Parallel skiing! Finally no more snow plow

Parallel skiing
Parallel Skiing. Skier: Margot

The goal of many beginner skiers is parallel skiing.  The moment you reach this point is when the ‘real’ skiing begins.

The point in time when most guests decide to ski without the guidance of an instructor is when they have began to ski parallel.  However, more often than not, they return to the ski school nervous after developing some technical errors.  This is mostly due to having too little skiing experience and having only learnt a small portion of the more complex ski technique.  A parallel turn cannot be used in every situation and therefore will not always meet the demands of the piste.  After parallel turns, there are many more technical progressions (carving, moguls, powder, terrain parks, etc.) for you to learn from a skilled instructor.

Due to the further development of skis, as well as the continuous improvements of slopes (grooming, snowmaking, etc.) and last but not least ski technique, skiing is now quicker to learn than earlier.

Goal: To Ski Parallel

The goal is simultaneous edge change, turning and steering of the skis; but let’s go back a step.

Parallel skiing is an economic and energy-saving style of skiing.  The skis are parallel to one another and ideally hip-width apart.  In order to control your speed you need to steer the skis until the end of the turn, meaning the ski tips turn out of the fall line (traverse).  This will allow you to use the terrain to control your speed.

The initial use of a snowplough during the turn at this skill level serves as a balance aid.  Practice, along with well-coordinated movement, will soon make the snowplough obsolete.

Movement Sequence of the Parallel Turn.

Make your turns as usual in a snowplough.  As you feel safer, start the turn with a forward/upward movement in the direction of the turn.  This will ‘release’ the skis allowing them to flatten and slide into the fall line.  The edge change will occur during this part of the turn (pole plant).  As the turn progresses you need to build up pressure on the downhill (outside) ski in order to steer out the turn.  During the next phase you will develop the Alpine Basic Position to control your speed.

Exercises for Parallel Turns:

Exercises will help you to compartmentalize the parallel skiing turn and learn/practice it step by step.

  • Revise: Snowplough turns
  • Stationary exercises: here you can practed the release of a turn whilst stationary. Stand perpendicular to the fall line; release the edges whilst standing on the future downhill (outside) ski.  This will cause the skis to begin to slide into the fall line.
  • Single turn: Ski just one turn. Practice both sides.
  • Linked turns
  • Vary terrain, rhythm, speed and radius

Most common mistakes

  • The radius of the turn is often too short resulting in problems with balance
  • Sitting back: your center of mass is too far back
  • Upper body rotation: Your upper body rotates too much during the turn.

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