How is your radius?
It’s time for a radius check: If you’re looking for speed and edge control from green to double black diamond slopes then start to focus on the radius of your turns.
Radius can be a forgotten element of our skiing and unless round turns are practiced they can be hard to execute when we need them the most.
Most of us feel like a skiing hero on groomed slopes, making arcs and imagining winning World Cup races, but this falls apart as soon when we become intimidated by a change in terrain, skiing glades or inconsistent snow conditions. When skiers reach the outer edge of their comfort zone the arc and roundness of their turns will fall apart and with it goes performance.
There are five key elements to linking turns that have the same radius:
1. Dynamic body motion that creates compression and extension in the legs
2. Consistent pole plants
3. No braking or skidding in the last third of the turn
4. Short transitions between turns
5. Confidence in your ability
Maintaining a round arcing turn will provide five main benefits:
1. A carving ski is a stable ski
2. A round smooth turn allows the ski to flex and perform
3. The arc of the ski keeps our body moving down the fall line
4. Linked turns with consistent radius will create more control
5. Round turns allow you to ski more of the mountain
Five ways to improve the radius of your turns:
1. Find a trail that has short pitch that you are comfortable carving turns on
2. Ski the pitch linking short to medium radius turns from the top to the bottom (10-15 turns max)
3. Repeat five times on the same pitch
4. Analyze each run where the radius of the turn is breaking down and what is causing the breakdown. Is it acceleration, lack of balance, lack of confidence or poor pole plants?
5. Count your turns and as you approach the trouble area—turns eight through 15, for example—focus on your body position, pole plants and transition between turns.
If you spend a portion of your day training in this manner, you are bound to improve the radius of your turns and over time your confidence will grow in proportion to your control.
Extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan has appeared in 12 Warren Miller Ski films and countless others. Today he teaches clinics and guides trips at locations around the world including Big Sky, where he’ll be teaching Feb. 23-25, March 2-4 and March 9-11, and throughout the season (contact Big Sky Mountain Sports for availability). Find more ski tips from Dan Egan at skiclinics.com/education/skitips.