No More Plow: Learn a Strong, Parallel Turn Finish

If you’d like to get rid of the wedge or snowplow, and finish your turns with your skis parallel, this lesson is for you.


Lesson animationIn
ski turns, each of your feet plays a different role. One foot is the stance
– you balance primarily on this foot, and it supports most of your
weight. The other foot is the free foot – it supports very little weight,
thus it is light on the snow and you are free to move it and tip it.

This lesson, the "Phantom wedge closure", will help
you to bring your skis to parallel from a wedge position. It’s
the introduction to the Phantom Move, where the lightening and
tipping of the free foot makes the stance ski turn. Starting in
a wedge traverse allows you to practice the Phantom wedge closure
that will create a parallel finish to your turns.

The lightening and tipping of the free foot is called the Phantom Move. The
Phantom Move, when performed properly, is smooth, progressive, and barely detectable,
hence its name. Notice how with the emphasis on the Phantom Move, the skis are
parallel by fig. c. The last three photos, fig. d-f, emphasize
the strong tipping of the free foot.

All this activity starts with the free foot (here, the uphill, left foot).
The tipping of the free foot activates the kinetic chain, up through the pelvis
and over to the stance leg, producing the turning action of the stance ski.
Efficiency and balance are diminished if the actions start higher in the body.
Sensations from the feet tell us how the skis are behaving and how to adjust
the feet. Consequently, focusing on the feet yields precise control.


If you have trouble with this lesson, start with exercises 3.1
through 3.3 in Harald Harb’s book, Anyone can be an Expert Skier.

In Brief

On an easy slope that’s well within your comfort range, stand
with the skis pointed across the hill. Open the tails into a wedge
position, aim the skis slightly downhill, and start to slide across
the slope with the skis in the wedge position (look uphill before
sliding to avoid oncoming skiers). From this wedge traverse, lighten
the uphill foot (it becomes the free foot), draw it toward the
stance foot, and tip it strongly toward its little-toe edge to
create a parallel turn finish.

Practice the Phantom wedge closure in both directions. Once you
can perform it both ways, link wedge turns on easy terrain and
use the Phantom wedge closure to finish each turn.


Fig. a. Start in a wedge, but balance primarily on
the stance foot (here, the skier’s right). Slide down and
across the slope.

Fig. b. Lighten the uphill foot (here, the skier’s left) by almost
lifting it off the snow. This makes it the free foot. Tip the free foot (skier’s left) over to its
little-toe edge as that ski glides over the snow.

Fig. c. No time to be passive – keep coaxing the free foot
over to its little-toe edge and draw it closer. Tipping is easier
as the feet get closer together.

Fig. d. Tip the free foot more aggressively to bring it
farther onto edge than the stance foot.

Fig. e. Don’t stop now! Keep your free foot light,
pull the free heel toward the stance heel, and continue to tip
the free foot. Watch the skis turn.

Fig. f. Remarkably, the skis are turning with virtually
no effort or strength. This results from the Phantom Move.


Emphasis on tipping has yielded a free ski that is tipped uphill
farther (fig. d) than the stance ski. The knee of the free
leg points uphill, but that is a result of actively tipping the
free foot. The movement starts at the foot.

Note the lack of activity in the stance leg. There is no effort
of the stance leg to engage the stance ski, tip it on edge, or
twist it.

Shaped skis make it easier and quicker to learn, although traditional
skis will respond to the movements of this lesson. To experience
immediate success at low speeds with the Primary Movements Teaching
System™, use shaped skis.

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