Phases of a Ski Turn

In skiing and ski instruction, there are three parts or phases in a turn. They may be called different things, including:

  • Initiation, Shaping, Finish
  • Initiation, Control, Finish
  • Beginning, Middle, End
  • Start, Middle, End
  • First third, Second third, Last third

It does not really matter what you call them, as long as you understand what they are. In between turns, there is a short period during which the skis are flat. This is often called the "transition" of a turn where the skis shift from the initial edges and have not yet started to tip onto the new edges.

The initiation of the turn occurs after the edges have begun to tip onto the new edges. The shaping is when the skis continue to tip up while approaching the fall line. The fall line is the line or path a ball would take down the slope.  In other words, the path of least resistance. The fall line is the midpoint or apex of the shaping phase. The finish phase occurs after the shaping and when the skis begin to untip or lessen their edge angle.

Next time you go skiing, focus on turn phases, which will make it easier to improve your ski technique.

Ski Instruction Examiner Kevin Jordan is a Diamond Pro and Ski Trainer for the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen. is the inside source for everything local.  Powered by Examiners, the largest pool of knowledgeable and passionate contributors in the world, we provide unique and original content to enhance life in your local city wherever that may be.

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