The turn that will enable you to safely turn your skis 180° in any snow condition and on any slope, no matter the steepness is the ‘Jump Turn’. In fact, the steeper the slope the easier it is to make the turn. When making this turn you jump your skis off the snow and turn them in the air.
Modern skis are designed to turn so easily that in most snow conditions and on most slopes it is unnecessary to jump your skis around from one traverse to the other. There are however snow conditions and slopes where it is very difficult or dangerous to turn using the normal carving or pivoting techniques; snow conditions such as windblown crust or wind ridges, and narrow couloirs (gullies) that have walls on both sides or slopes that cross above cliffs where a fall could be dangerous. In such conditions the jump turn can always be employed. So every advanced skier who plans to ski the steeps and off-piste snow should be thoroughly familiar and comfortable using the ‘Jump Turn’. The beauty of this turn is that by jumping your skis across the fall-line you don’t build up much speed and thus can ski as slowly as you want to and remain in total control on the steepest of slopes. I would recommend that everyone who aspires to be an advanced skier learn and practice the jump turn so that you have it to use when conditions require you to need it.
It’s a good idea to watch the ‘Jump -Turn’ video first as seeing it performed and explained will make it easier to understand.
To learn how to do the Jump Turn, practice on an advanced-intermediate packed-snow slope and then practice it on a steeper packed-snow slope. Start traversing and when you are ready to make a Jump Turn, turn your chest down the fall-line and lower your hips. Plant your downhill skipole and then explode up, pushing up off the skipole, & jump your skis off the snow and turn them parallel while they are in the air around the skipole. Land in the new traverse position with your skis rolled uphill so that you are landing on their uphill edges and complete the turn so the skis end up completely across the fall-line. As you land on the snow soften your ankles, knees and hips so that they cushion the landing. Now repeat the same turn in the other direction.
- On steep slopes, keep your chest facing down the fall-line at all times; i.e., before the turn, while turning and after the turn.
- You don’t need to jump your skis miles in the air! You only need to jump them so that they are off the snow a few inches so that you can turn them easily.
- After the turn, when landing, be sure to land with your weight over your downhill ski. You do this by leaning your chest down the hill. Also be sure to lean your shins forward so that you don’t get thrown into the back seat and lose control of the skis.
- As your skis turn around the skipole, push your hand down the hill so that the hand and arm don’t get left behind.
- The steeper the slope, the further back you should plant your skipole. On very steep slopes plant your skipole down from the tail of the ski.
- On steep slopes, combine the ‘Jump Turn’ with ‘Anticipation’ to help you turn in a tight radius. Note: The tighter the radius, the slower the turn, which can prove very useful in very steep, narrow couloirs.