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How to for deep(er) snow?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I couldn't resist, 10" plus of fresh in my drive, conference call time table passing at 8 this evening with no call, out the door at 8:01 to do a little night skiing at my local hill. 4 mile drive over was just fine, in ski boots by 8:17.

By 8:21 I am wondering just how you ski in deep(er than I am used to) snow.

I'm a reasonably good hard snow skier, just have not had much experience with boot top or deeper snow.

I am 5'6 175# skiing in Dalbello Krypton Pros, on Fischer Big Stix 76's in a 175, my second favorite ski this season and the one I took on the Schwietzer trip back in Jan.

I tried sitting back---no good---hurt my thighs a whole lot! way way too much effort to do anything and absolutely no control over the ski's tips what so ever.

I sort of settled on a centered stance, and raised my toes some to keep the tips up. I guess that is "closing" my ankles??

That seems to work pretty well, and it was much less effort than back seat driving!

In about 2 hours It started to feel like I had a clue how to ski again and I found out what some of those clothing features are really for!

Powder skirt---what the heck is that for!

I found out tonight when my gut started to get cold from snow in places it almost never gets into unless I take a huge yard sale!

I also figured out that steeper is your friend as the snow gets deeper!

I ended up doing laps on all the steepest stuff the hill has to offer and avoiding---like the plague---all the less steep stuff.

It seemed to turn the blacks into blues and the blues into somthing I don't want to be on and the greens---forget it.

I fell a few times and every one was on shallower terrain.

I enjoyed the hell out of that two hours under the lights
post #2 of 13
Mmmmmmmm......Night Skiing. Cheap,Deep&Steep.
post #3 of 13
Momentum, momentum, momentum. Since the deeper stuff causes the skis to slow some, fall line turns on steeper slopes work best. Your centered stance allows for better adjustment as the skis speed up and slow down in different phases of turns. A little more energy in the turn entries helps too. Sounds like you figured it out pretty well.
post #4 of 13
On fatter skis (like the big stix) I like to think water skiing, ie. a more centered stance and what otherwise would feel like skidded turns. I actually got this from Shane McConkey, who has designed both the Spatula and the Pontoons to look more like water skis with some benefit. His theory is that powder is actually more fluid and thus more like water than hard snow and therefore benefits from similar technique.

And I beleive Mr. McConkey knows a thing or two about steep and deep.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Today, same snow, groomed---for the most part----but real early.

By the time we arrived for the night shift (4pm) the groomed was chopped up day old stuff.

We did a few laps and the closed some of the almost BC trails we have.

A video of that would have had highwaystar in tear (of joy---no doubt---but in tears none the less)!

Anyway, some of this off the beaten path stuff really mangled my Big Stix

So after we finished -- I had the SL 11's in the car and got them for the duration of the evening.

What a great way to end the year!

wanking small and large big edge angles through relatively soft mank (thanks HS for the term! good word!
post #6 of 13
Forget all the equipment stuff and start with your skiing.

On a very fundamental level skiers do one of two things to turn:
a) some skiers push their skis away from their center of mass against the snow
b) some skiers pull their skis up toward their center of mass and redirect them

The east coast produces some very HARD snow conditions. In hard snow option A seems to work very well.

What happens when the snow is deeper and softer if you employ option A???

post #7 of 13
Great comments -- these are many of the same thoughts/discoveries I made when first skiing powder years ago, and I tend to get a refresher course whenever an honest powder day comes along for me -- which means 10" or more around here. I can only time it to hit powder days 2-4 times a season, so it's a rare treat.

I mainly focus on keeping the skis and legs together and working as a unit, and staying centered/balanced. Skis are pressured equally most of the time, and turns come from slightly asymmetric pressure on the flats. Edges and tips don't get any use for directional control, so throw them away in your mind. Speed is key. If you get going fast enough, the trail is steep enough, and your skis have enough surface area (=float) then you can ride big arcs on top of the snow and enter the water skiing regime viking_kaj talks about. I love getting into that routine, it's a blast.

About the only time I feel comfortable skiing trees is when the powder is deep enough that I can float through the trees with automatic speed control. It really boosts my confidence. The same line in hard or tracked/rutted snow can be downright terrifying to me.
post #8 of 13
The keys for me in skiing deep snow is to have both skis at approximately the same angle and to do the right dance for the music (it can be a really slo-o-o-w dance). A couple of weeks ago we had 32" of chowder (I am 62" tall) and these two thoughts kept me upright. To fall would have been disaster at that depth.
post #9 of 13
skier j,

I think you got it in your post and the post of others.

two footed skiing- more equal weight and using both skis the same
neutral stance
start turns by flexing ankles (pressing the tail of the ski down) and tipping the new inside ski on new edge, then extending legs as you move through the turn.

Staying more in the fall line

strong pole plant

stable upper body(no twisting or rotating)

don't tire yourself out by trying to get your skis up and out of the snow.

oooh, and the right dance for the music as nolo describes.

post #10 of 13
-Skis with more flex are better.
-Skis with more even flex front & back are better.
-Boots with more flex are better.
-Poles with big baskets give more support for balance when starting the turn.
-Wider skis are more forgiving.

-Keep both feet close together, but not locked together.
-Keep equal weight on both feet all the time.
-Keep weight centered fore & aft, maybe just slightly back a the end of a turn, but never sitting back all the time.
-Have patience. Turn with the tempo the snow lets you turn.
-Speed is not needed. Skiing IN the snow is great. You never need to see your skis. You'll be skiing in three dimensions.
-Allow yourself to free-fall in the middle of the have a white featherbed below to catch you. This weightless free-fall is beautiful.
-At the end of the turn, pull both feet up and move your body to the inside of the next turn. This puts your skis on edge as the legs gradually extend, and the skis bank and curve through the snow like an airplane banking in a turn in the sky. Your body doesn't bank, it angulates as needed for balance.

post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
-Poles with big baskets give more support for balance when starting the turn.
Relying on the pole plant for balance is a bit sketchy, especially in deep powder or inconsistent snow. The pole touch is still important for timing, but in deep snow it may be more of a "virtual" plant than any kind of a solid plant. FWIW (not much), I skied deep British Columbia powder with small baskets for quite a while. I finally got larger baskets for those traverses into the side country...

And, as SSG sez, tipping your feet/skis to turn works as nicely in powder as it does on packed snow. If you're on soft skis, the arc formed by the decambered ski makes turns almost effortless. Be willing to commit down the fall line and let the turn develop. You can't haul the skis around quickly without going over the handlebars!
post #12 of 13
I grew up skiing on the east coast. I am a strong (~9) skier with some race experience. While I took the occasional trip out west, I never really felt great on powder or crud. I recently moved to Alaska and spent the winter learning how.

The tactic that made by far the biggest difference in my powder/crud skiing (which I now feel great about) is to avoid attempting to skid/scarve your skis. This took some discipline for me as an east coast skier since on the hard pack skidding/scarving are usually options. Powder/crud makes such a move VERY difficult, and so you'll tire yourself quickly. You'll also slow yourself down much more drastically than on the hardpack, destroying any rythem in your skiing as you alternate between fast portions of your turn in the fall line and slow portions during skid/scarve.

Instead, work up the confidence to really commit to tipping your skis in each turn. The idea is to bend them into an arc (like carving), ski through the turn, and then really use the rebound from the skis to power you into the next turn. I didn't get this until just a week or two ago, but since I have I can ski powder/crud fairly effortlessly, slowly or quickly, short turns or long.

Just my experience.
post #13 of 13
I learned to ski at at the time it was a sloped skating rink with rocks and trees in it.

Years later, I learned to ski deep snow at They get a lot of wet very deep snow, at least they had a lot when I was there. By deep, I mean you would find yourself over your head in if you tried to walk in the ungroomed without skis or snowshoes. (edit: it took me about three days and a few tumbles before I felt I could ski the deep snow without embarrassing myself)

If you can think of the bottom of both your skis as a single very wide edge, then skiing is a cross between carving gentle turns with that double-edge platform and water skiing, depending on speed and snow conditions.

As for equipment, you need sufficient surface area for your weight and stiff tails are not helpful.

About keeping your tips up, just don't worry about it, and stay off the flats.
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