Turning Basics – There are really only a few skills you need to make elegant parallel turns.

  1. Your skis should be 6-10 inches apart (this will vary some with different terrain).
  2. Parallel turns are completed by rolling your ski from edge to the other edge using your legs and hips. To visualize this, roll your foot from your big toe to your little toe (or vice versa) with more pressure on the balls of your feet. When you roll your shaped ski, it will naturally carve the snow and make the turn as you slide down the mountain. Apply slightly more pressure on your outside ski (60% outside, 40% inside). Your inside knee should bend more and move slightly forward of your outside knee as you go through the turn. As you transition from one turn to the next, there will be a moment or two when your skis are perfectly flat with the snow.
  3. If you want to make a shorter radius turn, actively steer with your lower body by pushing your heels out to one side while rolling your skis. To visualize this, sit in a chair with your feet off the ground and kick both of your heels to the right and then to your left, simulating a windshield wiper.
  4. You may notice that the inside ski is tougher to roll and push the heel out. This happens with everyone I know when they began. Later, I will provide some drills to strengthen this movement. For now, do several runs without your poles on easy terrain. When you feel your inside ski start to drag, give it a little help by pushing outward on your inner thigh with your hand.
  5. Again keep your poles out in front of you, arms slightly bent and your elbows 7-8 inches from your sides keeping your upper body steady as you move in and out of your turns. It is helpful to plant your inside pole and ski around it (don’t let your poles drag behind you).
  6. After you get comfortable with single turns begin to link your turns and play with their size.
  7. Again it is important to keep your shins against the front of the boot, your chest over your toes and move your body down the mountain as you roll your skies.
  8. To stop, tighten the radius of your turn (slightly more roll of the ski) putting more pressure on your edges and bringing your skis perpendicular to the downward slope of the hill by pushing out your heels in the same direction (as described above). This is a little tricky at first but will become easier after a few tries. However, it is essential to master this before you attempt challenging blues.