How to do a kickturn while Backcountry Skiing

Check out White Cloud Concierge’s Guide on How to Do a Kickturn while Backcountry Skiing.

  1. Take a step forward 
  2. Have a stable platform
  3. Plant poles
  4. Pivot uphill ski
  5. Weight shift
  6. Kick back downhill leg
  7. Continue hiking

Backcountry skiing techniques are important to learn in order to feel confident while you are skinning up the slopes near Salt Lake City, Utah. Whether you are asking yourself “what’s a kickturn in skiing” or you are hoping to learn how to become a better backcountry skier, this step by step guide on how to do a kickturn while backcountry skiing will set you up for success. Grab your ski touring package and learn to navigate the steep terrain of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch mountains of Utah.

Take a step forward 

Before you start your kickturn, make sure to take a step forward with your downhill ski. This will set you up so your downhill ski is slightly more forward then your uphill ski putting you in the right position. This will give you more balance and will help with a smooth and efficient kickturn.

Have a stable platform

Make sure you have some stable packed snow under your skis and that your feet feel sturdy and in place. If you are slipping around at an awkward angle, take a few steps forward before you begin your kickturn. In order to have a smooth and successful kickturn while backcountry skiing, stability and balance are important to set you up for success.

how to kickturn while backcountry skiing

Plant poles

Once your skis are in the right position and your feet are steady, it’s time for you to plant your poles in the right position in the snow. Plant your uphill pole towards the tail of your uphill ski and plant your downhill pole towards the tip of your downhill ski. Make sure they are planted firmly in the snow so you can use the poles for backup support while you are kickturning. 

Pivot uphill ski

Once you are fully stable and in place with your skis and poles, shift your weight into your downhill ski. Once your weight is shifted, lift your uphill ski off the ground and pivot your leg back by opening your hips and turning your uphill ski. Some people may be able to make their skis as close to parallel as possible while others may have their skis in a V shape. Make sure to not push it and do what feels the most comfortable for your body.

Weight shift

Once your uphill ski has pivoted, shift your weight into your uphill ski so you can prepare to kick back your downhill ski. Rely heavily on putting the weight in your feet while using your poles as needed. Engage your legs, bend your knees and securely hold your feet in place in order to have your touring skins grip onto the slope of the mountain with ease.

how to kickturn while backcountry skiing

Kick back downhill leg

Once you securely shift your weight onto your uphill ski, lift your downhill ski off of the snow and slightly kick your heel back. Flick the top part of your ski up and steer your ski above your planted foot so it is parallel to the other ski. This should all be done in one smooth motion by shifting your weight, lifting your ski, kicking the heel slightly and turning your ski around to match up with your other ski. If you are having trouble with this motion, think of kicking your heel towards your butt to lift the ski far enough to turn it uphill. Evenly plant your body weight into both skis once the kickturn has been completed. 

Continue hiking

If you look down at your feet and your skis are parallel to each other and you are now facing the opposite way of your former skin track, you are ready to start hiking again. The more backcountry skiing you do, the more opportunities you will have at improving your kickturns. How to do a kickturn while backcountry skiing can be a little confusing, but once you keep practicing and get the motions down it will come to you naturally.

Get outside and practice your kickturns!

Ok, now you have all the tips, so it’s time to start practicing your kickturns in the Wasatch mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah!

Now get out on the slopes with a buddy and your avalanche gear and make sure to pay attention to local avalanche conditions. Here at White Cloud Concierge we recommend taking an avalanche safety course and to make smart decisions in avalanche terrain. If you are backcountry skiing in Utah and are working on your kickturns, check out four simple ski tours in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Both Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon are great destinations to go backcountry skiing close to Salt Lake City. These tips on how to do a kickturn while backcountry skiing will help all levels and if you are just learning how to ski tour, check out these backcountry skiing tips for beginners. Now get out there, be safe and enjoy the deep spring snow that is currently blanketing the Wasatch mountains in Big Cottonwood Canyon and in Grizzly Gulch.

Learn about other winter outdoor recreation options to enjoy during the snowy months in Salt Lake City!