Originally Posted by tim99
So what I am hearing is I need practice/lessons to help me ski in difficult conditions. Skiis will make little difference.
Does this apply to off piste as well?
Assuming I have good powder conditions I still find skiing off piste difficult and tiring and I spend all energy leaning right back - often to the point where if I hit some sort of bump I pop out my bindings. I use normal 170 carving skis - ex rental about 3-4 years old probably.
This leaning back to keep my tips from sinking makes it very hard work and I feel I am in the wrong position.
I was under the impression a mid fat ski WOULD help me ski off piste better in this case.
You're talking about my favorite subject. Here in Jackson Hole, we ski a *lot* of crud. The term is very all-encompassing - almost to the point of referring to any snow conditions that are not groomed or mogulled.
You'll also often run into crud on-piste in situations where the run was not groomed after the snow started falling. As the fresh powder starts to get tracked, it gets more and more "cruddy". Same thing happens off-piste, except there may not be a relatively firm or smooth base underneath like there would often be on-piste.
Typically, the biggest crud problem for learning skiers is balance. Cut up snow is highly variable in the resistance it provides as you move through or over it. You might cruise through an untracked portion that slows you down, then pop out into a packed-out section that speeds you up suddenly. This constant fore-and-aft changing is what tends to throw skiers who are trying to get the hang of crud.
I know it's *much* easier said than done, but the best way to ski crud is to avoid the natural tendency of trying to sit back to keep your tips on top of the snow. Unless you're very, very lightweight, crud is often best skied by powering through it and staying forward. If the clumps and junk are less than about knee-deep, crud can usually best be skied by the same technique you might use for gs-type turns on piste. It takes aggressiveness and quite a bit of faith, but the technique to work toward is one where you consciously stay really centered on your skis.
In the "good powder conditions" you mention, it's very much the same story. Unless the snow is seriously deep (like 24" or more) or quite heavy, it can and should be skied with almost the same technique you would use on groomers. I would argue that a bit narrower stance than normal makes sense in powder, but that's kind of a personal preference thing.
As to the very valid points about "it's the Indian, not the arrows", that's certainly true. It's also true, however, that modern mid-fat and fat skis can make crud skiing a lot easier than if you're using a 170 carving ski. Some of those skis can make moving up the learning curve quite a but quicker.
Powder skiing in good conditions seems to be one of those "Eureka!" things for many people. You can't figure it out, you can't figure it out, you can't figure it out, and suddenly you make the right moves a couple of times and then you wonder why it took so long to get it.
Good crud skiing, on the other hand, is very much a learned skill that you develop over many, many miles. Because crud is so inconsistent and the conditions so varied, you eventually learn that certain types of snow respond best to certain kinds of turns. You have to just go out and ski junk every opportunity you get until you feel more comfortable and balanced in more and more situations.
The nice thing about learning to enjoy crud is that you eventually find yourself enjoying large parts of the mountain that very few skiers are willing to ski.
Have fun and keep at it.