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Let's take a look at some common cues for how much counter (coiling or counteraction) is good and how much is too much.

There are few cues that I encountered on how much to "counter":

  • the wall1
  • point the hips at the tip of the outside ski2
  • point the belly button at the front piece of the outside ski binding3
  • keep the shoulders pointed down
  • keep the zipper facing down the hill 4
Ted counteracting throughout the turn
Ted counteracting throughout the turn

I'll go flat out and state upfront that in my opinion, alpine skiing is so dynamic and varied a sport, in so many weather conditions and environments that any specific guideline or prescription is necessarily wrong! This is not a "one size suits all".

The extremes

Having said that, there are certain empirical ratios and proportions that we can extract in certain conditions. Let's take a look at them and, before we get into how much is good, let's figure out the extremes.

How much is too little?

The basic principle at work here is that of separation and in this case, rotational separation of the upper and lower body. These should not move as a unit, so if you're following the skis around, rotating into the turn, that's obviously bad. As in too little separation or no counter.

Here's "rotation" into the turn, i.e. too little counter:

Too little counter, i.e. rotation into the turn
Too little counter, i.e. rotation into the turn

Notice that both skiers lead with the outside hand, which tends to rotate the entire body into the turn and rotate.

Too little counter will impair balance and commitment to the outside ski - this will stop the outside ski from slicing and most often these skiers will loose the tails of the outside ski, which will wash out into a skid. While it is overall more nuanced, that's the most common effect of rotating the upper body into the turn.

In bumps and such you simply can't ski, if you don't stabilize your upper body and avoid rotation.

How much is too much?

Too much of a good thing can be bad - likewise with counter. There can be such a thing as too much counter:

Too much counter, hip dumping
Too much counter, hip dumping

This usually leads to a static skiing, where the skier will counter to the max at the top of the turn and then statically just ride the edges through the turn.

Hip dump is also generally accompanied by excessive counter.

If you imagine the skier above skiing slalom, you can see how the upper body would have this huge pendulum-like swing from pointing to the side of the slope on each side. That is in fact very bad.

Just right

So, looking at the cues we've seen so far about how much counter is right - which one is correct?

Neither! Or more accurately: all, in the right circumstances. I think it is clear that skiing is such a varied sport that we cannot prescribe exact positions or amounts of different movements. We can only provide some guides, for training or skiing this or that situation.

Certain situations require more, like skiing ice or mush. Racers end up using quite forceful movements, to compensate for mistakes and put up with challenging courses.

The most important point to make is that we should be counteracting through the turn smoothly and avoid jerky or excessive countering at certain points in the turn.

In fact, probably the best cue for counteracting that I've heard to date is to counteract in relation to how much you're tipping the skis on edge and face your outside ski.

For training

I prefer to exaggerate movements when training, so from anywhere as radical as braquage where you point almost at 90 degrees to the skis to twisting the torso as much as you can, in a Tuck turns drill.

The danger with that is making sure the overall movement pattern is still correct, to avoid hip dump.

For recreational skiing

Some of the cues like pointing the hips to the tips of the outside ski sound like they'd work for more relaxed skiing or pointing to the toe piece of the outside binding for more dynamic skiing.

I would find myself anywhere between those two.

For racing

There are more uses of coiling for racing and no guidelines fits all. The wall was one attempt, but it's only good in some situations - in fact I generally find the wall to be a fairly useless concept. Sure the inside body shuffles forward, that doesn't mean we should lazily go along with it...

Read more

Improve your counter:

Start the coiling workout: Start improving your counter

Some drills:

See more drills on coiling here: coiling|drill


  • USSA GS Technique and tactics 1
  • JFB 2
  • Ski well simply 3
  • Harald Harb 4

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By: Razie | 2016-08-15 .. 2018-12-20 | Tags: post , coiling , technique

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