The main obstacle to practicing parallel turns is fear of gravity. When you’re at the top of a snowy hill with only two long sticks under your feet, you start shivering and it has nothing to do with the weather. Once panic sets in, you begin to steer side-to-side, which results in a stop-go trek downhill. By clinging to the end of each turn, you suddenly accelerate as you come out of the maneuver. That pop in speed only makes things worse. Use various techniques, such as christie turns, garlands and hockey stops, to transform a parallel turn into a graceful movement.
Overcoming Fear of Gravity
To get past the anxiety of falling down, practice side slipping in which you position your skis across the fall line and edge them into the slope. Rotate your trunk so it faces the bottom of the hill. Lift your body and simultaneously flatten your skis and press into the balls of your feet. Keep your knees and ankles flexed. Turn your skis so they point down the fall line. Quickly roll them left or right to cross the fall line and stop. To link your turns, roll your skis from one set of edges to the opposite set of edges.
Practice Hockey Stops
Learn to do a hockey stop, or an exaggerated version of a parallel turn, that involves a great deal of skid. It’s a way of slamming the brakes on an out-of-control downhill trek. You can soften the movements of a hockey stop gradually until you achieve a graceful parallel turn. By practicing hockey stops, you can gain more control and mastery over parallel turns. Assume a wide stance and point your skis down the fall line. Push off to accelerate. Once you pick up speed, flex your ankles and knees and steer the skis across the fall line. Lift your weight off the skis and quickly turn your skis sideways by rotating your legs and feet. The quicker you turn your feet, the more abrupt the stop.
Performing Intermediate Steps
Practice turns progressing beyond the beginner’s snow wedge and which use most of the movements of a parallel turn. For example, perform christie turns that combine a parallel turn with a stem turn. Begin skiing downhill in the parallel position. As you turn, maneuver your upper ski into an arrowhead position, bringing the tips of your skis together. From the snow plow position, shift your weight to the inside edge of the outer ski. Make the turn downhill on that ski. As you complete the turn, quickly slide the other ski so you’re again in parallel position.
Advancing Gradually Downhill
By executing a series of parallel stop-turns, you can slowly narrow the angle of the traverse line to the fall line. Start skiing on a shallow traverse and turn your tips uphill to stop. Shift your weight to the outer ski and steer away from the fall line. Steer the inside ski so you achieve a parallel position. On each success stop-turn, move a little more forward on the fall line. Lessen the angle of the traverse until there is no traverse left to ski. You can also use garlands in which you practice a series of parallel turns that move in only one direction down the hill.
- Downhill Skiing for Fun!; Jessica Deutsch
- Free-Heel Skiing, 3rd Edition: Telemark and Parallel Techniques for All Conditions; Paul Parker
- Total Skiing; Chris Fellows
- Gliding for Gold: The Physics of Winter Sports; Mark Denny
- Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness; Steve Hindman
- Skiing, Jan. 1993: Turn Your Feet, Not Your Body
- Mechanics of Sport: Parallel Turns
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.