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Powder vs super-deep-powder technique

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Any difference in powder vs super-deep-powder technique ?

Just curious because of this storm we had last week in Tahoe. When trying to keep a centered, balanced stance on my skis, along with trying to get enough speed to obtain some good "float" in the 4-6' of fresh powder, I found it really hard to stay centered. Either I'd start leaning back (tiring, hard to control), or lean a bit too far forward (tips dive, slow down, or even worse - tips SINK and cause faceplant/ somersault).

Because of this, I found it easier to make short-radius turns at slower speed than long-radius turns at higher speed -- precisely the opposite of hard packed snow skiing, in my experience. I think I tend to pressure the tips in hard snow skiing, and can't adapt that technique well to deep powder.

Any pointers ?

-Karl
post #2 of 24
Bounce and extend, that's my advice. As you stand at the top of a big field of pow, start your first turn by extending into the powder, then bouncing up out of it into the next turn. Stay centered, don't lean back. If you get thrown forward, compress your legs and absorb the shock, bringing your feet under you.

Have fun, you lucky dog!
post #3 of 24
Karl,

Coming from the East (NC) and working/skiing at Alta these past few few, I've had to do my fair share of learning how to ski super deep snow. I'll say this, deep snow skiing is all about keeping the weight/pressure equally distributed along your skis (the oppsite of groomed skiing), balancing along your skis, and finding the right pitched slope for the amount/density of the snow (that day). When these things come together, powder skiing is truly easy. You want a slope where you can move without too much effort and, as you said, make smooth, short fall line turns. There's a timing thing involved as well. As you turn, the snow will compress under your feet. You've got to discover at what point the snow will support you starting the new turn. Another significant mistake made by powder rookies is to overturn the feet resulting in a tipover down the hill.

BTW, what were the demensions of the skis you were on ?

BTW, one other thing, with regards to skiing powder. In a large powder field, try to ski as close to the other tracks as you can, without crossing over. This will make the pow last longer for everyone. (And who would want that...)
For example!!

((((
.))))
((((
.))))
((((

:-)

Keep your feet turning and have fun,
L
post #4 of 24
Karl,

I'm assuming that you mean short radius in terms of the width of the turn across the trail as opposed to downhill. I call these turns "shallow" (i.e. a long tall C shaped turn as opposed to a fat C shaped turn).

The easiest answer to your dilemna is getting powder skis. If you go fat enough, you'll float on top of anything. That will turn any deep powder run into a courderoy groomer.

The biggest impact tip is bouncing. Keeping you hands a bit higher than normal and using up motion with the hands to assist bouncing will help. Another tip is to think slow motion. Make all of your movements happen in slow motion. Have a lot of patience when you are making your turns. This will make your movements be more contiuous. "Jerky" movements tend to get you caught in the snow. This exacerbates fore/aft balance issues. Other tips are to keep your feet closer together and to minimize tip lead.

At some point, deep snow becomes "bottomless". This means that there is no bottom to bounce off of. At this point you will still be skiing 3 dimensionally (i.e. at different heights within the snowpack at varying parts of the turn), but you will not be getting the bounce assist from the "bottom" of the powder pack. The technique at this point is the same. But the lack of assist means your technique must be more exact.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks all -- I think I'm going to take a half day off work tomorrow morning and head back up. I did notice that "bouncing"-style unweighting helped initiate turns.

I've read several comments (here & elsewhere) to the effect that powder turns happen in slow motion. However, sometimes things come up that necessitate a fast response (trees, other skiers, rocks) -- what then ?

lshull -- the skis were Volant FBs, which I've been discussing in another thread with jlb (who loves the skis; I'm not convinced yet myself). They're 128/94/116, which I would think would be plenty fat enough to float.

-Karl
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Chupacabra
lshull -- the skis were Volant FBs, which I've been discussing in another thread with jlb (who loves the skis; I'm not convinced yet myself). They're 128/94/116, which I would think would be plenty fat enough to float.

-Karl
Those should be big enough......
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Chupacabra
I've read several comments (here & elsewhere) to the effect that powder turns happen in slow motion. However, sometimes things come up that necessitate a fast response (trees, other skiers, rocks) -- what then ?
Pray hard!

It comes down to being in balance. The better you're balance, the more quickly you can react. But in general, because you can't skid sideways in very deep powder and don't have a solid platform to aggressively push against, things will happen more slowly.
post #8 of 24
Karl,

When you gotta turn, you gotta turn. But you can use the slow motion trick when glade skiing. Just like bumps, you need to be looking a few turns ahead. Unlike bumps, you need to be aiming for the spaces. If you're planning ahead, you should be able to keep your slow motion rhythm while avoiding obstacles.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lshull
Those should be big enough......
I've skied east coast my whole life and am new to powder/tree skiing. I'm skiing a 68mm underfoot all mountain. Should I stay out of the deep powder until I can get fatter skis? (The bank account's a litle weak right now. ) Anything more than one foot of powder is very new to me, so it's like learning to ski all over again.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hull3551
I've skied east coast my whole life and am new to powder/tree skiing. I'm skiing a 68mm underfoot all mountain. Should I stay out of the deep powder until I can get fatter skis? (The bank account's a litle weak right now. ) Anything more than one foot of powder is very new to me, so it's like learning to ski all over again.
Try it, find out... there's no other way to learn.

It is like learning to ski all over again. I'm learning that deep powder really uncovers my bad skiing habits.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Chupacabra
Try it, find out... there's no other way to learn.
Well said. I hope to get out today for a long lunch and I'm sure some face plants are in my future. :
post #12 of 24
Rent some fat skis for the day. It will make things easier.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hull3551
I've skied east coast my whole life and am new to powder/tree skiing. I'm skiing a 68mm underfoot all mountain. Should I stay out of the deep powder until I can get fatter skis? (The bank account's a litle weak right now. ) Anything more than one foot of powder is very new to me, so it's like learning to ski all over again.
Hull,

My first year teaching out here I was on 63mm waisted skis. I had no trouble.

L
post #14 of 24
In the good old day like maybe 5 years ago a 68 underfoot was thought to be a wide all mountain ski. The famed Salomon Xsreams were only 69 underfoot. if you can find any reviews on them from back in those days they were said to be very good in Powder.
post #15 of 24
To follow up on Lonnie's note...

Something that tends to continually get lost in all these fat-skis-and-powder discussions is that lift-served powder skiing has existed in the US for somewhere north of fifty years now. The Engen's were making beautiful powder turns at Alta decades ago. On gear that most of us today probably couldn't turn to save our lives.

I sort of fall in the category that says if you learn (and believe me, you *can* learn) to ski powder on slimmer-waisted skis, it will serve you well down the road.

Hull3551, you don't say how many days you get to ski. If it's a lot, just get out there and ski on what you're got. It might be more of an effort to ski powder (particularly what you often get in the Sierras) on your current skis, but you will get it if you try. Then, once you can ski untracked and crud on your 68mm's, it'll be a breeze next season when you get something wider.

It wasn't very long ago at all that skis first started inching up toward 70mm underfoot. They were considered super-wide at the time and were thought to be "cheaters".

I know this sounds like old-fogey ravings to many of you (and it probably is). Still, I'm convinced that permanent good habits can be formed by learning on skis that don't make it *quite* so easy.

Just my sixty-eight cents.

Bob
post #16 of 24
First off thanks lshull for enlightening us on powder skiing. Bob I'm with you on the sixty-eight cents. I ski everything on a 170 Slalom.
post #17 of 24
Thanks for all the information everyone.

Bob,
I plan on skiing ~40 days this year, so I will take the advice of you (and others) and go with what I have. I’m sure it’ll be pretty sweet if I ever move up to fatter skis.
post #18 of 24
It's not the skis but the pilot.

That being said, Fat skis make it a whole lot easier and in some ways more fun.

Last season in January when we had the big dump (Jan 1st) I was to teach never evers on Jan 2nd. I was given an early am lesson who wanted to ski bumps (where the heck do you find bumps after a big dump) but the plan was to stay where it was groomed so I took out my 160 SL skis (64mm underfoot).

As I pulled in from that lesson my Supervisor handed me a private level 7-8 that wanted to learn to ski powder. Since we were all running late I decided not to switch skis and off we went. It probably was not quite as deep as it is this weekend but without skis I sank in about to my waist at the top of Lincoln. My student was kind of amazed that I could ski the powder with such short and narrow skis. We learned a lot together, both fell several times in the deep powder but it was a great class. Staying centered and skiing 2 footed is key. Slow motion/no sudden movements and speed help.

DC
post #19 of 24
tip one ---snorkel
tip 2---speed and vertical motion:

boing boing boing boing boing
boing boing boing boing boing
post #20 of 24
So,
I'd have to put forth the TECHNIQUE doesn't change in super deep powder, powder or crud for that matter. TACTICS on the other hand DO change. And the ability to be accurate, precise and well balanced within the chosen techinique and tactic is more important.

As things get more difficult, the level of balance, technique and refinement is continously raised. As Bob Peters said, people have been skiing deep pow for along time on super skinny sticks. Guys like Scot Schmit even made high speed super g turns in the stuff on skinny skis, but their levels of balance and refinement were higher.

It's almost like a continuum. There's a point were everyone gets into trouble and they end up out of balance (almost always back and to the inside in my experience). Fat skis make it much easier to balance, so people can enjoy powder sooner and easier without having to be right on.

So, anyway, speaking of that continuuim,
There is no doubt that fat skis are more FUN. Even for those with the greatest refinement of balance and technique, there is no question that the FUN AND FREEDOM levels are higher.

Trust your technique, listen to you ski/snow connection and choose the technique that makes it happiest and voila, life is good.

Cheers,
Holiday
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
To follow up on Lonnie's note...

I know this sounds like old-fogey ravings to many of you (and it probably is). Still, I'm convinced that permanent good habits can be formed by learning on skis that don't make it *quite* so easy.

Bob
Agree 100% Bob (not about the old-fogey ravings ), definitely good habits and a more robust, versatile skiing technique comes from skiing all conditions on the narrower skis. Problem is, everyone does think that's old-fogey talk now.

I changed to 69mm skis for the first time last year (Ski Cross 10s, those you may have noticed me on at JH gathering last year) and I considered them to be basically all mountain/powder skis and was worried that they will be too wide. For many people, the SC 10s are almost race skis.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holiday
So,

So, anyway, speaking of that continuuim,
There is no doubt that fat skis are more FUN. Even for those with the greatest refinement of balance and technique, there is no question that the FUN AND FREEDOM levels are higher.

Cheers,
Holiday
Just invested in a pair of 89mm skis (no demoing) but haven't skied them yet, will be interesting to see how much more fun they are, if at all.
post #23 of 24
Great thread! I'm 41 and started skiing only in year 2000. Also new to this forum.
I bought my first pair of skis - Volkl 724 AX3s last season. I love them on the hard pack days and manage to get down most any black or mogul slopes too, without too much trouble. But I had the worst time, struggling with them on the recent powder at Tahoe, seriously thought that maybe I'd bought a pair of ski's that were too narrow (they are 177cm - 109-70-95). Reading through these posts has convinced me that I need to work harder and smarter. I'll be up in Kirkwood again this weekend with renewed energy.
Thanks to Caseyadam, Bob Peters, Dchan, Holiday, Utah49, Therusty and all the supporters of good skiing techniques above.
--Zott
post #24 of 24

welcome Zott

Welcome to epic Zott,
I'm glad you've found value and hope our wonderful Tahoe snow has your smiling!!

Cheers,
Holiday
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