Right on, Bud.
If experts move into the turn, so should beginners, otherwise we're teaching stuff that will need to be "untaught" later. Whether the turn begins with pure tipping/edging movements (as in Railroad Tracks and other "pure-carved" turns), or with guiding/steering movements (needed to make turns tighter than your skis can carve on their own), I find that letting the turn cause the weight transfer is far more effective than making an active weight transfer prior to the turn, at least as a basic "default" technique.
Moving to the new outside ski before turning requires what I call a "negative movement"--a movement in the wrong direction. That would certainly be counter-intuitive!
At low beginner speeds, the weight transfer may take a while, as the forces of the turn are minimal. At higher speeds, it may become almost instantaneous, as the greater centrifugal force that results from the higher speed turn pulls you toward the outside ski as soon as the turn starts. (Yes, it pulls toward the outside as soon as any
turn starts, but centrifugal force must overcome the pull of gravity into
turn in the first half of the turn, so the more speed, the more quickly it happens.)
Contrary to popular opinion, I believe that the movements of good turns are very much intuitive.
Ask a beginning skier (or any other) to come toward you from a stop on flat terrain, and you'll see all the moves of great turns--the inside (closer) foot will move toward you first, followed by the other foot, as the skier moves his entire body toward you. And the weight will transfer to the other foot--without
any active movement toward that foot. Everything will move toward you, in the direction of the turn. Nothing
will move the other way.
And that's as it should be. These are the natural movements we must encourage as instructors, and they are highly intuitive. What is not
intuitive is the offensive intent that causes them! These "positive movements" I've described result from the simple intent to GO in a new direction--which is the intent that motivates the great turns of expert skiers.
Unfortunately, the intuition of most beginning skiers (actually, most skiers at all levels) tells them to make turns to stop going the direction they're going,
rather than to GO
a new direction. This defensive intent ("stop going this way;" "slow down;" "control speed") fosters negative movements--movements in the wrong direction. Such movements include stems (pushing the tail of the outside ski away from the turn), parallel tail pushes, "pushoffs" (pushing your body uphill away from the turn), and . . . weight transfers to the new outside (uphill) ski.
So, while expert skiers at speed do tend to find a weight transfer almost coinciding with the turn initiation, it is a fundamental error entailing "wrong" movements to insist on such an "early" weight transfer for beginners. The move away from the turn is a dead-end move that will need to be "unlearned" at some point.
As I said, the movements of great turns are highly intuitive at every level, provided the skier is in the same offensive mindset as experts (ie.
racers) making turns to GO that way
rather than to STOP GOING this way
as most skiers do. This is why one of the primary outcomes of a Level 1 lesson (see my post #27) is to learn to love gliding.
Students must learn to love the sensation of sliding around on slippery feet, rather than fighting it and feeling in control only when they're preventing it (that is to say, braking
The movements of braking are intuitive too, whenever we're defensive, and they are the opposite of the movements of great turns. So it is critically and fundamentally important that skiers learn to become offensive, loving gliding, trying to go faster
, letting gravity and the mountain control their speed for them (skiing a "slow [enough] line fast"), rather than braking constantly.
In summary, a few important points:
- Intent dictates technique.
- The intent of great turns is offensive--they're made to go that way, rather than to stop going this way--to control line, not to control speed (directly).
- Offensive intent intuitively produces the movements of great turns--"positive movements" in the direction of the turn.
- Offensive intent is not intuitive--therefore it must be a prime focus of lessons for beginners (and for everyone else who skis defensively, yet wants to make better turns).
- To go right, you should make no movements to the left. To teach someone to turn right, you should teach no movements to the left!
- It is impossible to teach offensive movements to defensive skiers successfully. So teach 'em to love gliding, to want to go faster all the time, rather than feeling in control only when the brakes are on!
- Follow these guidelines and, as I said, good techniques will (mostly) take care of themselves. [Offensive] intent dictates [great turning] technique. Intuitively!
So, back to that weight transfer thing--it is important to teach new skiers to allow
pressure to move to the outside ski as the forces of the turn develop, rather than to lean the upper body into the turn. But it is a mistake, as a rule, to insist on an "early" weight transfer prior to initiating a turn. That's not to say that one-footed balance drills aren't good--they are, and they can be the key to getting the student comfortable balancing on that outside ski when the forces pull him there. But one-footed balance is generally the result
--not the cause--
of great turns.