TIPS UP COLUMN: The quest for perfection

This week’s column is for those of us that are searching for the perfect turn.

This week’s column is for those of us that are searching for the perfect turn.

When we are skiing why do we turn? We turn to avoid obstacles, to get where we are going, and to control our speed, but we also turn just because it is really fun. The more skilled we become at turning the more fun we will have in the variety of terrain and conditions that we find ourselves in.

There are three phases of the alpine skiing turn: phase one is the release; phase two is the edging; and phase three is the loading phase.

At phase one we are releasing the energy that was built up from loading and bending the skis while carving through the turn. We are planting our pole at this stage and steering the skis across the fall line then rolling them onto the new edges.

At phase two we are edging first with ankles, then knees as we increase the edge angle, and then we engage our hips bringing our skis fully onto edge.

At phase three we are edging with both skis and the pressure is building up to the point of exploding and we are physically working hard to resist the centrifugal forces. The key here is to transfer the release of this force into usable energy as we enter phase 1 again.

Whether you are a fair weather powder snob, a free ride rock star, an elite ski racing trustafarian, or just the average Whitewater skier looking to get more out of the day, you will ski better and more efficiently by improving your ability to really crank a turn.

There are many examples that I can give that will demonstrate the physics in action.

When we are skiing that perfect powder line and we get into a rhythm and it literally becomes effortless. When we are skiing through the bumps and we hit the features perfectly so that we are bouncing down the hill. When we are turning slalom turns down the fresh corduroy and we get into a groove where we feel like we are taking the energy from one turn and firing up a perpetual motion machine and away we go.

The magic that makes this beautiful rhythm happen is this release of energy and the effective transfer of this energy into the next turn.

The drill that I will leave you with is this: Start on a moderate slope with lots of room and start your turn and do not stop turning until your skis are going fully across the hill or even starting back up the slope and repeat with the second turn. This is to remind you to finish your turns. After this continue down the hill making nice C shaped turns and adding edge angle with your knees at the end of your turns just before the release. This will allow you to fully capture this stored energy that you have created. If you decrease your edge angle at the end of the turn you are letting this energy escape. That energy is the magic that will make your day and will bring you that much closer on your search for the perfect turn.

Tune in next week and we will take you to the next level!


Dylan Henderson is the head coach of the Whitewater Ski Team


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