If you spend time in places like Bridger Bowl's Madman’s, Hidden Gully, or the 4th Finger, you already know how handy it is to execute a turn within a tiny patch of real estate. A good hop turn can get you through cruxes without having to sidestep or sideslip, and it can save the snow for the folks behind you.
The most important thing about a jump turn is to practice it. This is a move you’ll rely on in high-stakes situations, so above all, you want to be confident that you can nail it.
Sometimes you’ll do a hop turn while moving, and sometimes you need to levitate off the ground from a standstill. In either case, you want to start from a stable platform that feels secure enough to hop off of. Your torso needs to be facing downhill and you’ll want to be balanced over your feet.
In most cases you don’t need a huge jump. The steeper the terrain the less upward hop you need. Keep your core super tight and spring up with your ankles and knees. Stay as tall as you can; don’t crouch. Plant your downhill pole straight downhill from your feet. This is a precision move, not a huck-your-meat type of thing.
Your core is already facing downhill so your legs are the only part you need to turn. Think of your skis as a compass needle, and spin them around 180 degrees while you’re in the air. If you focus on moving your skis, rather than any of your body parts, you will likely end up with an efficient move rather than a whole-body twist.
The way you come out of the turn is a result of how well you pulled it off. Ideally, you land balanced over your feet, while absorbing the landing with your ankles and knees. If you scoot forward, you’re likely too far back. If the skis didn’t come around evenly, then try tightening your core to stabilize your upper body while allowing your skis to turn. If you didn’t get the skis all the way around, then you’d benefit from more commitment and perhaps a little more loft in your initial jump.
The Next Turn
Jump turns in rapid succession only work if your technique is spot-on. Practice this move in low-consequence terrain until the timing and balance feel natural. It’s also a great way to warm up your toes!
Karin Kirk is a freelance writer and Bridger Bowl instructor, trainer, and Ridge guide.