Balancing Act: Long Turns



STEVE We grew up in White Pass, Wash., where the snow is soft. If you try to stay long all day long, or stay short all day, you can’t ski well. Down and up (E-F), patience and fluidity are the keys. When we got to the World Cup, where it was always icy, we learned really fast that we had to absorb energy at the bottom of the turn (D) to prevent the ski from chattering and skidding out. Up and down was just as important there as at White Pass.

PHIL Many skiers stay long or short all the time. Trying to always maintain the same height is inefficient and exhausting. Racers discover the extremes pretty quickly: What it feels like to be extended (B and F), then really compressed (D), but then they seem to rush from one extreme to the other. In long turns and soft snow especially, the time between being your longest and being shortest should happen in slow motion. Hermann Maier and others who are winning on the World Cup are good at drawing out the lengthening and shortening process as long as the turn demands.


PHIL The longer your turns get (A-F), the more critical down-up becomes. Making good long turns is harder than making short ones. Monitor and slow down movement so you can make it last a long time (B-E). When you lower too fast and stay down you’re caught in a box and become static. Always try to be getting longer or shorter, never stuck at one height. If there’s any stale time in long turns, it’s when you’re upright.

STEVE I was good at coming up too early. That would put me off line in race courses. It was a tactical mistake that led to a technical error, but people saw me do it over and over again and began to call it “The White Pass Turn.” It was fast sometimes, but not consistent. I don’t recommend it. Rather, draw out your up motion, especially in long turns (A-B and E-F).