A round turn shape, the blueprints of skiing (Speed control – Part 3).

A round turn shape is the canvas where all ski movements are painted on. It’s tough to perform the movements correctly if you’re not skiing in a rounded turn shape. It’s like the path a race car takes in a racecourse. That path is the framework so to speak. Deviate from that path and you’ve just made matters a whole lot more difficult than it needs to be. Now lets work out what that path is for skiing.

Do a J turn, almost stop, then go straight down for the same distance as the previous turn.

Going on from single J turns, we’re gonna start linking them (on intermediate terrain). The emphasis is to ALMOST STOP then go STRAIGHT down the hill again as long as you did on the previous turn. Its important that you reduce your speed to a level that you’re comfortable enough that you want to point your skis straight down the hill again for a similiar time as you did the previous turn. This is training to understand what a finished turn is.

“A finished turn is when you’ve slowed down enough that you can spend a similiar distance in the fall line as the previous turn.”

Increased speed will make your turns arc at the start.

After one or two runs of doing linked J turns you’re probably itching to go faster and not slow down as much in between turns. So start the turn earlier, this time it’ll be when you’re about across the hill. Due to the increased speed you carry into the new turn, you’ll start to arc instead of going just straight down. And there you have it, a round turn shape.

From this basic speed controlled turn shape, we can alter and modify it to suit different terrain and snow conditions. I’ll go more into that in subsequent posts. For now, bear in mind that the steepness of a slope changes how fast you accelerate. So the exact same turn shape on different slopes will result in different overall speeds.

A similiar turn shape on different slopes will result in differing overall speeds.
However, the speed will remain constant for each slope.


Skiing for me was fun when I was in control. It can be downright scary when I’m not. When I was first introduced to S turns (as opposed to Z turns), I had no idea why it kept my speed constant on some slopes but on others I kept gaining speed. I now know that I was doing rounded turns but I wasn’t finishing my turns on steeper slopes. No one had explained to me that it was by turning across the hill more that my speed was managed. Just knowing that I needed to at all made a world of difference.

If you can fully understand the above diagram, then you’re closer to grasping turn shape as a concept.

I cannot stress the importance of understanding turn shape if you truly want to be versatile in all snow conditions quickly. The alternative is lots of mileage in specific condition types like bumps, powder, ice to trees. Even racers manipulate turn shape in dynamic ways to suit each course. (Difference is they rarely want to keep a constant speed. It is a race after all).

Turn shape is the blueprint of skiing. Have a solid grasp of this concept and you’ll progress much quicker in your skiing and probably have a lot more fun on the slopes while you’re at it.

5 thoughts on “A round turn shape, the blueprints of skiing (Speed control – Part 3).

  1. Hello Jason
    Could you tell us something about other turn-shapes beyond the Circular Arc?

    I'm looking to you to explain what happens to the turn shape when the edge angle is increased progressively up to the flowline then progressively decreased after it.

  2. Hi SkiPresto,

    I'll try!

    What I suspect you are describing is;
    the change in the rate the edge angles (still) progressively increasing before and after the fall line.

    OR a 'comma shaped' turn used in racing achieved through leveraging the tails of the skis after the fall line.

    Both actually have progressively increasing edge angles until you change edges for the next turn (even though it might feel like you're releasing your edges when you absorb/ retract in a high speed turn). It's a common misconception. If you actually had less edge angle than you did before the fall line, you wouldn't be doing turns, you'd be doing garlands (also known as chicken out turns) if you're familiar with them.

    Either way, both have a straighter turn shape after the fall line. Your overall speed should increase as opposed to remaining constant through a round turn shape. Hence its utility in races. Did that answer your question?

  3. These shapes seem very easy to navigate through but i guess in real the turns are a little shorter than depicted. I guess if exceeding the speed from 40 KM/H can be dangerous irrespective of how experienced skier you are.

  4. Pingback: Tips for the Uninitiated to Powder Skiing | turnshape

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