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Finishing a turn.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
First I'd like to thank all the Bears for a wealth of knowledge posted here. I've read more instruction and analysis on this site than I could digest in a lifetime of seasons.

There's been several threads about initiating a turn, but I'd like to get some information on FINISHING a turn. As JohnH can attest, this is where I need work.

Specifically I'd like to hear thoughts on how long, medium, and short turns differ in terms of the finish. How should the upper body be positioned during each type of turn's finish?

I feel more comfortable with medium to longer turns, but have trouble finishing short turns without skidding the tail out a bit.

Any advice?

[ August 19, 2002, 08:23 AM: Message edited by: Gill ]
post #2 of 8
Gill--this is a great question. Unfortunately, as with so many things, a simple, brief answer can't do it justice! Different kinds of turns finish in different ways.

In the "old days," all turning on skis boiled down to one simple sequence: doing something to break the skis out of their straight line tracks and into a skid, then controlling that skid, and finally, ENDING that skid. Different techniques all related to the various ways these things could be done.

For all turns that involve throwing the skis into a skid, even today, finishing the turn still means stopping the skid, thereby setting up the solid platform from which to throw the skis into a skid the other way. That means, usually, increasing the edge angle of the ski(s) and perhaps increasing the pressure on the tail(s)--an "edge set."

For these "old" turns, the traditional division into "initiation, control, and completion" phases makes sense. (We also identify a "preparation phase," prior to initiation, which coincides with the completion phase when turns are linked without a traverse.) But things CAN be different today.

I often use the analogy of driving a car, and I'll bring it up again here. How do you "finish" a turn in a car? Assuming that the tail didn't fishtail out into a skid, all you have to do is stop steering the wheels into the turn--straighten them out--right? And starting the next turn is just a question of steering them the other way. Smooth and seamless. There are no distinct phases, as described above. (Of course, if a skid is involved, either intentionally or not, the turn resembles the skidded skiing turns above--the skid must be started, controlled, and stopped.)

By the way--as the issue of defining exactly where a single, linked turn starts and stops has just come up again in another thread, for this discussion, I'm defining the stop/start point as the transition from turning one direction to the other--from an arc that takes you to your right, to an arc that takes you to your left--the moment the car's wheels point straight ahead. From a traverse, the turn starts the moment you start turning downhill, and ends when you finish turning and start traversing across the other way.

So a carved turn starts the moment the edge(s) release. When the new edge(s) engage, the ski(s) bend and carve through the arc, perhaps aided by active steering movements of the feet and legs. Here' the key: if turns are linked, the end of one turn marks the start of the next. Therefore, the turn also ENDS the moment the edge(s) release! The answer to your question, then, might surprise you, Gill: You finish the turn by flattening your ski(s), ending the carving effect of an edged, pressured ski. Note that this is just the opposite of the edge set that ends a skidded turn!

A modern turn begins and--if linked--ENDS in "neutral." For a smooth, flowing linkage in modern turns, you could say that there IS no beginning or end. All the way through the turn, you must move in such a way that you "arrive in neutral" at the exact spot you intend for the turn to end. You can't wait 'till the end to "start finishing" the turn. This is the mistake many skiers make. They release their edges to start, and progressively tip them more and more as they go through the turn. Then they decide it's time to finish the turn, and it's too late! Often they are squatted down low and "angulated," and stuck in the back seat at the "end" of the turn, rather than balanced, "neutral," and moving into the new turn.

In other words, if (and only if) you have done everything "right," you don't have to do ANYTHING to finish a modern, high-performance turn--or to start the next! It's just a continuation of the flow of movement that you've been guiding constantly, throughout the turn. If you have to do something in particular to get out of the turn, it's a sign of something wrong earlier--or perhaps throughout!

At this point, I'll refer you to a couple other threads where we discussed the technique of modern ski turns in great detail (click on the links):

How do you make a perfect turn?


Those turns...illustrated

In the "illustrated" thread, look closely at the sequences--any of them will do, although the Parallel Turn sequences show the biggest range of motion, so the movements may be more obvious. Study also the edge angle graphics, which show the skis tipping progressively (relative to the slope) through the turn, then "untipping" as the end approaches, finishing the turn flat on the snow, in "neutral."

One continuous, cyclical movement--that's the signature of contemporary high-performance turns. It's hard to break it down into distinct phases. If I had to, I'd describe a "transition phase," encompassing "neutral," an "edge & pressure increase" phase, and an "edge and pressure decrease" phase. But even these phases overlap and flow seamlessly together.

Words cannot describe....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 8
Alternate answer:

Gill, for your short turns, specifically, if you find the tail washing out at the end, there is a good chance that you are levered too much against the tip of the ski, and also possibly "rotated" (upper body turned into the turn--a classic way to get the skis to start skidding). These two errors often accompany each other. It can even result from pushing the ski out in order to get it more on edge so that it finally bites into the snow. It's ironic, but true, that the only way many skiers can get their skis to STOP skidding is to push them sideways (increasing the skid) to an edge set.

Do you have any pictures of yourself skiing? Even a still or two of those short turns could help us diagnose the problem more accurately.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi Bob,

As always, thanks for your throughness! I do have a short video clip of me skiing, so I'll try to figure out how to get it onto my computer and post it here.

I finally gotten used to the new shaped skis and transitioned from an up and down movement to a roll and angulate movement. I can see that, when doing longer radius turns, my tracks are very trenched through the middle of the turn and go flat in the transition. So, I think I'm linking the turns ok when they're medium or longer in radius.

I guess my real question is WHEN to finish the turn. I find that when on steeper slopes, I tend to acellerate from turn to turn (I suppose because I'm carving and not shedding speed with a skid). My usual progression is something like this: I do several carved short radius turns, gathering speed with each, I start to feel I'm going too fast, and actively steer my skis harder into the turn. This causes me to skid out a turn to scrub the speed. I'm trying to keep my upper body still and facing downhill, and rotating from the waist. Is this mentality holding me back? Should I rotate my shoulders into the turn more?

I've skied behind JohnH and have seen him make the same radius turns I do, yet control his speed while carving each turn. He seems to stay in the turn a little longer, but without skidding his skis. This is the movement that gives me trouble (especially on narrower slopes). As I stay with my turn (in shorter radius turns), I start to skid.
post #5 of 8
Check your PM. I can host it if you send it to me.

post #6 of 8
Hi Gill--several possibilities occur to me, from your description.

First, you described an "up and down" movement as your technique on traditional skis, which is appropriate, but which suggests that you probably do have an ingrained "unweight--throw 'em into a skid--edge set" habit. As you suggest, it's easier to break that habit in longer turns than in short.

You've also hinted at the truth when you suggest that John "seems to stay in the turn a little longer." Finishing the turn is the KEY to speed control without braking ("skiing the slow line fast"). The better you carve, the farther you have to complete the turn to maintain the same speed. It's a simple idea, but it takes considerable skill in practice!

Sustaining the increasing pressure of a completed carved turn, steering the skis all the way through it, while maintaining the balance that is so critical to ski performance, takes a lot of practice.

You said that when you feel too much speed, you "actively steer [your] skis harder." This could cause your problem. Finishing the turn farther usually involves turning LONGER (more time)--not necessarily QUICKER. Again like a car, if you're at the limit of your ability to hold the turn, tightening the turn more will cause you to skid off the road! Even moreso on skis, if that "active steering" means simply "twisting them," you are FORCING them to skid. So you may need only to be a little more patient, allowing the skis time to come farther around. Or you may need to work on that steering movement--more active steering of the INSIDE ski, combined with more TIPPING of the outside (weighted) ski, can cause it to bend to a tighter arc. But just twisting it will cause a skid.

It's also possible that a couple of your thoughts ARE holding you back, as you suggested. Don't obsess over keeping your upper body facing straight downhill, even in short turns. Your body must be able to follow your skis, otherwise the farther around the arc you carve, the more you end up twisting your body into an unusual position. Imagine turns so complete that the skis actually carve back uphill at the finish--you'd have to be twisted around backward to keep "facing down the hill"! Like the car, once again, the tighter the turn, the more your feet (wheels) turn beneath your body (chassis). But as your skis/wheels round that arc, your body/car follows!

Furthermore, this focus on the upper body facing downhill suggests an image of the wrong rotary movements--which your words "rotating from the waist" affirm. When your skis turn beneath your body, each one should rotate independently of the other, as each leg turns in its hip socket. This is not what I suspect you are picturing in your mind when you describe "rotating from the waist." Your description sounds more like "counter-rotation," or "blocking pole plant" (if you plant your downhill pole firmly to block the rotation of the upper body).

I hesitate to suggest "rotating your shoulders into the turn more," because that could go too far. But it does sound like you may be excessively countered.

Those are some possibilities that could account for your skidding at the bottom of short turns. If you can get that video--or even just a still or two--we should be able to narrow it down.

I also suspect that JohnH would have some sound ideas for you, having seen you ski.

Standing by for visuals....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 19, 2002, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #7 of 8
I find that when on steeper slopes, I tend to acellerate from turn to turn (I suppose because I'm carving and not shedding speed with a skid). My usual progression is something like this: I do several carved short radius turns, gathering speed with each, I start to feel I'm going too fast, and actively steer my skis harder into the turn. This causes me to skid out a turn to scrub the speed. I'm trying to keep my upper body still and facing downhill, and rotating from the waist.
Gill- That sounds like a description of me 2 years ago, so I will repeat advice I got that was a real breakthrough for me. Like you, I had trained myself out of an up unweighting movement several years before. That was an improvement, but I was so intent on not moving UP that I never extended my legs. One of my coaches observed that my first turns were good, but as I flexed my legs to finish the turn, without extending in the early part of the turn, with each turn I got more flexed and more in the backseat. Extending my legs in the early part of the turn (before the fall line) allows me to be more centered, and it creates pressure in the early part which results in both less skidding and better speed control. So my advice is, forget about "quite upper body" or "facing directly down the hill," and try a few turns focusing on active leg extension.
post #8 of 8
...and Bob I have to put in a kudo for your stick figures and the lines_of_travel in your
They've been a nice addition to our discussion on
turns, which have cleaned up a LOT in mine. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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