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problems skiing in snow salad

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
OK, so I can carve great on hard snow and packed powder -- I have refined that technique over 20+ years of experience and many lessons. I love skiing powder and have done fine in the typical 8-16" we get ocassionally on the east coast and in the max of about 20" I encountered out west. In spring conditions (slush) I stay on edge and can blow through crud with no probs.

Yesterday, however, I was skiing in 5-6" of fresh snow mixed in with some ungroomed artificial snow at Wintergreen VA (they were blowing snow while the natural stuff came down). In spots of pure natural snow where I was making first tracks, I was fine (it was heavy powder but still quite nice). When I was skiing in bumps and bare sections, I did OK. But when it came to the scattered piles I call "snow salad", I totally sucked. I could not find a good edge, my tails were catching, my balance was all over the place, and I was in the back seat a lot. I normally feel my edges through the balls of my feet, but I was flat footed and even feeling my heels in the salad. I also started hunching over and hunkering down. It reminded me of when I started learning to ski as a teenager -- like I reverted back! When I think about it, I was probably getting that out of control feeling and going back to bad habits (which I theoretically left behind years ago).

Next time I get a chance (when the conditions are the same and I can get a good instructor) I will take a lesson to focus on this issue. In the meantime, anyone have suggestions and pointers on how to ski in snow salad conditions??

I should add that visibility was pretty poor (like 20 ft in some cases!) due to fog, but I don't really think it was a major factor.

post #2 of 3

Somewhat packed powder


I skied something similar to that at Whitetail this morning. You could never really tell when you were going to stay on top versus when you'd get sucked into it (which caused the brakes to go on abruptly). The general advice I've received for this type of situation is that a "stacked" stance gives you the most strength to resist these kinds of sudden changes, a conscious effort to use your core strength to resist the forces that hunch you over helps and keeping body movement going in the direction of the skis helps. That last one is kind of tricky. If you think about what happens when you skid on hard snow, you've got momentum going down the hill with the skis try to go across the hill. The idea is to try to minimize the differences in direction between momentum and the skis at all times.

Easier said than done.

Today I discovered that if I cheated a little bit by moving pressure onto the tails of the skis, I could "jam" them into the snow surface and ride in it at a consistent depth like powder instead of trying to abruptly change from hard snow to soft snow mode. Fortunately we only had one run like this and it softened up by 9:30.
post #3 of 3
I ski alot of really wierd snow, and I've been told I make it look easy. One thing I do that might help is to have very relaxed feet. This allows the skis to wander a bit in all directions. I merely maintain an "average" of edge angle and pressure through what I guess is called functional tension. If you've ever driven a planing boat at below planing speed you'll know exactly what I mean.
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