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 Conventional Skiing Wisdoms (CSW's) 

by Bill Jones, Ski Instructor
Certified Professional Ski Instructor (Registration #110478), Level III
private ski lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, other areas

 CSW #3: "To turn, shift your weight."

Indeed, a shift of weight will cause a turn. But...

Imagine a little stick figure made of heavy rods outlining a human anatomy and coming straight down a gentle slope in a snowplow--with the ski tips close and the tails apart. The rods are stuck together with angles just where a skier has joints. Ideally, the figure would be totally symmetrical, with all its angles the same. The weight of the figure would therefore be even on the two skis. Now, without changing any of the angles of the heavy rods and keeping the skis in a snowplow, move the figure through a turn on the slope. Will the weight on the two skis stay the same? No, more will move to the ski on the downhill side--because of tipping and also because of the center-fleeing force of any turn. There was no need for the stick figure to shift its weight to cause this; it happened automatically because of the geometry of the tilting. The turn did not occur because of the weight shift, the weight shift was the result of the turn. Instead, you supplied the turning force when you moved the figure with its skis. The same can happen if we turn our skis while actually skiing: the weight shifts itself. Too often, however, some resist this natural shifting of the weight, leaning uphill due to our fear of the downhill side, and then weight must be put where it would have otherwise gone.

A problem is that when a skier is told to shift weight to the new outside ski, the skier in emphasizing that ski in the turn extends the hip on that side to do so, creating upper- or whole-body rotation and that ski turns more than the ski on the inside of the turn. If the weight is shifted before the skis are in the fall line, one is moving mass uphill when what should be happening in skiing is moving mass downhill. Sometimes with such a weight shift and outside ski dominance the skis end up in a wedge position, even with the skis crossing. Disaster can result. All this is contrary to the better objective of having the new inside ski move into the turn early, which is done by turning the legs instead of extending the hip.

Nevertheless, if a skier is having difficulty making the skis turn, a weight shift can get that started, but with the understanding it is a temporary solution to give the skier some way to manage that has to be adjusted later, just as is done by teaching the beginning skier to snowplow for speed management while realizing the beginner must soon replace that movement for ways of getting the skis parallel.

In a higher-speed turn an additional mechanic occurs in that as the skis turn to a new direction and become deflected against the snow, a compression force occurs on the body from the outward force of turning (called centripetal force). This causes more pressure to go to the outside of the turn and therefore to the outside ski, again without us doing anything within our bodies to shift the weight. But if we wish we can put more weight on the outside by bending the outside leg or arcing a back and thereby cause the turn to be different. Or, we can take weight off either ski by doing the opposite. If, however, we had already caused the turn by shifting our weight, we would have limited our available options to adjust the turn while in it.

Today the Professional Ski Instructors of America Alpine Technical Manual  encourages shifting weight to the outside ski as a wedge christie turn begins and advocates at the same time steering the inside ski to a match before the fall line (2014, page 115). This is sound practice so long as the skier does not shift the weight by thrusting the new outside hip forward.

main CSW contents
prior CSW #2: "Sit back when skiing powder".
next CSW  #4: "Lean".

"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web manual:  Skiing Web Manual Contents   Why Read This Skiing Web Manual That First Skiing Lesson  A Little Skiing History  Motion in Skiing  CONVENTIONAL SKIING WISDOMS  Skier Excuses   Fear in Skiing  Conditioning for Skiing   Equipment and Technique  Skiing Equipment  How Skis Work   How to Develop Balance on Skis A Skiing Turn Simplified The Final Skiing Skill: pressure management  Tactics for Terrains and Snow Textures and Racing  Skiing Tips and Tales--a potpourri    Exercises for Developing Skiing Skills  Children and Skiing Age and Skiing  Gender & Skiing  Culture & Skiing  Skiing Ethics and Survival  Slope Safety   Skiing Environment  Glossary  Acknowledgements SkiMyBest Website Contents  
This "CSW #3: 'To Turn...'" page last modified 01/20/2018 06:22:25 PM. Did you come here from a link on another website? For latest version of this page, copy to your browser: http://www.SkiMyBest.com/skiCSW03.htm Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. William R Jones..