Jimmy's Ski Tips and Tricks

Skid More to Skid Less

Thursday January 11, 2018

A typical intermediate skier will carve through the middle of a turn gaining speed, then as they come across the hill, they will skid and slow down. This results in a cycle of speeding up and slowing down, with brief moments of skidding where they have little to no control over their skis. Breaking that cycle is difficult, but ultimately results in a round turn shape with constant speed throughout the entire turn. How can we start the process of moving there?

The most visible signs of an intermediate turn are at the end of the turn, when the skis skid across the snow. But this skidding is caused by poor form earlier in the turn. The best way to ensure you are able to finish a turn properly is to start a turn properly, and I'm going to talk a little about starting a turn. Without a doubt, starting a turn is the hardest part!

When you finish a turn, you're engaged on your uphill (old inside) edges. These edges prevent the skis from turning easily. Beginners and early intermediate skiers may create a wedge shape, releasing the uphill ski's edge. Stronger skiers may force the skis to rotate with muscle power, but that can be exhausting and doesn't properly set the new edges into the snow. How can we get the skis to quickly shift to the new edges at the start of the turn?

Let's begin with a simple sideslipping drill, preferably on a relatively steep section of slope. Stopped, your uphill leg will be more bent than your downhill leg, keeping you upright on the slope. You can now perform a sideslip with one of two techniques: you can roll your knees downhill, or you can straighten the uphill leg. Try the latter method — keeping both skis on the ground, lengthen the uphill leg and let the edges release, initiating a sideslip. Practice this a few times on each side, especially if you've done sideslipping in the past by rolling the knees.

Once you feel comfortable, it's time to try this in motion. Begin with a simple traverse, and lengthen your uphill leg. You should begin sliding sideways while continuing your forward motion, creating a diagonal sliding effect. We call this edgeless state "buttering", because the skis run across the snow like a knife spreading butter. Play with extending and bending your uphill leg, feeling the ski edges engage and release from the snow. Practice in both directions to ensure it feels natural and comfortable.


Now we can try turning with this. Remember, the ultimate goal is to reduce skidding at the end of the turn, but we're working with the start of the turn first. Begin with a traverse, and extend the uphill leg. Wait for the skis to begin buttering, then use rotary motion to turn both skis down toward the fall line. As you turn, centrifugal force will bring you inside of the skis, engaging the new inside edges naturally. The result should be a smoother, more natural turn, as you no longer need to do anything awkward to release the old edges.

After practicing these turns a few times, try to minimize the time between releasing edges and beginning the turn. Ultimately, the skis will begin turning as soon as the edges release from the snow. The end result will be a more stable turn, rounder with less falling down. Enjoy your butter with your snow!

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