A few seasons ago BASI introduced phases of the turn into its lexicon:
BUILD – WORK – RELEASE
Although this is a work in progress in as much as it could well be extended to bump skiing or a wider variation of turns, it is a really useful addition.
Many skiing associations split the turn up into phases and purport slightly differing but ultimately similar ideas, but having it in BASI is still a useful endeavour.
It would be a mistake to think that the phases of the turn were an attempt to ‘reinvent the wheel’. The wheel is already up and rolling and we, as an association, are in the business of trying to provide definition to skiing; to offer blueprints or ways to understand skiing that can be adopted by our instructors to help pass on their ideas with clarity and relevance.
The phases of the turn, therefore, are not necessarily anything new, but their primary purpose is to be helpful to our instructors.
The phases of the turn help identify certain jobs, tasks or purposes as we execute a turn and this helps us as skiers concentrate clearly on the important things to control at any given moment. Every movement that we do on our skis needs to have a clear and definable function but this is often lost in the maelstrom of tipping, twisting, leaning and moving that fills the toolbox- and sometimes headspace – of less accomplished skiers. I remember having many an interesting conversation with Sean Langmuir [trainer and ex Olympian] about how in different parts of the turn we are searching for particular, and sometimes different, things whether it be stability, a turning effect, strength, quickness, momentum. The moves we are making on the skis are shaped by these purposes.
As a brief and non-exhaustive guide to a generic carved turn, we tried to highlight some of the tasks that were important in the phases of the turn at the last trainers’ conference. Here is a quick summary:
Build often involves using the lower leg joints first [Fig:1] in order to establish a platform at the edge change and is subsequently followed by trying to increase the angle whilst keeping the body’s weight pressing through the centre of the ski. This is to set up and optimise the skis turning capacity.
Fig 1: early part of the build phase
The work phase is not in fact characterised by busy or overly active movement but is actually all about moving in a way which allows the ski’s design to continue to work at its best. What we don’t want to do is lose pressure through falling back or inside through this phase as it will reduce the outside ski working. In fact, the work phase should be the part of the turn where the turn radius tightens continuously as the angle and forces augment. This means it is paramount to be able to balance laterally against a ski that is increasing in angle [Fig 2] to maintain the strongest platform or footing that we can. A long strong outside leg is often typical of a great work phase.
Fig 2: mid work phase
The release phase is all about not overcooking the end of the turn in order to link turns and carry momentum smoothly from one turn to the next. This means movements that lend themselves to stopping angular momentum, reducing the turning and straightening the trajectory will help to exit the body from the current turn. Moves such as maintaining separation out of the work phase whilst reducing the pressure on the outside ski [Fig 3] will help to let the body move down the hill and out of the old turn. This will promote linked and fluid carved turns.
Fig 3: release of turn and reduction of angle
The use of phases of the turn is not a new idea in the world of skiing but that doesn’t detract from its usefulness. We could equally exchange the three words for three others or wrestle with the intricacies of each turn phase, but that is not essentially the point. The point is to help give reason to the moves that we make and to deconstruct the turn into useful and comprehensible parts.
If we have clear ideas on what we should be doing, then we, as instructors, can communicate that to our students and that can only be a good thing.