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Learning to ski in powder

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
My primary goal for this year is to gain some competence in skiing off the groomed stuff. In that vein, a day or two ago I was thinking of starting a thread asking for everyone's best tips for learning to ski in powder. This morning, I happened across the following thread: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=40416.

FYI, for all you other aspiring powder skiers.
post #2 of 19
Woodstocksez--thanks for pointing out the thread. I am also trying to get off the groomers. I did have a chance to ski in powder once last season. It was very different and seemed much more complex to me. So, I decided that a group lesson would be very helpful. It turned out to be my best ski day of all time........not because I became an authority on skiing powder...but just because it was an all around great, new experience.

I had more falls that day than perhaps ever.....so there were a couple of good tips that I had seen on videos that AM. The videos are short clips made by NASTC, Chris Fellows, and they are on skinet.com. The ones that helped the most that day:
1) Using your poles to form a "magic X" to get up in powder
2) How to find a ski that has come off and is buried...you use your poles to go back through your tracks until you find it
3) You need speed in powder.

That's it for tips from me. Thanks for starting the thread; I also hope to learn better how to tackle powder.
post #3 of 19
Don't ski in powder!!! You'll struggle with it. Your skis will submarine and you'll fall over and over and have difficulty getting up. You could fall in a tree well. You'll look silly. You'll get snow down your neck and in your goggles. It's really, really hard to learn.:

It's much more fun staying on the groomers. All the turns are the same, completely predictable. You can look like a pro with little effort. There are no silly trees or bumps to mess you up. Swoosh, swoosh, you're a star!

Yeah, stay out of the powder. It's MINE! :
post #4 of 19
Start by skiing the sides of the groomers. There are often little areas with some room and you can dash back onto the groomed run and back again.
Get a taste of what if feels like a bit at a time .
It will grab your feet and hold them back a bit but if you keep your momentum it will carry you where you want to go. Play with it till you feel more comfortable and want to spend more time in the softer snow.

A lesson with a pro introducing you to the softer side of skiing would be a good idea and the instructors love to ski there. You'll have a good time but be patient with yourself it will be a new and different experience and if things go well you will be hooked .
Good luck on your quest. It will change how you feel about skiing. Your addiction could become a passion .
post #5 of 19
Oops. I saw the title and I thought this thread was about learning to become a skier with powder as the snow context, eg, if you live in a place where ALL you can ski is powder, here's how you learn to ski.

A nice thought tho, eh?
post #6 of 19
It is a lovely thought!!!

It's an extra challenge to learn to ski in powder if you only have a few powder days where you normally ski like last season....perhaps the weather Gods will smile on us this next season!!!!
post #7 of 19
Quote:
A lesson with a pro introducing you to the softer side of skiing would be a good idea and the instructors love to ski there.
I love to give powder lessons. If someone says they would like to expand their skills but they don't know what they want to work on (and it's a fresh powder day), I'll ask if they have ever tried powder. If they say they never have but would like to try, it's off to doing some powder progressions. I think it is a little smoother transition on a snowboard. Usually people are immediately hooked, and can get the hang of things pretty quick in powder 6-10" deep. If they are natural at it and want more I'll take them to some of my favorite terrain for powder but within their ability. I usually see lots of smiles at the end of the lesson. Instant addicts. I get a powder fix too.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
I know that boots are supposed to be the most important piece of equipment and that it's very important to have them fit properly for your feet. Three years ago when I bought boots, I just bought what the guy at the ski shop suggested, Tecnica Rival RX HVL, which, as I recall, were supposed to be good if you have a wide foot (which I apparently do, to some extent). I've never gone back to have any further bootfitting work done, though I've intended to (particularly last season). That's a priority for this year (one of my other bits of Epicski homework is to read the boot threads so I can be an informed participant).

Anyway, relative to this thread, my question is whether having properly fit boots is even more important when skiing powder. Insofar as my current boot setup may not be ideal (maybe it's OK, maybe not - I really have no idea), I feel like I'm probably able to compensate for that, to some extent, when skiing on the groomers. The few times I've tried skiing some in powder, I feel like I have very little control of my skis. I assume the problem is primarily one of technique, but I wonder whether poorly fit boots are more of a deficiency in appropriately controlling your skis in powder than they would be when skiing on a groomed run.
post #9 of 19
Once you go fat you'll never go back!!! Skis that is! With the proper equipment almost any one can enjoy ungroomed conditions.
post #10 of 19
Sept 24, 2007

Hi All:

Making "NO CLAIMS" to being even close to good in powder, I have the following comments.

In my close to 28 years of skiing, I've probably skied in powder, knee high or more and never more than mid thigh high, maybe 15-20 days. Only 2-3 of these days were out west (Whistler Blackcomb) and the remaining on the East coast (Ski Liberty, Loon, Killington, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen). Having never taken a "formal powder lesson" and only relying on what I've read and on what I like to call "skiing maturity", I ski powder as follows:

(a) balance with both feet on the center of the skis, with my weight centered as well (or as close to weight centered as I can get).

(b) be patient, slowly pushing the skis into the snow and gradually edging the skis (or banking the skis) and waiting for the snow to push your feet back up. It is really important to be patient and wait for the snow to push back and not rush the turn. What I've read was "every thing in slow motion".

(c) the heavier and deeper the snow, the closer to the fall line I try to ski. For this to work, a skier has to overcome his/her fear of speed. obviously, there will be a point on steep slopes that I will bail out of by stopping every few turns, since I've maxed out on my "speed limit".

In response to "Fear (on the Fear thread)", SOMETIMES while skiing powder, I will overcome "fear" and extend the limits of my "speed limit". When I do this, the feeling of excitement, exhilaration and satisfaction is so profound that it almost takes me back to when I first started skiing (in this sense, I do envy you beginners). It's a shame that the East Coast has so few truly deep snow days (well at least where I usually ski).

Other Bears with more expertise in powder, please correct me for any errors so that beginning Bears don't pick up my bad advice/habits.

Cheers,

CP

PS: MgMc, you have no reason to "envy" me. If you stack all three mole hills which are close by to me, it would still not be as high as NorthStar and probably only slightly higher than Mt. Rose.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstocksez View Post
The few times I've tried skiing some in powder, I feel like I have very little control of my skis. I assume the problem is primarily one of technique, but I wonder whether poorly fit boots are more of a deficiency in appropriately controlling your skis in powder than they would be when skiing on a groomed run.
I have always skied in stiff boots. Last year I went from a 130 flex to a 150. It took some adjustments for me to not get banged around a bit in powder & crud. Super stiff boots are probably not ideal in powder. Your Technicas are probably pretty good if you have a proper fit.

I think that it is important to have a snug fit with a good heel pocket in pow, especially as it gets skied up a bit. You don't want your feet slipping & moving around in the boot. In the old days I used to find myself cranking my boots down in hard snow. With modern equipment I find that on hard snow my movements are more lateral tipping moves, & I hardly buckle them at all. I do tend to find myself giving them an extra notch in powder & crud.

Fatter, soft skis will make learning powder easier. They don't need to be very long while you are learning.

The post by Weems in the thread you linked, covers the tactics pretty well.

JF
post #12 of 19
You don't need speed to ski deep snow. We used to have go-slow contests where the slowest skier down the steep, deep pitch was the winner.

What to do...
-Rent soft fat skis. Do not get high performance fatties. Those are for the guys who imagine they'd get hired for a Warren Miller flick.
-Loosen the top buckles of your boots and the power strap. You need a good fit in the foot.
-Keep your weight equal on both feet all the time.
-Keep your feet close together.
-Keep your weight centered fore & aft.
-Be patient. You need to find the tempo of skiing the snow that day allows you to ski.
-Do not expect to see your skis until the bottom of the run. Your skis don't need to ever surface. You're skiing in 3 dimensions IN the snow.
-Attach powder cords to the skis to make them easy to find if one pops off.
-Visualize an airplane banking through turns. Now, visualize your skis together on edge banking through a turn down in the snow. That's your goal. Learn to turn by edging, not steering, and put your skis on edge in that turn to ski.
-Be willing to free-fall directly down the fall line in the middle of a turn. It's a beautiful weightless feeling. You have a white featherbed of snow for your skis to land on and make the next turn.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
You don't need speed to ski deep snow. We used to have go-slow contests where the slowest skier down the steep, deep pitch was the winner.
Sept 24, 2007

Gotta love this forum. Just gotta.

Hi SoftSnowGuy:

I believe that most beginners, including myself, would appreciate a short description on how to "ski the powder slow". That would really be helpful on the rare powder days that I enjoy. The joy of powder is almost undescriable.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers,

CP
post #14 of 19
Well I'm not Softsnowguy, but I agree with most of what he says here.

To ski powder slow or anything else for that matter, you've gotta finish your turns.

JF
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post
Well I'm not Softsnowguy, but I agree with most of what he says here.

To ski powder slow or anything else for that matter, you've gotta finish your turns.

JF
Sept 24 , 2007

Hi 4ster:

Thanks. Will DO THAT, (NOT Try That) first chance I get. Should have known, should have known.

Cheers,

CP
post #16 of 19
Hey Charlie,
Try making more turns too. Might as well savor it!

JF
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post
Hey Charlie,
Try making more turns too. Might as well savor it!

JF
Sept 24, 2007

Hi 4ster:

. More turns is the one thing which I do since I'm use to a small 600 ft mountain and we have to turn, turn, turn to "trick" ourselves into thinking we have more terrain:. But "complete" the turns is good advice. On hard pack, I usually do complete the turns. It must be this new fangled invention "fluffy snow" which confuses and threatens me: (you know, not being able to see the skis and always worried that they will cross).

Cheers,

CP
post #18 of 19

Instant powder skiing for beginners

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieP View Post
Sept 24 , 2007

Will DO THAT, (NOT Try That) first chance I get. Should have known, should have known.

Cheers,

CP
These emoticons are fun...but where are the dancing bananas?
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmc View Post
These emoticons are fun...but where are the dancing bananas?
Sept 24, 2007

Hi MgMc:

Lost them in the "deep eastern powder" that we get during our harsh 90 degree September days. I'll find them and after the snow turns solid come December and chip them from the ice block.

Cheers,

CP
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