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Skiing Pow: New School...Old School

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Curious as to how instructors and/or experts approach skiing pow. Taos is my "home" hill, but have logged many pow days at Wolf Creek (CO), Brighton, UT, Kirkwood, Jackson.

I learned to ski as mid-fats became the norm, I would ski with snowboarders often (not at Taos of course) and would try to copy their lines. I found myself not doing the back and forth, up and down movements of many pow skiers. I would ski at higher speeds to gain more float and found riding higher on the snow gave me more control than at skiing at the slower speeds of most skiers.

I remember once a few years ago coming out of the Hunziker Chutes into Hunziker Bowl on a pow day(Taos). There was an instructor with his class as I laid out big arcs. I overheard him say as the class watched me: "Powder skiing IS NOT like water skiing!". But if you ski at a high enough speed, pow skiing is similar to water skiing. The surface of the snow has a tension not unlike water. One needs to be going at a high enough speed to maximize the optimal float, as well as have wide enough skis.

Anyway, I feel that some skiers who have been at it a lot longer than me are so into skiing pow in the "correct fashion" that they basically don't know how to use modern pow skis in ways they were designed for.
post #2 of 27
Skiing with snowboarders will change your attitude towards line selection. Mostly for the better.
post #3 of 27
I am certainly no instructor or a real pro at powder but I have logged my fair shair of pow days and many years skiing.

I look at pow like a expensive meal. Sure I could rush through it and gobble it up, but there is something to be said for savouring it for all it is worth.

Both ways are a blasts. Some runs I just go as fast as I can and lay down huge arcs, splay snow around like waterski turns. Other times I like to bop back and forth and enjoy the greatness that pow provides.

Personally I miss the days of watching vids of people turning down a hill. The last few years the film makers want huge arcs, fast lines because it has a bigger impact on film and in turn it seems some people think this is the way pow is supposed to be done.

I board and I understand that boarders prefer to go faster and longer turns as snowboards perform easier and better this way, but skis do not need to do this. They can go fast or slow if one has the ability that is.

The guys that can go slow in pow and still make it look good are the ones that I stand back in awe of.
post #4 of 27
Bring back the "Powder 8" contest!!



Seriously though, I usually make short turns and eat up the face shots. More tiring, but more enjoyable IMO.
post #5 of 27
pablo5z this thead is half way between instruction and general discussion. I guess I am old school as I prefer to be deep in the powder instead of on top of it. For that reason I guess I just use my skinny eastern skis.
post #6 of 27
I would say know both style of skiing and do whatever you feel is best.

I generally like faster speeds and drops when there is fresh snow ala snowboarding. also my skis have a built in snow-launcher on the back so you cant follow me.:P
post #7 of 27
Snow boards and wide powder skis really have changed life out on the mountain but not because they can float and go really fast and make wide archs no, but because now there are lots of complete beginners off pist skiing in the back seat with a huge back pack with all the surwiving gear needed to digg out a comrade if needed (that offcourse is not a bad thing) but with little knowledge of how to ski, where to ski or when to ski. We used to ski as efficiantly as possible starting at one end and laying down track after track gradually filling that mountainside from one end to the other. In some ways that is all gone now.
post #8 of 27
Perhaps a bad attitude, but I have never experianced anything other during my life time of skiing powder.

NO FRIENDS ON A POWDER DAY !

I simply cannot beleive that at any time people were courteous enough for the sake of others to "farm" out a feild or stay to one side, or ski beside other tracks to leave lots of powder for others.

I personally would not enjoy that type of thing. I often wonder about Cat or Heli skiing. IF I had to stay to others tracks or not make big arcs I really don't know what I would be paying for and don't think I would enjoy it that much. I see these pictures of people skiing replica's of the person before them's tracks. HUH? have to conform to the turn shape of someone else when there is a huge feild of powder and I paid $500 - $1500 for the day ? WHAT !

I like to be free when I ski, thats why I ski, make a few big turns, make a few small ones, whatever or wherever feels best. To heck with others. I got up at 3 am drove 4 hours, got in line first, stood in line for 45 minutes Waah waah waah to the others that didn't make the efforts and didn't get fresh lines. I do however make an effort to take the fall line and not cut across a "virgin" feild or line I'm not a complete A-hole.

I don't think that attitude will ever change and even if a some "reform" movement was started there is sure to be some guys that just won't conform. If those days ever existed I don't expect to ever see them again.
post #9 of 27
double posted for some reason
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb View Post
....I simply cannot beleive that at any time people were courteous enough for the sake of others to "farm" out a feild or stay to one side, or ski beside other tracks to leave lots of powder for others....
Like I said in earlier post, life out on the mountain has changed....
post #11 of 27


This is old school with a new school twist
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb View Post
Perhaps a bad attitude, but I have never experianced anything other during my life time of skiing powder.

NO FRIENDS ON A POWDER DAY !
I sorta understand this concept but to me it has to be limited to people who dont get to ski very much because if you get to ski a lot then it doesnt matter if its a powder day because you get plenty of them. If you dont normally get to ski even one day of fresh snow per season then I can see how the no friends rule would work but for me and my friends we like to share the pow and we dont get all competitive about it usually we will stand at the end of our traverse looking into the powfield below and talking to each other about who wants to ski what line and usually theres no argument about who deserves a given line or whatnot.
post #13 of 27
Old or New I just ski it......
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramshackle View Post
If you dont normally get to ski even one day of fresh snow per season then I can see how the no friends rule would work but for me and my friends we like to share the pow and we dont get all competitive about it usually we will stand at the end of our traverse looking into the powfield below and talking to each other about who wants to ski what line and usually theres no argument about who deserves a given line or whatnot.
Sadly I don't get more than a few days per year where I am fortunte enough, but the real problem is...

If I were to stand atop a feild yapping about what line, who should go first, some yahoo is sure to rip right by all of us screaming "LEROY JENKINS" and rip the whole feild up before our eyes.

IE Dec 27 very quiet day at Castle Mountain it took nary three or four runs before a fresh line could not be found. in fact if you watched my vid you could see the carnage that had occured after only one run (first clip). (we skied instead of video on our first run)

Ye who hesitates skis across other peoples tracks.

Not saying it wouldn't be nice to have some form of civility to the whole affair, but I'll go ski the line whilst everyone discusses it.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb View Post
I simply cannot believe that at any time people were courteous enough for the sake of others to "farm" out a feild or stay to one side, or ski beside other tracks to leave lots of powder for others.

I personally would not enjoy that type of thing. I often wonder about Cat or Heli skiing.
Marmot,
Most people that farm tracks side by side, farm for their own benefit.

On every cat and heli trip I've done, any farming that's been done has been farming strips or corridors (i.e. make what ever turns you want but stay near the guides tracks). Everyone gets their stress free freshies.This has the added benefit of improved safety with respect to avalanche danger and avoiding terrain traps (e.g. not having to say watch out for the giant hole in the snow over there or not having people get lost). Most heli operators have so much terrain that safety is the primary reason for staying close to the guide/staying in a corridor. If you can ski and follow their directions, they will give you a wider lattitude in your choice of terrain as you gain more of their trust.
post #16 of 27
A few years ago a friend I were skiing down Eddies High Nowhere at Alta. We made between 40 and 50 turns. When we got to the bottom we watched three guys coming down the same place. They made four turns, screaming and yelling all the way. I don't
know who had more fun, but I do know we skied a hell of a lot more mountain than they did.
post #17 of 27
The Rusty: Thanks for the info. I would have no problem following or staying near their tracks, this makes sense and still allows for the freedom to make turns as I please, within the corridor of course.

I have seen so many advertising pictures that shows three or four people just skiing the same formation as the tracks beside them, I often thought maybe that was the expected behaviour.

The Farming, I would like to try it sometime, of course that would require a feild to remain untouched for some time. I am sure though after three or four runs I would say to heck with this, blast a huge turn across my own farm and continue on without any sense of reason.
post #18 of 27
I like to ski fast. On an icy hardpack day, it is often not feasable to ski the steep fasts. Powder allows you to do that.

You can make tiny turns any day. If you want to get better at skiing steeps, and progress your ability, skiing fast in powder is the best time to do it.
post #19 of 27
I have solved this dilemma a long time ago by finding enjoyment in slashing up preskied powder. It boosts the safety level since I have better vision of the terrain ahead, I can go faster, I dont get lost that easy and there is less danger for avalanches which is the last thing on earth I want to be caught up in.

The skill level of skiers off pist today in lets say St Anton where I was last year was horrifying! I dont usually tell other people what to do but I simply had to tell this one guy that the reason he could not ski in powder was that he could not ski at all and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time messing everything up for himself and everybody else.
post #20 of 27
Powder skiing ethics aside, "farming" and powder eights have been around forever. Why don't to try something new when it's now available? (to everyone...remember that the likes of Scot Schmidt were doing the long haul even back in the early 90's with their 213's!)

IMHO today's powder skiing is all about creativity and freedom of choice. You can do traditional turns when you like / kind of have to (tight trees etc.) but I wonder why not to try to open it up once in a while? Even if you're used to "farming"...it won't hurt anyone and might open up whole new feelings towards skiing. Some things to try:

- Slarving/slidin
- Out of the fall line skiing - snowboard style (it's not that easy, especially when the snow gets cruddy / heavy)
- Completely giving up any kind of up and down movement (just add speed!) I feel you can carve pretty much the same way as in groomers but you still have the float feeling the groomers won't never give you
- Working the terrain features a bit more, surf style "cut backs" etc.
- "Dorking around", silly little "butters"/180's, bonking on tree stumps etc. (if you're into that type of skiing...ultimate example being Mr. Eric Pollard)
- Try snowboarding in Pow! (serioysly, after that you'll surely look for that floating feeling on skis too...)

To quote Shane McConkey:

"RIGHT AFTER YOU FINISH pointing it and you get up to about 30 miles an hour and your skis plane out on top and you start to accelerate and you know you can start turning in powder: That's the moment."
(from the article: http://www.skinet.com/skinet/people/...226807,00.html)

How to "slarve" by the same character:
http://www.skinet.com/skinet/photos/...540365,00.html

Some more on the same topic:
http://www.skinet.com/skinet/photos/...540267,00.html

(btw. you don't need reverse camber skis to do that...it's possibly on normal fatties too, just a bit more limited/requires more skills/speed!)
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
I have solved this dilemma a long time ago by finding enjoyment in slashing up preskied powder. It boosts the safety level since I have better vision of the terrain ahead, I can go faster, I dont get lost that easy and there is less danger for avalanches which is the last thing on earth I want to be caught up in.

The skill level of skiers off pist today in lets say St Anton where I was last year was horrifying! I dont usually tell other people what to do but I simply had to tell this one guy that the reason he could not ski in powder was that he could not ski at all and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time messing everything up for himself and everybody else.
Thats the spirit and its the same way I see it. For petes sake these whiners who complain about someone stealing their line or getting tracks before them need to chill because it looks to me like they are trying to ski a mental image stolen from seeing movies or magazine covers and they are mad that they dont get to serve that fantasy the way their greedy heart desires. If you learn to enjoy lots of snow types then you are nearest to ski nirvana. Now thats not to say that its not fun to ski big lines at high speed because I agree with MAGGOT that powder is when you can ski the steep gnarly stuff that might make you sweat cannonballs when its hard and icy.
post #22 of 27
I have no problem at all with people skiing powder however they want on whatever they want (with the exception of "Z"ing the slope gaper-style) as long as they stick to the highest traverse line to get there. There is nothing worse than being on a side-step traverse, deciding you're getting tired out, then gravity-traversing under the high line. Such people need a very intense talking to at the very least.
post #23 of 27
I lived in SLC for one winter back in the straight ski days (1978) and skiing powder on a 200cm Race stock K2 SL ski was almost impossible. I was a 180 Lbs at the time and these skis would not float and always tended to dive. This is partially due to the insufficient surface area of a narrow ski; but greater than this, the skis stiffness combined with large camber promoted terminal tip dive.

I also owned a well worn pair of 210cm metal laminate Dynamic's that were bent from mogul skiing, and these skied powder like a dream. The minimal camber, combined with the slight bend behind the tip provided good resistance to tip dive. The 210 length helped too.

Today, skinny skis are shorter and most are designed for ice & groomed runs. My Fischer WC RC (112-66-97) dives like a u-boat in knee-deep snow. The RX8 (115-66-98) is much better due to its not-just-for-racing flex pattern. But put me on my Salomon Supermountains (110-78-100) or one of my newer wide skis including the Inspired by Nobis (118-89-110)and powder becomes a joy. I'm still waiting to use my spats.

I agree that good powder skiing does not require a super-wide ski with ample surface area. Floating on powder is only one way to ski in deep snow. At 220 plus Lbs, I sink down in the snow on almost any ski, yet powder is always a joy as long as the tips stay horizontal.

I am always surprised when a skinny ski is being used for powder. Why not use the right tool for the job?

Michael
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb View Post
I have seen so many advertising pictures that shows three or four people just skiing the same formation as the tracks beside them, I often thought maybe that was the expected behaviour.
I've been involved in a few of those ad shots and the reason for them is that they're the classic heli/powder pattern that's appealing to a lot of mostly "more experienced" (older) skiers. The Canadian operators want that kind of visual as a large percentage of their customer base are Europeans (Swiss, German, Austrian, French mostly) who yearn for the classic experience. Some people like using the snow as their canvas and appreciate the visual of the coreographed turns.

The reality is you can ski any pattern you want so long as you stay within the guide's boundary he's set and that you don't go past him on the run. The exception is if there hasn't been any new snow for awhile and the operators want to conserve what they've got in order to assure incoming groups some untracked days. It's true they've got tons of skiable terrain but it's not always that skiable for one reason or another. Between wind-affect, rain-affect, avie danger, lack of coverage, or other reasons, much of the area may not be that good and if they're lacking snow, farming becomes somewhat necessary. Again though, stay within the boundary and you can ski high speed big turns all you want. But you may have to cross some tracks within the bound. Or you can do like I do and just 'poach' the shot right after the guide and screw over your buddies.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
Snow boards and wide powder skis really have changed life out on the mountain but not because they can float and go really fast and make wide archs no, but because now there are lots of complete beginners off pist skiing in the back seat with a huge back pack with all the surwiving gear needed to digg out a comrade if needed (that offcourse is not a bad thing) but with little knowledge of how to ski, where to ski or when to ski. We used to ski as efficiantly as possible starting at one end and laying down track after track gradually filling that mountainside from one end to the other. In some ways that is all gone now.

That's the biggest load ever.: Maybe things are diferent in Europe, but most of the powder idiots I see are on "all-mountian" skis. Most "complete beginners" aren't willing to cough up $800 + for specialty super-fat powder skis.

As far as spooning tracks is concerned - why don't we just set up a bunch of gates like a race course? Would that bring back the good ole days?
post #26 of 27
Goldmemeber: Thanks for the info on that. There is always a differance in the experiance one wants to get from anything. I do not doubt that the larger part of their buisness is European clients, and older skiers and hence it makes sense they cater their advertising to that.

This Reminds me of the German Group the "Stumbocks" I think it's called. My understanding is they like to follow each other down the hill like a big train. I beleive they hire a local guide to show them around the mountain to ensure they get the best use of their time on the hill and get shown all the good spots.

I think I would laugh myself silly watching such a thing. Likely they don't follow each other exactly and this is just a "urban myth" about the group.

But as they say different strokes for different folks.
post #27 of 27
That group is no urban myth. I don't remember the name either but Stumbocks sounds familiar. I ran into them in Revelstoke a couple of years ago. They are really into choreographed skiing on the wide open glaciers. They don't like tree skiing and they're all about getting as much vertical as possible. I didn't ski with them and I can't remember much about them other than they drank like fish in the bar and sang songs all night. Wasn't my cup of tea but they looked like they were having a great time so, it's all good.
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