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KISS my powder - Page 3

post #61 of 142

From complexity comes simplicity...sometimes

There's a lot of good stuff here. Perhaps too much.

While pumping, porpoising, retraction turns, etc., can add a great deal of versatility, power and fun to your powder skiing, such moves can add complexity that you don't need when you're first trying to get used to the stuff. Similarly, a little speed is a good thing which will help you accomplish such moves with less effort (because the snow will help "float" the skis), but basic powder turns can be done fairly slowly. Whether such a static turn is really skiing the powder is certainly subject to some debate, but simplifying the movements will help you get started and gain some confidence.

I first skied powder at Berthoud Pass, Colorado some 20 years ago. Berthoud only averaged 500 or so inches per year in the 80's (according to the weather station up there, not the area management), so I guess it doesn't meet the Mt. Baker standard, but, for most of us, it'll do.

I also taught adult skiing at Winter Park, Colorado for a number of years, so I have a few credentials, though nothing even close to those held by a number of people who post here.

I now ski at Whitewater, British Columbia. It still doesn't meet the Mt. Baker standard for sheer quantity, but it does pretty well, and I've learned to ski wet Pacific Northwest goop as well as Colorado light and dry.

I ski on a K2 with a 78mm waist. According to some who post here, I'm probably gay. But I get more face shots on a smaller ski! Sometimes I retract (especially in the trees) and sometimes I just let 'em run deep.

To start skiing powder, you only need three things: 6" or more of ungroomed powder, enough pitch to actually move in whatever quantity of snow you have, and a willlingness to commit yourself to move downhill. The last one is more difficult than you might think, because there's a part of your brain that is not convinced that you can actually finish a turn and control your speed in this stuff. This results in all kinds of interesting moves as you attempt to twist the skis around as quickly as you do on the groom. So the slope needs to be carefully chosen so that it's steep enough to move but not so steep that it's intimidating.

In the powder, you don't get to twist, pivot or push your tails out unless you've gotten the skis up out of the snow somehow. But you don't have to. Simplify. The skis can be gently guided even when completely buried.

Start similarly to the way you started when you were first learning to turn. You want to build on what you're already able to do. Start straight down your shallow slope in your shallow powder. Tip your skis to the right or left (your choice) and make a long gentle turn to a stop. Have patience. The skis will turn. Keep the pressure fairly equal on both feet. Allow the turn to develop. Feel the resistance around your feet. Then do it again in the other direction.

Repeat, this time starting at a small angle to the fall line, so that as you start the turn, you're turning toward the staight down direction (you have to be willing to move downhill - tip the skis down the hill, etc. - see, you already knew this) and continue the turn until you're pointed across the hill enough to stop.

This is pretty basic, but the survival part of your brain is beginning to get the idea that you can have some control, and your muscle memory is kicking in, doing what you already know how to do.

After you do this several times, you will have accomplished a complete turn in each direction. You're ready to link a couple of turns.

As you approach the end of the first turn, instead of taking it all the way to a stop, tip your skis down the hill so that they will turn toward the fall line again. Allow them to take their time and make big round turns. They'll accelerate down the hill, but you're going to stay centered over your feet (maybe even pull them back a little) and you'll continue to turn until the line slows you down again.

In 6" of powder, especially if you're at high altitude somewhere, it will be almost the same as groomed snow. As it gets deeper or heavier, it will require more commitment to move down the hill, flatten the skis that are down there somewhere, and allow the tips to move toward the fall line. Still, have patience. It will work. This is about guiding the tips in the direction you want to go. Attempts to push the tails will be futile!

As you get used to powder and your speed starts to increase, you will become more dynamic. You can begin retracting before the transition, add more aggressive steering if necessary, especially while your skis are floating close to the surface, drive them deep deliberately just for fun and face shots, etc. But, in its most basic form, you can use what you already know. Your skis can be tipped and guided, even when the snow is piling up your front and over your shoulders!

To finish, an anecdote: A few weeks ago, I traversed with a friend over to a lovely chute. It was steep and had something like 36" of untracked freshies in it. It also didn't have any trees, because of relatively frequent slides, so we had lots of room. Blasting was done for the day, so it had been deemed stable.

The friend is an "old school" skier. He has longer, narrower skis, and he porpoises aggressively in powder. He went first, and had a great, fun run, leaving a track of many small, zig-zag turns.

When I went, I let my skis go deep and stay there. I made larger, rounder turns, but I didn't actually go any faster than my companion. The snow rolled up over my shoulders continuously the whole way down, until it flattened out and the trees closed in, so I slowed down. I added more retraction and more steering and skied for the spaces between the trees rather than rhythm.

I made half as many turns as my friend. Did I have half as much fun?


Go play!
post #62 of 142

Having fun...

...and letting 'em buck is as good as micro-anlyzing technique, or at least that's the way it worked for me. Powder skiing is kind of sort of synonymous with "out of bounds" and that's a pretty good metaphor: suspend disbelief, don't think, just do. Know your limits, and exceed them frequently...

One of the coolest powder experiences I ever had...and it taught me a lot...was couple of years back at a Masters Downhill, run on Vagabond at Steamboat. They don't do it any more, because it's a fave run and nobody wants to close off that much of the hill on a weekend, but it was Big Fun...70+ speeds, big air, and some World Cup radius turns.

One night after training, it snowed big time...after they rolled the hill for the next day. So the following morning, we had to slip the line for two hours before we could get in our two required non-stops. After training, we went back up to get our xtra skis, packs, warm-ups and so forth, and guess what...they STILL hadn't taken down the course and opened up the run to the public! We're talking 10 inches of Colorado smoke on a buffed out base.

Guess what we did? That's right, we went out and made some high-speed Figure 8s with our 223s outside the course. It was better than sex...incidentally, in the Rockies, this happens a lot ("If you want it to snow, have a ski race...if you want it to snow big time, have a downhill"). So the morals of the story are: (a) If you ever get a chance to ski powder on some really big sticks, do it and (b) you can't get hurt in the air...
post #63 of 142
Bonni,

There's a ton of good stuff already, but here are my simple tidbits:
Powder skiing is all about making adjustments.
Make your moves in slow motion.
Ski in the third dimension.
Close your ankles to raise your tips.

Powder skiing is all about making adjustments.
You need to be able to deal with the combination of slope pitch, snow depth and snow consistency. At the simplest level, you can change speed, turn shape, line and stance width to deal with the above variables.

Make your moves in slow motion.
It takes patience not to try to rush things in powder. The extra resistance of the snow punishes movements made at "normal" speed. Initially, you will feel uncomfortable using extra speed to overcome the added resistance of snow depth. It's natural to react by trying to force the skis out of the fall line to slow down. If you rely more on turn shape to control speed and less on getting your skis across the fall line, you will find it easier to move in slow motion and enjoy the floating sensation of skiing in powder.

Ski in the third dimension.
As you get deeper into the snow, your skis will need to be at different heights off of the base layer at different points in the turn. Sometimes this will happen naturally (don't fight it) and sometimes you will need to assist this movement to get some/more rebound off the bottom layer.

Close your ankles to raise your tips.
Sitting back on your heels does work to keep you from submarining, but it wears your quads out quickly. You can get the same result from lifting your toes, but without burning your quads. Especially when you start off after stopping, you often need to hold your skis at angle to the snow while speed builds up similar to what a water skier does when starting out.
Close your ankles to do this instead of sitting back.

Caveat Emptor: I can not know of what I speak for my home resort only gets 30 inches of natural snow per year and I have never ever used a snorkel while skiing.
post #64 of 142
Quote:
It was better than sex
I think we've found a winner. Bonni, you know how sex is a matter of relaxing and going for it? Powder skiing is even more so.
post #65 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonni
Well, I guess this thread is doomed along with me, because we never got 6 inches of snow at once at any time this year that I was able to get to. Six inches of RAIN, sure. On top of this, I have girly skis, GAY SKIS, so I guess I can't run with the big dogs.:

I don't think I want to now. I'm kinda nauseous. Eww.

Next time we get a vacation, I'll try it. However, one week a year isn't going to make me a good powder skier by the time I'm 60.

Looks like groomers for me!
i got gay skiis too. but they can ski powder and so can you. as soon as you get the feel of it you willl love it. it allows you to stay in control because the deep snow slows you and allows you to stay in fall line.you can rent /demo a wider ski when you get the opp to ski deeper stuff. better to own skis that fit what you ski most.
post #66 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ
i got gay skiis too. but they can ski powder and so can you. as soon as you get the feel of it you willl love it. it allows you to stay in control because the deep snow slows you and allows you to stay in fall line.you can rent /demo a wider ski when you get the opp to ski deeper stuff. better to own skis that fit what you ski most.
Exactly! I just went down a nasty frozen, powder on coral reef chute on my gay GS skis, and had a hoot. Did I ski well? No. I'm thinking of buying more gay skis because they're quicker edge to edge.
post #67 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Bonni,

Make your moves in slow motion.
It takes patience not to try to rush things in powder. The extra resistance of the snow punishes movements made at "normal" speed. Initially, you will feel uncomfortable using extra speed to overcome the added resistance of snow depth. It's natural to react by trying to force the skis out of the fall line to slow down. If you rely more on turn shape to control speed and less on getting your skis across the fall line, you will find it easier to move in slow motion and enjoy the floating sensation of skiing in powder.
[/i]

I'm not any sort of instructor but I have taught a few folks to ski powder.

Many posts have mentioned the slow motion aspect of powder skiing but I have found that because things happen slower your inputs need to be made sooner than on a groomed run. When skiing a groomer you can wait until your skis have crossed the fall line before you begin to start the next turn. In powder if you wait that long you'll end up way out of the fall line and probably crash. I'm not sure I'm describing this correctly but I think you need to start the next turn as soon as you feel the skis turn into the fall line. This compensates for the longer time it takes for your skis to react to your input.
Am I making any sense to the instructor crowd?
post #68 of 142
Thread Starter 
Great posts everyone! Special thanks to jhcooley, tdk6, and therusty for keeping it to the KISS standard.

I don't have any video of my skiing, unfortunately. I have some, but it's from 2 years ago, and not very representative of what I ski like today. I will get some taken next season at ESA!

This is difficult to contribute to because I've never really skied off the groomers for any length of time. I'm still learning, and since we all had to try things for the first time, skill building is a somewhat slow process. Add that to the fact that I don't really ski in areas known for powder (Iowa? Southern Vermont??), it's not something I could have done this year unless I travelled.

Unfortunately, I have a job and can only go so far away with 2 days off a week......and they're never in a row.

So if I don't ask questions, it doesn't mean I'm not soaking this up. I am. I'm getting an idea of what to expect and how to react when I finally DO find something deeper than a skiff of manmade snow.

Please continue to give some good examples of how this works, and I'll continue to gain a better understanding of what it means to ski something other than ice.

I know there are people new to this just like I am who are reading this and taking notes. Speak up, peeps! Have you tried it? What worked? What didn't?:
post #69 of 142
Steve,

There's a difference between waiting and slow motion. In powder, like on groomed slopes, continuous motion is the ideal. The reason we mention slow motion is because it works for many people. It work if you equate it to waiting.
post #70 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems
Exactly! I just went down a nasty frozen, powder on coral reef chute on my gay GS skis, and had a hoot. Did I ski well? No. I'm thinking of buying more gay skis because they're quicker edge to edge.
I have to seperate most of my skis with padded straps because they are so gay. Who knows what would be going on in my roofbox if I didn't?
post #71 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesmith7
I'm not any sort of instructor but I have taught a few folks to ski powder.

Many posts have mentioned the slow motion aspect of powder skiing but I have found that because things happen slower your inputs need to be made sooner than on a groomed run. When skiing a groomer you can wait until your skis have crossed the fall line before you begin to start the next turn. In powder if you wait that long you'll end up way out of the fall line and probably crash. I'm not sure I'm describing this correctly but I think you need to start the next turn as soon as you feel the skis turn into the fall line. This compensates for the longer time it takes for your skis to react to your input.
Am I making any sense to the instructor crowd?
I think you're correct. One of the biggest errors is waiting to long in recovery mode crossing the fall line and then you lose your rhythm and energy. However, the rusty's comment is also right: slow motion, not rushing is good. Move decisively, but not suddenly.
post #72 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
It work if you equate it to waiting.
Thanks Weems!

My late night editing is horrible. Let's try it again:
It won't work if you equate it to waiting.
post #73 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Thanks Weems!

My late night editing is horrible. Let's try it again:
It won't work if you equate it to waiting.
I kknow. I'm gonna edit my stuf aboot ate tymes afftr I paste it.
post #74 of 142
In the spirit of KISS:

If you have trouble getting off a traverse and staying in the fall line, try a double pole plant...it sometimes does the trick, forcing one to make a good deliberate turn with some unweighting.
post #75 of 142
Bonni, the most important post was nolo's. If you are having trouble in deep snow, it's most likely that your groomed snow skiing isn't as good as it should be.
That being said, I would guess that if you practiced making "powder turns" on EASY groomed runs you would fare better when you get to the real thing. This means that you keep your upper body pointed downhill while your skis make very shallow, gentle turns (think of an "S" that's very tall). Stay in a 10-15 foot wide corridor. Make sure you do everything in very smooth slow motion, it will feel a bit weird on a groomed slope, but that's OK. Try to keep significant weight on your inside ski, while balancing on your outside ski. Above all, make no attempt to try to slow down, unless you are going to hit someone! The point of this is to get used to the movements and turns you will make in deep snow. Because you probably never make turns like this on the groomers.
You are right, the hardest part is going to be finding untracked snow on an appropriate pitch. Maybe ask in the travel sections, be specific about wanting beginner powder possibilities. And renting fat skis will definitely help.
post #76 of 142
So here's a question: if fat skis help but you should be able to ski powder on any boards if your technique is right, are fat skis cheating? Do they help you get away with insufficient technique? Or are they just the right tool for the job?
post #77 of 142
If you make a small mistake in powder with fat skis, you will probably not fall. This results in more time spent skiing it. And much less time trying to get up, looking for skis, getting the snow out of the bindings, clearing goggles, hating life, shit like that.
post #78 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by eng_ch
So here's a question: if fat skis help but you should be able to ski powder on any boards if your technique is right, are fat skis cheating? Do they help you get away with insufficient technique? Or are they just the right tool for the job?
Wellllllll,

It all depends on how you want to put it. When I went heli skiing in Alaska, I brought my old Elan SCX's one day instead of using the fat ski rentals. Of course, the guides decided to ski the lowest altitude heaviest snow and go for an extra couple hours that day. Yikes. The Elans traveled deeper in the snow than the fat skis did. I had to ski a little differently and do more work. It was definitely a lot more tiring to ski through mush vs on top of it. Powder purists consider fat skis to be cheating. The "technique" necessary for skiing on top of the snow pack is simpler than the technique for skiing in it. In these respects, fat skis will let you ski longer with less efficient skiing skills than regular width skis would. Are fat skis the right tool for the job? After a week of heli and cat skiing alternating between fat skis and a snowboard, I was longing for the feeling of rider deeper in the snow pack. A long day of riding boot deep in cement cured that quickly enough. Once you've had the experience of successfully riding in waist deep or deeper snow, you'll be tempted to pooh-pooh fat skis. Yet it does seem a bit masochistic to pass up fat skis for use in crud and heavy snow. YMMV
post #79 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ
i got gay skiis too. but they can ski powder and so can you. as soon as you get the feel of it you willl love it. it allows you to stay in control because the deep snow slows you and allows you to stay in fall line.you can rent /demo a wider ski when you get the opp to ski deeper stuff. better to own skis that fit what you ski most.
nah - you and Bonni can just visit me in Oz... where FAT skis are ghey.... because you just do not NEED real fat skis....

we have lovely spring corn every September/october... come visit and I'll take you skiing and we can see the snowgums and Wombats and Echidnas and emus and Flame robins and Black cockatoos and drink GOOD COLD beer and have a ball.....

not powder but certainly NOT on piste - in fact we can ski mostly outside the resort if you time your trip right!

If you want we can even go surfing in the afternoon!
post #80 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by eng_ch
So here's a question: if fat skis help but you should be able to ski powder on any boards if your technique is right, are fat skis cheating? Do they help you get away with insufficient technique? Or are they just the right tool for the job?

i have an ex-instructor trainer friend who advised another friend to give up his fat skis because they were hindering his ski improvement... he told him he could have them back once he could ski better....

same person was encouraging me to get some fatter skis.... why? to build confidence.... you need to look at the whole picture.... 'tis why I have instructors that I ski with season after season.... they have some idea what the "whole picture" is and can advise better what is likely to help...

So the answer is yes and yes and yes.... depends what the job is....
post #81 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski
i have an ex-instructor trainer friend who advised another friend to give up his fat skis because they were hindering his ski improvement... he told him he could have them back once he could ski better....

same person was encouraging me to get some fatter skis.... why? to build confidence.... you need to look at the whole picture.... 'tis why I have instructors that I ski with season after season.... they have some idea what the "whole picture" is and can advise better what is likely to help...

So the answer is yes and yes and yes.... depends what the job is....
Aha! I take your point - I think? They're the right tool for the job if you can do it properly in the first place. If you can't, then learn to do it right on narrower skis first?
post #82 of 142
well at least learn SOME technique first...

I'll add the caveat that in Oz we start most days with hardpack emphasis on the hard and add lots of deathcookies into the mix.... most afternoons are slushfests.... so narrower skis are often a good choice.... (top of my resort almost always has sastrugi and when not it is usually sort of greeny-blue and clear with loose windblown on top)....
An instructor at the Canyons gave me grief for having and addiction that he described as "edges are like crack to you" .... an aussie instructor I know was asking me about the lesson after and we were discussing this and how utah snow conditions mean different skiing available to you when the instructor came past.... he repeated the comment to the aussie instructor who told him "if you had seen where she skis normally you would know WHY she skis that way" ....

I think it is horses for courses... the guy concerned has only EVER skied fat skis - and was fine with them in teh slush/powder(soft snow as we rarely get powder)... but struggled in other conditions and from what i heard just needed to work on some technical skills more than "balls" ..... so he was told to ski skinny skis... he resisted then finally gave in as he respects the person giving the advise.... he then admitted that the skis certainly taught him a lot about what he was needing to learn.... and so his technique is improving... (you know the story - teach self to ski mostly - use fat skis so i can "rip" off piste - hit plateau... )

In my case I'm the lesson addict from hell - with a FEAR of powder... my feet get lost in soft snow and i have no idea which way is UP even to get up i get confused which leg is on top of the other and have to think hard before trying to move.... So using a fatter ski helps me let the skis run - which i need to do.... It also gets me onto a softer ski with less side cut - as i normally ski a racing slalom ski it is a very different feel... more learning!

Horses for courses - or if you want to use weems diamond.... which part of the diamond are you needing to leverage to get best gains....
Evaluate and assess where you will gain what... be aware of this....
make no absolutes - be prepared to change as needed ... but also aware of persistence being useful....
post #83 of 142
Thread Starter 
MilesB, good advice. I'll practice that next season.

I think I can count the times I've been in snow deeper than 5 inches on one hand (no jokes here, peanut gallery).

I flounder because I haven't done it. I think my skiing is fairly good now, and I'm ready to do something harder...which is, to ME, powder.

I'm not in most people's league here. I don't ski where you guys ski and probably haven't skied since your second year. I have to start somewhere.

Sometimes I feel like I'm expected to be this level 9 skier to post in the instruction forums, and that's why I started the KISS stuff (kudos to teachskiljp for the term). I'm sure there are lots of us who can use some guidance from the great skiers on this board, but it's hard to say we aren't good skiers.

We're trying!
post #84 of 142
Bonni, that's the point: we are all pilgrims on this boat.
post #85 of 142
Fat skis will make it easier to balance. Skinny skis make it really easy to slip off that compressed snow under the ski when you edge too much using a carving technique in powder. Not really cheating if your carving, just an unfair advantage.

Fat skis float better for the same length, making unweighted turns easier to execute. Cheating for this type of skiing.

The right flex pattern is another thing that helps for deep powder.
post #86 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski
nah - you and Bonni can just visit me in Oz... where FAT skis are ghey.... because you just do not NEED real fat skis....

we have lovely spring corn every September/october... come visit and I'll take you skiing and we can see the snowgums and Wombats and Echidnas and emus and Flame robins and Black cockatoos and drink GOOD COLD beer and have a ball.....

not powder but certainly NOT on piste - in fact we can ski mostly outside the resort if you time your trip right!

If you want we can even go surfing in the afternoon!
i used to surf the beach breaks in galveston bay and hope for a near by hurricane to make the waves bigger. Then they would lose shape and close out.
Surfing is a blast. Maybe it can happen . Thanks, What is good beer there ,? does Fosters qualify i would assume not.Tho i just bought some and think it is fine , kinda like canadian beer my fav
post #87 of 142
My favorite thing about powder is when you really blow it and take a tumble it is soft as a pillow and you come up covered and laughing.
post #88 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog
In the spirit of KISS:

If you have trouble getting off a traverse and staying in the fall line, try a double pole plant...it sometimes does the trick, forcing one to make a good deliberate turn with some unweighting.
WOW, I cant beleave that anyone can SUGGEST A DOUBLE POLE PLANT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE. Not only is it the most "not cool" thing you can do with poles, but it also does not deliberatly set you up for the next turn. This isnt 1980, and double pole plants are / should be long gone.

If you want to continue looking as dorkey as and lame as possible than by all mean use your double pole plant, but PLEASE DO NOT RECOMEND IT TO OTHERS.
post #89 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbakerskier
WOW, I cant beleave that anyone can SUGGEST A DOUBLE POLE PLANT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE. Not only is it the most "not cool" thing you can do with poles, but it also does not deliberatly set you up for the next turn. This isnt 1980, and double pole plants are / should be long gone.

If you want to continue looking as dorkey as and lame as possible than by all mean use your double pole plant, but PLEASE DO NOT RECOMEND IT TO OTHERS.
Wow! touched a nerve!

You know, it came back in world cup GS recently, dorky but effective in getting the torso forward.

I'm not worried about what looks dorky, I'm trying to get intermediates unstuck in powder. I seldom use it, you obviously don't use it, but sometimes it is just the trick.

PS: Transceiver folllows the i before e except after c rule.
post #90 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog
Wow! touched a nerve!

You know, it came back in world cup GS recently, dorky but effective in getting the torso forward.

I'm not worried about what looks dorky, I'm trying to get intermediates unstuck in powder. I seldom use it, you obviously don't use it, but sometimes it is just the trick.

PS: Transceiver folllows the i before e except after c rule.
Teaching bad habits is only going to make it more difficult for them to get out of the intermediate rut latter imop.

As far as spelling goes, if I wass worried about it, I would be a journalist not a photog, and would have studied english not engineering.
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