Skiing for Intermediates: Short Turns and Dynamic Turns
In our previous feature for beginners, we covered how to move from snow plough turns to parallel turns - building up slowly by letting the uphill ski slide naturally into position beside the downhill ski through the turn until, eventually, you can manoeuvre both skis in parallel at once.
While this technique is fine for wide and shallow blue and red runs, on steeper and more challenging terrain you'll need to adapt your turns to suit the conditions. The short and dynamic turn are therefore two weapons you'll want in your armoury.
Short turns are ideal for controlling your speed on a straight trajectory, where letting the skis run would cause you to pick up too much velocity. By turning rhythmically and swiftly from side to side, the constant friction of the edges digging into the snow helps to control momentum - even when pointing straight downhill.
It's therefore probably best not to think of this technique as a 'turn' in the sense of a snow plough turn, as your torso, head and arms will remain facing straight on, while your legs do all the work.
Ideally, you don't want any dead spots where you are sliding straight on between turns - you either want your skis to be constantly turning left and right, with a flow and rhythm to your skiing.
To practice keeping your upper body calm while your legs are turning beneath you, take one ski pole in each hand halfway down the shaft and see if you can keep the handles touching in a V-shape out in front of you as you ski downhill. This will feel strange at first, but it's a great way of training your body not to twist.
The concept of dynamic turning is all about flexibility - adapting each turn to the terrain in front of you and the speed you are moving.
On faster turns, you want to really lean into the turn with your legs and dig your edges into the snow. Your upper body, although tilted over, should not be angled as sharply as your legs - enabling you to maintain control and balance. The more quickly you are travelling the more you can, and will want, to lean into the turn, as your momentum and the forces throwing you to the outside of the corner will keep you upright.
As always when you are turning, you should keep your arms out in front of you and to the side and focus your eyes in the direction of travel - don't look down at your feet. Also, maintain a flex in your knees, but don't put your weight too far back - even though it can be tempting to squat over the tails of the skis. A good solid pole plant with your inside pole tip can help add rhythm and balance to your turns.
With all our instructional guides, they should be used as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, seeking the help of an instructor in-resort.
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