Kepping body inside the turn crucial when banking |

Kepping body inside the turn crucial when banking

A recent article I wrote for Ski Times has made me acutely conscious of something that I had pretty much taken as a matter of course when it comes to ski turns. My article was about keeping the body inside the turn rather than outside or banking uphill.

This week I was skiing at Heavenly and Mount Rose and while riding the chairs I noticed how few advanced skiers were keeping their center of mass inside the turn. These were good skiers, whose only other major error was locking their skis together tightly.

Of course, it’s long been evident that a better ski platform is skis about hip width apart, perhaps a bit more with shaped skis. Yes, locking them together looks classy, but the platform is unstable and the ski bindings often get tangled. Lock ’em together in a Professional Ski Instructors of American exam and you fail instantly.

Back to the body position in a turn. Yes, there is nothing terribly wrong with leaning uphill in a turn. Obviously, very good skiers do it. But they would be much better skiers if they kept that center of mass – located just about where the navel is – pointed straight down the fall line, letting the skis swing back and forth beneath the body.

What’s wrong with banking? First, most of your weight is on the uphill ski; the downhill leg is locked and can’t do much. Second, with the weight on the uphill ski, it is more difficult to turn that ski in the direction of the next turn. Third, with the center of mass outside the turn, that center – your body – has to travel much farther in each turn.

And with the weight on the uphill ski, it is impossible to make an early weight transfer for the next turn.

There’s several easy exercises that will get the body inside the turn. One is to hold the poles horizontal with the surface of the slope, then put a snowball on the poles which are held slightly apart. On a moderate blue run without bumps, start skiing down the hill, trying to keep the poles level across the slope and the snowball motionless. Once you can do that, you’ll find that you are skiing with the center of mass inside the turn.

Another simple exercise: hold your poles vertical about 2 feet apart. Line up something like a big tree or rock between the poles and ski toward that tree or rock, keeping the object centered between the poles. Same result.

Once you get into the habit of skiing inside the turn you’ll find your skiing is smoother and faster but still under control. If you find the speed a little too much, just drive the downhill knee up against the uphill one. That sets the edges and will carve and cut the speed.

Yeah, I said lots of good skiers bank. And it’s no big deal. If you’re a banker and are happy with it, forget everything I’ve just said. The point of skiing is to have fun, not to be a perfectionist to some theory.


Get the snowshoes out for the Feb. 14 Winter Trails 1999 event, hosted locally by Camp Richardson Resort on State Route 89. This is a snowshoe festival that is sponsored by the American Hiking Society and the Sierra Club. It goes on all day and there will be plenty of demo opportunities. Plus lots of giveaways. It’s a family event so take the kids.

Saturday is Take Your Daughter to the Slopes Day at almost all Tahoe resorts. Daughters will ski free at most areas. Call your favorite for details.

Sugar Bowl is hosting a USASA Snowboard event Saturday and Sunday, slopestyle an slalom. Open to anyone willing to ride. Call (530) 426-9000.

At Kirkwood, home of that lovely back bowl, you can join the Ultimate Groove Women’s telemark clinic is you’re a telly and a woman. Will include yoga and stretching exercises. If you’re not a woman, on Sunday there will be a coed telemark clinic. Details, (209) 258-6000.

OK, don’t yell to me about the poor dogs, but if you’re interested in skijoring head for Diamond Peak Feb. 12 and 21. You can teach your dog how to pull you, a cross country skier, on a 7- to 12-foot bungee cord. Cost is $15 for residents, $18.75 for outsiders. Call (775) 832-1310 for details. Also, the twilight ticket offers busy workers a chance to ski from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. for $15.

Mount Rose, as always, comes though with a nifty deal for Monday (school’s out!) with $10 teen lift tickets (13-19) and $1 youth tix (12 and under).

Photographer Curtis Allen has come up with a novel video program, Expert on Your Side. What the system does is put the student side by side with the expert. Freeze frame allows analysis of the differences between the two skiers. It’s all put on tape so the student can look over the sequences time after time.

Curtis can be reached at (775) 782-3909 or via email at Or check his site,

The Santa Cruz snowboard team will be rocking at Sugar Bowl Feb. 13 at the terrain park, offering tips on jumps and tricks. Also on President’s weekend Feb. 13-15, some “presidents” will be on the slopes. Catch them and get a photo of you with them. Anyone for Clinton?

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