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Thread: Question about Parallel Turn

  1. #1

    Question about Parallel Turn


    I have recently mastered Parallel Turn (hoping to tackle carving next) after attending lesson from an instructor. I was taught to initiate the turn by tipping and leaning forward (which produce a up motion of the body) on the skis. As this point, both my skis will be flat and I am facing the fall line and I have weighted off my downhill ski. Next, I steered the tip of both skis in the direction of my turn (hence flick the tails of the skis in the opposite direction). At this point, I would have successfully transfer my weight to the new downhill ski.

    However, I have been looking for ski instruction on the web to improve my skill but found vastly different methods of parallel turn:
    1. Some experts taught to initiate the turn by slightly lifting the uphill skis, finish the turn and put down the 'old uphill" ski (which is now the new downhill ski) and then transfer the weight to this new downhill ski.
    2. Another approach said to initiate the turn by transferring the weight to the uphill ski before the turn, lift up the downhill ski, complete the turn and put down the 'old downhill' ski (which is now the new uphill ski).

    It seems to me that these are 3 different methods. I am confused if my approach is in fact correct and if the other 2 methods are also correct. If so, what is the pros and cons for adopting each methods for parallel turn. Thanks and look forward to hearing to you experts.

  2. #2
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Leech, below I've restated what I think you said about how your instructor taught you to make these parallel turns. Have I understood you correctly? If so, I have offered some comments about this way to turn.

    1. First, at the end of the old turn, when your skis are pointing across the hill, you un-tip both skis from their old edges to make them flat. This is a great way to start a parallel turn.

    2. You stand up tall and lean forward over the fronts of your skis. I assume you are facing the way your skis are pointing, towards the side of the hill. This is a good way to get gravity to help you turn once your edges are flat. Positioning your body's weight over the fronts of your skis will do this. It's very important, however, for you to "lean" your body over the fronts of your skis by bending forward at your ANKLES, not bending forward at your waist. It doesn't take too much forward bending of your ankles to get the skis to turn towards the fall line.

    3. Your skis will continue to move forward, but they will gently turn on their own to point downhill because they are now flat and their tips are loaded with your weight. Yes, this works and is a great way to learn to make gentle turns with skis parallel.

    4. When your skis begin to point downhill, you turn them both to point in the new turn's direction, flicking the tails out in the opposite direction. Whoops. I think you misunderstood something your instructor told you here. You should NOT be flicking the tails out in the opposite direction. Instead:
    --S-l-o-w-l-y and gently turn your toes to point your ski tips in the direction of your new turn.
    --At the same time, continue tipping the skis in the new direction.
    --They will turn.
    --Do this slowly; there's no need to rush. Rushing the skis around at this point by flicking those tails out will become a very bad habit that will keep you from progressing. Avoid rushing, and avoid flicking the ski tails in any direction.

    5. You find that your weight is now on the downhill ski, the skis end up on their new edges, and you finish the turn. I assume your whole body is now facing the trees on the other side of the hill, still facing the direction the skis are pointing. Yes, this is a fine way to finish your first parallel turns.

    6. I also assume you "complete" your turns for speed control. This means you continue turning them in the old direction to make the turn have a "C" shape; this slows you down to a reasonable speed. Yes, do this!

    Practice these turns to embed the movements in muscle memory.
    If this all makes sense to you, I'd suggest that you practice these turns for a while before moving on to carving. Pay close attention to doing the things below, as they address common issues skiers may develop.

    ---Bend forward at the ankles as you flatten the skis, not at the waist or in your spine. Just the ankles. This will help keep you from getting "aft."
    ---Allow your skis to point down the fall line for a bit. Enjoy the speed you'll gain. When your skis turn across the hill afterwards, you will lose the speed. This rhythm, slow-fast-slow-fast-slow, is intoxicating. Embrace it.
    ---Point your toes (and thus the ski tips) slowly in the new direction instead of quickly flicking the ski tails out in the opposite direction.
    No tail flicking!
    No rushing the skis around!
    Such actions will make your skis lose their grip when it gets steep and icy.
    This rushing and flicking also removes the straight-down-the-hill part of the turn.
    This rushing and flicking makes your turn be primarily a braking action.
    Once this bad habit gets formed, it is hard to get rid of.
    Many skiers ski this way; don't let this be you.

    ---Continue tipping the skis as they point down the hill. Do this tipping s-l-o-w-l-y; no rushing.
    ---Complete your turns so they have a "C" shape. Stop and look at your tracks to make sure you are doing this.
    ---As the skis come around, set yourself up for the new turn by flattening the skis s-l-o-w-l-y. No rushing!

    Where to practice?
    ---Build your ability to let the skis spend time pointing down the fall line on easy slopes so you won't be tempted to rush the skis around. Your goal is round turns with no rushed parts.
    ---Work your way up to more challenging slopes slowly, always encouraging yourself to allow your skis to turn without any rushed part. Allow them to spend time speeding down the fall line as part of every turn, before they come around and slow you down.
    ----This lingering in the fall line is very important if you ever want to carve; carving is fast. You need to learn to embrace speed while the skis are pointing downhill and know how to handle it before learning to go even faster with carving.

    I'll wait for your response before saying anything about the other two things you asked about.
    Last edited by LiquidFeet; July 25th, 2014 at 07:06 AM. Reason: --

  3. #3
    Hi LiquidFeet, thank you for your reply. Your understanding is spot on. And thanks for your tip about not flicking the tail. Actually, I am not sure if I am pointing my toes or flicking the tail (because the tail goes in the opposite direction naturally when I point the toes) Never the less, I agree that I should not flick the tail and I will take note of it the next time I go practise.

    Some other comments about the other 2 things:
    1. This may come from the reason that some instructors suggest their student to turn with 1 leg to strengthen their turning skill.
    2. This is essentially an extension from the snowplough turn. I recognise that this will work too but I am wondering which is the best way to turn. Is what I am taught better?

  4. #4
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Leech, there is a better way of describing turns that will make it easier for us to communicate. Instead of using "uphill" and "downhill" ski, we need to switch to "inside" and "outside" ski. In a "C" shaped turn the outside ski carries most of your weight through most of the turn, while the inside ski quietly does some important work that helps make the turn happen. "Uphill" and "downhill" are not as useful because each ski switches from uphill to downhill or vice versa within the turn.

    When we are talking about more than one turn linked to another, we'll have to identify "new inside ski" and "new outside ski" sometimes just to keep things straight. Here's a diagram from You'll find lots of good information at that website.

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    So, the two other ways to learn to make parallel turns that you have read about are:

    1. Lift the new outside ski and start the new turn on the new inside ski, move through the fall line on that inside ski, and only then set down the outside ski. This is a very difficult drill; it is NOT a way to learn to make parallel turns. Save it for another year.

    2. Lift the new inside ski and start the new turn on the new outside ski, move through the fall line on that outside ski, and only then set down the inside ski. This is a useful drill for correcting several issues that turn up in people's skiing once they know how to make parallel turns. Sometimes instructors will use it for teaching the first parallel turns as well. This drill is best done under instruction so you don't get things mixed up. But if you are having difficulty keeping your skis parallel at the start of your turns that you start the original way, you could try this.

    As a rule in skiing, no particular way to learn any skiing skill is better for all people than any other way. "Whatever works" is the best way for you.

    What you might want to keep in mind is that it takes time practicing your skiing to become good at it. One lesson does not do the trick, and most of the learning from a lesson happens afterwards IF the learner practices what was taught. People who learn as adults need to go back and take more lessons from time to time if they really want to get good at skiing.

    Best of luck in your learning!

  5. #5
    Liquidfeet, your explanation is very clear and easy to understand. I totally agree with you that whatever works is the best way. The only reason I ask is to find out if there is only 1 or more correct ways to parallel turn. From your replies, I gather that there are more than 1 and as long as it works for me, it does not matter which is the way. Thank you once again for your clear and concise explanation. You have cleared my doubts.

  6. #6
    Home Sweet Home Skier Village Coach mastersracer's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Breckenridge, Colorado, United States
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    Hi Leech,

    There are almost always multiple ways to accomplish things when skiing. They all build off the essentials of edging, balance, pressure and rotary movements. The more ways you can initiate a turn gives you more options to addresses different conditions while you ski.



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