Step Turns on Flats and Downhills

Course Overview:

This course was archived in Jan 2021 and replaced with the following videos:

  1. Learn Step Turns Flats & Downhills (Beginner Progression)
  2. Practicing Step Turns on the Flats
  3. Downhill Turns in Races
  4. Drop Step Tutorial (intermediate and above)

Introduction to Step Turns

The Step Turn is a cornering technique used in skate skiing, and in classic skiing on corners where there aren’t any tracks. Step turns can be done on flats, downhills and even uphills. This is an example of a downhill Step Turn:

During a Step Turn, the skis are tilted onto their edges and stepped around the bend in the trail. With each step the skis alternate between a V-position (tails closer together than tips) and a parallel position.

The inside ski steps around the turn, hitting the tangents of the arc. The outside ski may be used in a skating motion to create extra propulsion.

The V-shape of the skis is similar to skate skiing. The key difference is how the skis are edged. In skate skiing, you work off the inside edges of both skis. In Step Turns the skis are both edged onto the same side, either tilted right or left.

The skis are tilted in the direction of the turn. Tilt onto the right edges to turn right, tilt onto the left edges to turn left.

The inside ski is purely directional, which means it’s simply lifted up, then set down on a better tangent as the skier travels around the corner.

The outside ski can push in a skating motion to generate extra propulsion, even on classic skis. It’s one of the rare times a skate kick (leg push) is legal in a classic ski race. The other time is when changing lanes. Refer to the course: Changing Tracks in Classic Skiing.

It’s easier to push with the outside ski at slower speeds, for example when the terrain is flat. At higher speeds there’s less time to push and the skier mostly just steps from ski to ski.

Downhill Step Turns

Step Turns are one of the core Nordic downhill skiing techniques. The others are Snowplow, Parallel Skidding and Tuck. Here’s how Step Turns fit in with other Nordic downhill skiing techniques:

Step Turns are a good choice when you want to maintain speed or even accelerate out of a corner. They are also a great way to preserve grip wax on classic skis because the wax won’t wear off like it does with snowplows and skids.

You can combine Step Turns with other downhill techniques. For example, a common strategy is to skid at the start of a turn to scrub some speed, then accelerate out of the corner with a Step Turn.

Learning to Step Turn: Get started as a novice

Advanced skiers can step turn tight corners at high speeds.

Because Step Turns are used on a wide variety of corners, it’s easy to regress the difficulty by choosing flatter terrain. Novice skiers can (and should) start practicing Step Turns as soon as possible.

It’s easier to learn Step Turning on skate gear because the skis are shorter, easier to handle and designed for skate pushing, plus the rigid boots provide more stability. But because this is a universal nordic ski technique it’s important to practice on both skate and classic skis.

Practicing Step Turns is a great way to improve balance and agility. If you consistently practice a Step Turn drill like the “Crazy 8” drill at the end of every ski outing, you’ll be amazed at how it helps you develop quick feet and more confidence on your skis.

Step Turning on Roller Skis

Roller skiing is a higher risk activity than on-snow skiing so please be careful when practicing Step Turns. It’s important to challenge yourself on roller skis, but it’s more important not to get hurt.

One of the skills taught in this course, the Drop Step, is probably better learned on snow than on roller skis.

In This Course

This course begins with instructional lessons. The first (Basic Cornering) is suitable for beginners. Everyone else can start with the second lesson. You’ll also find demo videos, supplemental drills, advice for building confidence on the downhills and strategies for downhill step turns.

Enjoy! And if you have any questions, please ask them in the forum.