I just spent five days on the hill, trying to make use of the wealth of good advice offered in this thread. You should all be happy to know that I was able to directly utilize much of that advice, and it was all useful in helping me understand the mechanics of turning. I used several of the drills – R.R. tracks, one-legged skiing, garlands, and pivot slips, to name a few – and found much of the technical advice – hips forward; engage the ankles, lead with the little toe edge, use the knees, etc. – very helpful for analyzing my technique.
I started the weekend with a lesson. Through luck and good planning, I managed to get an all-day private for the cost of a group lesson: by taking the lesson mid-week on a very cold day, I virtually assured that I would be the only student in the group (I sincerely hope this isn’t a tremendous faux pas in the instructor’s eyes). The lesson let me clear my mind of some of the crap and jargon that was cluttering my brain and let me focus on the important elements of my game.
Probably the key learning I took away from the lesson is regarding turn entry. As John Cole said in this thread, “A turn entry is like building a home; the foundation must be solid before the structure will stand the test of time.” Kenji phrased it differently: he said, “build a platform between every turn.” Every turn starts from a stable, balanced platform, a solid foundation; without a good platform, I’m less likely to make a good entry into the next turn. (Incidentally, I think that was probably the root cause of my crossing problem: I was attempting to initiate a turn before I had fully completed the last one, and before I had established the necessary platform.) We did a couple of drills to help establish the platform. At one point, he put me between two chairs and said, “this is your platform.” We worked there for a few minutes, rolling the ankles, swinging the knees, demonstrating a good, even platform versus an unbalanced platform. I found the complimentary on-the-snow drills and classroom demonstration and discussion very helpful.
Once I had the platform established, I found it much easier to apply the advice offered in this thread. I found myself repeating, “get between your chairs” as I turned. Once I was around, and had my platform established – once I was “between my chairs” - I was able to concentrate on activating the ankles, engaging the little toe edge, swinging the knees, experimenting with weight and balance.
A drill I found very helpful in feeling the transfer from edge to edge was the tuck turn. By getting my weight down and keeping it there – no weight shift at all – and just using the feet and ankles to turn, I could much better feel the transition from edge to flat to edge. I tried to duplicate this while standing upright, but found that my CM moved around too much, and I lost the sense of pure foot/ankle action.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for your advice. I’m sure it’s advice some of you have given numerous times before on this very forum, but I’m here to tell you that it’s very much appreciated by those of us who are in the early stages of learning to ski.