I had a very productive ski year-I got better across the board. But the best thing I did was reacquaint myself with the 'hop'. Yep, the old-fashioned hop-turn. You know as an aspiring 'athletic' intermediate some years ago, I pretty much hopped my gaper butt down any slope with irregular terrain and steep pitch. But, for about five years now I've eschewed all forms of hopping/ twisting in order to gain so-called expert skills. In fact, I came to deride and dismiss all hopping as a 'cop-out'.
That is, until this year. One guy I ski with often, is one of the best 'bad-snow' skiers I know. He uses skinny k2 crossfires in all conditions. We had one day in some dense, off-the map east coast woods, all breakable crust on funky snow, and though I worked my way through it several times, I floundered, flailed, and hacked but never actually 'skied' any of it. But my cohort, had no trouble-and I watched him, he used again and again this subtle, but effective little 'crud-hop' sometime little more than an aerial edge-change, other times a slight tip redirection and edge change-but he could do it without loss of fore/ aft balance and without sacrificing smoothly linked turns.
I asked him (he is an instructor) to help me learn that move, and as it turns out, I actually sucked at hop-turns/ hop edge changes. He taught me some good drills an I spent the next few weeks doing a number of hopping runs just working on smoothness, and staying centered and in balance at any speed (fast of slow) while hopping. About a month later, in some trees at the Mittersill Area of Cannon, on similarly 'funky snow day' I busted out the 'crud-hop' and, frankly skied better, more fluidly, with more control (in terms of going where I wanted, when I wanted and not merely at the mercy of the mountain) than ever before. I only hopped when it made sense or when there was no room to turn (or more specifically time to change edges traditionally), but man, this move opened up areas and lines that had me flailing a month earlier.
I know there are legions of folks on line who will dismiss any talk about hopping, let alone developing expert hop turns, as 'bad skiing' . But I know that anyone who says they never hop is avoiding some terrain-snow condition combination. If you are really going to ski the whole mountain, in ay condition, sooner or later you'll hop-and if you do, you might as well do the ground work to make sure that hop is an expert one, in balance, precise and effective.