If you don't want to ski bumps and powder......fine, don't ski 'em. Marc Girardelli, of all people, said he had so little use for bumps he used to take his skis off and walk down whenever he ran into a bunch of the nasty little things. Aside from the whole issue of How can I call myself a good skier if I can't ski bumps/powder/other advanced conditions? are there any good reasons to want to ski bumps and other ugly things?
Yeah, I think so. You get to have some experiences that you can't have without those skills, and that your average run-of-the-mill skier doesn't even know exist. I skied over from Zermatt to Cervinia and then skied some unbelievable powder off the flank of the Matterhorn, and I also skied some major league bumps off the Mont Fort tram at Verbier. Both were heart-stopping, once in a lifetime experiences I would never have had without the skills to do so. I've also won Masters slaloms, and run downhill at 74 miles an hour...neither of which I'd have been able to without the skills and experience of being an all-mountain, big mountain skier.
So, again, if you hate bumps and powder, fine...this is not swim camp. The nice thing about free skiing is that you get to do whatever you want. Having said all that good stuff, should you want to get good/better in variable terrain and conditions, here's some suggestions:
- Somebody in this thread mentioned that if you're having problems in bumps/powder, it's probably because of general technical problems. True, and most of these have to do with a poor balancing act on your skis. Note that I'm not talking about your innate sense of balance, nor your balance at any one point in time. It's about how you manage your balancing act from top to bottom on the hill. You've probably heard all about the natural athletic position, where your whole body column (hips especially) is over your feet. Good place to start from, but gravity/momentum/terrain is going to constantly try to force you out of that stance. The best way to achieve that balancing act is to loosen up. Don't force a position or stance on your skis. Don't park and ride, flow down the hill like water.
Go find some challenging terrain, and ski it. If you fall over, so what? You have to know your limits and exceed them before you can figure out what dynamic balance is. Off the hill, there are a million things that can help your balancing act...tennis, surfing, skate boarding, balance balls, and so forth. The idea is to be a better athlete...more balanced, quicker, more flexible, stronger...and you'll automatically become a better skier.
- Running gates has helped me become a better skier. Because I'm used to slicing through chatter marks at 45 m. p. h. in a GS course, it ain't no big deal to carry the kind of momentum I need to cruise through crud and broken snow. Running downhill and Super G has finally taught me, by God, to look ahead. After running a rutted slalom course, bumps are no big deal. And running gates has taught me the basic rule of tree skiing, which is that you want to look for the white, not for the green.
- Go find some of the local crazies, and ski with them. The best experiences I've had on skis, the best learning I've ever done, the best camaraderie I've ever had in this life are with the racers with whom I've shared my first training run at my first downhill, first tracks at Irwin Lodge in Crested Butte, and a long, cold descent down the Kleine Matterhorn in Zermatt. It'll all be in a book some day. Watch this space, and in the meantime, try this: