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The short turn

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 

milesb and I had been chatting about this off-line, but I felt that it would make for quality discussion. And, I felt others could learn from it.

So here we go...

Harb teaches that the bullet proof short turn is the key to "expert" (there's that word again) skiing. He really stresses, the importance of a short turn and how once a skier learns the short turn, well, the rest is all downhill. In fact, in his "2" video, it starts off with him making short turns.

I know in my case, when I'm not working on balance, I'm working on my short turn. What I mean by working on short turns is that I'll ski a blue/black run. My goal for the run is to make short turns, without picking up any speed.

Then, once I feel I have it dialed in, I'll go find a steep, bump run. If I do have it dialed in, I ski the run well. If not, well, I'll think about what went wrong with my turns and then go try and work on it. Back to working on short turns.

I really believe in what Harb says. Mastering the short turn, I feel, is really key to skiing well. Because, once a skier has learned to master the short turn, well, a long turn is no different - it's just a short turn that's longer.

So if I was a coach, I'd work really hard with my students on the short turn.

So my opinion is this. Learn the short turn, first.

post #2 of 83
In some respects I agree. The short turn requires confidence in one's abilities, no doubt. It requires thinking ahead of the moment, and moving all parts in concert with all other parts. In many ways this should be construed as reaching the level of skiing that we all strive for. But we all learn differently, don't we?

I've been going through quite a few changes in my skiing in the last couple years (for the better). I spend miles a day dissecting this and that. Videos and watching my shadow for visual input. I've become a junkie for improvement... and I see it every week. Out of all my tasking I've only run into a few realities.

1)I learn nothing about skiing from short turns. Short turns are the result of all that I have learned. The pace is too rapid-fire. Things happen without thinking or feeling. Without thinking or feeling, I've got Zero, but WHAT GREAT FUN IT IS!!!!!

2) I'm not 18 anymore

3) The slower I move through a maneuver, the more time I have to digest it. That's why I believe long turns on green terrain are very valuable. Try this exercise... (hope this doesn't go too long.)
Try a shuffle turn on groomed terrain. Focus on TWO things while doing it. #1 Shuffle very slowly, even if you are on blue terrain and the speed gets hairy. #2 The tails of both skis should follow the same path as the tips. The tails will want to wash out at different points because of the shuffling.

WHAT IS A SHUFFLE TURN? Shuffle turns are basically just making parallel turns while shuffling the feet fore and aft like on a X-country skiing machine. They can be done as a balance drill, a range-of-motion drill, or an edging drill.

For all intents and purposes I am after an edging drill in this case. If we try to execute the shuffling too quickly, or if we try to speed up our movements (like in a short radius turn), It becomes very difficult to execute the little finite things that will keep our edges in the snow and tracking. They will wash out and skid a little. If I wish to gain a skill from this drill, I have to slow down.

Like I said before, I think the short turn is the culmination of all the things I've learned. I don't think that the KEY to my skiing lies within the short turn... but there are many kinds of keys. Would you not agree? Once a skier has mastered the long turn, well, the short turn is no different. It's just a long turn that's shorter. (Sorry SCSA. Had to play that one back for ya!)

Anyway, that's how I've learned and had success. I'm willing to try anything for the sake of my own skiing, so when the snow flies, I'll go see what I can glean from firin' off a few shorties!!!

Sturgis Rules,
Spag :

[ August 06, 2002, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #3 of 83
The short turn is really an exercise in trust. You do A+B+C and you get D. If you have faith in the equation, short turns come much more readily. Your average skier doesn't have the trust in the various components that make a turn work, and short turns compound the insecurities. On a longer turn, they can get away with a lot more.

I have a few people on my intramural ski team who have asked me how I do "those swishy turns". They bank every turn, have an uneasy relationship with their edges, sit in the back seat... pretty much what is commonly defined as an intermediate. Their level of skiing is more based on their athleticism than their knowledge of why a ski turns. What they are looking for is the "one trick" that leads to "swishy turns", not the combination of moves that makes pretty much any style of turn work well. Shame, 'cause them "swishy turns" make the bunny hill a whole lot more fun. Each year I get one or two of the ski team members a little closer, and I think I'm going to start videotaping them so they can see what they're doing.

At any rate, I agree that short turns are where it's at. My need for absolute speed has been overshadowed by my quest for absolute control. Must be the age creeping up on me. Then again, I can beat those 20-somethings down the hill because I focus on control. However, I still get stomped by a bunch of 60+ year olds in Masters. Need to spend more time on those short turns...
post #4 of 83
You're right, SCSA--good short turns are the key to success in so many conditions and so much terrain. There are few, if any, times when you NEED a long turn, but there are lots where you need short turns.

In a sense, beginners DO learn short turns first. The actual radius of the first turns most skiers make is very short--shorter than the typical slalom turn. But, of course, they make these turns so SLOWLY that, by the timing of them, they really resemble more the LONG turns of advanced skiers. They certainly aren't QUICK short turns!

That's really the biggest difference between short turns and long turns--TIMING. And as Notorious Spag and Alaska Mike have both suggested, it's one of the reasons why it doesn't always work to develop short, quick turns first. Quick turns, lasting under a second or so, are "open-feedback-loop tasks." That is to say, we cannot adjust the movements based on feedback during the turn. We sort of "fire them off" and perhaps make adjustments on the NEXT turn based on feedback from the LAST turn. They require highly developed "habitual skills"--consistent, repeatable movement patterns that we just "do" based on practice and skill. They require a great deal of confidence, as Mike suggested, because we really can't "think" about them or talk ourselves through them.

Longer turns--GS turns and longer--are "closed loop tasks"--we can actually change the movements and make adjustments based on sensory feedback received during the turn. We can think about them, and make conscious changes as we ski them. In that sense, they are easier than short turns.

There are more similarities than differences, though, between long turns and at least MODERATELY short turns, as you have said. Long turns are just big short turns, and shorter turns are just quick little long turns. It works both ways.

Of course, VERY short turns are another matter. If the turn is much shorter than the radius the ski is capable of carving, turning cleanly involves a change in the timing, and sometimes even the SEQUENCE, of edging, pressuring, and steering movements.

On conventional skis, quick slalom turns required steering the skis to nearly the direction they would point at the END of the turn, before engaging the edges in a very short, harsh edge set, then turning them the other way during the unweighted rebound. That's what the classic advice "get on and off your edges quickly" meant. Today's skis can carve such short-radius turns that we don't need this classic slalom timing very often any more. But it's still important, for very short, quick turns!

I wouldn't be surprised to see a dusting of white on the Summit County mountain peaks in the morning. Probably not, but it's possible! It rained late this afternoon, and got cold. At nightfall, the mountains were hidden beneath dark squally-looking clouds. We'll see what the sunrise brings! I don't expect to be waxing up the boards just yet....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 83
I love it! Great topic SCSA!
My predecessors on this thread have it steered it the right direction. Short turns are indeed "open loop tasks" resultant of all learned internally (for me) in longer radius turns with the volume turned up! The discussion of duration, intensity, timing and external forces should now come into play!
My personal training looks queer from the chair for sure! Green terrain, practically imperceptable movement on the flat, "skiing the slow line fast"!! Like Tai Chai (sp?), followed by mini leapers, radical hop turns etc. all on the flats, varying radius. By isolating and correcting inefficient MP there, I move to the steeps. I am making my movement patterns more accurate....so that when I open the loop and go with intuition, all the tools are "in there"....I don't even know if that made sense, and I hope I have not buggered up a thread that has some real potential.
Thanks for bringing up the open/closed loop topic, Bob....I really love the concept and have read gads about it! By the way...see you soon in CO!
post #6 of 83
Thread Starter 
Well, let's try to boil this down so others can learn. After all, that's why we're here, right?

1) So far, everyone is in agreement as to the importance of knowing a short turn. Like Barnes says. You'll need a short turn, just about everywhere on the mountain.

2) I think Spag is pointing out that technique, is what he's thinking about, and the short turn is the result. That's great advice, too. Because, if a skier has learned a short turn, but with the "wrong technique", that's not right. Practice the correct movements, along with learning a short turn.

So, let's talk about why, a short turn is so vital to skiing well ("expert" replacement word )

1) Without a short turn, forget about bump skiing. Bump skiing, requires, knowing a short turn.

2) Blue groomers. Skiing blue groomers is fun. But, to ski them well, and safely, speed control is required. If a skier does not know a short turn, they won't be able to control their speed without some sort of defensive tactic. As Barnes always points out so well, defensive tactics are moves that we're trying to avoid, not use more of.

The same logic applies to icy conditions and powder chop.

So, see how important a short turn is? It's a turn that is used in practically all conditions and anywhere on the mountain. Skiers should learn technique, in this case a short turn, that works for them in as many conditions as possible and on as much terrain as possible.

post #7 of 83
Nice summary, SCSA. Being short myself, I love to hear its virtues extolled. The short really are concentrated versions of the long, and the technically strong skier will be able to spark an arc of varying duration, timing, and intensity, depending on his/her intent and the quality of his/her judgment re "matching the hatch" or matching the tactic to the situation.
post #8 of 83
Actually, we were discusssing what Barnes would call "very short turns". Although with today's skis, I would just call them "short", as they can be carved as much as a "medium" turn on straight skis. And they don't HAVE to be rapid-fire open loop things. Because the new skis can take a much longer line and still keep the upper body in the fall line. This is what Harb teaches.
post #9 of 83
Great topic SCSA,

Now lets stir things up and watch the various schools of thoughts diverge.

What are the necessary skills involved for good short turns?

Us PSIA types would look toward edging, pressure and, (eeeeekk for all PMTS folks) Rotary. So where is the focus? I know Pierre eh likes to incoporate inside ski steering to effect the turn shape.

So don't you need active rotary movements to effect the turn shape of our new shaped skis? How else do I do a 15cm radius turn on 20 cm radius skis?


Edit: Spelling

[ August 07, 2002, 11:31 AM: Message edited by: PowDigger ]
post #10 of 83
As this thread evolves, I would like to see the discussion explore "the point" at which crossover becomes crossunder and how that defines short, shmedium etc.
post #11 of 83
Robin, great point.

I've always understood that the separation of upper & lower body make for the difference of crossover and crossunder. I have thought of it this way -- crossover is upper body movement; crossunder is a dynamic lower body with a quiet upper body.

Top teachers -- please tell me, am I anywhere close to the truth there?
post #12 of 83
I really got into parallel knee movements this year for short turns, because the big toe/little toe thing never really stuck with me when it came to muscle memory. I thought I had it down, but video showed me boot-banging at the top of each turn as my weight shifted. Once I sorted out the various balance and timing issues, the fall line short turn came into focus. Still not where I want to be, but things are starting to click. Sometimes it's almost like my torso is just moving straight down the hill, disconnected from the legs as they whip from one side to another. Cool feeling.

Hands, shoulders, knees- that's pretty much all I am when I'm doing short turns. I do use rotary depending on the the size, shape, and speed of the turn, but it's more of a intuitive thing here. Hands forward, shoulders square, knees parallel is all I can think about, and like Bob mentioned, I'm usually correcting what I did in the last turn, not what I'm doing in the current turn. Sometimes it clicks and I can focus on impressing the really cute girl skiing next to me (my wife), and sometimes I realy have to work at it. If I spend the time beforehand working on balance and stance, they come a lot more readily. Like I try to tell my fellow intramural skiers, it's not a single skill. It's a blend of a whole lot of skills.
post #13 of 83
The short turn is an indespensable part of an accomplished skiers repetoire. The same skier, playing in gravity might also often find it fun to do medium -- and even long turns in places where most would find short turns dictated as if a required force of nature for survival. All part of the freedom and fun of the sport!
post #14 of 83
When a long turn (or any turn) goes sour, it is the ability to get the short turn to click that allows us to avoid any sense of discomfort.
The Oh!oh! never leaves the lips, because the solution is patterned in the short (quick) recovery.

All I said was that if the pattern you are on starts stinking, a very good action is to change feet ,if only for a moment. There often isn't time to wait for longer turns to mature.

All the "right actions" go into this change.

post #15 of 83
There is all kinds of short turns that skiers use. At the lower end, skiers use the Stem Christe, wedge christe, wedge turn and hockey slides. At the intermediate level you have the linked hockey slides, tail wagging, and edge set turns. At the advanced level there is the short round turn, the hop turn and leapers. At the expert level you have the reaching short turns and true rebound turns. Something for everybody.

On cross over or under. Who gives the north end of a southbound rat. I have been told that the majority of my turns are cross under even in longer radius turns. Shows what 182' of vertical will do to you.

Whats the real banana of short radius turns? I would say, efficient short radius turns shows the ability to change shape, size, intensity and direction of the turn without excessive braking. Being able to do that opens up some real fun stuff like whizzing through the trees without fear or skiing any line thought the moguls while changing mogul lines at will.

So what things inhibit out ability to change shape, size, intensity and direction quickly and efficiently? What are the characteristics of a good efficient short turn?

[ August 07, 2002, 02:57 PM: Message edited by: Pierre eh! ]
post #16 of 83
Yep - as always, great skiers have the ability to throw turns, long or short, as their desire or needs dictate. Any external demands (i.e. "you should have thrown THIS turn there") are left to the realm of the ego.
post #17 of 83
...the southbound rat, I suppose. Although I practice slow round turns (of all radii) on the flats and am a devotee of skill-drills...I would not wish 182' vertical on even you.
What are the characteristics of efficient short radius turns. To control the corridor, control the rate of descent in a balanced economic fashion without the negative, defensive, braking movements you so eloquently stated.
To answer "the rat" question...whatever has to move first.
post #18 of 83
...I would not wish 182' vertical on even you
Robin? What no smiley face at the end. How am I to interperate that. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #19 of 83
I just can't get myself to that smiley-face-place...kinda like girls named Tammy who spell it Tami and embellish the i with a smiley face. Maybe becoming jaded from being in California too long (soon to be solved)!
It was in jest, Pierre....
post #20 of 83
I have always been of the opinion that it is harder for people to make a long radius turn than a short radius turn. Maybe it's the longer time spent in the fall line; maybe it's the longer time frame period, but upon the request to perform long radius turns, I see traverses with turns, not linked long arcs.

Whether the skis are skidded or carved, the ability to make circles is the fundamental skillset that is stretched or compressed to make turns of longer or shorter duration. Therefore, I teach how to make circles, not how to make turns. The size of the circle depends: on terrain, snow, population, visibility...Anyway, size is tactical; shape is technical.
post #21 of 83
Thread Starter 
Juan Pierre,

If we try to define what makes up a great short turn, well, been there - done that.

There's been many attempts here to define what is and what isn't a great turn. Everytime we try there's never any conclusions.

post #22 of 83
Pierre said "Whats the real banana of short radius turns? I would say, efficient short radius turns shows the ability to change shape, size, intensity and direction of the turn without excessive braking. Being able to do that opens up some real fun stuff like whizzing through the trees without fear or skiing any line thought the moguls while changing mogul lines at will."

You just gave me some insight as to why short radius turs are are my biggest nightmare. Your definition of an efficient short radius turn, is similar to the definition of
AGILITY, which can be defined as the ability to change speed and direction without losing balance and alignment. This the one quality of athleticim in which I am somewhat lacking. Could be what drew me to skiing. Perhaps a chance to work on my weakest link.

An occaisonal tendency towards counter rotation will sometimes mess up my short radius turns. I also notice that intermediate skiers, myself included, wil tend to try to frantically steer the feet around, and end up going nowhere fast.

Robin's question about crossover/crossunder also has a relationship to agility. The more naturally athletic skier will sense this intuitively, and the center of mass will follow whatever the appropriate laws of physics apply. As a result, they will be able to change direction quickly, without a loss of balance or alignment.
post #23 of 83
Lisamarie, that was well put. Maybe you can think of it like this:
In a medium/long turn, you are focused on moving your CM to a point SOMEWHERE to the inside of the next turn. In short turns, the path of your CM is much more consistent (especially in very short turns) and predetermined, and you work the skis to maintain that path.
Thus a short turn demands more precision and agility of feet, a longer turn demands more precision and agility of CM.
I'm sure you can come up with some exercises to
develop the former, which should help you.
post #24 of 83
Brilliant, Miles, I never thought of it that way! I have been working a bit on that this summer, with these agility ladder thingies. Will also be taking a one day workshop in Toronto with a Canadian Sports Fitness expert.
But I'll write about all that in fitness.
post #25 of 83
Miles. I like that train of thought. The skills blend remains the main issue, but you've allowed the FOCUS to change to accommodate the need. CM to feet... feet to CM. Grand stuff!

Tommy Likee! Tommy get Wingy!!

Spag :

[ August 07, 2002, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #26 of 83
Originally posted by nolo:
I have always been of the opinion that it is harder for people to make a long radius turn than a short radius turn. Maybe it's the longer time spent in the fall line; maybe it's the longer time frame period, but upon the request to perform long radius turns, I see traverses with turns, not linked long arcs.
Heh! Nolo, my first session with Jim W contained this classic comment from Jim: "You make a great GS turn, you can vary the shape and size, but you aren't light enough on your feet to make short turns. That long turn can't be used effectively all over the mountain. Skiing your way is boring!"

Because Jim's a good judge of character and personality, he knew that I would chuckle at the "boring" comment and would take to heart the seriousness of his comment about needing short turn quality. I guess I'm the odd man out on short vs long turns -- the big arcs are my safe haven, and the short slalom turns remain one of my big stumblers.

Also, I love the "making circles" idea. Jim continually stresses that with me. He alwways stresses the idea that "even the traverse, done properly, is part of the circle."

[ August 08, 2002, 08:16 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #27 of 83
Why is GS considered more technical than slalom?
post #28 of 83
Excellent question, Lucky! Much of it, in my estimation has to do with what Nolo said. Higher speed, greater distance and less turning makes the line more precise with less opportunity to "make up" for error.
I would consider the large-medium, linked "circle" to be the "mother turn" as Weems (I think) referred to it. Short radius, slalom turns are in fact becoming more akin to "mini-GS turns" everyday, but athleticism and agility can make-up for lost time elsewhere in slalom. Strength and risk-taking can make up for the same in DH. The purist, finessed line wins in GS...from top to bottom. Many slalom turns are rote, rythmic and mechanized. GS turns are each unique to themselves, artistic in that uniqueness.
I would defer to Bob B. or Todd to elaborate based on perhaps more technical analysis and description but in the big view....that's mine.
post #29 of 83
I agree with Robin. Short turns are hard for skiers that lack the skills and agility to execute them. But once you acquire those skills, you notice that short turns allow a lot of room for error. If you are out of balance simply do a crossunder or retraction and voila - again in balance. But with long turns (and higher speeds), if you screw up, you cannot recover very fast.

I can see why short turns are easier, but I cannot say (yet?) that they are always easier for me. I guess it takes lots of skills and time to get to that point.

But what a nice journey it is. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #30 of 83
One of the main reasons longer turns are considered more "technical" is simply because there is a lot more time to think about and adjust what you are doing in each turn. Its not that the turn itself is really naturally mechanically somehow more "technical" or complicated . . . just that we can more easily MAKE it more technical. Its not just the skier experiencing the turn, coaches have more time to see whats happening in each turn when its longer, so they will naturally tend to have more picky and detailed analysis of longer turns.
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