Stem Christie: How To Do The Stem Turn Ski


If you are new to skiing, the Stem Christie (most hikers call it the stem turn) may be new to you. The ski turning technique works as a transition turn between the snowplow and the parallel turns.

When performing the stem turn, your all-mountain skis will be parallel when you are coming across the slope. The snowplow still comes in handy when you are turning through the fall line. In this article, we will show you everything you need to know about the stem turn ski technique.

Why You Should Learn the Stem Christie

If you decide to go across the slope using the snowplow, the uphill ski may end up feeling awkward since it will almost be sideways to the direction you will be traveling in. This is because the snowplow position is more ideal for controlling your speed when you are pointing down a slope, but as you come sideways, the uphill ski will work against what you will be trying to do.

When you are going across the slope, the position that offers the most control is having the beginner skis parallel. In this position, both skis will be sideways to the slope. This will offer you better control and also eliminate the possibility of skis working against each other.

By knowing how to do the stem turn ski technique, you should be able to maximize your control through all phases – keeping the skis parallel when coming across the slope ensures that the skis do not work against each other, and using the snowplow through the fall line helps you control the speed. As long as you use the stem to turn correctly, you should be able to come down steep slopes more easily.

A Step by Step Guide on How to Perform the Stem Turn Ski

For the steps below, we will be assuming that you are going across the slope left to right with the skis parallel:

Step 1: When going across the piste, the first thing you will have to do is initiate the turn. To do this, bring your weight evenly on the skis, lean forwards to get your skis to start falling down the slope. Ensure that the ski edges are not digging into the snow too much – this will give the skis the ability to slide and turn.

Step 2: As your skis start turning down the slope, bring the skis into the snowplow position – by the time you are nearing the fall line, the skis should be in the full snowplow.

Step 3: Bring the weight back to the skis’ middle, lengthways. Lean-to the right to put the body weight on your right ski.

Step 4: The right ski will fall down the slope first, making you turn left and bringing you back across the slope in the other direction.

Step 5: As you start turning back across the slope, bring the skis back to parallel. Ensure that the skis are together by the time you come back across at your chosen angle. Ensure that the weight stays in the skis’ middle lengthways and over your downhill ski (right ski).

Step 6: Continue across the slope and then repeat the process, the other way round, the next time you need to turn.

Understanding the Traverse Position

As noted earlier on, if you decide to use the Stem Christie after donning your ski helmet, your skis will have to be parallel at some point. Understanding the correct traversing position for this should help you avoid making mistakes.

When you are traveling across any slope, you will always have an uphill and downhill ski. Your weight is supposed to be mostly on your downhill ski, with your skis hip-width apart. Since you are sideways to the slope, the downhill ski will be below your uphill ski.

With the ski boots on, you will have very limited ankle motion capability – this means that to keep the uphill ski higher than your downhill ski, you have to bring the uphill knee forward. As you move the uphill knee forward, the uphill ski will also move forward, leaving the uphill ski a little bit in front of your downhill ski.

With your feet in this position, the body position that will allow the most flexibility, movement, and comfort is having the shoulders parallel with the feet position. This makes the skier’s body face down the slope slightly and not in the ski direction – in most cases, this will offer a better view of the direction you are traveling. Leaning forward slightly can help you put your body weight in the middle of your ski, to the downhill side, and hence putting it on the downhill ski.

 The steeper the slope, the higher your uphill ski will be, meaning that the uphill ski will be much further in front. This will make the body point further into your fall line.

Lastly, as you are skiing across any slope, you should avoid digging the edges of the skis too much into the slope. This will allow the skis to slide sideways as you come across.

Understanding the Edge Changes


If you have used the snowplow turn after donning your ski pants, you probably already know that the inside edges will always be pushing into the snow and they never change. However, with the stem turn, you will start with the parallel traverse and end with the parallel traverse in a different direction. This tells you that the edges pushing the snow have to be changed.

When changing from parallel to the snowplow shape, only the ski outside the turn is supposed to change the edge. When bringing the skis parallel again while you approach the end of the turn, only the ski existing inside changes the edge. The skis will change the edge at varying times and at least one ski will always be pushing its edge into the snow, acting as the brake and helping you avoid falling on skis by improving both your control and balance.

In the parallel turn, both edges need to change at the same time. This tells you that both will have to float on the bases for a short period, without the ski edges pushing into the snow. During this time, the skis will not give you much control or speed reduction. This results in a faster acceleration featuring less balance in the middle of your turn.

Mistakes to Avoid When Performing the Stem Turn Ski Technique

  • Leaning back – You must keep your body weight in the middle of the ski. If you do not do this after donning the ski jacket, the front of your skis will rise and you will lose control over this part of the ski.
  • Swinging the body – For the stem turn, you will only need to move your body weight between your skis. Many people attempt to make the turn quicker by swinging their bodies. While swinging your body may help turn the skis, it is not necessary and could leave your body out of position – this can create other issues. To turn more quickly, consider leaning over your outside ski more.
  • Giving up too early – When you move the weight across the ski, you won’t turn instantly. You will need to keep the weight in position until you start turning.
  • Not keeping the skis parallel across the slope – This often results from having a lot of weight on the uphill ski. If you have your weight on the downhill ski, keeping the skis parallel should be easy.

Globo Surf Overview

If you have been struggling with the Stem Christie, this article should help you execute it the next time you put on your ski gloves. While the technique is ideal for steep slopes, be sure to practice it on the less steep slopes – this should help you avoid accidents.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!