How to take Corners on Cross Country Skis
Downhill corners are fun and exhilarating, but they can be scary for people who don’t feel in control over their skis. Here are a few coaching tips to work on downhill cornering skills with your students.
Coaching Cues for Downhill Cornering
1. Position your body – get low. Do this by flexing the ankles, knees, and hips. A lower center of gravity will make you more stable and allow you to move quickly and react to terrain changes as needed. Keep your arms relaxed and hands low and forward of the body to help manage fore /aft weight distribution over the ski.
2. Take an outside-inside-outside approach to the corner. Position yourself toward the outside of the track as you enter the corner, then cut toward the inside apex of the corner, then move toward the outside of the track to exit the corner. This will make the corner less severe and make it easier to maintain your speed (photo 1). A simple way to initiate this approach is to look where you want to go.
3. As you enter the corner, your center of mass (CM) should lean into the curve. Leaning your CM, or hips, into the curve will help edge the skis (so that you can step through the turn) and counteract the centrifugal force that pulls you toward the outside of the curve. If the curve is to the right, have the right ski on its outside edge and the left ski on its inside edge (photo 2).
4. Keep your skis (feet) moving. Keep agile, by maintaining a good body position (see cue #1), to react positively to terrain changes. Moving your skis will set you up for stepping through the turn or using a parallel turn when needed.
5. Scrub off speed before the turn, if needed. If you find yourself heading into a turn too fast, use a snowplow or parallel turn to slow down so that you can enter the turn at a reasonable speed and execute the other cues.
Tips for Practice
1. Ski in circles on flats or set up a tight slalom course around cones. Focus on maintaining a low body position with quick feet as you change your direction. You can also practice putting your skis on their edges; this exercise will probably be more of a skate turn (because you’ll have to generate speed on the flats by pushing off), but it will help you position yourself in a low, dynamic body position.
2. To progress in skill development, start on an easy downhill corner. Pick a couple of these coaching cues to practice at a time, and then eventually you can put them all together. As you develop confidence on easy terrain, you can gradually try steeper terrain and tighter corners.
Practice taking steeper and steeper corners at speed to develop the skills you need to tackle downhill corners on any terrain. You can’t always predict how a downhill corner is going to ski, but if you have good body position, maintain agility, and take a good line, you can react as needed to have a successful and fun trip through the corner.
This article, by Emily Lovett, originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of 32 Degrees. Log in now to the online version to access other great content that will up your instructor game.
Emily Lovett is a member of the PSIA-AASI National Team and teaches at the Lake Catamount Touring Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.