At my camps and clinics I like to take a quick review of some basic skills and one of them is the “Kick Turn”. As a boy I learned to kick turn in my back yard. This was one of the first skills my older brothers drilled into me. Over the years I have used this valuable skill to reverse my direction in a variety of situations.
Unfortunately many people have never learned the kick turn and your skiing agenda is limited if you don’t have this basic skill. The Kick Turn allows you to peer over the edge, around the corner and gather information. It also empowers you to retreat to safer ground, better snow and change direction on a dime. This skill is as important as pole planting, edging and stopping.
The skill requires commitment. Remember… K.I.C.K your way around to the Kick Turn.
Kick – Kick your downhill ski up and onto the tail
Inertia – The move is a fluid motion, once you start the kick turn you have to finish it
Commitment – You have to be totally committed to the kick turn or the mountain will reject your effort
Keep – Keep your skis across the ill and stay on your feet, do not lean into the hill or sit. You have to stay on your feet kick your edges into the snow and slide down the mountain. There are three key moves to a good kick turn.
1) Kick your downhill leg and up and forward so the tail of the ski hits the snow by the tip of your uphill ski.
2) Once the uphill ski is up and vertical, start to rotate your shoulders down the hill and swing your uphill hand down into the fall line and let your downhill ski 180 degrees across the hill.
3) Finish by having your old uphill ski swing instantly with your uphill hand so that it comes 180 degrees across the fall line and become the new downhill ski.
You will want to practice this move on a slight incline which will make your movement easier. Become a “switch kicker” by practicing this to the left and the right. As you start to progress increase the incline of your slope and the conditions under your feet. Mastering the kick turn will pay benefits in the deep snow, on steep terrain and in the trees, plus it will build your confidence on where you go and allow you to go there safely.