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Powder Skiing

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
In powder:

1. The ski is immersed in the snow. It can't skid, because the snow is up against it laterally. Therefore it has to be steered (carved). It's achieved by:

2. The initiating strong pole plant. That, in itself, is evidence that the skis will be unweighted (though the pole plant also aids the timing). The steeper and deeper the snow, and the more dense the snow, the stronger the unweighting will be.

3. The pole plant is synchronised with the flexion of the legs. At this point the upper body has sunk relative to the snow surface. The downweighting (and the skis are now at an angle to the fall-line) now provides the springboard for the extension of the legs.

4. The legs are now primed to extend and the thigh muscles now push the upper body upwards. This all happens in a fraction of a second, BTW.

5. As the upper body rises the skis become progressively 'lighter'.

6. At the point of maximum extension of the legs the thigh and stomach muscles are able to pull the feet upwards. This starts the unweighting.

7. As the unweighting occurs and the feet rise, they are able to steer the skis into the fall-line because they are very 'light' at this point. The upper body is now reaching its high point.

8. As soon as the feet have risen, the skis are steered out of the fall-line. The wrist primes the pole for the next plant.

9. The upper body now sinks again, and the pole is planted again, as per point 2.

I'm looking forward to reading of the first of you to commit to taking an instructor's qualification. I wasn't able to understand the above without going through the syllabus, training and practical experimentation. Go for it - it's a great investment.
Come across the above in another forum. The poster says that is the only way powder can be skied. Any comments on the above?
post #2 of 72
Cliff, is there anything you can add to give us some idea why you posted this question? What you have given us is a progression for skiing powder. Where did it come from? Why is it of interest to you? Do you find shortcomings in this progression, and do you think there are more ways than this one? Thanks for informing us a bit more about your topic for discussion.
post #3 of 72
Thread Starter 
No problem, here goes:

That poster insists that the skis can only be turned in powder by using an up-down-up-down movement of the upper body to 'unweight' them. I don't agree, but he won't talk to me because I'm not an instructor. He says he will only talk to people with a qualification level or above his own because the unqualified won't understand.

It's an interesting topic and I just want to explore it a little.

He also states:

unweighting is unavoidable. That means a rhythmic up-down motion of the upper body. It's physically impossible to retract the feet upwards to float the skis without that bounce.
post #4 of 72
What are some alternatives that you see to this method of skiing powder, Cliff? BTW, I agree that there are alternatives, just curious to know the rest of the story (what you said).

It is an interesting topic, for sure--and good to talk about during a summer heat wave.
post #5 of 72
Thread Starter 
nolo, I've read about 'down unweighting' and 'float unweighting'. But everyone seems to use different terminology, so it gets a bit confusing for a powder beginner like me. I just don't understand why this guy (a BASI 3) is saying things like the last statement I quoted. Is that the official BASI way? Is it different in North America?
post #6 of 72
NO qualifications here other than having skied in deep wet snow, but I do not agree with the poster. He doesn't seem to understand how a skis flex works.

1. Steering is the opposite of carving, even the sort of carving that is done using the entire base of the decambered ski in deep snow.

2. His method would work, albeit his explanations are a little off, and it is far from the only method that would work.

3. A pair of weighted decambered skis in the belly of the turn, and unweighted straight skis at transition but with NO STEERING is the method I prefer.
post #7 of 72
The guy was describing a progression for novice powder skiers. It's not the only novice progression for skiing powder. I have used a progression based on the wedge turn as well as the "powder bounce" described here. A more advanced option that's a lot less strenuous is to use retraction-extension movements just like you are skiing big "virtual" bumps. Extend the legs into the turn (pushing the skis into the snow to turn) and retract the legs exiting the turn (pulling the skis out of the snow to change edges). The other bump-like technical point is to always drive your hands forward, especially the inside or uphill hand, to prevent overturning and eventually creating an ugly sitzmark where you land.

Powder skiing takes a lot of patience, fine motor control, and big fat skis.
post #8 of 72
I'm not an instructor but I ski in new soft snow quite a bit and it's my favorite medium. The biggest problem I saw with this was the strong pole plant. If the snow is soft you'll get all off balance when your pole disappears into the snow. Also, bouncing works, but stillness works better.
post #9 of 72
1.you can skid in facto you can pivot on top of the snow and sideslip on bigger traditional skis and reverse camber skis, thats a fact just watch shane monkey or try it yourself.

everything else in one way of skiing of powder but there are many many ways.
post #10 of 72
Originally Posted by cliff View Post
Any comments on the above?
Yeah - he sound's like one of those guys who only skiis runs directly below the lift so everyone can be dazzled by his immaculate technique.

Anyone who says there's only one way to do anything is usually a tool. Like Sammy Hagar when he said there's only one way to rock.
post #11 of 72
Originally Posted by Jer View Post
Anyone who says there's only one way to do anything is usually a tool. Like Sammy Hagar when he said there's only one way to rock.
Ask him if there is only one position for sex.

The most common technique I see for skiing powder is to sit way back and wrench the upper body, hoping the skis will follow. Anything is better than that.
post #12 of 72
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
Ask him if there is only one position for sex.

The most common technique I see for skiing powder is to sit way back and wrench the upper body, hoping the skis will follow. Anything is better than that.
There's more than 1?:
post #13 of 72
Another thought, you don't need to bounce, really, just to press enough snow down into a tilted ramp or platform that turns the skis by deflection. It's a build as you go process, of course! In a way it's like carving whipped cream (with homage to PhysicsMan for coining the term). Before allowing your skis to turn all the way across the hill, retract your legs, change edges, dive down the hill and build the ramp again.
post #14 of 72
all these posted are describing a crossunder turn...which you really dont need in powder. Its the best for short radius turns but for surfy on top of the snow turns you can cross over.

I would also like to add that the ski isnt allways immersed in the snow. If you go fast enough you can ski powder like a really soft forgiving groomer. Fast enough being around 25-35mph not nobis speeds but hauling non the less.

Pictures taken the same day. 2 feet of new snow

around 30mph you will float to the top.

MD9 fatter skis than me skiing in a glade.

Lonnie going slower on skinny skis

I think these pictures right here disprove number 1 hope that helps cliff.
post #15 of 72
There are variuos approaches to skiing powder, the easiest of which is, of course, to just buy some really fat skis and stop talking about it so much.

However, I would agree with ghost that trying to steer your skis in powder is both inefficient and un-fun. that is survival mode powder skiing, though perfectly possible.

Up-unweighting is generally considered a novice powder technique. A more refined technique to use, a has been explained by some here, is down-unweighting. At risk of having this post deleted, I will just say that Lito has some great things to say about both of these techniques in his book and I highly recommend.

Mark Elling's books is also pretty good on the subject.
post #16 of 72
Apart from the word "carved" in point 1, that is a pretty usable description of what we could call "classic" powder technique - the words "the thigh and stomach muscles are able to pull the feet upwards" in point 6 suggest that this person is advocating some retraction-type movement at some stage.

This technique obviously dates from before the invention of fat skis, Spatulas, etc. As BushwhackerinPA correctly says, fat skis that surf on top of the powder make it possible to use a cross-under transition, a little more akin to a carved turn on a groomer.

There are undoubtedly many other ways to describe skiing powder.
post #17 of 72
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Steering is the opposite of carving,


wouldn't it be more accurate to say "pivoting" is the opposite of carving and that "steering" is a blend of the two extremes involving some degree of edging, and rotary efforts?

Steering is not synonymous with pivoting in my understanding of the terms.
and steering most certainly is not at the opposite end of carving!
post #18 of 72
Ghost swims up, sniffs the bait, and swims away.
post #19 of 72
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
, I will just say that Lito has some great things to say about both of these techniques in his book and I highly recommend.

Mark Elling's books is also pretty good on the subject.
Thanks! Have you got any links to those sources?
post #20 of 72
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
Thanks! Have you got any links to those sources?
It would be helpful,eh.
post #21 of 72
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Ghost swims up, sniffs the bait, and swims away.
Bait? no bait Ghost, just trying to clarify terms and definitions to eliminate further misunderstandings. I don't think many here would agree that steering is the opposite of carving, sorry.
post #22 of 72
I agree with Ghost.
post #23 of 72
Ghost returns to steal the bait.

It is true that many people are not familiar with the term "steering".

Before I started reading these forms I already had a picture of my skis tipping. In cross section viewed from the rear, my skis would look like / / for a left turn and like \ \ for a right turn and like _ _ for going straight ahead. This is just like what the centre yoke of my steering wheel looks like in my car when I turn left, right or go straight. I had thought that I was "steering" my skis when I treated them as a steering wheel and tipped to turn. I thought I was quite clever, "steering" my skis instead of muscling them around.

Much to my chagrin, I discovered through much reading that the term "steering" was already employed and its existing usage was nothing like my use of the word at that time. Steering, i learned is a term used to describe the action of applying a twist about an axis perpendicular to the plane of the skis that forces the tips to move in the direction of the turn.

A katana is a beautiful weapon. It was designed to cut, yet many people upon first picking one up will attempt to use it to chop. Cutting is not chopping; cutting involves a back and forth movement, a little like sawing. This movement is along, and in the direction of the long edge of the sword. Carving requires a movement along and in the direction of the edge.

If you apply a steering force to engage the tip so that it goes along the edge, congratulations. If you apply a steering movment that moves the edge in any direction other than farther along in the direction of the edge, you are not carving.

Of course it is possible that you have a wider definition of carving than I do. Are you of the ilk that considers carving to include skidded turns, and use the term "arcing" for non-side-slipped turns?
post #24 of 72
I generally consider steering to be twisting the ski sideways by muscular force. I consider carving to be putting the ski on its edge and letting the sidecut and reverse camber (from weighting) take the ski around an arc.

I ski fat skis slowly to moderately. I don't ski fast and on the surface. Skiing powder in three dimensions is beautiful.

Think of an airplane banking in a turn. Think of putting both skis together on an edge angle and allowing them to bank around a turn. That's smooth powder skiing.

I like down unweighting, a.k.a. retraction/absortion turns. The turns described are really hard work, hard on some folks' knees, and may lead to a shortened ski day and/or shortened ski vacation. A strong, high, forward inside arm is very helpful to get the body into the correct angulation and counter position. An outside pole tip held low, close to the snow's surface, and somewhat back (never forward) also helps. Big powder baskets are a help. Very subtle fore and aft weight movements are a help...slightly (SLIGHTLY) back to get the skis near the surface at the end of the turn, and slightly forward at the beginning of the turn. If you don't do subtle, just stay balanced in the center of your skis. If you're smart and have bindings that adjust fore & aft, move them aft before you start your powder day.
post #25 of 72
Can't you steer in powder just by driving as if you were to carve or arc some gates in a Giant Slalom run?
post #26 of 72
Its the off season I think we need more powder photos.

To the OP, there was a pretty famous book put out a few years ago.... "How to Win Friends and Influence People" your friend from the other forum should read it...

Review of the book
post #27 of 72
Well Ghost and Softsnow guy, I guess we truly have a difference in understanting of the term "STEERING".

You seem to make steering synonymous with pivoting which you consider undesirable.

Historically, myself and many others consider:

pivoting: a rotation about an axis. related to skiing, the purest form of pivoting is demonstrated by link sideslips (see vailsnopro's demos). Pure pivots do NOT create any turning or direction change, the com moves straight down the fall line.

carving: a highly edged turn using primarily edging and ski design, leaving a narrow track in the snow (tip, waist, tail passing through the same point on snow)

Steering: a blend of lower leg rotation and edging used to guide the ski on a desired path. Less edging and more rotary moves closer to the pivoting end of the spectrum while more edging and less rotary imput moves toward the carving end of the spectrum. Steering is synonymous with guiding.


As we move from pivot slipping end of the spectrum and introduce a bit of edge angle, direction changes begin to occur. Though very skidded these turns will continue to progress toward the carving end of the spectrum as the active rotary is reduced and the edge angle is increased until the turns become carved.

I think it is a pretty easy concept to understand.

Am I missing something? I think these definitions are pretty close to the ones described in ATS teaching concepts III circa 1979?
post #28 of 72
Bud can you please explain the physics of how steering as explained by you effects the travel of a ski in powder?
post #29 of 72
I could once we can agree on a definition of steering! Until then anything I say using the word steering will certainly be taken out of context by a few who have posted on this forum.

What is your understanding of Steering BTS then maybe I can adapt my posts to reflect yours, Ghost's, and softsnowguy's if I could be so lucky as to have the three of you agree on the meaning. Let me know when the three of you agree on a definition and context related to pivoting, skidding, carving, brushing, rotary power, rotary skills, turning, positive or negative, active or passive, intentional or unintentional, etc.
post #30 of 72
If I was going to refer to steering I would assume the definition you gave. But I just want to understand better how you feel it relates to powder skiing.
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