Novice Skier Progression
Snowplow Turns to Basic Parallel
So you‘ve started exploring the mountain and are getting pretty comfortable managing speed and controlling direction on green runs.
That’s fantastic, but you’re feeling like you want to explore some more challenging terrain, but when you get on a steeper pitch these snowplow turns are really making your thighs burn.
It’s time we start progressing towards parallel!
Novice Skier - Progressing Towards Parallel
Wide Track Parallel
The next steps are terrain dependent. If the slope is very shallow try taking a shortcut. Increase the speed until you‘re forced into a wide track parallel.
Situational Stem Turns
The most common method to progress towards parallel is a situational stem. If you’re already in a wide track parrallel on shallow terrain, this can be a great tactic to get down a steeper slope.
Not Enough Time? Traverse...
If you’re struggling to get your skis parallel in linked turns, try adding a traverse between each turn to give yourself some extra time to balance and bring the uphill ski parallel.
Caution must be taken however to ensure there is no traffic coming from above. Only try this tactic on a quiet run.
Directing both skis in unison requires strong rotary control of the inside leg. This becomes much easier when balance is primarily through the outside foot in a turn.
Need more? Try this super useful drill to develop smooth transitions and strong balance against the outside ski...
Basic Parallel Turns
And finally the big objective that will usher you firmly into the intermediate realm. Rhythmically linking turns, managing speed and direction at will... whilst keeping the skis parallel throughout the entire arc.
To make a full parallel turn the skier must be able to direct both skis simultaneously as they transition from one turn to the next. This is the scariest step for many new skiers as they must allow their center of mass to topple (yes, ‘toppling’ is the technical term). Essentially releasing edge grip from the supporting ski and free falling with their momentum into the next arc.
This is a great time to introduce a pole plant to help add spatial awareness and a sense of stability through this very unstable and committing part of the turn.
Troubleshooting Parallel Skiing
Experiencing any of these symptoms? Find the cause:
Once you’re comfortable skiing basic parallel, push your envelop by adding one variable at a time. Perhaps try a little higher speed or a faster rhythm... or push it on slightly steeper terrain or more challenging snow conditions.
The trick to continued progress is to scare yourself a little everyday. Not so much that you risk safety and lose confidence, but just enough to expand your comfort zone.