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Kick-Turn Like a Pro
GOING UP (pictured above left)
1. Stop at a switchback’s apex and point both skis in the same direction.
2. With your uphill pole planted wide, raise your uphill ski, swing it around, and plant it in the direction you want to go; try to swing the ski at least 90 degrees from your downhill ski, but aim for a hip-bending 180. A wider angle reduces your chances of slipping.
3. Keep your weight on your downhill ski while you move your feet close together, scooting your opposite-facing skis to a near-parallel position. If you can’t twist your uphill ski past 120 degrees, try to slide its tail underneath the downhill one to catch an edge.
4. Transfer your weight to the uphill ski, making sure you—and it—are stable. Re-plant your poles wide (and uphill from you), so there’s enough room to kick your second ski around.
5. Lift your downhill ski a few inches above the snow, keeping it parallel to the surface.
6. In one motion, kick your downhill heel against the ski to bounce the tip up and pivot the ski into the new direction, on the uphill side of the first ski.
GOING DOWN (pictured above right)
1. Position your skis perpendicular to the fall line (the slope’s downhill angle) and stomp yourself a stable platform, about as wide as your shoulders.
2. Plant both poles on your uphill side, about a foot above you and wide enough (plant one in front of your torso, one behind) to provide stability as you shift your weight.
3. Transferring your weight to your uphill ski, lift your downhill ski and swing it (tip out) so that its tail hits the snow near the tip of your uphill ski. Gently rotate your raised foot and knee toward the downhill slope. Once you initiate the motion, your ski should float down and rest on the snow with your feet pointing in opposite directions. Be careful not to catch the tail on the slope.
4. Weight your downhill ski, lift your uphill ski, and while bringing it around, turn your torso.
>> See a step-by-step slideshow on downhill turn technique at backpacker.com/kickturn.