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Next lesson: Learn to turn.. change direction and the DIRT model

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Our next lesson in skiing and life is “Learn to turn”..


Goal: Have the skills to change direction and manage speed with turns/direction change.

Measurement: Turns become second nature.


As always, the first thing to remember when changing direction, or turning.. is to start  by being balanced. If your weight is behind your feet you won’t turn, so being in balance is paramount. So if you’re not centered.. get there.

Some believe that “turning” is an easy skill to skip over… not so. Turns accomplish several valuable outcomes in skiing .. and life. First of all if you keep going in the same direction you will eventually hit something or have a nasty fall. The ability to turn allows you to avoid obstacles.. trees, people, cliffs, cars, poles, squirrels, rocks… all bad choices to ski into. Plus you get to go a different direction see more.


Life Parallel – If you fear changing direction, you options are limited and eventually end.


Look where you want to go, not where you are going at this very second. This is another way to set yourself up for success. Now, as you look down the hill.. sometimes the scariest place to look.. with your weight over your feet.. just turn your feet where you want to go. Sounds a bit over simplified.. but it’s the only way to turn. Just rotate your leg, which turns your feet.. which of course turns your skis. Direct the pressure to the downhill foot and continue to turn back up the hill to find the desired speed as you get ready for another turn. You are constantly finishing a turn as you begin another one…

We call this “finish-iation”.. finishing and initiating at the same time.

Think about that for a second… you are finishing a change in direction as you start another one… deep huh?!?


Life parallel – Looking down the hill and leaning in the same direction (down the hill) is counter-intuitive. Your brain wants you to lean back up the hill.. the place you just came from. Don’t do it! It will make you fall. Face the fear of the unknown and lean into the turn directing all your energy toward your new direction. It works and you’ll be amazed at how it becomes with practice. Sometimes facing your fear and meeting it head on is not just a healthy thing to do, but the very thing you need to survive and master your decision to take another direction

This will blow your mind…. If you turn far enough back up the hill, you stop. Go too far back up the hill and you will start to go backwards.


Turning/changing direction takes practice and control to know just how much turning to add.. more or less. Always directing your pressure to the outside foot in the direction of intended motion. Putting pressure/weight on the wrong foot (uphill) will make you fall.


Now I’m going to share with you one of the secrets I learned from my trainer, good friend, mentor and sensei… Caroline Fushimi.. Our training director at Brighton Ski Resort and kick-ass skier. Caroline is probably 4 foot 10 inches (if that) and can ski the pants off of anyone I’ve ever skied with. And her carving is something to see as well… in fact I try to stay on her ski tails when she carves down the hill.. trying to keep up with her… I can’t.. she always pulls away.

Caroline taught us the DIRT model years ago. I actually use this in my other life to teach/coach on-air talent as well. Here it is..


D – Direction — Know what direction you want to go before you try to make it happen. In radio and TV I tell the talent to know what direction they what to take the break and how they plan to end it before they start it. No comedian walks out on stage and just “wings” it.. they have a plan.

I – Intensity — What is the intensity of the movement.. graceful and slow or aggressive and abrupt! Same with on-air.

R – Rate/Range — This is the rate at which you move. If you are on a steep slope versus a green beginner run, the rate will be different. It also can stand for range.. meaning the variation you add to the range of motion you’ll need to create the desired movement.. or turn. On-air.. how fast you speak..

T – Timing — How does it all work together? The timing of the hands, feet, knees/legs and eyes… there is a specific timing that goes into every turn or change in direction. Think about how this works in life too. On-air, this refers to the timing of a “pay-off” in a joke, bit or piece of information.


The DIRT model is a great tool to use for all direction changes.


Turning is not just a safety maneuver, but the beginning of all things skiing and life! Let the exploration begin….. but your first turn, and then another..


Oh one last thing. Once you have made a turn or change in direction… never look back. It always makes you fall. Keep looking forward and look for your next opportunity to turn again..


Next lesson: Turning on green runs…




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