Learn Short Turns to Access More Terrain

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


Lesson animation - loadingIn
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.

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

  • 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.

Leave a Reply