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Original Issue

Ski Tip

Question: I sometimes face a slope so steep that I can get down only by using tedious traverses and kick turns. Is there a better way?

Start turn in traverse position, full weight on lower leg.

Stem left ski toward the fall line. Do not counterswing.

Hold stem position. Do not shift much of your weight.

Skier's half turn starts slowly in flat traverse, then goes into steep slant downhill and back into flat traverse again. Turn above starts from traverse to skier's left and ends in traverse to skier's left. Normal full-stem turn would end in traverse to skier's right.

Bring your left ski quickly parallel to right ski again.

Finish your heel thrust to bring skis back to traverse.

Answer: Yes. One or more skier's half turns will take you down any steep slope. This is an interrupted stem in which you start turning into the fall line from a traverse, then swing back out of the fall line with a heel thrust that brings you back to a second traverse in the same direction as the first. You neither counterswing with the upper body nor shift your full weight to the stemmed ski, nor cross the fall line as you would in a normal stem turn. This makes it a smooth, simple turn to execute, with the further advantage that you can make your run in the fall line a shorter or a longer one, depending on how much speed you feel you can manage. Even a short run in the fall line will give you enough speed to make a powerful hard-braking turn into the hill that will absorb the momentum of your run up to that point. The skier's half turn is also useful as a school exercise that teaches you to put power and swing into your heel thrust. Lastly, since the turn keeps bodymovement to a minimum, it is often used by expert skiers carrying a pack or extra skis.