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Kick turns

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have, with much admiration, looked at pictures on the internet of people who do kick turns. These are stationary turns, and get you out of awkward narrow spaces. I often find myself on the local hill, with a space just wider than the length of my skis to turn. I am not willing to do this at pace, and so I tend to find myself stuck.

Recognising this problem, I looked for a way out, and a kick turn appears to be the perfect solution.

Sadly, my flexibility, and stability, when doing this kind of turn is minimal to say the least. I think part of the problem is using skis which are just too long for the terrain (180's).

Does anyone have any additional tips to aid my kick turning ability?

I can lift my ski up, twist it round about 60 degrees, but my body does not seem able to bend the leg so that the skis are in opposite facing directions. (the other 60 degrees required for a kick turn does not materialise and I lose my balance)

Help?
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Step 3 below leaves you in a twisted position with feet pointed in opposite directions. Do not try it unless you are confident in your flexibility.

1. Practice on flat or gentle slopes with plenty of space around you.
2. Lift the downhill ski, put its tail on the snow close to the tip of the other ski.
3. Swing the tip of the ski around, using the ski's weight, placing the ski parallel to the uphill ski.
4. Lift the uphill ski and, keeping it fairly parallel to the snow, turn it around and place it beside and in the same direction as the newly uphill ski.
5. While doing the above use your poles for stability.

The key is using the tail of the downhill ski as a pivot point and having that pivot just downhill from, but close to, the tip of the uphill ski.
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Hmm well I can tell you that kick turns can be done with any length of skis (I can do them with 195cm skis), mind you I was taught how to do them from a very early age and surprising many people (because of my size) I can still do them.

First thing to do is always practise on the flat, trying to learn on a slope is a really bad idea and will almost certainly result in your going head first down the slope with your legs twisted together.

Unfortunately I can't think how to describe the method without having a pair of skis on my feet, however the following link is pretty good at showing you how its done

http://www.adventure-journal.com/2010/03/60-second-expert-how-to-make-a-skiing-kick-turn/
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If you go to this video and move the cursor to about 18minutes into the film, you will see Hannes Schneider demonstrating how to do a kick turn to Leni Riefenstahl (from a classic 1931 ski film!) Madeye-Smiley
I think those skis will have been a bit longer than 180cm! Toofy Grin
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Adrian, D G Orf, that's all fine provided you have the hip flexibility to stand at the half way point to make the weight transfer. Some people don't have that without working at it - which may be what Bigtipper is getting at. (It's a slightly different movement but one of the guys in our ski club just cannot do a braking snowplough as his hips simply don't allow enough inward rotation to form a wide plough)

Bigtipper, hip flexibility is the key to all this. You must be able to stand with your feet facing as near as possible to being in opposite directions. If you're a bit stiff in the hips this will probably be difficult, so you need to practice. Do so in ordinary shoes or bare feet, and try to get those feet into somewhere between the classic ballet dancer's fourth and fifth positions. I'm not particularly flexible myself but worked at getting there just by trying it and pushing the feet out a bit more and more each time - over and over and over again.

Any ballet dancers here with tips/exercises on how to develop flexibility in the hips?

Then it's about improving balance and loosening the hamstrings enough to allow the high "kick" in Adrian's step 2.
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Alastair Pink, Love it!
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GrahamN, Yes, the main problem is I cannot (with or without skis on) get my feet to point in opposite directions and so the weight transfer cannot happen. I find it easier on a slope, but as was said earlier you are liable to end up heading head first down the slope with your legs tangled together.

It is easier to do if I spread my feet out further (I get closer to toes pointing in opposite directions).

I think I need to practice the maneouvre without skis and boots first, and work on the flexibility aspect. I have a book on Pilates Yoga which I started doing over winter, but I over did it and needed to stop for a bit. Whilst Pilates Yoga looks easy, and feels easy to do at the time, if you are starting to age a little it can cause some pain later when you cool down.

I cannot view most videos on my PC. There is a compatability problem with 10 year old software and operating systems!

rolling eyes
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Bigtipper, I have to say that if you can't get your feet to go in opposite directions then there is a good chance that you will never be able to do a kick turn, some people can't, I probably wouldn't be able to now if I hadn't started aged 3 or 4 years old, do not despair however there is an alternative to the kick turn, however it requires more energy and a reasonable amount of guts, that's the jump turn, from a standing position (stationary) you jump up twisting the hips as you do so causing the whole body to spin around, if you do this right you will turn 180 degrees without a problem, always turn so that you face down the slope though as this way if you don't make it the full 180 degrees you will at least be able to see what direction your going in as you start to head down the slope
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D G Orf, I have just done it with my skis and boots on in my bedroom. It seems that my right leg will twist 180 degrees, but my left leg will not go all the way. I have suspected for some time that there was something not quite right with my left leg, ever since I slipped on an icy path with my skis and boots on my back. I fell on my left side, and it has given me problems ever since. For a long time I was sleeping on 3 inches of memory foam, and lying on the left side would cause the most problems. It is getting better though. Time will heal!



rolling eyes
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GrahamN, you may remember I had a problem with flexibility doing skinning kick turns in Verbier. After a bit of exercising at home I was fine on the next holiday.

You can't use a kick turn on very steep slopes (just too dangerous) so learning the jump turn may one day be very useful in any case (and it is much easier to do on a steep slope anyway - I doubt I could do it on the flats of Hemel)
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Bigtipper wrote:
I have, with much admiration, looked at pictures on the internet of people who do kick turns. These are stationary turns, and get you out of awkward narrow spaces. I often find myself on the local hill, with a space just wider than the length of my skis to turn. I am not willing to do this at pace, and so I tend to find myself stuck.

Recognising this problem, I looked for a way out, and a kick turn appears to be the perfect solution.

Sadly, my flexibility, and stability, when doing this kind of turn is minimal to say the least. I think part of the problem is using skis which are just too long for the terrain (180's).

Does anyone have any additional tips to aid my kick turning ability?

I can lift my ski up, twist it round about 60 degrees, but my body does not seem able to bend the leg so that the skis are in opposite facing directions. (the other 60 degrees required for a kick turn does not materialise and I lose my balance)

Unless you are skiing rock chutes or incredibly steep terrain there are really no practical uses for "Spiess Turns" which is their correct term.

But if you want an explanation here it is:

1. Practice on flat terrain with only a small degree of fall-line
2. Start across the fall-line and make the pole plant as you spring off both feet using all 3 joints, ankle, knee and hip
3. Turn both ski tips back across the fall-line making sure your feet stay under your body and making sure your upper body and hips travel straight down the hill
4. Land as soft as you can, again using all 3 joints (use the joints to absorb the impact), meet the landing with the new pole plant
5. Repeat

Common problems are:

1. Too much speed - Solution - select flat terrain, start with almost no forward motion and be sure to turn the skies far enough across the fall-line
2. Loss of balance - Solution - this is normally caused by shoving the tail of the ski away from your body- Solution - concentrate on turning the tip of the ski
3. Upper body rotation - Solution - stare at an object in the fall-line and don't take your eyes of it
4. Poor timing - Solution - count each time you make the pole plant (1.2, 1.2.....) meet the landing with the pole plant. Be sure you don't pause between turns, this will lead to poor speed control

These types of turns are tough, many ski instructors can't master these.

But practice makes perfect, good luck.
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Bigtipper,

Have to do kick turns for ski-touring and was pretty bad at it. Innner thigh stretching exercises at home have helped (getting the left foot to 9 and the right foot to 3 o'clock at the same time).

Please do let us know how you are getting on with another spreadsheet and 28 graphs / fancy diagrams. Wink
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apartment managers, i think you're confusing jump turns with kick turns
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Quote:

these types of turns are tough, many ski instructors can't master these.



really? it is a pretty basic skill.. and im with Arno i think you are confusing your turns...
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One thing I've discovered about downhill kick turns is that you don't need to get to 180 degrees - or even get your ski back on the snow properly. So long as you're balanced, you can just drop down onto the new ski when it's nearly there. You'll start moving again but, so long as you stay balanced, you'll have time to get the old ski round before you pick up too much speed.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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apartment managers, not the turn the OP asked about, but you're right in that it's what will benefit Bigtipper the most.

Not particularly difficult though, it must be a pretty bad instructor (well, skier..) who can't manage it.
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I think apartment managers got confused with the jump turn which some of us mentioned. In very restricted situations you may need to do these from a stationary start and ending with no forward motion.
Also on very steep slopes you may need to do them taking off from the top foot so you get around quicker and land less far down the slope.

I can't imagine any good skier who cannot do basic jump turns, let alone an instructor. They are an essential part of steep skiing.

Going back to the kick turn: you also need a variant of it when skinning up slightly steeper slopes (ie where the skins won't grip facing fairly directly up the slope), but in this case you do it uphill, rotating the lower ski across the uphill one. In this case the feet seem to face each other mid-turn rather than facing in opposite directions.
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snowball wrote:
I think apartment managers
Also on very steep slopes you may need to do them taking off from the top foot so you get around quicker and land less far down the slope.

I can't imagine any good skier who cannot do basic jump turns, let alone an instructor. They are an essential part of steep skiing.


I can - me Very Happy

About the only time I'd say a jump turn is needed is skiing boiler plate crust, even then it's not essential you can always stem turn to get down.
Jumping a turn on steeps is a bit pointless, you can pivot skis round as fast without having to launch into the air and then make a landing. I'll keep my skis on the snow thanks.
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Um... no you can't. Friction...

You* only need to do it on REALLY steep stuff though, 50 degrees-ish (so not that far off twice as steep as the average black run).
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rich wrote:


About the only time I'd say a jump turn is needed is skiing boiler plate crust, even then it's not essential you can always stem turn to get down.
.

Not if it is only a bit wider than the length of your skis. A fairly frequent situation at some points in many steep couloirs. (Also a kick turn - the subject of this thread - is not advisable in these situations if a turn is really necessary)
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Arno wrote:
apartment managers, i think you're confusing jump turns with kick turns


I think you're right, apologies.
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really? it is a pretty basic skill.. and im with Arno i think you are confusing your turns...[/quote]

yep, I did confuse the two, apologies.
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snowball wrote:
I think apartment managers got confused with the jump turn which some of us mentioned. In very restricted situations you may need to do these from a stationary start and ending with no forward motion.
Also on very steep slopes you may need to do them taking off from the top foot so you get around quicker and land less far down the slope.

I can't imagine any good skier who cannot do basic jump turns, let alone an instructor. They are an essential part of steep skiing.

Going back to the kick turn: you also need a variant of it when skinning up slightly steeper slopes (ie where the skins won't grip facing fairly directly up the slope), but in this case you do it uphill, rotating the lower ski across the uphill one. In this case the feet seem to face each other mid-turn rather than facing in opposite directions

Trust me, here in Kitzbühel there are numerous hacks posing in ski instructor uniform.

The turn I explained previously (Spiess), is not as simple as it sounds.
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apartment managers wrote:
Arno wrote:
apartment managers, i think you're confusing jump turns with kick turns


I think you're right, apologies.
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Looking back at this thread, I seem to have mastered kick turns. Not sure why I found them difficult, perhaps it was taking up yoga positions which helped.

I also can view videos now, and the reason it became difficult on my windows ME computer became apparent recently when I scanned the hard disk with a an anti virus program under windows 10.
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@GrahamN, I think your post nailed it, I had inflexible hips which are now much more flexible.
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@Bigtipper, d'you reckon anyone recalls this thread from 9 years ago?
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@under a new name, at least one person does now. (me) My hips made the most improvement when I started to use a foam roller (as well as doing stretches and yoga poses)
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Fascinating subject is the kick turn, downhill and uphill. As with so many ski issues so much comes down to initial tuition. Many of my contemporaries who do not kick turn were never taught it in their early days. Once established as an ok skier folk then struggle to go through the embarrassing process of trying to learn something that can be quite frustrating. The bigger impediment then becomes our ever decreasing flexibility as we grow older.
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Bigtipper wrote:
@GrahamN, I think your post nailed it, I had inflexible hips which are now much more flexible.


Wow! Who'd have thought that ability to do something that requires you to position your feet parallel to each other but facing in opposite directions, would be improved by better flexibility.

Did it take 9 years to work that out or 9 years to get the flexibility?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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It took 9 years to bump the post.

Flexibility is a relative term. Your reference point is usually how flexible you have been in the past. Therefore, getting more flexible than I was when I was younger is quite a revelation for me. However, I can see that from the point of view of those who have always found this easy that it may be a bit obvious that flexibility of your hips could be the main restriction.

If you read the whole thread, you will see that I knew at the time that my hip flexibility was a limiting factor. (see my post on 2/6/11)
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I would expect core strength is also important for a downhill kickturn (which yoga would also help with) as a strong core/postural muscles makes balancing while moving round on one ski easier;

I am fairly sure I now find them easier than when I was first taught dispite being less flexible because of exercise classes that mean my core is a lot stronger so staying balanced is a lot easier; This is also self reenforcing; I am more relaxed and confident because my balance is better which makes balancing easier, which makes the whole maneuver less stressful, which makes it easier etc...

As with flexibility core strength usually decreases with age...
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Question: why is it called a "kick Turn"?

Makes sense when you have Touring Skis, because you need the little kick (or "flick") to get the front of the second ski out of the way as it comes round.

http://youtube.com/v/6C26aUU9Pb4

But with ordinary fixed alpine skis there is no need to kick: you just swing the ski round.

http://youtube.com/v/qalV0fR6vK8
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Several seasons ago I was leading my mate through a short section of forest which required accurate jump turns or nice controlled kick turns. Can you do a kick turn I asked " what's one of them" came the reply. We opted for the drop on the hip then flick the skis over to opposite direction. Mate was duly impressed at the lovely open powder field (thread on secret stashes) and was grateful that I had taken the effort to steer him there.
Mate lives in Grindelwald with Swiss partner, mate asks partner "do you know what a kick turn is" her reply "my dear I am Swiss".....sums it up quite nicely I feel!
Should add that this friend is now one of the most fluent kick - turners in downhill and touring mode!
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