Make Short Turns Using Low-Effort, Simple Movements

This lesson will help you learn to make short turns using low-effort,
simple movements.


Overview of short turns lesson (image courtesy Harald Harb)

In ski turns, each of your feet plays a different role. One
foot is the stance foot – 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.

Effective short turns – those with balance on one stance ski
and engagement of the stance ski early and throughout the arc of the turn
– are the gateway to advanced skiing. Not only are they useful on narrow or
crowded trails, short turns are the key to success in bumps, ungroomed, and
steeps. Short turns are a matter of quickening the pace of your movements,
while maintaining their accuracy. If you resort to twisting, steering, or
pushing the tail of the stance ski, you might make one or two short turns
but your skis won’t hold, you’ll pick up speed, and you’ll
be in trouble. Instead, stick to the Primary Movements Teaching System™ methods
and gradually pick up the pace.

If you have trouble with this lesson, start with exercises GB-6 and GB-7 in
Harb Ski Systems’ Primary
Movements Teaching System™ Instructor Manual

In Brief
Start on very gentle terrain, so you can work on the timing of your movements
and turns without picking up too much speed. Aim both skis straight downhill
with your feet about six to eight inches apart. As you start sliding, lighten
one foot and quickly tip it toward the little-toe edge so that edge just brushes
against the snow. Immediately, set that foot back onto the snow and balance
on it. Simultaneously, lighten and tip the other foot in the opposite direction.
As soon as it is tipped over, set it down, balance on it, and lighten the
first foot. The stance ski remains passive through the turn. Avoid the urge
to twist, edge, or push on the stance ski, since any of these actions will
prevent engagement of the stance ski. Keeping the feet close together will
facilitate the quick balance transfers that are required. When you can link
at least ten turns with clean balance transfers, consistent speed, and consistent
turn size, go to slightly steeper terrain. Use the same movements to link
short turns on the steeper terrain. You’ll need to tip the free ski far
toward the little-toe edge to maintain speed control on steeper terrain.


  • The lightening and tipping of the new free foot is quick, aggressive,
    and complete. Your effort should be to lift the arch of the free foot
    completely off the snow. This will combine the lightening with the amount
    of tipping required.

  • The faster you tip the free foot, the faster the stance ski will turn,
    and the sooner you’ll need to transfer balance to go the opposite
    direction. Keep your feet close so you can transfer balance from foot
    to foot.

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