How to parallel turn skiing? | Ridestore Magazine

You have mastered the snowplough and stopping and turning on command — this is when you know you’re ready to progress, and progress you shall! However, advancing to the parallel turn can seem a little intimidating, so before you hop on the slopes to practice, have a read of this article. Knowing the skill will allow you to put theory into best practice and ensure that when you progress, you do so with the fundamentals for success. 

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What is parallel skiing?

When first learning to ski, there is a lot of terminology that makes no sense (I mean, what on earth is a bluebird? And no, it’s not actually a bird), so let us first explain what parallel skiing is. Parallel skiing is when you keep your skis in a parallel position when executing a turn move, instead of your skis making a triangle (pizza slice) shape. Once mastered, it will be game-changing, as it is so much easier on the knees and hips than a snowplough.

Moving from snowplough to parallel

To move away from the classic pizza slice stance to parallel skiing is all about the body weight shifts. You need to feel comfortable pushing more weight down onto your outside ski (the one further down the hill), so your inside leg has room to pull itself around to become parallel to the outside ski. The angle of your skis and your torso also need to be facing more downhill (daunting, we know) for a smoother and quicker turn.

Moving from snowplough to parallel

How to make parallel turns

Now you know what a parallel turn is and have geared up to progress from your trusty snowplough, it’s time to try it for yourself. Here is the step by step guide on how to execute a parallel turn. 

Step 1: Choosing the practice slope

It's best to practice your first few runs of parallel skiing on a green slope you know well and feel comfortable on. Ideally, choose a relatively quiet slope, long and wide and with a small gradient. This way, you have ample space to execute your turn and not be distracted by others around you. 

Step 2: The stance

The stance is the same no matter your skill level, which is leant forward into your boots, knees slightly bent, and torso positioned facing downhill. Arms are bent forward in front of you, as if holding a tray, with your poles off the ground. To initiate the turn, you should stand up slightly, and when completing the turn, bend your knees more. 

Step 3: Ski positioning

The skis should be parallel to each other, hip-distance apart and sideways on the slope at a slight downhill angle. Your skis should stay in the parallel position throughout the whole turn, so your tips don’t cross. 

Step 4: Your edges

As mentioned, it’s all about the body weight positioning that allows you to execute the turn. When initiating the turn, lean onto your downhill leg (or outside leg), stand up slightly but continue leaning forward, which will shift you over to the inside edge of your downhill ski. Then, as you initiate the turn and the downhill leg becomes the inside leg, you shift your weight to the other leg, the new outside leg. 

Step 5: Steering

As you’re moving across the slope, shift your weight to your downhill leg, allow your tips of the skis and the momentum from the slight downhill position to guide you into the turn. During the turn, you will be facing downhill, at which point you begin to shift your weight over to the other leg and allow yourself to gently ease around, with your knees as the guide. As you ease the weight onto the other leg, the new inside leg should follow around and you need to bring it in line with the new downhill ski. Once your skis are parallel and traversing the slope again, you should bend your knees and prepare for the next turn. 

Step 6: Visualize

As your stance should be with your torso facing slightly downhill, your gaze should do the same. This way, you can see and visualise the path that your skis will take as they turn. It’s an incredible thing that visualising where your skis will go next guides them in that direction. 

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5 common parallel skiing mistakes to avoid

Going too slow

You should be at a jogging pace, so you have enough momentum to make the turn.

Leaning back

You should lean into your boots, as leaning back will make you unbalanced and lose control.

Not leaning into the turn enough

Make sure you shift enough of your weight into your downhill ski to commit to the turn and ensure you swiftly swoop round.

Lifting the inside ski off the snow

When trying to get your inside ski to follow in line with the outside ski, it may seem easier to lift the inside ski to bring it around, but this can make you lose balance.

Going too fast out of the turn

The speed can be challenging to control and daunting, so make sure to emphasise your weight onto the inside edge of the outside ski to create friction with the snow and act as a break.

Wrapping up

There you have it — all of the basics you need to know to begin your progression to becoming a parallel skier. Although it may seem complex with a lot to think about, take it step by step on a slope you’re comfortable with and keep practising. You will soon find the confidence builds, along with the realisation that parallel skiing is ultimately a lot easier and less exhausting on the body. It will revolutionise your skiing technique and you will only improve from there. Goodbye pizza, hello french fries. 

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