White Pass Turn

Activity Description:

These turns are skied from finish phase through the initiation and early shaping phase with only one (the same) foot/ski on the snow. After the fall line, the skier begins to lift the inside ski off the snow. The skier finishes the turn balanced on the outside ski, and initiates the turn on this same ski (which becomes the new inside ski). The outside ski is returned to the snow prior to the fall line of the turn, and pressure is transferred to the outside ski once it has returned to the snow.

History and Urban Mythology (based on rumor, speculation and conjecture)

Back in the 80’s (before the turn of the century) when the Mahre twins (brothers Phil and Steve) were winning a lot of World Cup races, the legend that became the ‘White Pass Turn’ unfolded. The Setting: A World Cup G.S. somewhere in Europe. Steve is hauling butt and his line gets a little low, so while arc’n it back up, his downhill ski hooks up under him thru the finish of the turn. Eeee-Haaa! His inside ski goes up in the air as the old outside ski arcs thru the edge change and Steve athletically dives into the falline on the inside (little toe) edge of that same ski. All this while waving his ski in the air to the cheering crowd! Steve then deftly re-engages the new outside ski at the falline, transfers his weight to it and cleanly arcs the turn. It seemed that the dynamic release of Steve’s body (COM) to the falline was pretty fast (rumor is he won the race). Movement analysis of the race films revealed that Steve’s recovery move was something to be explored and employed when appropriate. Steve was able to create that movement in the heat of competition because of the diverse set of adaptable skiing skills he had developed over years of ripping around all kinds of terrain and snow conditions with his brother Phil at the family ski area: White Pass, WA. Thus the turn nickname that stuck and it became a legendary training activity to develop the skills to ski on either foot at any time.

Why This Activity Will Be Useful:

Being skillful in the ability to adjust body movements to manage ski to ski pressure control is essential for higher level skiing whether in short turns, high speed carving, or variable conditions. This activity develops movements and skills that can be adapted to ski on either ski at any point in a turn, a valuable skill in varied snow and terrain where turn dynamic challenge use to be more adaptable. Additionally this activity helps develop the fore/aft balance skills required to ski on one foot.

What the Skis Do (EFFECT):

• One ski supports skier from finish through initiation and early shaping phase of the turn.
• Ski in air shows edging activity that matches that of the weighted ski.
• Outside ski is returned to the snow and re-engaged on edge by the falline (middle of shaping phase)
• Inside ski is off the snow in the finish phase of the turn
• Skis are parallel to each other whether on or off the snow and show similar edge angles throughout turns.
• Ski creates round brushed/drifted arc that controls speed at Level 2
• Ski creates a round carved arc that controls speed with line at Level 3

How the Body Moves (CAUSE):

• Start: Use flexion to lift inside foot/ski off snow after the falline (in shaping phase).
• Both feet coordinate tipping/rolling edging movements to manage turn shape through the shaping phase of the turn.
• Entering transition, flex the joints of the weighted leg to allow that foot’s tipping/rolling movements to release and change the ski’s edge
• Continued tipping/rolling of the (new) inside foot shape the turn into the falline.
• Before the fall line, extend the knee and hip joint of the lifted outside ski to return the ski to the snow. Begin to transfer pressure to the outside ski.
• Flexion/extension movements movements to keep center of mass balanced fore/aft and laterally over base of support
• Angulation and flexion extension movements direct pressure toward the outside ski
• After the fall line, use flexion to lift inside foot/ski off snow so the turn is finished on the outside ski only.

Where: Blue terrain – Choose a safe low traffic area for this activity.

Learning/Teaching Cues:

• Traverse while alternately picking a ski off the snow (step at a slow cadence). When doing this, use flexion of the knee and hip to lift the ski. Stabilize the torso through activation of the muscles of the core. The upper body should move very little when picking up a ski during this drill. Practice in both directions until able to do without gross upper body adjustments. (If this is challenging, first practice in while stationary).
• Practice downhill ski traverses (may at first keep uphill ski tip on snow for balance). Again, be aware of upper body angulation/counter balancing.
• Practice previous exercise, but traversing on uphill foot/ski only
• Practice uphill arcs (bottom of the turn) in a fan progression, starting from directly down the fall line. Lifting inside ski and actively balance on outside ski while using tipping/rolling movements the inside (in air) ankle/foot to shape the uphill arc. Keep the upper body facing the falline (as you ski into counter) and the upper body angulates laterally to manage lateral pressure.
• Practice downhill arcs (top of the turn) in a fan progression (on green terrain) starting almost in the fall line, and fanning back to more challenging traverse angles. Lift the uphill/outside ski and actively balance on downhill/inside. To release the edge, use flexion of the stance ankle/leg to direct the CoM forward and over that foot to allow it to release the edge and steer it toward the falline as it re-aligns with the upper body. Actively tip/roll both ankles/feet. Keep the upper body facing downhill as turning ski re-aligns with it in the falline.
• Put the previous two activities together as one footed garlands on the downhill ski. Across the slope, ski into counter (keeping upper body facing the falline).
• In activity, experiment with counter-balancing of upper body and how it changes throughout the turn. Too little, or too static, and you will fall inward. Too much, or to active, and ability to employ the ‘air’ foot tipping/rolling activity is compromised.

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