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Powder 1 - Skier 0

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I thought I was doing pretty well in my skiing. Groomers, or even ungroomed runs with small bumps were no problem. Skied very little powder last year (my first year) -- the max was just above my ankles or so.

So I went to Copper today (my 8th day out so far this season). 10" in 24 hours, 19" in 48. Plus new terrain opening for the first time. So got to ski completely untracked powder. Suddenly it was like I was learning to ski for the first time. The powder was deep, over the boot tops most of the time, and above the knee in some spots. I kept crossing my tips, falling over -- I probably spent more time not moving (falling, getting up, finding skis) than moving. Did my first Superman move (right under the lift too!). The good thing was that the powder was so soft, falling didn't hurt. In fact, it was kind of fun.

But it was frustrating at not being able to ski powder. If I stayed centered my tips dug in and pitched me forward. If I stayed back, I didn't have much control and made wedge turns. One way I found to work was to lift my inside ski on the turns -- that gave me way more control on my turns, but was a killer on the legs.

So what do I need to do to ski powder more fluidly/efficiently? Stay forward, stay back, centered? Is lifting the inside ski bad? I could definitely feel myself using rotary motion to turn the skis around.

Any tips appreciated. Thanks.
post #2 of 18
Skiing powder is the essence of skiing. Once you "get it" there's no better feeling out there. It's like flying through the snow.

There are several issues in powder that are different than skiing on groomed terrain. The first of which is the increased resistance to lateral movement imparted by powder along the length of the ski. This generally results in turns that are too shallow for the terrain that the student is on. On the other hand, evenly pressuring in entire ski and balancing along it’s length is also essential for good power skiing. It is important to keep from “sitting back” or riding the tails to float the skis to the top of the snow surface as is commonly done with inexperienced powder skiers. The ability to feel the snow compacting under the ski and knowing when there is enough resistance from this compaction to turn the ski is also a critical skill to develop. It is also critical to develop a more equal weighting of the skis relative to each other as opposed to a heavy outside foot, which would dive the outside ski deeper into the snow. One biggie in pow is getting the feet to work together. Part of this can be accomplished with a narrower stance (but not pressed together close). Pow newbies tend to "rush" their turns in pow and don't allow time for the skis to bend and the snow to compact under their feet.

Half the battle when skiing pow is finding the right slope for the day (as you get better this is any slope ;-) ). Now this can relate to depth of snow, steepness and aspect (if wind blown). Start of on slopes that are shallow enough to allow for straight runs without turning, but steep enough to keep you moving. Work on finding your balance point and distributing the weight equally between both feet. When that feels comfortable, bump the steepness up just a bit and add a few shallow turns. Keep doing this until you are linking nicely shaped turns. Concentrate on your balance and smoothly moving/turning your feet together. Be patient and don't turn your feet too fast. You'll find your self tipped over down the hill. But hey, at least pow is soft....

Good luck and have fun....
post #3 of 18
What are the dimensions of the skis you were on? If you were on typical carving skis, powder skiing can be tricky to learn. Get more float!

In any case, keep equal weight on both skis was the first useful tip I got when starting out in powder.
post #4 of 18

Think about it.

Powder slows you down.......think about it...you're moving through all of that snow instead of moving on top of it. This means you need more speed. Speed is life in this case. So is pitch. It also means that the turn happens a bit slower.

Now the problem is that you want to tip the hill up and increase your speed to make it easier but this is a new situation for you and therefore there is fear or hesitation or lack of commitment. This is death in pow. In reality it is the stumbling block for skiers to advance past many levels including bumps and Z turns. New pow skiers also panic a bit when they try to make that first turn and seemingly nothing happens and they fall over adn their confidence falls also. Be patient....the turn will happen and you will find that you don't need much of one. Just as in bumps try to set a rhythm and stick with it. Think of flowing and of flexing and extending your legs. keep the turns short and in the fall line. If you complete them too much you will have a hard time. Instead of connected C's down the hill think of stretched out S's.Trust that the snow itself and the skis moving up and down in the snow during the different phases of the turn will slow you way down. Keep moving...don't lose your momentum and energy.

In deep snow and in chowder your skis can be deflected so it's important to pay attention to both of them. If all you do is actively think about both your feet and guiding them during the turn you will end up with a more even weight distribution and less chance of your ski getting knocked around.

Dont get hung up on the equipment. Although mid fats and fats make it easier they are not necessary especially in dry, light snow. It's the state of mind.If you have a good turn on the groomed you can ski powder...it's a mind set and now you know what it is so go do it. There is nothing else like it.
post #5 of 18

Vive Sierra Cement!

Faisasy,

Have you read any of the old threads on Epic?
Like http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...ghlight=powder
(which also points to Secrets of the Deep from Alta on the PSIA site)
and
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...ghlight=powder
(Use the advanced search capability on just the technique forum to find more threads)

It sounds like the snow you were in required the transition from flat surface to 3 dimensional skiing. When you just ride in this kind of snow and sit back, you'll keep the tips up but they will wander and you will burn your quads. If you're just in the snow and centered, then your tips will dive and you either halt or face plant (or superman). What you need to do is navigate your skis up and down within the powder so that the skis ride highest in the snowpack when you are most in the fall line and lowest in the pack when you are most across the fall line. An exercise for this is to bounce up and down while doing a traverse, then initiating a turn on one of the up bounces. When you're in this kind of snow, you need to make your skis act like they are on a roller coaster inside the snowpack.

There are lots of other adjustments to make, but this tip will get you started and the other adjustments are well covered in the other threads.

BTW - With respect to your problem, I've been there, done that and don't miss it one bit. The newer shaped skis make life a lot easier, and the fat powder skis are just plain cheating. Regardless, with a few tips and many days of practice, you'll grow to love powder. But with many days of powder practice, you will find that, even after you think you know how to ski powder, you'll eventually get a day with a unique kind of depth, heaviness, crust and slope pitch combination that will knock you on your ass all over again. The difference is that by then you will have an assortment of adjustments in your skiing tool bag to quickly solve the problem.
post #6 of 18
Faisasy, sadly, moving to Colorado has not removed my powder flunkie status, so it seems that you and I are on the same losing team. We should definitely ski a powder day together so we can help each other up between wipeouts.

I was at Copper on thursday, and had similar problems, although I did manage to stay upright. The biggest mistake I always make is neglecting to establish speed before turning. If I try to start across the hill, in powder, I end up on my side.

Today at Breck, I was on a midfat, Dynastar Exclusive Legend, 75 waist. It was a bit easier. Also, not sure if this makes sense, but somehow I think that the bump skiing my Copper Instructor is having me do is making ski better in powder.

Good luck. Keep the faith!
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy
I thought I was doing pretty well in my skiing. Groomers, or even ungroomed runs with small bumps were no problem. Skied very little powder last year (my first year) -- the max was just above my ankles or so.

So I went to Copper today (my 8th day out so far this season). 10" in 24 hours, 19" in 48. Plus new terrain opening for the first time. So got to ski completely untracked powder. Suddenly it was like I was learning to ski for the first time. The powder was deep, over the boot tops most of the time, and above the knee in some spots. I kept crossing my tips, falling over -- I probably spent more time not moving (falling, getting up, finding skis) than moving. Did my first Superman move (right under the lift too!). The good thing was that the powder was so soft, falling didn't hurt. In fact, it was kind of fun.

But it was frustrating at not being able to ski powder. If I stayed centered my tips dug in and pitched me forward. If I stayed back, I didn't have much control and made wedge turns. One way I found to work was to lift my inside ski on the turns -- that gave me way more control on my turns, but was a killer on the legs.

So what do I need to do to ski powder more fluidly/efficiently? Stay forward, stay back, centered? Is lifting the inside ski bad? I could definitely feel myself using rotary motion to turn the skis around.

Any tips appreciated. Thanks.
The skis you are using will not function well in the conditions that we faced thursday.
post #8 of 18
I would say just the opposite to Therusty with respect to where the skis are deepest in the snow. We ski powder using deliberate pressure control through flexion and extention along with the forces we create in turning. The thing is that we extend or lengthen the legs and pressure the skis most during the middle of the turn, which is into, through, and out of the falline. The end of the turn and the begging of the next is when we release the prssure by deliberately flexing or shortening the legs which gets the skis to come up towards the surface of the snow. The porposing effect. The heavy and light, or yin and yang of powder skiing. Heavy in the middle of the turn and light at the end and begining of the turn. Just felt this needed clarified. Later, RicB.
post #9 of 18
To ski powder you need basically 4 things:

1) Stay on the softspot of your skis (centered)
2) Bump your speed a couple of notches (when you think you are going fast enough (first notch), just go a bit more (second notch))
3) Close your stance to hip width and work with both legs at the same time
4) Be patient and relaxed

Flatter runs are usually harder to ski 'cause you don't get enough speed and you can't turn your skis so you will end up "forcing" the turns with your knees or shoulders and also sitting back. In no time you will either fall cause your skis will cross or get very tired (or both)
Enjoy
post #10 of 18
Been there, done that, taken pictures, gone home.......... Ishull has dialed the nuances of technique perfectly - all that I will add is the need for SPEED.

The powder breakthrough for me came when I finally committed and let go - meaning I let my speed come up to the point where "ski float" actually happens. Funny that I could scream a groomer at 40+ MPH and not blink - but put me in powder and I tried to crank turns at 5 miles per day. No workee keemosabe.

Instead, point directly down the fall line and let them run for a while - a LONG while - it will feel VERY uncomfortable - but it MUST BE DONE grasshopper.

Stay acutely tuned to the feedback from EACH ski - you will feel the pressure build as the snow compacts and the tips begin to rise - they are telling you the moment is at hand - wait, wait............ NOW - commit and do the "dual action killer ski video double leg piston pump" and hooray - you turned!

Now repeat for the remaining elevation.

Grin like an idiot.

Laugh out loud.

Stop, look back, and take a picture.

Go to the lodge.

Have a beer.

Tell EVERYONE about your day.

post #11 of 18
Just give 'er.
post #12 of 18
If that was the same snow we had here in Utah on Thursday and Friday it was s-u-p-e-r heavy. Used to call it leg-breaker snow. Now I suppose it is ACL-snapper snow. It is more like water skiing (having never water-skied lol) you just kind of skim and don't make any sudden movements, and stay away from other people's tracks.

Can you easilt swing a pole through it? If not, to be perfectly honest I stay away from it pretty much unless I can get a totally clean line. But then, we're kind of spoiled out here.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
Can you easilt swing a pole through it? If not, to be perfectly honest I stay away from it pretty much unless I can get a totally clean line. But then, we're kind of spoiled out here.
Hahaha. Yup, pretty spoiled.

Once you go fat, you will never, ever, ever go back. Skiing in more than 6 inches of snow without a fat ski is like torture now. They just work so much better.

Speed and pitch are your friends. Nothing is worse than being in that skier's hell where there is beautiful snow everywhere, but it isn't steep enough to ski well. I think blue terrain is an absolute minimum in deep snow, and even some rolling blue terrain is downright arduous and difficult to keep speed on. The steeper, the better. If its steeper than what you'd normally ski, go for it on the powder day. You'll love it.
-Garrett
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
Hahaha. Yup, pretty spoiled.
LOL. I meant to say pole tip. But there are days here that you could easily swing the fattest fattie through it. <evil grin> I must say that this latest storm was very wet -- 1-2' yielded 3-6" of water! I'm not nearly as spoiled as most of the people here (if it doesn't snow for a week the mountain gets very deserted, and I'm having a blast carving on hard snow, clear skies, and empty slopes) and I didn't want to ski it, nor did I see anyone (who had a clue what they were doing) skiing it.

To get back to the thread, one thing to mention is that up and down movement is still required. You want to unload your ski to help it turn. And...(as mentioned) speed is most definetly your friend. No speed == no way you are getting your skis to turn.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
Can you easilt swing a pole through it? If not, to be perfectly honest I stay away from it pretty much unless I can get a totally clean line. But then, we're kind of spoiled out here.
You're spoiled rotten, That heavy stuff is Eastern Powder!
post #16 of 18
1) Rent fat skis.
2) Equal weight on both skis all the time.
3) Weight centered fore & aft.
4) Feet close together.
5) Get the feel for the tempo the snow will allow you to turn--slower movements than usual.
6) No need to ski fast unless you feel a need to see your skis
7) Loosen the top buckle of your boots. Soft boots are best for soft snow.
8) Several ways to turn...
(a) Strong up-unweight.
(b) Just rotate your shoulders in the direction you want to turn. This will "bank" your skis throught the snow like an airplane banking in a turn.
(c) Just roll your knees & ankles to bank the skis around the turn.
(d) More advanced...very, very slight tip pressure when you start the turn and very slight heel pressure when you end the turn.
(e) Bound to be more ways to turn, but that's what comes to mind.


Ken
post #17 of 18
Lots of good advice here.

My basic rule: Ski fall line and link turns. Powder is really hard for anyone to traverse, turn, and traverse again. Powder turns don't come around very far so once you get linking them, it will click. I only have trouble when I have to make that finished turn to stop.

It is best not to stop, someone might snag your line.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
I would say just the opposite to Therusty with respect to where the skis are deepest in the snow. We ski powder using deliberate pressure control through flexion and extention along with the forces we create in turning. The thing is that we extend or lengthen the legs and pressure the skis most during the middle of the turn, which is into, through, and out of the falline. The end of the turn and the begging of the next is when we release the prssure by deliberately flexing or shortening the legs which gets the skis to come up towards the surface of the snow. The porposing effect. The heavy and light, or yin and yang of powder skiing. Heavy in the middle of the turn and light at the end and begining of the turn. Just felt this needed clarified.
(Rusty was at PSIA-E Pro Jam last week)

Ric,

I think we're talking about 2 different kinds of powder. Let's start with the bounce exercise for turn initiation where one traverses across the hill bouncing up and down and then initiates a turn on an up bounce. If they literally initiate the turn at the top of the bounce, then yes the top (depth wise) part of the turn is going across the fall line and the bottom (deepest) would be in the fall line. But I think in heavy powder, you'll find the turn is actually initiated on the start of the up move (i.e. the deepst point is when going across the fall line).

In light powder we can lift the skis out of the snow with a retraction move and be short legged across the fall line (high in the snow) and long legged in the fall line (deep in the snow) and use the lack of powder depth to help make turn initiation easier. This is going to be the standard technique for short radius "cross under" turns. But the depth change in these kinds of turns is not real significant. In light powder you want a floating feel that comes from being at a fairly consistent depth.

In heavy powder, the technique I'm referring to relies on the ski tips rebounding off a heavier bottom layer in the snow to be the main porpoising force. I'm thinking you still have short legs across the fall line here, but you're using pressure on the front of the ski to drive the tips into the snow going from the fall line to across the fall line. You then land distinctly toes first (decambering the ski) rolling the pressure to your heels and then using the beginning of the extension move to help aid the rebound effect. The edges move from uphill edges to flat to downhill edges as the pressure rolls from toe to heel. As I'm seeing this, you still have short legs across the fall line and long legs in the fall line. There is very little feelable flex/extend in this technique. Most of the feel is roller coaster like fore/aft pressure management and rolling edge changes.

I may not be describing this correctly, but I've successfully used this technique in deep powder conditions. I don't get to do it often, so I'm a bit Rusty on this. And I've been terribly confused trying to visualize the flexion/extension movements while writing this post. Using this technique, your turns are so shallow that I've argued with myself what's across the fall line and what's in it, but according to my (failing) memory I still think I've got it right.
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