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# The mother of all turns

As long as I have been taking clinics, the GS turn has been used to exemplify and demonstrate the elements of good skiing, and all other radius turns were treated as variations on the GS turn. But now, particularly in reading Bob Barnes's discussion based on ssh's video and Bob's prescription of retraction turns, I am wondering if there's been a change of heart on the GS turn, and perhaps the contemporary mother turn is the slalom turn. The reason I ask is because retraction (flexion-extension, "crossunder") is appropriate in short radius turns and is not in GS turns (extension-flexion, "crossover").

Any thoughts on this?
You got me thinking nolo. I'm always skeptical of absolutes. Are we getting ourselves in a trap by saying, "This Turn is only a modified XXXX Turn"? Yes, all turns are similar and only differ in the timing, intensity, and duration (TIDs) of the movements that make them up. Any good turn should be able to be used as an example of good skiing.

In watching people learn to ski and teaching, I have found that longer radius turns are easier to learn. I see this as stemming from the fact that the movements are of a longer duration and the timing is not as precise. This makes it easier for a student to break down the parts and get them right. Then it is a matter of stepping up the pace and sharpening the timing to get smoother and sharper shorter radius turns.

It might be easier for us to describe and see the movements in a GS turn for the same reason. They develop over a longer period of time. Thus it is easier to show the same thing to our clients.

I look at crossunder and crossover as approximately the same move with a different TID.

I think what we are trying to do is like trying to determine if an elipse is a modified circle, or a circle is a modified elipse. Does it really matter? As long as the examples we use are good and valid for the situation does it matter which one we use?

I think that we should use an example that is valid for what we are trying to teach. If it is long radius then use the GS turn, if it is short radius use the Slalom turn. Also, be able to compare and contrast what is different between them in terms of TID.
nolo, while we're at it, I wonder about the requirement of crossunder/crossover being tied to flexion/extension. Just because you flex thru transition, does that necessarily have to result in crossunder? If ssh were to apply Bob's prescription and arc rail to rail with no redirection of the ski's, would this be crossover or crossunder? Similarly, if you made your transition doing that GS turn while flexing to absorb a terrain feature, is this now automatically crossunder?
i tend to gauge at least some of my progress on skis by the quality of my slalom turns, particularly on steeper slopes. certainly more than i do my GS-style turns.

personally, i think schweeet, short, carved turns ask more of a skier's technique.

GS turns seem more like Park'n'Ride to me.

not that there's anything wrong with that, and the faster the better.
Since the advent of shaped skis, and in particular very short, highly capable slalom skis, I believe that the cookie cutter turn or ideal turn if you prefer, has become the slalom turn. Most racers even seem to choose to ski their slalom skis when they are not racing. In my opinion there are elements of a slalom turn that are not present in a GS or "speed event" turn, and the level of difficulty is much higher with a slalom turn. The advantage that a slalom turn offers is the ability to turn and still keep your speed down and your maneuverability high.
Later
GREG
The popularity of the SL turn comes from modern short under 11m turnradius skis. They are well suited for the averidge skier and a lot of fun to ski on. Quick carved turns with lots of inclination and angulation on hard, flat groomed slopes begg for crossunder technique. Speeds are enough for the recreational skier as well and GS turns are performed with SL skis without any problem outside a race track.
I don't think Bob was advocating for a particular "best" turn. I took his postings as meant to address ssh's requedt for suggestions on how to avoid the bobbles in the video.
BTW, I completely agree that cross under and over are misleading terms as the truth is both/and. I don't want that term to be a red herring here. I'm wondering more if there's been a sea change from GS to slalom as the motherturn, if you will.
Kneale, I don't mean "best" turn, I mean it in a more of the sense of being the starting point of a discussion of turn anatomy and the like, which heretofore is how I have regarded the GS turn.
I think perhaps the "GS turn", as performed by WC GS skiers on FIS-legal GS skis in GS courses, is now less obviously relevant to the recreational skier than is the "SL turn" made through most gates in WC SL courses. Because of the 21m radius restriction, GS turns (in steeper, tighter sections anyway) necessitate more re-direction (pivoting, rotary, steering, swiveling) than most SL turns. Recreational skiers don't want that - they want to learn the "perfect" carve. And anyway they're mainly skiing around on SL carvers (or wider, Metron/Scrambler-type "freeride" versions) with an 11m radius, or "skiercross skis" with a 14-16m radius. So they have less need to pivot.
But should they be encouraged to learn it?

Moreover, should PSIA Level 3 candidates be forced to get their NASTAR gold (now necessary for full cert I believe) on FIS-legal GS skis, as is the case with Euro Speed Test instructor candidates in Europe? It's certainly a point for discussion...
While we're at it, should NASTAR be converted to a slalom format? (Perhaps with stubbies so that people don't have to worry about gates in the face.)
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Martin Bell While we're at it, should NASTAR be converted to a slalom format? (Perhaps with stubbies so that people don't have to worry about gates in the face.)
sounds good to me.... I always like being dragged through the race course more when the race guys have set a slalom course for the race kids.... somehow it feels better skiing that course... at least to me...(I work far harder but I like it much more)
Quote:
 Originally Posted by T-Square In watching people learn to ski and teaching, I have found that longer radius turns are easier to learn. I see this as stemming from the fact that the movements are of a longer duration and the timing is not as precise. This makes it easier for a student to break down the parts and get them right. Then it is a matter of stepping up the pace and sharpening the timing to get smoother and sharper shorter radius turns. It might be easier for us to describe and see the movements in a GS turn for the same reason. They develop over a longer period of time. Thus it is easier to show the same thing to our clients.
In addition, many of our students have a certain anxiety about sliding downhill that tends to add to their attempts to ski very short, Z-shaped, skidded turns with lots of rotary. The need to do as TS says leads to teaching a longer, more "patient" turn, at least initially.

Once the fundamentals are in place, they can be applied while altering the values of timing, duration, intensity, etc. to create different turn shapes, different turn lengths and different lines in wildly varying terrain.

Where we get into trouble is when our guests/clients/students begin to "get" nice, round, low-effort, efficient carved or nearly carved turns and believe that's it. They may never come back and find out about applying this model with different TID in different terrain. Some may present a very pretty picture with one kind of turn in one kind of terrain. Maybe that's all they want and they feel great about it (remember "fun"???). Others get frustrated because what worked so well on the groom doesn't seem to work in the bumps and the trees, so they announce that all ski instruction sucks.

We must be extremely careful about defining a "mother turn" lest our students take it (whatever it is) as the "only turn."

Quote:
 Originally Posted by T-Square I look at crossunder and crossover as approximately the same move with a different TID.
Yes. I have never asked myself whether I was doing crossunder or crossover while I was actually skiing. My CM (COM in Canada ) moves down the hill, usually in a path somewhat closer to the fall line than my skis. Whatever.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by T-Square I think what we are trying to do is like trying to determine if an elipse is a modified circle, or a circle is a modified elipse.
Neither. The circle is a special case of the elipse.

Go play!
As I think about it, I'm wondering if it isn't (wasn't) that the GS turn was the mother turn, but rather the Giant Slalom was the mother race--this being because it relates so beautifully to the terrain of a mountain as its drainages plunge and dive toward the valley. (how poetic!)
I took a look in my ski library to see where I got the idea of GS being the mother of all turns. I picked up World Cup Ski Technique and on p. 161 found it:
Quote:
 Giant slalom involves the control and precision of slalom with the speed and dimension of downhill. At first glance, the sweeping turns of giant slalom seem to be the most similar to free skiing of the alpine disciplines. But of the three, giant slalom is the event which most taxes the skiers' physical, technical and athletic qualities. The carved turns and perfect line of a World Cup giant slalom skier, unfortunately, bear little resemblance to what most skiers do in free skiing. Good giant slalom skiing can be reduced to the search for one perfectly carved turn linked to another, from the top of the mountain to the bottom. The tendency among World Cup skiers is to become better at either slalom or downhill, and the rarity of the great giant slalom skier attests to the difficulty of achieving perfection in this discipline.
I've heard this about GS in other places, too. I remember the Mahre's talking about it while they were criticizing the new event--Super G.

So it sounds like it's a little of both--the event, and the turn. Or not?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by nolo The reason I ask is because retraction (flexion-extension, "crossunder") is appropriate in short radius turns and is not in GS turns (extension-flexion, "crossover"). Any thoughts on this?
I have a thought on this. While I sometimes use retraction in my short turns, when I was at the PSIA Eastern Team tryouts, we were told NOT to use retraction in our reaching turns. So maybe the GS is still teh mother turn (at least in PSIA-E).
I would offer that over the last decade there has been progressive shift in attention from GS, which while constantly evolving has lost some limelight to SL that has arguably evolved more radically more quickly.

To me this attention on SL and its radical arcing has resulted in an interest among many skiers to explore these radical SL skis. As a result the SL ski now seems to have become the tool of choice for many skiers interested in exploring the carving of ever-tighter arcs. Little wonder there, our modern SL skis pack a lot of yahoo in a compact package and they generate it at a speed range more skiers are comfortable in than the higher velocity required to light up a GS ski. :

I’m a jeckle-hyde on this, preferring my 12 meter SL’s as my daily tool/toy at my small Midwest home area, but opting for longer radius, 19-20 meter tools/toys that can ‘take it down the mountain’ with the energy level I love to explore when out west where serious cruising terrain is available.

The pendulum may swing, but hey, exploring the arc is always fun!
I can't imagine a better set of images to study than this giant slalom turn.

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/2004-2005/slides/maier-bc-2004-gs-1-wm.html
I think that the swing is likely due to the change in equipment. When I read that quote from World Cup Ski Technique, I think that "pure carved turns" were only possible in a GS radius turn. Today, with the arc-y-sparky SL radius skis, those carved arcs can be much tighter and deliver a much greater punch. As a result, the crossunder becomes a "go to" move to manage the rebound of the skis.

...or do I have this completely wrong? :
The mother of all turns needs both cross-under and cross-over to be present.

The question is, what about the children?

Cross-over dominance defines the race turn because it is faster. There is still some minor cross-under present. A race coach trainer simply said: "We want to see the body move down the hill; Cross-under is slow."

Cross-under dominance defines the majority of recreational turns because it is slow and therefore safer; turn forces are easier to manage. There is still some cross-over present, but it's quite minor.

The children of the mother of all turns can be either mellow or hyper. My vote is for the slalom turn. IMO, a well executed GS turn is all about cross-over. sbski's photo sequence is a great example.
A few years back the theory was to use GS as the technichal movement training platform for both the technical SL/GS event skiers and the Speed event SG/DH skiers. As SL skis became more radically shaped SL becam refered to as mini-GS. Is this still a valid referance or has SL mutated into a unique movement pattern. Personally while the SL movement are quicker with a bias to use of lower leg angles, and GS movements are more protracted and use alignment relative to the greater forces and duration of them, I think the intent, purpose and application of the tools, be the SL or GS skis is very similar. Carve as much of each turn as you can on the line you need to be on. The racer who brakes the least wins.
Thanks, Arc. The reverence this instructor has for GS may be an indication of her age.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by nolo Thanks, Arc. The reverence this instructor has for GS may be an indication of her age.
I guess I'm kinda old, too, in that special reverence. But again, it's not so much about the quality of the turn. It's more the way the turn flows and matches the terrain of a big mountain. I would much rather watch a GS race than a slalom race. The merging of racer and mountain just feels more elegant.
Yeah, that's it. It's just real pretty to see and to do.
Nolo,

In the Eastern Division, the medium radius turn seems to be the defalt (mother turn). It has elements of both the GS and Slalom turn with cross over/under varies on speed and terrain.
In the East, snow conditions and trail congestion lead to a "mother turn" that has speed control on hard snow without having the necessety of the more athletic short or sl turn. GS turns are learned as a modification of the medium turn and SL turns are also learned as a modification of the medium turn.

RW
I find it interesting that "desired" powder turns have become longer and "desired" hardpack turn shorter.

I ponder that perhaps the foundations of the "mother turn" is grounded more in ski evolution than skier evolution.

IMHO ...."skiing the slow line fast" remains the mother of all ski goals.

Long, short, medium or sideways

Nolo .... your a thinking mans girl
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Man from Oz I find it interesting that "desired" powder turns have become longer and "desired" hardpack turn shorter. I ponder that perhaps the foundations of the "mother turn" is grounded more in ski evolution than skier evolution. IMHO ...."skiing the slow line fast" remains the mother of all ski goals. Long, short, medium or sideways Nolo .... your a thinking mans girl
I'm not a technique or gear afficionado, but this post makes sense.

I especially like the "skiing the slow line fast" part as it seems to me it's common sense that if you can do that you're on a very solid foundation.
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