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First powder day ever

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Went out for Aspens 14 inch storm this morning. First time out with more than an inch overnight. To say I floundered at first is an understatement.

A few things. Im certain my skiis are undersized (I'm 6'4 185 the skiis are 167's and 80 waist) it seemed like I was waayyyy in the backseat in order to keep from going over the handle bars. I also was struggling to initiate turns most of the morning.

My questions. Am I supposed to be that far back? If not where should my weight be? Without seeing video what could be some reasons I was struggling to initiate turns (I know that will be very hard to answer) finally, how big of an issue are the skiis?
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsswift1 View Post

Went out for Aspens 14 inch storm this morning. First time out with more than an inch overnight. To say I floundered at first is an understatement.
A few things. Im certain my skiis are undersized (I'm 6'4 185 the skiis are 167's and 80 waist) it seemed like I was waayyyy in the backseat in order to keep from going over the handle bars. I also was struggling to initiate turns most of the morning.
My questions. Am I supposed to be that far back? If not where should my weight be? Without seeing video what could be some reasons I was struggling to initiate turns (I know that will be very hard to answer) finally, how big of an issue are the skiis?

Hi JS,

 

Powder is great, but it does tend to highlight any deficiences in your technique.

 

 

Well, here are some thoughts - you wrote that you felt the need to get into the back seat, skiing in the backseat, will make turn intiation very difficult.  So, my advice...rise up (extend ankles, knees, hips) to start the turn (this will move your weight forward)....as the turn progresses, allow your ankles, knees and hips to flex (this will move your weight back).  In reality, the amount of front to back movement is not that much....from the ball of your foot to the heel at most.

 

80 waist is tons for an "inch".  167 thou is very short for a 6'4 guy.  Dont blame the skis.....you should still be able to make that work...but some length...like at least another 10cm wouldnt hurt.

post #3 of 18

"80mm is a ton for an inch".  I agree with that, but the OP was out in 14".  I think his skis are too small to be easy for him in those conditions.  An extra 10cm would really help as would some extra width in 14" of snow.  Powder can be tricky especially the first time.  The OPs skis can be made to work and using what you have is better than not skiing, but a longer wider ski will make it easier with no changes in technique.

 

You should not lean back in powder.  As SkiDude said, it does make it harder to initiate a turn and it burns up your quads in a hurry.  SkiDudes advice is good.  I would add that in addition to moving forward you should also be moving downhill across your skis.  This has been called the foragonal movement and described as "moving your hips into the turn" in many other threads.  In powder it is also helpful to avoid overturning your skis.  You need to keep some momentum from one turn to the next to stay smooth.  The powder will slow you down at the end of the turn more than you think if you are used to hard snow.  The constant acceleration and deceleration can really mess up your for/aft balance as well as tire you out in a big hurry.  The "fix" that many people use for the sensation that they "might" go over the handlebars is leaning back and turning with upper body rotational movements.  

 

Get more active technically with your movements and range of motion like SkiDude said and tactically ski closer to the fall-line with less finish across the hill at the end of your turn to maintain a more constant speed and avoid pitching forward as your skis slow down in the powder during turn completion.

post #4 of 18

80mm at the waist aint tons for 14" though especially at 167cm for 6' 4" 185lbs. Change your skis and ill bet you handle those powder days better. But anyones first day in powder is gonna be a bit tricky.

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. I did have a few good turns today when I was focusing on extending to initiate, but I definately spent most of the day struggling and my legs are reminding me of that now. How much would properly sized skis helped, not blaming them for my troubles since it was definately the Indian and not the arrow? What are some good drills/thoughts to help ingrain the foreaganol movements and extending to initiate the turns?
post #6 of 18

im no instrustor so i cant help you with drills or anything but i can tell you my experience with wider skis as Ive skied powder with tooth picks back in the day. All I can say is it feels like your skiing a groomer (technique-wise) with the sensation of being on a cloud. pure bliss.

post #7 of 18

Go here and click on the Powder 101 video

http://www.canadianmountainholidays.com/heli-skiing/trips/powder101

You will see the three most common powder novice mistakes

-legs too far apart

-leaning back

-weighting skis unevenly

The ultimate expression of these errors is the classic 'corkscrew/backwards fall' manouvre.

The instructor is doing everything right so he is the benchmark to compare to the learners. In particular the woman in the video with the purple jacket and pink pants makes a lot of progress but note that even at the end she is doing bicycle turns moving her legs up and down independently like riding a bicycle. Don't do that.

Wide skis help because they let you ski like you are on firm snow thus reducing the need to learn new skills. Pity. 

post #8 of 18

Powder skiing is all about making little adjustments. As Castle Dave has noted, you can adjust your gear to the point where groomed snow technique will work just fine. With your normal gear, the natural adjustment to avoid going over the handlebars is to sit back. When you sit back, you end up burning your quads quickly. This works, but not very well and not for very long.

 

So let's add the classic adjustments that Dave has hinted at to the earlier advice to come with a starter list of powder tips:

Move your feet a little closer together than normal (less than 6 inches apart, but not locked together)

Make your weight distribution more towards 50-50 than normal (a lot more weight on the outside ski)

Make your turns a little narrower (less across the trail)

Make your speed a little faster

 

TOES UP

In less than a foot of snow, this is usually enough. But over a foot, that "submarining" feeling needs one more little adjustment. If you lift your toes up (close the ankle joint), you can get your skis to "plane" against the snow the same as leaning back, but with a lot more control and a lot less quad burn. The exact amount of plane that you need will vary with the snow depth and consistency, your gear and your speed. This is not easy.

 

GET STARTED

Since it's hard to get the right amount of plane dialed in right away. I help rookies get started by starting them off in a traverse to help them find a straight line speed they are comfortable with while playing with the "plane angle". When speed gets too high or submarining starts to happen, turn uphill to a stop and reset. When they gets comfortable, try bouncing in the snow while traversing. When that gets comfortable try turning down the hill at the top of a bounce. This is where you apply the advice that Dude and TPJ have provided. Eventually, the bounce happens naturally as the rebound from one turn to the next and ouila you are skiing powder.

 

SLOW MOTION

One more tip I give to newborn powder hounds is to make your turns in slow motion. When you are in the snow, the snow provides resistance to your movements.  Quick movements get punished. Patient movements overcome the extra resistance.

 

Remember that the amount for all these adjustments will vary depending on lots of factors and there are no friends on a powder day.

post #9 of 18

Don't worry, it gets easier and almost everyone has a bad first day in deep snow.  The number one tip for improving in powder that I like to give is to embrace gravity.  Speed is your friend.

 

But yes, your skis are too short and could be wider for sure.  You are having technique issues but there's no reason you can't improve on better equipment for the situation, and they'll help you improve faster.

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the tips. Looks like ill get another try at it in the morning, will report back if I do better.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsswift1 View Post

Thanks for all the tips. Looks like ill get another try at it in the morning, will report back if I do better.

I am about your size and would recommend you demo something wider and longer in addition to trying some of the technical advice above.  Technique is IMPORTANT but your current skis are going to highlight any technical deficiencies you have.  Something wider, longer and (at least) tip rockered will help to mask those deficiencies.  A lesson may help you figure things out quicker than you can by relying on internet advice from guys who haven`t seen you ski.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Figured I would follow up on this. Had another good storm and got to ski it for about an hour before work. Was in control 90% of the time today. Really focused on extending to start turns and it was great. Balance was good too. Didn't fall once. Really opened it up my past two laps and made easy turns and I am already looking forward to the next storm.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsswift1 View Post

Figured I would follow up on this. Had another good storm and got to ski it for about an hour before work. Was in control 90% of the time today. Really focused on extending to start turns and it was great. Balance was good too. Didn't fall once. Really opened it up my past two laps and made easy turns and I am already looking forward to the next storm.

Same skis?

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post

Same skis?

Yes
post #15 of 18

Very glad it's working our for you. Provided a person has good on piste skills to start with, I have found that learning to ski powder isn't a gradual thing. It's more like learning to ride a bike ie; fall, fall, fall, fall, eurika!!. When you get it you get it fast. If you can do decent powder turns on your present skis wait until you get on something wider and longer!  Although it would be nice, they don't have to be dedicated powder skis - just about anything 180+ and apprx. 100 wide will be a huge improvement. 

post #16 of 18

Just as a reference, I'm 5'8" and 145lb. My power skis are Fatypus early riser skis, 184 cm long and 101 mm underfoot. In 14" of powder they ski smooth as silk with absolutely no drama! Narrower stance, stay centered and stacked and ski as if your in slow motion. Most of all, yell Heeeee Haaaaa this is a blast!!!
 

post #17 of 18

Since the OP has been working on powder technique with his old skis and making progress, I predict a powder skiing epiphany if he rents a 180cm long by 100mm wide ski on the next 10"+ day.

post #18 of 18

I agree with DanoT. At 185 lb, the OP would probably find 180cm x 100mm to be a comfortable combination, especially a modern ski with a little tip rocker.

 

FWIW (admittedly not much), I ski powder at my home area on BC's Powder Highway on an older ski with no rocker. It's 177cm x 96mm and I weigh 165 lb.

 

TheRusty has a good summary above. Go with it. The "lifting the toes" trick also tends to help keep your hips over your feet, rather than behind them.

 

Bouncing, "porpoising" and, in general, retraction moves are a lot of fun in powder, and they can make steering easier. However, they add movement complexity for the powder newbie, and, if applied with too much enthusiasm, may lead to overturning and going over the handlebars or getting stuck. Allow the turns to be a bit longer, and most skis will turn nicely without coming anywhere near the surface. One of my best ever powder runs involved 3 feet of untracked and a pair of skis only 78mm wide underfoot. Tip them (skis only, not shoulders and upper body!) and they'll turn, even if they're deep. If the skis are rockered, the rocker shape will pull you right around if the ski is submerged.

 

Find a line which provides a little speed, but not so much it's uncomfortable. Tip the skis. Wait. You'll turn. Do as little as possible. You want to do this all day, don't you?

 

On non-powder days, explore retraction turns. Feel what it's like to pull your feet up through transitions. Play with pulling your toes up. Feel how it can also pull you forward. Make sure you're not staying on the backs of your boots as you pull your toes up. The idea is to close the ankles, not lift the tips of the skis. Try retractions in moguls.

 

In powder again, build up a little speed and let the snow push your feet up toward the transition. Use as little effort as possible. If your quads start to burn, move your hips forward.

 

Go play!

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