The “earn” in backcountry skiing’s notorious phrase, “Earn Your Turns,” is almost entirely directed to the act (if not art) of skinning uphill. For those who are not familiar with “skinning,” skiers and splitboarders adhere a nylon strap to the bottom of their skis in order to climb uphill. Each skin has been fabricated to hold millions of tiny hairs engineered so that they lay flat and in one direction which allows for uphill gliding only; the hairs catch/grab the snow as it starts to slide downhill, stopping the ski.
Skinning, while aerobic, can range from incredibly easy (on the flats), to strenuous (deep snow), to precarious and even life threatening (if you slip on hard snow or ice). As backcountry skiers and boarders contour up a mountainside, every so often it becomes necessary to change direction due to obstacles or hazards or a slope to steep to make a gradual turn–thus, the kick-turn. Our IFMGA guide and master kick-turner, Mark Puleio, shows us in this first post (of two) how to make the perfect kick turn:
For Hard/Firmer Surface Conditions:
Step #1: Ski past where you want to turn and make a flat platform
Step #2 Clear the uphill ski of snow and turn 180 degrees
Step #3 Place uphill ski flat/level in the new direction of travel
Step #4 Transition weight onto uphill ski
Step #5 Flex downhill hip back, allowing the downhill ski tip to rise
Step #6 Bend downhill knee slightly and pivot ski along boot cuff to turn in new direction
Step #7 Skin off in your new direction!
Subscribe to our blog or come back soon to catch our second part regarding kick turns as Mark will show you techniques to help those ski partners who need a little support when kick-turning.