Making “a turn for the worse?”

Feb. 11, 2019

Making “a turn for the worse?”

Does your first run for the day feel wobbly, like your first run for the season, or worse like your first run ever? I heard a couple guys on the chair say that recently and it got me thinking about my own turns and how I could make a “turn for the better” even on my first run.
For the first half of my life I skied in the northeast where the surface was often……….more firm. In those days and on those conditions we skied all-in on our downhill foot. If there was a way to magically remove my uphill ski on every turn I would still be a very happy skier. But there is such a thing as “getting off on the wrong foot”.
Now I know I want to get off on the right foot, which could be the left foot, just not the foot I’ve always started with. We all want to put our”best foot forward”, right? Got it now? I’ve learned that while I want to ski simultaneously with both feet, I do that better if I start with my uphill ski. Crazy I know, but it’s true.
I have three ways to think about making any of this happen. One works best for me, but you never know which might work best for you.

1) If I start my turn thinking about tipping my uphill ski uphill and putting my pinky toe- the outside-uphill edge of the uphill ski, into the snow.
2) If while tipping that uphill ski uphill, I picture pulling that knee uphill
3) …and this one you can practice anytime you want..I think about the motion I would make to get my uphill hip onto an imaginary bar stool.

All three of these movements get me to engage that uphill ski and with even a little bit of pressure/or weight, this helps make me tip and engage that downhill ski as well. I need to take care that I’m not just leaning my whole body uphill. If I did that everything would slip away like sliding in to home plate, and in this case that wouldn’t be “safe.” All this uphill action happens from the hips down, or more accurately, from my feet up to my hips. My upper body still needs be focused on charging down the hill.
When I am successful in engaging both skis in the start of my turn I edge my ski better and am in a better position to steer both skis. I don’t get into that awkward situation in cut-up snow where one ski feels like it wants to take its own path away from the other, ”the road less traveled.” Skiing on both skis, (what a concept), is better for my accuracy, it makes for better balance, is safer and easier. Who knew?
Sometimes that first run feels like it’s an “uphill battle” but when you get it right, “it’s all downhill from here.” If someone watches my run and says, “Man, she’s going downhill fast”, I’ll take it as a compliment. We all want to be “headed in the right direction” and after all, in life and skiing…”It is a slippery slope!”


Author: Janet Lawrence, of the Vail Ski and Snowboard School. Janet grew up skiing in Upstate New York and came to Vail in 1997. She has been working in the Vail Ski and Snowboard School since, first as an instructor then a Trainer and a  Supervisor in the Golden Peak Children’s School. In the off- season she sails and bikes and works with children at an outdoor day camp