge hold they can get and the faster they can go.

Although most recreational skiers do not have a problem engaging their tails because their weight is centered behind their feet, one common problem is "Z" turning (pivoting the skis quickly through the fall line so that the turn track is a series of 90 degree angle turns). This is usually done with relatively flat skis. Although engaging the tails is one approach to use for "fixing" Z turners, most often this technique is used to help skiers move to more advanced levels. Intermediates need to be aware that trying to engage their tails can often cause more harm than good.
post #3 of 3
SkierX - perhaps a little "why" will help your understanding?

Take the ski and look at the tip, waist and tail. The waist to tail is the stiffer part of the ski. Stiff means more hold. As Rusty pointed out -- racers like to use their tails. The stiff tail can hold better on icy, rutted conditions. At the same time, weighting the waist to tail section will give you a faster ride -- yet another reason racers like to use their tails. It's not just for racers, of course, you'll find that more agressive skiers will engage their tails so that they control their turns at faster speeds or on slicker conditions. Some argue it's the "only way to ski"!

Conversely -- the tip to waist is the softer and slower part of the ski. Pressuring the shovel (wide tip) will help you make slower turns, which is especially helpful when you want to ski a tight line down a steep slope.

Hope this helps (and makes sense).
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