Skiing is a beautiful sport to watch. Smooth, elegant turns comprise much of a skier’s journey down the mountain, making a graceful and quick descent. All skiers, regardless of ability, can benefit from working on their turns. In this feature, we’re going to discuss the most popular and essential turns skiers can make: the Snowplough turn, the parallel turn, and the carve turn. First-time skiers will be most familiar with the Snowplough, which—despite its rudimentary appearance—can be made smooth and graceful with just a bit of confidence. See below for our descriptions and directions.
The Snowplough—The Snowplough, also known as the wedge turn or the pizza slice, is a beginner turning technique. To make this turn, the front ski tips are close together, and the tails are wide apart. The knees roll inwards slightly, creating a triangle. Speed is reduced by applying pressure against the snow with the inside edges of the skis. To turn, weight is shifted from the downhill (outside of the turn) ski to the uphill (inside of the turn) ski. Slight pressure is enough to make the skis change direction, and the stability afforded by the triangle shape creates maximum control.
Parallel Turn—The parallel turn is a method of turning in which the skis roll to one edge, allowing the edge to travel in an arc. This is the most fluid turning method, as it requires very little movement to form a graceful curve. Parallel turns occur when the skier is traveling downhill with both tips pointed in the same direction. Parallel turns generate less friction than others and are perfect for maintaining speed and minimizing effort. This style is often taught to novice skiers as a way to introduce the idea of weighting and unweighting skis, which is useful in a variety of advanced and expert techniques.
Carved Turn—Similar to parallel turns, a carved turn requires slightly more effort on the part of the skier. In this turn, the ski shifts to one side or the other, using the edge to carve into the snow. This turn occurs when both skis are parallel and pointed downhill. The skier places pressure on the uphill ski, rolling slightly onto the edges of both skis. This pressure is the only action necessary to create the turn, as the ski will naturally follow the arc shape to produce a turning motion. This type of turn is very efficient, allowing skiers to maintain speed without sacrificing stability.