Techniques You Can Do On a Ski Trip

As there are different kinds of skiing, there are also a number of skiing techniques you can use.  It will be helpful to learn these basic skiing techniques so that you can be more confident when you hit the slopes.

When trying to learn the basic moves, you have to remind yourself that the best way to learn is to do it.  You cannot learn these techniques just by reading about it, although reading about it will help you in becoming more familiar with them.

Here are the following skiing techniques for you to learn:
–    Skiing Stem
–    Parallel Turn
–    Carve Turn
–    Telemark Turn
–    Pivot Turn
–    Jump Turn

Another thing to remember is that skiing takes practice, practice, practice!  So when you fall down, pick yourself up and try it again until you are able to perform the techniques with poise and confidence.  And as you do these, remember to have some fun.

Also, here are some basics when we talk about skiing or moving downhill:

When moving downhill, you can:
–    Carve: both ends of your skis travel using the same half-circles you made
–    Slip: here, you are traveling perpendicular to your skis, meaning the skis are going sideways as they move down the hill
–    Slide: this is just letting gravity and the direction you point the skis do the work for you.  You can slide straight down a hill or crosswise.
–    Skid: This is slipping and sliding working alternately as you negotiate a turn.  Usually, the tips are closer to each other than the tails of the skis.

Here are some things you have to remember:
–    Balance: You can maintain your balance depending on how you move your upper body (especially the head and arms), how you are able to extend and flex your spine, hips, knees and ankles, how you can easily alter the width of your stance, or how you can use different movements in order to shift the center of mass.  Also, you should know when to decrease or increase the tension in your muscles and when to tip or lean as you move.
–    Movements from the center of mass: Basically these are movements that enable you to control your speed, change your direction or do some carving, slipping or skidding.  You can do these by either angling your body or tipping you body in a certain way.  Other movements also involve rotating, which can help when you are making a turn.
–    Movements to control pressure:  This is knowing when to release or exert pressure at certain points on the skis.  Mastering this difficult art will help you easily control how you move across the snow.

Instructions: Skiing Stem

The stem technique is attributed to Mathias Zdarsky.  This Austrian skier developed a method on how a skier can turn.  Remember that when you go out and have snow skiing instructions, this is one method you should learn.

The term “stemming” means that the skier pushes the ski’s tail away from the center.  That way, the skis skid across the snow.  The result is a V shape, with the front tips coming together.  This way, the skier can change direction.

The stem comes in three variations – the Christie, the wedge (or the snowplough) and the wedge turn (which is also known as the stem turn or the snowplough turn).

Here’s how you can do a skiing stem when you want to go downhill from the right to the left and our skis are in a parallel position.  First, begin the turn. Lean forward so that you can distribute your weight equally on the two skis. Check that you do not apply too much pressure, as this will prevent us from moving down the snow.  Move your skis into a V-shaped position, and then you shift your weight and move it longitudinally (or, in the middle of your skis).  When you want to turn left, put more weight on the right ski, so that it falls down the slope and causes us to turn left.  To turn right, just do the opposite.

When doing a skiing stem, make sure that you avoid doing the common mistakes associated with this turn:
–    Keep your body from swinging:  When you do this, thinking that it will help you make a quicker turn, you cause your body to be out of position, which may make it hard for you to recover.
–    Avoid leaning back: When you lean back, the tendency would be for the tips of the skis to go up.  When this happens, you may not be able to control the tips.
–    Remember to bring your skis to a parallel position as you move.
–    Practice, practice, practice!  Do not give up or become impatient. Sometimes, as you try to change direction by shifting your weight from one ski to another, you will not immediately turn.  Patiently keep your weight on the right part of the ski and you will eventually make that turn.  Also, when you first try to do the stem turn do it on a flatter, gentler slope.  This will enable you to perfect the technique without you having to deal with extra speed caused by a steep slope.

Instructions: Parallel Turn

Parallel turns are not just an efficient way to ski, these are also very graceful.  It is associated with graceful yet precise, powerful yet relaxed skiing movements.

The parallel turn is attributed to Toni Seelos, an Australian who developed it during the 1930s.  The basic parallel turn has been gradually enriched and developed, so that you can see this as one of the techniques most used during skiing events.  This kind of turning is all about putting pressure on the outer edge of the ski by tipping the outside part of the ski at an angle.  The result is the ski’s outer edges are off the surface while the skis remain at a parallel position.  This works well for hard snow, but if the surface of the snow is softer, you may need to have an equal distribution of your weight to be able to turn.

One the skier is turning, he should keep his weight centered at the fore and aft.  The skier’s center of gravity is positioned over the toes.  The ankles, hips and knees should remain bent, while the arms are above the waist, positioned slightly apart. As the skier nears the completion of the turn, the weight is slowly shifter to the heels.

The stiffer the ski, there is more power that can be derived from the turn.  You are able to have greater acceleration as you approach the end of the turn.  When one is able to perfect the parallel turn, there should be no skidding.

“Okay, so how can I do a parallel turn?” you may ask.  The first thing you should do is to turn your torso to the direction of the fall line.  That is, if you want to turn to the right, what you have to do is to twist your hips to the right.  As you do this, you should be able to keep an almost even distribution of your body weight on not just one of the skis, but on both skis.  The skis should be parallel to each other and your weight at right angles vis-à-vis the slope.  Essentially, you don’t lift one ski and then the other ski.  You are more likely to fall doing it this way.   Also, you should refrain from “inclining” or having your legs and torso at the same angle, with the body leaning into the snow.

Parallel skiing enables you to harness the power of gravity.  You do not have to apply so much energy to turning.  If you do it right, all you need to control would be steering and stopping.

When doing parallel turns, be sure to avoid doing the following:
–    Having too much distance between the skis: If your skis are too far apart from each other, you may be able to do the parallel turn, but you may get other problems when it comes to control and balance.
–    Being impatient: When you lean and you do not immediately do a turn, the tendency is that stop leaning, or you do not lean hard enough on the outside ski.  As much as possible, maintain the right position especially at the end of the turn.  There is also a tendency to hesitate at the time when you are changing edges.  Do this decisively and cleanly.
–    Losing balance on the middle of the skis: Your body’s weight should stay at the center of the skis in order to make a proper parallel turn.

Instructions: Carve Turn

The act of carving is characterized by making one half circle after another as the skier is going downhill.  Thus, making a carve turn is forming a half circle on the snow.  This is done by shifting the skis to one side by the edges.

Mastering the carve turn is a very useful skill as this needs very little effort to be effective.  Also, you will have more balance and control when you are able to properly do a carve turn.

The best way to learn how to carve the turn is to use specially designed skis, which are shaped and curved to help ensure you have stability and greater control over the skis.

To carve a turn, the first thing you should do is to “feel” the carve.  To have a better feel of the carve, start by making quarter turns.  Being able to feel the carve is quite important.  It helps you know when you have to move your body vis-à-vis the skis, so that your weight is properly given to the edges.  Once you get the basic feel of that, increase the amount of carve until you are able to do proper carve turns linked together.  Make sure that the position of your feet, knees and hips are at the right distance – not too near and not too far.

Also, when you initiate the turn, be sure to avoid throwing your shoulders first and after to move your hips at a minimal amount.  To get the feel of how the hip moves while doing the carve turn, put your hands on your hips as you ski downhill.  That way, you know how your hips move.  The proper way to move the hips is on the upward position only.

Then, to have a better understanding of what you are able to do, check your tracks.  Look at the part of the snow where you passed by as you did your carve turns.  Check if any skidding occurred.  When there is evidence of skidding, look to find out at what point of the turn you started to skid.  This way, you are able to correct whatever mistakes you are doing.

Some tips:
–    Don’t rush, take your time.  Feel your body as it makes arcs in the snow.
–    Find a trail with a gentler slope when you first practice this.
–    Make full use of your hips by learning to move them properly

Instructions: Telemark Turn

The telemark can prove useful as a stop turn, especially if you are traveling in deep and heavy snow.

The telemark turn is sometimes compared to curtsies, only you do it in skis while you are going down a slope.  It is shifting from one ski to the other, advancing each even as both of your legs are bent and then straightened as you prepare for the next turn.

The telemark turn provides improved stability in the fore-and-aft sections, as well as increased adjustability of the longer stance.  Thus, it is particularly useful when you are skiing off-piste or in difficult conditions.

To do a telemark turn, be sure that you start with the following stance: an upright torso (do no hunch ove), your hips should be back vis-à-vis the rear ski, the front knee bent and the back knee tucked in and your hands are in view before you.  Equally distribute you weight to the front and the back of the ski.  You can do this by making sure your ankles are relaxed so that it can get the ball of your foot on the ski.

To initiate the turn, you first edge the outside ski using a flat hill.  This is done together with your lifting your inside ski’s heel so that the inside ski is shifted to the back.  The outside ski then becomes your downhill ski as you complete the turn.  As you do the turn, you will need to shift your weight from the outside ski to the inside ski.  The ratio of weight distribution really depends on the quality of snow you are skiing on.  The ratio of distribution can be from 50/50 up to 80/20.

Admittedly, the telemark turn is not as commonly used in the world of skiing.  However, the ability to do a telemark turn is one proof that a skier is an expert, especially when one is able to
do this while speeding down a particularly steep slope.

To use the telemark turn as a stop turn, first you ski down the slope in an oblique position, with your weight equally distributed on your two skis.  Then, flex one knee forward and transfer you weight to the ski of the knee being flexed.  Then the other ski is moved across the snow, shifting your weight to this ski and making it come ahead.  At this point, your body should be straightened, although its angle is leaning a bit inwards. The last step would be to put the two skis in parallel.

Instructions: Pivot Turn

Pivot turns are, as the name suggests, doing a pivot, or turning, while in place.  You have some options on how to do this – you can use the tip pivot or the tail pivot and you can also decide if you want a tight pivot turn or a wide one.  The tip pivot is when you move the tails while the tips are kept in place, while in the tail pivot, the tails are the ones kept in place.

You can do this by first extending your legs, then you should unweight and flatten your skis.  This would cause your skis to pivot across the fall line.  As you do this, you should keep your torso at a position which faces down the fall line.  Meanwhile, your legs, as well as your skis, should pivot under your body.  What happens when you do this?  There is a dynamic tension that will be created by your legs and your upper body.  The abdomen and back muscles then help in enabling you legs to pivot, even as the skis are flattened.

This is comparable to the “follow-through” that happens in golf.  When the spine is relaxed, it is able to curve in the proper way, which in turn enables the legs to counter-rotate.

Here are some reminders:

–    To pivot on the line, be sure to relax and not to rush it.  Keep your thighs open, as this will help you turn both the outer and inner legs.  Allow the feet and the legs to unwind in such a way that the skis face the direction of the fall-line, even when you pivot your legs, negotiating one turn after the other.
–    You can also use poles to help you do a pivot turn.  To maintain support of the lower ski, you can use the pole to remove your body’s weight off of the ski.  Be sure to simultaneously turn your legs and skis and push down on the pole.

Instructions: Jump Turn

Now, if you are off to a good start in learning skiing and you feel more confident in your skiing abilities, you can try to add more challenging movements to your skiing repertoire.  You can think about learning to do ski jumps.

You have to remember that skiing is not just about moving across a plain and boring trail. You may have to deal with small obstacles along the way, such as a fallen tree trunk, a ditch or a stream.  This is where you can use jump turns.

You can do the jump turn either with one or both of your ski poles.  What you need to do is to first look for the spot from where you will make your jump.  Then, as you prepare to jump, get into a squatting position.  Shift your weight from the downhill ski to the uphill ski.  Then, raise your knee.  The result will be that your body will, by nature, force your torso to face downhill.

If you are jumping using only one pole, use the one on your downhill side. Make sure that the ski pole is stuck far enough or else you will fall flat on your backside.  The ski pole will function as your pivot point.  As you are making your jump, make sure that the skis are parallel.  Also, when you make your landing, try to do it as gently as you can.

When you want to do the jump using both your ski poles, do the same but this time, you should stick both of these poles far enough before you.  Using both ski poles will help you have an easier jump, as you have both hands to support you are you turn around these two poles.

There is also another jump turn called the gelandesprung.  It is used when you want to be a ski runner.  It is made especially as one runs in great speed.  It can be done either with or without ski poles.  When you are having a speedy run, the ski poles themselves won’t be necessary.  But they will prove helpful in providing you with that extra push for your jump.  It will also help you make a steady landing.  When you make a jump, do the Telemark take-off, twisting your ankles so that both skis swing around.

A few reminders:
•    Jump turns are to be done by more experienced skiers.  So, if you are not that confident with your skiing skills, keep jump turns to a minimum.
•    Make sure you don’t lean into the hill.  This should be a last resort.

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