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How long does it take to learn how to Ski powder?

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
That is the question. I'm asking this because different people have different abilities and it's interesting to know the personal experiences of the Bears.


BTW, do you think it is possible to get familiar with powder skiing in 10 days, 5 days?
post #2 of 45
Familiar no. Decent at it, if you're already good at the frontside, and take some lessons the first couple of days, and you're talking more like 10 than 5, and you mean to ski primarily powder all day every day, from opening to 3 pm, yes.
post #3 of 45
It took me 1 turn to learn how not to ski powder. I've been improving ever since.
post #4 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post
It took me 1 turn to learn how not to ski powder. I've been improving ever since.
I'm with WTFH
post #5 of 45
I'd say 5 to 10 days to become comfortable and reasonably adept. That's 5 to 10 powder days, which can take a couple of seasons to accumulate. And it assumes you already have some reasonable technique on the firm. If you're skiing the corderouy the "wrong" way it won't transfer to powder and you'll flail uncontrollably.
post #6 of 45
I think this is a question of agressiveness. I skied deepish pow out west and instantly felt at home. My skinnies kicked my ass, but it felt awesome although I was chomping at the bit for weeks to drop into some, so by the time I got out there I was feeling nothing short of bloodlust... I wanted to attack and destroy the pow, but some look at it with a feeling of intimidation, so to me it's all in how bad you want to own it.

The biggest difference is going from the robotman-style edge carve to the "pow hop" as I call it. You can learn in one day if you ski alot. Don't be scared, even if you suck at it, it'll be a blast. Work on skiing with your two feet touching- if you can do that, you can ski deep pow.

All pow is different, tho... 14" at Kilington is different than 14" at Vail, which is different than 14" at Alta. To get truly good at deep pow, the only thing you can do is go everywhere and ski everything.
post #7 of 45
To survive powder, maybe 10 days, to SKI powder..........well, thats why I have been skiing 30+ years, another day is just another challenge ::.

Snow is never the same so being the master of all conditions is a never ending blast.
post #8 of 45

Huh?


I am not naturally athletic.
I learned to ski powder (to the level of enjoying it rather than struggling, and not falling very often) in about 4 very intense hours. Now admittedly I was already a reasonable hard snow skier, but that was also on straight skinny skis (K2 712's or KVC's, I forget which).

It took my son about the same amount of time on modern skis (spread out over more days because 4 hours of powder wasn't available all at once).

Powder may take a lifetime to master, but attaining a basic competence just is not all that hard.
post #9 of 45
Maybe it's just me, but I never had to "learn" to ski powder. I just jumped right in and could do it. FWIW, I grew up skiing in NC.
post #10 of 45
Every day is different.

Friday for example started off with some runs in 5" of powder over frozen avi debris. Challenging.
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Maybe it's just me, but I never had to "learn" to ski powder. I just jumped right in and could do it.
A lot of it is mental. Deep snow looks intimidating, but if you have a solid technique on the groomed the same basic movements work well in powder. As long as you have the confidence to make them, that is. If you panic and try to do the skid-twist thing you're going down.
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
...but if you have a solid technique on the groomed the same basic movements work well in powder. As long as you have the confidence to make them, that is.
People often say this in these threads. But in reality - for most powder novices this is pure and simple BS and leads to many, many people falling over and over again, complaining of aching thighs (because the retreat to tailgunning), and even flat out crying while they walk down the hill after throwing in the towel. I'm not even going to bother reposting my full usual rant about the need to decamber skis in powder in a manner fundamentally different than how you do so on groomers...

The better way to put the above might have been to say that "if you know how to stack yourself over your skis and achieve solid balance, you can relatively quickly ascertain the techniques that will get you there on those skis in powder".

In reality that's a fairly high bar. Since I'm more mediocre than that, I just compensate by buying a minimal level of "competence" in the form of skis designed for powder. And in that regard, and to the OP, I'd have to say that on skis designed for powder that someone who is anywhere resembling an intermediate but new to the medium should be having pretty darn good fun on the first day. Likely well before lunch. They may or may not get cheers from the technique police, but they'll be out there riding and having fun - and improving incrementally as time goes on. What more could you ask?
post #13 of 45
one turn. it might take you a while to figure out how, but once you make one good turn and know what it's supposed to feel like, you'll have it. kind of like learning to ride a bike, once it clicks, you'll know it, and you'll never forget how.
post #14 of 45
If you use a retraction turn on groomed runs then its relatively easy to move that technique to pow.
post #15 of 45
Actually, Spindrift's comments match up pretty well with my experience.
We had a group of friends/roommates/acquaitances who drove up in a blizzard to crash on a friend of a friend's floor. In the morning there was 3 feet of fresh powder and almost nobody there.

I did not learn by myself. We had one incredibly patient friend who knew how to ski powder, and he comprimised his rare eastern powder day to teach about half a dozen of us newbies to ski powder.

After an hour or so two or three gave up and retreated to the one or two runs they had groomed. By lunchtime another two or so had sort of gotten it but were exhausted. In the afternoon, one other newbie, me, and our teacher were the only ones looking for new lines as the hill finally got tracked out.

It occurs to me in retrospect that the two of us who were newly minted powder fanatics may have been the only ones who actually listened to what our friend was trying to teach us.
post #16 of 45
Not long at all, in spite of all the above comments, if you are presented with the -right- powder.

By that I mean powder that is on terrain you would feel comfortable straightlining if it were groomed, but still steep enough to give you decent speed for turns.

The only problem is that this sort of powder is also most easily accessed and the first to get thrashed into moguls.
post #17 of 45
Quote:
but if you have a solid technique on the groomed the same basic movements work well in powder. As long as you have the confidence to make them, that is. If you panic and try to do the skid-twist thing you're going down.
Well put. It took me less than a run, on skinny skis, in face shot powder. However, like the quote above says you need to be already a solid groomed skier with an advanced level of sensitivity of what your skis are doing 0n/in the snow and the ability to adjust your balance in relation to this sensitivity. That is let the skis ski and follow them.

With this in mind, spending time skiing runs that are less than perfectly groomed will help develop this skill.

How quickly you pick up powder skiing is a reflection on how truely good a skier you are on the groomed.

One last opinion.

Quote:
try to do the skid-twist thing you're going down.
Although I live in the upper midwest and am not an expert on this I have an opinion (and I am ready for any flames that I draw). I believe that the term "schmear" turn that folks are doing with the super fat skis is exactly a skid-twist action and that is what makes the super fats so easy to ski in powder.
post #18 of 45
There is powder and then there is POWDER. Skiing powder where there is a base isn't skiing POWDER. It is enjoyable, to say the least, but until you have skied snow (POWDER) with no base you won't have the feel and can't get the expertise of skiing POWDER. It takes patience and time to learn the technique of true POWDER skiing.
post #19 of 45
Once you master equal weight on both skis, I think powder skiing comes quickly. It helps a lot to learn with powder skis because ski that float instead of dive make life a lot easier. After that, it just takes time to improve.
post #20 of 45
Spindrift- yes! very well said! I think that while it's more physically demanding to ski in deep pow, it is GLARINGLY OBVIOUS when your technique isn't working, whereas frontside you could suck like a hoover and have no outward signs obvious to you that you're doing it wrong. Anyone who honestly wants to be good and is paying attention to themselves can get a handle on the pow prety quick, but mastery of it requires YEARS of experience.

For the OP- you can SKI it in a day, but to master it will take a lifetime, and remember- no two flakes are the same, and so no collection of a billion of 'em will be, either.
post #21 of 45

Learning starts with the first turn

Learning toi ski powder without a bottom starts with the first glide. A straight run with a supporting base of snow pressed against ski bottoms. If you can run, a turn is waiting.

That said,

4-5 good days on the hill during a heavy snow will get you well on your way to shredding trees in cold smoke.

Oh the dreams memory makes!

CalG
post #22 of 45
Dredging deep in my ancient memory vault, I think it took me about three days of skiing deep snow, before I felt like I could ski it well enough, as compared to my hard pack and ice skiing. My previous experience was mostly kamikazi high speed carving on old GS skis. The first day was a little rough; I spent a lot of time in snow up to my armpits trying to find, retrieve and put back on equipment.

A couple of tips, like treating both bases as a single platform, not trying to turn too sharp until you know what you are doing and keeping your speed up helped a lot.
post #23 of 45
You don't need no stink'n Fat skis. When you quit falling is when you've learned to ski the Pow.
post #24 of 45

Skiing Powder

Quote:
Originally Posted by apeyros View Post
That is the question. I'm asking this because different people have different abilities and it's interesting to know the personal experiences of the Bears.


BTW, do you think it is possible to get familiar with powder skiing in 10 days, 5 days?
Apeyros, some good answers. I started this season with the express intention of getting better in powder. Earlier this year I posted a Question to Bears on Ask a Ski Pro about my Reluctance in Powder. Go to that Forum and read the answers. Some of the answers were for me personally and won't necessarily apply to how you ski. However a must read is the Post made by Bob Barnes, it will help answer your question and in addition it is just down right inspiring.

In my personal opinion (if you have the basic skiing skills) skiing powder is about confidence and desire. I have moved from being very reluctant in powder to searching it out and jumping in whenever I can.

One thing for sure 5 days experience is better than none and 10 days is even better. JUMP IN and enjoy, it is special.
post #25 of 45
Back before fat's, we had a very big day that shut down the Aspen World Cup race.
A very athletic, female Swedish racer jumped on the gondola with us and said "Show me how to ski powder". We being a bunch of horny skibums, were like "Hell yeah".

She totally floundered, way too much independent leg action. She only lasted one run and she was saying "Leave me". " Um OK".

We saw her at the end of the day milking the sides of the easy runs. She was doing much better, but still had a long way to go.

Fat's have made it much, much easier!
post #26 of 45
5 days, 10 days, as many as you can get. I recommend playing hooky from work or school on every powder day. Start with some simple toe push turns, move on to the powder hop turn and when you're ready, throw yourself down the nearest double black with as much speed as you can carry. Your skis will float to the top of the snow and you'll be arcing Alaska style turns like a pro. At that point powder skiing becomes just like carving groomers.
post #27 of 45
Resort powder, which I consider to be 8-16" with a firm surface underneath, is easy to ski and I think it can be enjoyed by a wide range of people. It can allow you to get a feel for powder skiing and some of the motions that go with it. I think anybody can figure this out in a matter of minutes or hours. It's much of the fun of powder without a lot of the skill.

Real powder, which to me means being bottomless to some extent, is harder. I might only encounter it once every couple years, and thus it often comes with some re-learning. This is where I have to reach back in the mental toolbox and give myself some cues. For instance, even if the slope is sick-steep, start off with the skis down the fall line. The massive amount of snow will cancel out the usual speed effect of the steep slope. Eventually speed builds up and then the turns just start to flow. I think CalG put it best when he talked about that first glide and letting the skis run. That's what it's all about in the real stuff. So if there is any learning there, it's that you need to let go and give in to the fall line. That is more mental than physical for me.
post #28 of 45
If you happen to be going out on a powder day on the same hill I'm on, my advice would be to forget it and just stay in the lodge all day. Meanwhile I'll go out and ski it for you and let you know at the end of the day how much it sucked and you really didn't miss anything anyway.
post #29 of 45
never had a probelm, its not to say I didnt continue to get better as I skied it more and more but really never felt it was hard to ski.

IF you cant ski powder its probably because of these reasons.

You have fear thats unfounded
you actually suck at skiiing groomers its just that there been no reason for you to get better
your on skis that arent helping you out at all.

when I had a group kiwi races ages 12-13 this year after the first run of watching them flail, I said forget speed control and allways keep turning. Simple consise and worked liked a charm. Those kids already knew all the movement patterns needed, they just need to know how to use them(DRT).

which brings to my last point when skiing powder some amount of aggresion and want to go faster is key, if you keep trying to slow down you wont be able to ski it.
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Real powder, which to me means being bottomless to some extent, is harder. I might only encounter it once every couple years,
Where do you ski? We had a mediocre ski year at Kirkwood (468 inches) and I think I still had at least 10 bottomless days. Of course it doesn't take a whole lot of west coast sierra cement for bottomless conditions. I've skied Rocky Mountain fluff and I agree, you just blow right through that stuff like it's not even there. Not really bottomless in the Rockies unless you have a couple of feet.
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