How to Ski Powder Snow
It’s dumped all night, the holy grail of skiing has arrived- A powder day. So many of us live for this moment the feeling of our skis weightless floating in a powdery bliss!We’ve all seen the videos of godlike skiers flying through the trees up to their waists and we want some of that!!! For many though the first forays into the deep stuff can be a daunting prospect with some giving up altogether. They will hear and read a million different things to help them there are as many articles as snowflakes in the sky.
To make it simple here’s 5 tips to make your first powder days successful!
1 Mental attitude
It’s like anything new it can be scary as well as exciting. When people say you have to have a good mental attitude it always conjours up the image of determined and slightly aggressive. So lets say a relaxed mental attitude- You have to stay relaxed and alert to be really successful in powder snow. Being aggressive will only unbalance you and lead to downwards spiral of failure and frustration. This is only a sport and the more relaxed you are the more fun it will be, remember the good turns and the positive feeling of floating don’t dwell on the bad. You are going to fall things are going to go wrong it happens to all of us embrace it and move on.
Take away: CHILL AND ENJOY
I hear it every day on the mountain when groups of friends are skiing powder and trying to help each other “You just have to lean back in this snow”
Don’t lean back- STAY CENTERED. Leaning back will lock out all the joints in you legs and stop them from moving which in turn puts huge strain on you muscles shortening your skiing day, no matter how hard you’ve trained
If you STAY CENTERED your body can make the adjustments to the terrain under foot. A great thing to try at home is to balance on a door frame- Place the balls of your feet on the door frame you should be able to lean back or forwards using your knees, hips and ankles without falling off. If you fall try flexing your joints more, the balance comes from your legs not from your body.
Take away: STAY CENTERED!
3 Stay Active
Skiing is a dynamic sport there is no one “position” it’s a blend of continually changing movements, reactions and actions to gain our desired outcome(turn). The simplest way to describe this set of movements for your first few forays into powder snow is POP and SMEAR. To initiate the turn we need a little POP to bring your skis towards the surface then SMEAR the skis round the turn. Keep these movements smooth and subtle imagine you’re skiing on eggs. Keep these movements gradual in the powder less is more, if you make massive jerky movements the outcome will be jerky.
Take away: SMOOTH, POP AND SMEAR
4 Line and Rhythm
Lets deal with Line first, when we talk about line we mean the route you will take down the mountain. Pick your line before you set off, plan where you want to stop and then look at everything in between. Visualize where your turns will happen and look for any changes in terrain. Although it can be tempting to stay in someone else’s tracks try and pick your own line- its more fun. RHYTHM- try and keep an upbeat rhythm imagine a chilled yet upbeat song in your head ( Bob Marley Buffalo Soldier works for me) ski to that song. Some people find counting the turns or saying “Turn” out loud helps them. Keeping a good rhythm will allow your skiing to flow and make your POP and SMEAR easier
Take away BOB MARLEY
Get straight down your local hire shop and get a pair of skis suitable to the conditions. Yes a good skier should be able to float down the powder on a pair of World cup slalom skis. Why make it harder than it has to be? Conversly don’t go for the fattest Freeride skis. A pair of all mountain skis with an off-piste bias will help you the most. For the tech geeks amongst you the width of the ski underfoot should be between 95mm and 110mm. That said the ski technician in your hire shop or ski instructor will be able to advise you. A pair of rockered skis will also help immensely, rocker refers to the shape. This means that the ski will float in the snow with ease. Most skis designed for off-piste will have some rocker in the design. Take a look at our article on skis here for a deeper understanding.
Take away GET THE RIGHT GEAR