Top Gun Edge Release
Step into the pilot's seat so you can fly on skis. Imagining your hands to be on the flight controller, you can learn to use more subtle movements to get your turns started and make a smoother turn.
A smooth turn requires a smooth initiation, but a lot of skiers never drop the habit of throwing the hips and the shoulders to start bringing the skis around. That motion, however, is inherently unstable, but the alternative is to bring the center of gravity downhill slightly, which is uncomfortable for a lot of skiers. Normally, we get skiers used to releasing the edges by sideslipping, and then moving on to garlands, but all of this takes place comfortably away from pointing down into the fall line (that is straight down hill). At a certain point, though, it's time to put it all together and make a nice full turn that starts just with a movement downhill over the ski and releases the edges and points the skier into the fall line.
So we need a method to get people to make that move out over the skis yet stay within their comfort zone. And since they're used to throwing their upper bodies or checking with the leg in order to get the turn started, we also want to quiet down as much of the body as possible, so they can feel how smooth a turn can be.
I often ask people to imagine they're a fighter pilot flying an F-16. I could be less militaristic, but I don't want my students to think of themselves as lumbering 747s. I want them to think of speed, performance, video games and Tom Cruise (even though of course they used F-14s in the film). And I also want them to think of wild corkscrew dives so that whatever they're doing seems like nothing in comparison to what their mental F-16 is doing.
The trick is simple. We start out doing some garlands across the hill. They practice releasing the edges and moving the weight slightly forward and feeling how the tips drop, and then pulling out of it. When they're ready to brign the turn all the way around, I tell them to stick their hand out in front of them and imagine they're holding the flight stick on their F-16. Then we start a gentle traverse and I have them push the flight stick forward and downhill to go into their wild corkscrew dive. The effect is that the small movement of the hands naturally brings their weight forward and downhill as well. That releases the edges and drops the tips and gets them into the fall line, where they can start to come back up on the edges and carve through the finish of their turn.
I also think that the fighter jet imagery makes them a bit more aggressive and a bit more comfortable with the idea of pointing 'em downhill and going, very briefly, into a "dive".
Obviously, in the long run, we don't want people waving their hands all over and pretending to hold on to a flight stick. That is, we don't want to replace one bad habit with another, but I find that having people try this several times until they get the feel of it can break the old habit (throwing the shoulders or throwing the leg out to initiate the turn), and then we quickly get them to drop the flight stick and refine the movement even more.
About the Jet Engine Noise
I need to tell one story about this exercise. Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but when I push my flight controller forward and down and go into my corkscrew drive, I like to make, uh, engine noises. More like the RRRRrrrrrrooooooowwwnnnnnnnnn of a propeller plane, but whatever. So one day a student informs me "I hate it when you make those noises. Seven year olds don't fall for that kind of stuff." So a few days later I'm out there with a woman in her later forties and were doing the same exercise, but suddenly I'm self-conscious of my engine noise. So I demo one and then it's her turn, and as she skis by in a beautiful turn, I hear her loudly roaring RRRRrrrrrrooooooowwwnnnnnnnnn as she goes by. Moral of the story: seven year-olds don't fall for that sort of stuff, but 40-somethings do.