Certain turns are for certain conditions. The long carved turns using up the whole of a wide smooth piste are for fast skiing, where braking is not a necessity. These turns are the basis for giant slalom and downhill technique.On steep or busy slopes, however, or in the bumps, or while learning to ski in the powder, you will need to brake your speed more, so here is the basic short turn that will keep you going nicely on these surfaces in perfect control.Go to a gentle blue piste to start with in order to concentrate on these exercises. Before you start to do anything imagine your upper body position as you drive a car.
Your head is facing the front. Your arms are holding the steering wheel. They are held out, slightly bent at the elbow, in front of you.
The rest of your upper body is held facing the front by the shape of the seat. This all pre-supposes that you are not trying to tune the radio or wind down the passenger window.Stand on a flat bit of your chosen slope and assume the driving position. Face straight down the hill.
Hold your arms out at chest height as though gripping the steering wheel of your sit-up-and-beg roadster. By now quite a few passers-by will have stopped to look at you.The poles are held quite firmly, hanging down with the points just off the snow. This is the position in which your upper body must remain the whole time that you are moving and turning down the piste (not for ever but just for this exercise!). Your skis will be going from side to side underneath you like windscreen wipers.
Get going straight down a minimal slope jumping the skis from side to side across the fall line underneath you. This is where all that fitness training is going to come in useful.You are travelling quite slowly, no more than five miles an hour, your body is facing the front, and your arms are held out as though gripping the steering wheel. You will find that the only way to get the skis round each time is to go down slowly, and then jump them up and across the fall line, ie a down slow and up quick unweighting. As you go down put the pole in firmly, jump up and around it, and immediately go down to put the other pole in for the next turn.
The object of this exercise is to get a rhythm going with one turn after another, and to give you a feeling of the skis going underneath you whilst your upper body stays rigidly facing the front. You will probably be wishing by now that you had never bought this book.Have a rest after a few turns, and then try again.
It will seem pretty rough to start with, especially trying to keep the skis parallel and bringing them round tidily, but worry not. While you are having a rest, try this sequence a few times standing still: down, right pole in, up . .down, left pole in, up .
and so on.The next time you go increase the speed a bit, remembering that the faster you go the less effort is needed to unweight the skis. Continue to do one turn after the other with no lapse in between.
Hum a catchy little tune to yourself and keep in time with its beat; you should be doing about one turn a second.You can now read Part 2 of a 'Basic Short Turn'..Simon Dewhurst has taught downhill skiing in North America, Scandinavia and the European Alps for 35 years. He currently runs a ski chalet agency in the French Alps.
His book "Secrets of Better Skiing" can be found at http://www.ski-jungle.com If you have any comments about the above article, he will be happy to answer them.
By: Simon Dewhurst