WHY IS TURN TRANSITION SO CONTROVERSIAL?
Those who can carve well, show absolute aggression with such grace and elegance. I think that achieving this shows a comprehensive understanding and sensitivity to the incredible forces that push on you to change direction. That’s really what carving is about for me.
Turn transition seems to be a controversial topic because there are several was to cross from one turn to the next, and I think everyone seems to get hung up on there being only one correct way to do it. However it ultimately comes down to the skier's objective, or the task that they’re trying to perform that determines the type of transition the skier should use.
Most of the time I’m not skiing in gates. As such I don’t have a predetermined corridor. So my objective when skiing is to ski efficiently and in an exciting way. For that to happen, acceleration across the hill is important and also quickness from turn to turn to increase the rhythm. I believe these two points are pretty exiting to watch.
To achieve this, a compact or more direct transition seems the most appropriate for me (as you can see in the video below). Im trying to capture as much energy from the snow as possible to create the acceleration across the hill. Once I’ve received the maximum energy from the snow and it has pushed me in a new direction across the hill, I then allow my long, outside leg to flex, or soften. This leg is staying strong against Centripetal force (CP) which is pushing me into the turn, and preventing Centrifugal force (CF) from winning and pulling me out of the turn (and across the skis). Flexing or softening this leg will allow CF to win and cause my body to topple across my skis into the new turn without rising unnecessarily. The more quickly I can move across the skis, the faster the edge change can happen. This increases the speed from turn to turn and subsequently increases the rhythm, which was one of my objectives listed above.
It’s important to clarify that I am not trying to absorb pressure. It would be very difficult at this speed to absorb CP force in the same way a mogul skier absorbs a mogul. I actually want as much CP force as possible through the turn as this is what changes my direction of travel and creates the acceleration across the hill. The timing of the release is what allows a skier to cross in a compact or more direct way. Once I’m moving across the hill in harmony with the CP force from the previous turn, I will be in a state of suspension and can start decreasing edge which will allow a fluid transition without making any unnecessary movements. If I release too early and while under significant load, then I will have to attempt to absorb the pressure. If I release too late, I will have started turning up the hill. This will slow my speed, reduce CP force and reduce acceleration.
Timing is EVERYTHING and unfortunately, it is different for every turn. This is why your sensitivity to pressure plays such an important role in expert skiing. Without being sensitive to the forces pushing on you, one is just guessing when and how to move. As with all difficult tasks, repetition is the only way to develop your sensitivity to pressure. Billions of turns at different speeds, on different snow conditions, on different gradients and performed on different skis is needed to hone your sensitivity to pressure. A good starting point is to practise on firm snow with shorter radius skis (as seen in the video below). The firm snow will give you a more consistent and definitive sensation of the forces. The shorter radius skis will allow this force to build more quickly and at slower speeds.
If I’m skiing in a longer, more offset racecourse, or my ski radius is shorter than the set of the course, or I simply want to ski a wider corridor, then delaying the edge change and using the energy from the previous turn to glide across the hill during the transition might be appropriate. In this case, an extension or slight rising will delay the travel of the Centre of Mass (CoM) across the skis. The CoM will then spend longer traveling across the hill with the skis which might be more appropriate in the situations mentioned above.
Understanding how to use different transitions will open up a whole new world of high performance skiing. Not only will it improve your edge change, acceleration, deflection and turn rhythm, it will also facilitate different lines in the race course and improve your speed dramatically. If turn transition is something you would like to improve, then join Paul Lorenz on snow in a Projected High Performance Camp. These camps operate at different times of the year in a range of countries around the world. They will not only focus on your high performance skiing, but also on your understanding of skiing mechanics and performance knowledge.
If you found this article interesting and useful to improve your skiing, then head to Projected Productions where you will find hours of clear and concise “How To” ski instructional videos from some of the best athletes, coaches and instructors from around the world.
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