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Different Turns?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I am having trouble understanding exactly what you all mean by this?

Is it the start, finish, ankle, toes, S turns vs Z turns, short, long? What? :
post #2 of 29
A turn can be big or small, skidded or carved. It can be used to change direction or to brake (mutually exclusive options). A turn is a blending of different skills or movements depending on the skiers goals. If this blend cannot be changed to adopt for terrain, variety, or obtacles then it is always the same turn, and if I may editorialize it is EXTREMELY BORING.
post #3 of 29
If I may add from my vast experience my knowledge of turns, there are, in my mind several types of turns which can be made. It doesn't matter whether you are a PMT person. or whatever school of teaching you're from, here is my definitive list of different turns:

1. The left turn, completed successfully, and still on your feet.
2. The left turn with sit down.
3. The right turn, quite similar to 1. above, but the mirror image.
4. The right turn with sit down.
5 & 6. The half way turn (left or right), where you end up going straight down the fall line with increasing speed.
7 & 8. As above, but totally out of control.
9. The turn to speak to someone behind (almost always follwed by the sit down manoeuvre)
10. The full moon turn. Every time I'm out with a lady in my car and there's a full moon I turn into a layby.
11. The right turn
12. The wrong turn

That's all the turns there are. Exactly how you execute them is your problem!

post #4 of 29
there are only two


post #5 of 29
Prior to becoming a ski instructor I had but one turn style; short, hard, wiggly turns that took me downhill very fast. I was very good at them having practiced them exclusively for more than three decades without lessons. The only time my turns would vary, were when I consumed a pitcher of beer prior to a run. These turns served me in all conditions and all terrain, including very tight avalanche chutes or fairly deep powder.
It wasn't until I was finished with my intital instructor training and began to aquire knowledge of what skiing was really about that I came to the stark realization, that I was only a level 6 skier as far as technique was concerned. A blasted dirt bag intermediate. I almost quit teaching, not wanting to admit things like this to myself. I had to endure other pompous trainers and instructors who could far outski me technically even though I knew they couldn't or wouldn't ski the type of terrain that I would and could. Criminy sakes, I hated piste.
Today I can say that my technique is nearly the same for all turns but the blending of skills, the timing and intensity of my turns varies greatly.
I still ski the tough off piste stuff but the adreanline rush is gone. Thats all that kept me from getting bored. Gone is the hatred of on piste as well. I have replaced my need for terrain with a love of feeling good technique to stave off bordom. I can now enjoy my local little hill without the constant droolling for vert.
(Ott, do I need to footnote so I will not be accused of plagerism by the historical zealots. )
post #6 of 29
Pierre, you say it so well. The mountains have so much to give, it's there for our taking.

post #7 of 29
Tom, BRAVO!!! ....Ott
post #8 of 29
In a clinic last week we were introduced to.... PIA Turns ..... pain inna ass ..

Instead of a traverse add .... a whole lot of short radius turns (built into the traverse) ..... repeat ten times ...

Just when you became bored or complacent, this will make plain old turns of any radius a pleasure.
post #9 of 29
Turns are like baked goods. From sugar, flour, butter, and eggs we get a variety of goodies from doughnuts to cookies to cake to...you get the picture. From balance, edging, pressure control, and rotary movements we get a variety of turns: early/late weight transfer to the new outside ski, patience turn, stem turn, cowboy turn, braking and reaching short turns, scissor turns, wedeln, skidded, slipped, carved...Oh, we could go on all night!

The only meaningful basis for judgment is "does it work?" and "are you having fun?"

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 04, 2002 07:35 PM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
post #10 of 29
WTFH--You forgot about "My turn" and "your turn," which on a powder day reduces to simply, "my turn." This could be a turn for the worse....


While I agree with everyone here that there are indeed many different types of turns, and I especially like Nolo's analogy to the variety of baked goods that can arise from the exact same ingredients in different proportions and blends, I will offer a slightly different perspective.

Just as it would be a mistake to call all of the things that we can create from sugar, flour, butter, and eggs "crepes," I think it is also a mistake to call all of the things we can create with Rotary, Edging, and Pressure Control "turns." In most of the other activities of life, we turn to "go where we want to go." Why is it that on skis we have accepted the term "turn" to describe everything from offensive direction-control "go" activities to defensive speed control "braking" activities, as well as the little wiggles of competitive bump skiing, and the movements of "pure carving"? Do they really all fit the common definition of "turning"?

Yes, all of these things are important. Many of them can be fun. But not all of them are "turns" the way most non-skiers would understand the term.

Who cares? The only problem with calling all these diverse activities "turns" is its potential to confuse. If one person teaches someone to "turn" like a racer (to control line), and the next day another person teaches him to "turn" to slow down (to control speed), and then a third teaches him to "turn" by just tipping the skis and letting them go wherever they want (to create that delicious carving sensation, but controlling neither direction nor speed), the poor student may well wonder "so which is the 'right' way to turn?"

I say let's give them more appropriate names: "turning," to control line/direction, "braking" to slow down, "carving" to, well, carve. The movements of these three different intents are so dissimilar, even contradictory, that calling them all by the same name really makes little sense!

There are many great ways to get down a mountain on skis--but very few "right" ways to TURN!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--of course, I could be all wrong. My dictionary lists no less than 71 separate definitions of the word "turn." But experience shows clearly that the intent of the skier when "turning" absolutely governs the resulting movements. If you turn "to control speed," as most people do, your turns really will be more braking movements than the gliding movements that most people THINK they're trying to make. Change the "paradigm," and you are likely to experience a real breakthrough in your skiing!
post #11 of 29
My Masters coach spent the weekend trying (with a degree of success) to introduce me to proper pole technique, scissor turns, and countering. The turns as demonstrated were a smooth, short radius turn (2 ski length width) with the skids being smoothly transitioned from turn to turn without a definite, braking edge set. Really quite a graceful thing to watch, and the wider platform of the scissor combined with the pole plant/driving outside hand really seemed to make skiing narrow sections of steep trail much more enjoyable at speeds less than Mach 5.

My Coach isn't a member of PSIA from what I can tell, but has taught skiing for decades (taught with Lito back in the '60s), so I'm not sure what continuing education he has had. I was under the assumption before this weekend that tip lead (like scissor turns) and heavy countering were outdated, but I skied straight and shaped powder skis using this technique this weekend on steep trails with variable conditions and had considerable sucess. I was standing taller, more relaxed on the wider (front to back) platform, and expended a lot less energy and could concentrate on the hill in front of me rather than trying to get out of the backseat.

After working so hard on carving skills, it was refreshing to move into the sliding turns for a change of pace. In so many circumstances, it seems so graceful and effortless. Variable edging is cool!
post #12 of 29
AK Mike
Congrats on what sounds like a breakthrough.

340 CM wide 40 degree pitch chutes are not the place I have found for carving turns. The turns you describe sound much more enjoyable. I think after learning these scissor type turns with a soft turn initation was when all of a sudden I felt at home in steep crud some time last year. I still can't do them great but the feeling of control is something else
post #13 of 29
It wasn't until after I learned this turn style that I started seeing variations of it in the skiing of the guys I really admire. I'm sure I've done these turns before by accident, but without the knowledge to link them together and the experience to fall back on them when the going gets sketchy. It's better than a new pair of skis. For the first time I actually feel like I'm flowing down the steeps instead of doing static positions and braking movements. For an uptight military guy, this is quite a leap forward. I'm still playing with them and haven't by any means mastered the concept to be able to flow into other turn styles with ease, but I'm having a blast while I learn.
post #14 of 29
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nolobolono:
Turns are like baked goods. From sugar, flour, butter, and eggs we get a variety of goodies from doughnuts to cookies to cake to...you get the picture.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Now I understand why I like skiing sooo much.

Mmm doughnuts.


P.S. A very good analogy.
post #15 of 29
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by dchan:
I think after learning these scissor type turns with a soft turn initation was when all of a sudden I felt at home in steep crud some time last year.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Scissor type turns? Could you guys elaborate on that.
post #16 of 29
A scissors turn is a natural turn that most skier discover on their own sooner or later. It ivolves simultanious rotation/pivoting to the feet and advancing the inside hip and ski tip into the turn at turn initiation. Its fairly simple to learn and easy to do. It you are use to upper body rotation to initiate turns, the scissors turn will seem like a big step forward. Indeed its more efficient than upper body rotation to start turns and avoids over initation of turns on steeps. If the name of your game is just easier skiing and surviving steeps, the scissors turn is a natural choice.
In terms of advancement the scissors turn will undoubtably lead to plateaued skiing. Once established as a major part of your skiing, its very hard to undo the scissors movments as the movements are very natural and mimic walking. All of our discussions on tip lead, early center of mass movements, early edge, strong inside half, inside foot steering, Phantom move, static turns are all designed to eliminate the scissors movements in advanced skiing. Ski racers appear to do a scissors type of movement but its much more of a skating move than scissors move.
post #17 of 29
Thanks Pierre Eh,

Don't think I could have put it so well.
post #18 of 29
Thanks guys. Time to start my ski dictionary.
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
the poor student may well wonder "so which is the 'right' way to turn?"


Thanks all for taking the time to answer a questions that probably had you thinking " ya think she'd know this at least"

Thanks too to Bob. Bob its nice to see empathy for students confusion.
post #20 of 29
Pierre eh!-
I guess it was a good thing that I spent so much time trying not to scissor. My coach actually said my upper body never seemed to move when I skied, which I initially took as a compliment that I had a quiet upper body. Unfortunately, he meant that my upper body was dead (that uptight military guy thing again). I wasn't banking the turns, but I was tight in the shoulders and chest. While my technique seemed to work on the groomed and non-threatening, once I was in cut-up maritime powder, steeps, or serious crud I started having problems. The scissor's longer platform kept me out of the back seat and allowed me to stand taller, which reduced fatigue and increased stability. I did notice that once back on the groomed it was less than effective. However, given my goals for the day (pole and steep techniques), it seems like a valid method.

As the scissor style was demonstrated to me (I hope I get this right):
- Initiate turn with a pole plant/lead with the body down the hill, letting it flow between the pole plant and the tip of the outside (uphill at this point) ski. Drive down the hill with the outside hand/pole (the one not planted) to keep the body facing the fall line.
- The body will be moving downhill at a faster rate than the skis through some of the turn (a fun sensation) since the body will be moving through a smaller arc, but the skis will catch up at the bottom third of the turn. It is important not to edge the skis here, as this is not a carved turn. A flatter ski will allow them to come around smoothly, brushing the snow without a harsh edge set.
- At the bottom half-to-third of the turn, you will move the downhill (outside) ski backwards until you feel the tongue of the boot. The uphill (inside) leg will move forward until you feel the back of the boot. This offset of skis provides a longer, more stable platform (similar to telemark, just in reverse) and gives the movement its name. The torso will naturally be facing downhill (unless you fight your hips) and will be in position for the next turn.
- It is important to note that the scissoring of the skis is not a static position but a fluid motion throughout the turn. We started with scissoring on a gentle slope, just moving the skis forward and back and then incorporating them into turns. We then added the countering motion (driving outside hand) and finally the pole plant. Once combined, you can feel the sensation of the body naturally flowing through each turn.
- As you play with it more and more, you can experiment with varying degrees of the scissoring motion to adapt to different situations.

With that said, is there a more effective way to do slow to moderate speed turns on steep/cut-up terrain? I'm always open to different approaches to the same problem. I prefer not to straight-line hills when conditions/ability may not warrant it. Consecutive jump turns seem less effective and precise, because the edging is offset by increased skidding and harsh turn completion. It also looks really hard on the body, which as the years pass is a consideration. Conventional two-footed carving doesn't produce the turn size I'm looking for (three ski lengths at most or I'm kissing the side of the chute), and one-footed carving causes my ski to sink. I'm not going to side-slip the entire chute out of respect for those that follow and to avoid getting buried in a slough (been there, done that).

So what's the answer? I still have fun on the groomed, but I like seeing what else the mountain has to offer.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 05, 2002 01:42 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Alaska Mike ]</font>
post #21 of 29

I read yours and all the other posts, but I think you are looking for is clarity in what the turn is about and how and what effects its shape.

I know others are tired of readintg this, but I think Lito in Chapters 2&3 of his new book["Breakthrough on the New Skis," which can be ordered from this website by accessing amazon.com from the home page, for about $18.00 ] will go a long way in creating not only clarity in your own mind, but will provide you the information that you can use to immediately to enhnace your own skiing.

BTW Lito and others beleive in concentrating on a good turn finish since it is the gateway to the start of the next turn.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ February 09, 2002 07:06 AM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
post #22 of 29

I don't know if your question has been answered to your satisfaction yet, but you have stimulated some good discussion!

I'll try another description here, for what it's worth. Let's use the analogy of SKIING and RUNNING. "Running" is an activity that involves a lot of different movements and "techniques," most of which we make without even thinking about it. Sometimes we run fast, and swing our arms vigorously. Sometimes we just trot along gently--or walk. Sometimes we speed up, and sometimes we slow down--and either can be sudden or gradual. Sometimes we change direction, again quickly and sharply, or smoothly and gently. Sometimes we run on a smooth, hard surface, other times on soft or irregular surfaces.

Every one of these different options, and each combination, involves a different "technique," although they ALL fall under the category of "running." And they can all be done with varying degrees of skill and ability. Surely, there are "common threads" that run throughout all the variations, but there are also significant differences. To be a good runner, it is important to become adept at all of these "techniques." And very few of these things would normally be called "turns"!

Like "running" and "turning," "skiing" and "turning" are not the same thing, despite common use of the termsand conventional wisdom! Turning is only a small subset of the "things" we do on skis.

But we do TURN, by my much more restrictive definition, to the best of our ability, WHENEVER our intent is to control direction on anything but a straight line. Regardless of skill level--from expert all the way to "never-ever" beginner--the intent to contol line will bring out a blend of rotary, edging, and pressure control skills that is fundamentally similar. The same is true when the intent turns to "braking"--the movements, regardless of skill level, will suddenly become very different from the movements of turning, whether the skier is conscious of the changes or not, and whether the skier still calls it "turning" or not.

Experts will do it skillfully. Beginners will do the best they can. But if the intent is the same, the movements will share some basic, qualitative similarities. If the intent is to turn--to "go where I want to go"--all movements of my body will tend to be in the direction that I want to go. Ski tips will turn in that direction--inside tip first. Skis will tip/roll in that direction, releasing their edges then re-engaging to provide the "traction" to push my body in the desired direction. My body will move in that direction, possibly directed and enhanced by movements of my arms and poles. To go left, everything moves left, to the best of my ability, and with an intensity proportional to how quickly and vigorously I want to change direction. I call these movements in the direction I want to go, "positive" movements, regardless of what body part or piece of equipment they involve. In a "turn" (defined as "an attempt to go where I want to go"), all movements are "positive movements."

But that offensive "GO" intent is surprisingly rare in skiing. Rarely does it matter that precisely, outside of a race course, a treed glade, or a very crowded run, where exactly my skis go. A more common intent for most skiers is the desire to control speed, to resist the pull of gravity--to BRAKE.

If I want to BRAKE, suddenly all those positive movements become wrong! Braking involves just the opposite type of movements--NEGATIVE movements--movements AWAY from the direction I want to STOP going. Because this defensive intent rules 99% of most skiers' "turns" (or should I say, 97%?), most skiers make largely "negative movements," again regardless of skill level. Beginners brake with little skill. "Experts" brake skillfully (although as we've discussed, true experts have also discovered that skillful and intentional control of line--TURNING--skiing the "slow line fast"--minimizes the need for braking in the first place!).

Of course, there are plenty of times when we need to control neither direction nor speed. Wide-open runs with "comfortable" pitches (whatever that means to the individual skier) allow us the luxury of just playing. This is where we can just tip our skis and enjoy the sensuous play of g-forces, floating, and weightlessness of the "pure-carved turn"--or the exhilarating rush of terminal velocity. These intents too produce different kinds of movements--different "techniques"--different "types of turns."

And a situation where neither direction nor speed needs controlling also presents the ideal environment for trying or practicing "new movements." Without our control--or our life--depending on them, we can explore new movements at will. But of course, lacking any particular intent, none of these movements is either "right" or "wrong."


The point is that we really don't have to worry about which type of "turn" is "correct." Our intent will govern our movements absolutely, regardless of our thought process or our desire to make any particular type of turn. This is why so many lessons fail--the instructor tries to teach a certain type of movements to a student with a conflicting intent! The instructor who tries to teach "release your edges and let your skis dive down downhill" to a skier who wants only to brake and resist the pull of gravity CANNOT SUCCEED! And all this talk of "which type of turn is 'correct'?" is actually irrelevant. Intent dictates the type of movements we make, whether we "choose" that or not!

Want to make "Center Line" (PSIA trademark, by-the-way) turns? You will, whether you know it, or want it, or not, if you try to follow someone else's tracks. Put yourself in a situation where your intent is to contol line, and your movements will fall somewhere on the "Center Line" even if you've never heard of it! The "Center Line" simply represents what those movements tend to look like, and identifies typical "milestones" along the path of skill development. At a low skill level and a very low speed, most skiers (and yes, this includes both the students AND THE INSTRUCTORS of "direct parallel" schools) will tend to show a gentle "wedge" as they try to turn both skis in the direction they want to go. As speeds increase, the same intent and same fundamental movements will tend to "match" (become parallel). We don't "teach" wedge turns or wedge christies--we simply recognize that they happen!

If you become defensive, regardless of your level, "negative movements" will creep into your skiing. Rather than releasing your edges and turning your tips downhill, you will keep gripping the mountain and push your tails uphill/out of the turn/into a skid to start a "turn." Parallel "turns" become hockey stop-like skids. Wedge christies become stem christies. Razor-carved tracks quickly vanish as the edges scrub away speed.

So the TYPE of "turn" we make is a function of our intent. The QUALITY of the turn is a product of this intent combined with our ability and skill level. "Style" is the personal flair and expression that each of us adds on top of these things, representing our individual personality, anatomy, attitude, and habits.

There are many good ways to get down a mountain on skis, but very few correct ways to make a TURN!

It's all good....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #23 of 29
So if I understand you, Bob, you are saying that there is "the turn" but this notion of there being different "turns" is a fallacy?

I hear you saying that there are different turning movements that are governed by skill and intent, which introduces the notion of quality (matching form to function?). Style or flair is self-expression.

Any change of direction satisfies the definition of a turn. Pivot slips, downstem christies, railroad tracks, what have you. It's not in the turn that they differ but the movements made in creating the change of direction.

Have I understood you?

If so, would the question not be "how many turns are there?" but "how many ways are there to make a turn?" And the answer? Correctly and Incorrectly?

(I can't come to Colorado, so I must try to grok your meaning electronically. I join the others here in respecting your thinking very highly.)
post #24 of 29
"grok".... brings back memories, but you lost hlaf of the readers!!!! :
post #25 of 29
Because of "grok" or because of the rest of it?

Name the book. Name the author for extra credit.
post #26 of 29
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> So if I understand you, Bob, you are saying that there is "the turn" but this notion of there being different "turns" is a fallacy? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, yes--and no! Sorry about being vague! I am well aware, and in complete agreement, that there are many perfectly "good" ways to make what MOST skiers CALL "turns." What I am challenging is that notion that the word "turn" fits all these diverse activities and all these different intents.

"Pivot-slips" (one of my favorite exercises), for example, do NOT fit my definition of "turning." If done perfectly, like a hockey stop, there is no change in direction at all. They do not result from the "intent to control line." They result from, well, from the intent to do pivot-slips! While the task DOES involve some "control of line," there is much more to the intent to do pivot-slips than that simple desire to go straight down the fall line!

Likewise, "Railroad Tracks" are pretty hard to do if you are trying to follow a specific line, or trying to brake. They result from the "intent to carve" or the "intent to leave two razor-thin lines on the snow." You can't really be concerned with "controlling direction" with railroad tracks--how many exam candidates have you seen fail railroad tracks because they tried to mimic the turn-shape/radius of their examiner's tracks while using a different type of ski? Like a freight train, there may be a direction change with "railroad tracks," but neither the skier nor the train engineer has much CONTROL over that line! And TAKING control of the line--steering to tighten up the turn, for example--is fine, but it isn't railroad tracks anymore.

It is notable that when a CAR goes into a skid, we might find ourselves saying "I MISSED the turn." But skidding "off the road" on skis remains included in the standard skiing use of the word "turn." Why?

You also mentioned "downstem christies" which, of course, fit the "usual" skiing definition of "turning." But they don't fit mine. If I were standing beside you and I said "come here, Nolo," (and you actually wanted to do it), I'll bet you wouldn't do anything resembling a "downstem christie"--whether on skis, afoot, or on horseback!

I admit that I am playing, for the sake of conversation, with a very much more restrictive definition of "turning" than most skiers typically use. Yes, "any change of direction" satisfies SOME criteria of a turn, but that isn't the intent that governs our turns in a car, for example, is it? We don't just turn to CHANGE direction, but to CONTROL it, precisely--to keep it on the road.

I submit that, as odd as it may sound, "my" definition of turning is more intuitive and more common than the "usual" one skiers use. I submit that "to go where I want to go" is the reason we turn our cars, our bicycles, our boats, or even when walking or running. In a sailboat, we "turn" to control direction, but we call the direction changes we have to make when going upwind something else--"tacking." Trains change direction, as noted, but the driver cannot "turn" them. In a car, we turn to control direction; we brake or accelerate to control speed. Why, on skis, have we allowed the common term "turning" to include such very un-turnlike activities?

I further submit that it's far more important than just symantics. This loose use of the word "turn" has caused the very confusion that started this thread. If what we meant by "turn" was more specific, as it typicaly is in other walks of life, then the movements involved in "good" turns would be much clearer and easier to pin down.

Instructors would not be so critical of someone's "turns" if they actually recognized them as the braking movements they so often are! And they'd have a lot more success changing those defensive movements if they recognized that that they must first change the skier's intent--to one of "going that way" rather than trying to "stop going this way."

At the very least, it should be standard procedure when instructors do "movement analysis" to identify the skier's real intent behind the movements. Call it whatever you want, but if the intent is to brake, it explains--and justifies--the movements the skier makes! It's a very big factor in the "cause-effect" chain that explains the skier's skiing!

So I'm really NOT arguing that the term "turning" OUGHT to mean something other than how we usually use it. I'm arguing that it DOES mean something else! And because it does, and because few skiers actually think of a turn as the offensive "line control" thing that it really is, their skiing reflects their non-turning intent. Most skiers brake as a habit, even if they THINK they're "turning."

That's all! And "grok" is the right word for THIS process!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #27 of 29
For those on the forum who haven't read "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein,
GROK is a Martian word meaning literally `to drink', and as a metaphor `to be one with', "Grok in fullness" is to understand, usually in a global sense. With an intimate and exhaustive knowledge.

Is that clear?

And can I have my extra credit?

post #28 of 29
Yes, Fox--extra credit!

A little more grokking would be good for us all!
post #29 of 29
Wows to both Bob and WTFH and extra credit to both.

Thanks for clarifying for me these turns.

I see checking for understanding is a good idea! I now grok that "good" turning is maintaining a line that is sustainable without braking, or maintaining the intent to turn.

Is that it?
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