(Sorry for that outburst. I had another reply written, and when I posted it, I found that ?@3%!~#?&*%@!#CompuServe had disconnected me, and the whole thing vanished. This has happened too often. Anyone considering opening a new CompuServe account--or AOL, same thing--THINK TWICE, and look into the many better alternatives.)
What I meant to emphasize was the very big difference between where the turn actually starts and finishes--by the mathematical (and common) description PhysicsMan described--and where the MOVEMENTS and MENTAL COMPONENTS required of good technique begin and end--or don't.
Again to the car, on a winding series of S-curves.... Clearly, as PhysicsMan described, a right turn happens any time the wheels are turned to the right, and a left turn happens whenever the wheels are turned to the left.
But, imagine the transition from a right turn to a left turn. When do you start turning the steering wheel to the left?
Clearly, you BEGIN the left turning movements while still in the right turn! As you turn the steering wheel left, the wheels first straighten ("neutral"), ending the right turn, then continue turning left, beginning the left turn. Your left steering movements began well before the right turn ended. And mentally, you began preparing for ("anticipating") the turn even before that, as you visualized the point at which you wanted the right turn to end and the left turn to begin.
From the skier's technique perspective, turns clearly begin much earlier than from the mathematician's perspective. The mathematical definition describes the OUTCOME, but it isn't much help in describing the TECHNIQUE. It is a profound, but very common, mistake to think about starting a turn at the beginning of the turn! IF turns are linked, they both begin and end in "neutral," and "neutral" represents merely a moment in a bunch of continuous, flowing movements. "Neutral" is like a doorway you pass through without stopping. A photographer could take a picture of you at the right moment, proving you were there, but you weren't there for any measurable length of time.
In any case, if "neutral" is how a turn starts, it is also how the previous (linked) turn must end! To link turns, then, the key is to focus not on how to START turns, but on how to FINISH them.
If you do it right, you will literally have to do NOTHING to start a turn, because you've already done it. All essential activities are already in motion, and you just have to let them continue. And that really is the sensation of well-linked turns--that they were "effortless"--they "just flowed"--because that is literally what happens!
Another example is the concept of "edge release." Most instructors would agree that a turn begins with a release of the edges, allowing you to either steer into the new turn, or simply let gravity pull you into it. But again, the MOVEMENT that causes edges to release begins long before the actual moment of releasing. Releasing edges means reducing their angle to the point where they no longer hold--essentially "flattening" them on the snow. But if you think of flattening your skis to start a turn, IT'S TOO LATE! The turn starts not when you START reducing their edge angle, but when you FINISH it! It starts not when you start flattening your skis, but when you HAVE FLATTENED them. Like the steering movements, the actual tipping movements from right to left must begin long before the transition, timed perfectly to release the edges at exactly the right point.
A third example--the so-called "crossover." You have to be tipped right to make a right turn, and left to make a left turn, as on a bicycle, so your body must cross over your feet in the transition. But the common advice to "project your body into the new turn to initiate" also happens too late. That movement, too, must have already begun in the previous turn. The actual crossover is merely a reference point in a fluid, continuous motion.
How about one more example--the pole touch. Nolo rightly describes a pole touch as a common mark of a turn's beginning. But that pole touch too marks the END of a movement--not the beginning. In smoothly linked turns, the pole touch happens at the END of the forward pole swing, like the period a the end of a sentence. If you haven't already got that pole swinging forward when it's time to start a turn, you might as well forget it--IT'S TOO LATE!
I think that this endless cyclic nature of skiing movements, that have neither beginnings nor ends, is one of the things that makes great skiing a real challenge, but a worthy pursuit. The honest and legitmate question "what do I have to do to start a turn?" really has no answer (when turns are linked). ANYTHING you have to do must have already started, so it's a moot point. If you have to first "get to neutral" after finishing one turn, there is no way your turns can be linked.To summarize: if smoothly linked turns with effortless initiations are your goal, strive to FINISH your turns in neutral.
The rest will will take care of itself!
Now, if ?@3%!~#?&*%@!#CompuServe will cooperate, I'll try this again....
Bob Barnes[ May 11, 2003, 12:18 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]