Originally Posted by tdk6
Only exception is jumping through the transition from one pair of edges to the other while carving at high speeds
That much we saw, my friend!
So let me return to the original topic.
IMHO:When to jump
Basically, the key is that conditions underfoot are treacherous. Mostly this will be when you are somewhere steep and narrow so you don't have a choice about where to turn and you can't just straightline through. But even here, if the footing is good you have choices -- a stem turn or a side-slip are safer options if you are somewhere where you really, really do not want to fall. On the other hand, jumping may be helpful if you find yourself somewhere less steep but where the snow conditions are very bad. I'm thinking of the dreaded "educational snow", breakable crust.
I've seen skiers who jump in other conditions. Some people (me when I was younger!) jump in bump fields. But it has its disadvantages ... it's hell on the legs and takes a lot of cardio energy. Still, the line between retraction and jumping can be very narrow.
I've also seen a video of Dan Egan skiing in deep snow doing closely linked jumps. He looked like a jackrabbit! A guide I know was watching too and he said "I'd never let my clients do that. At their fitness levels, they'd be too exhausted to do anything if something went wrong."How to jump
Putting together what other posters have said, it seems to me that
1. You need a good platform. Since, by assumption, conditions underfoot will not be ideal, you can help yourself by slowing right down and assisting your balance with a good pole plant (or if, like me, you're a throwback, a double pole plant
2. Be gentle. If you're starting from trash, you'll probably be landing on trash. You don't need to do more than just get your skis out of the snow and round. You don't want to come crashing down any more than you have to.
3. Remember to project. This is definitely "don't do as I do, do as I say". When things get tough, we all have a tendency to freeze up and shrink back. But that makes it harder, not easier to get the skis round.
Of course, what the OP wanted to know was how to improve his technique. I'm not an instructor and don't know drills but I have two thoughts. "Learn to jump turn somewhere where you don't really NEED to use it". The other is: over-achieve. If you can do huge great hops on heavy skis in practice on easy terrain, doing nice gentle ones when it is "mission critical" should be easy.