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Speed control in serious powder

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Last season, for the first time in my life, I found myself in serious waist deep powder. In a addition to making more frequent turns and turning more sharply - in other words, aside from turn shape and frequency - what tricks and techniques are there for speed control in powder? What about diving the tips to keep speed in control?
post #2 of 29
Why? Maching in powder is really fun. Short of an anchor, turning and stopping are your only viable solutions I can think of. Diving the tips is going to make you a lawn dart.

Pleeeease, just don't traverse a powder slope. Ski the line closest to the last set of tracks until the slope is all tracked up. That way everyone gets a fresh line.
post #3 of 29
funny, in powder i make fewer bigger turns. never really worried about slowing down.
post #4 of 29
Oboe, in snow that is over your knees, you really don't need to think about speed control at all (unless it is very steep). In fact, if you don't make any turns at all, you will find that you do not go very fast at all. Certainly not faster than you have gone on the groomed. You will never get the "powder experience" if you are thinking about controlling speed. Instead, think about rhythm control. And don't forget to start straight down the fall line!
And when you've eaten all that powder, have a smoke!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 30, 2001 11:58 AM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well then, please let me rephrase that question: Last year when in powder up to my ass, I got going and couldn't turn and had to stop by falling down and then I couldn't get up because the snow was so deep that a guy had to come over and help me up. What can I do to go where I want to go once I'm going as fast as I can in deep powder? Try that one. Also, speed control is needed because there may be people or trees that make it necssary. Thanks.
post #6 of 29

If you were on those Rossi shorts, that may have something to do with it.

and remember the Epic motto:

..... WE-BEARS-WOBBLE, but we don't fall down!
post #7 of 29
obe- not much time but here are some quick hints. Don't complete your turn as much, more comma shape less round, keep your speed up. Ski more two footed maybe a little narrower and more evenly weighted. More active bending of the legs to keep the skis climbing out of the pow to turn. Use both skis as one edge. BE PATIENT you are now IN the snow NOT ON IT, each movement will take a little longer to start. Don't be abrupt but be strong.

Think of watching dolphins swimming (porpusing)make your skis swim in the snow like a dolphin! Stay centered on your ski. HAVE FUN! The same stuff that works on the rest of the mountain works in POW. Get cheater sticks! Fat skis will help, or at least mid fats. Watch successful people around you. Try and Try again. TAKE A LESSON!!!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 30, 2001 05:58 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todo ]</font>
post #8 of 29
I will tell you what to do next time you find yourself burried up to your ass in powder and don't know what to do, call me I will come out with you and show you myself in person, K? It realy is the only way. Sorry.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
mosh, your response is the best! The fact of the matter is that I had the K2 Mod 7/8's on my feet in 174 cm, 111 tip, 70 waist and 101 tail. The people I skied with had old, straight skis and they were KICKING MY ASS!!!! I do recall that Powdigger told me he had picked up a tip from Pierre, eh! which was to sort of dive the tips for speed control. I wish I could read something unconventional like that. And mosh? I really, really hope that conditions here in Vermont again approach that level when I will be giving you a holler to come out and SHOW ME HOW!
post #10 of 29
Too often skiers talk about skiing powder as though one technique works in all conditions. Powder conditions vary greatly due to moisture content, wind packing, sun crusting, metamorphosis when less than fresh, etc and the way one skis the range of variations effectively has a lot to do with modifying ones technique and balance whether it is conscious or not. Additionally the skis one is using effects your ability to ski powder greatly. Narrower classic skis are considerably more difficult to ski powder well with than the current crop of shorter fatter wide bodies. In any case good skiers were always able to adapt to many of those older skis despite their limitations such that they could look real smooth and controlled.

Additionally one's weight is a significant issue also. A 200 pound guy on 160cm skis will sink too much and end up going much slower than a 120 pound person on those same skis. As a light person, 5'6" 133 pounds, years ago I often had problems keeping my speed down in higher moisture content powder particularly if there was any type of crust or caking because I would plane on the surface through some turns while sinking awkwardly on others. Right beside me, my friend at 190 pounds would be bouncing up and down well into it without any effort. The way I would adapt would be to work more up and down motion into my turns in order to pound down through. For a light person just putting a backpack on with say 20 pounds in it on such a day can make all the difference. Fatter skis will also make one plane on the surface more however their width will also slow one down so it is not the same as skiing as the surface with narrower skis.

Oboe as an Eastern skier you might not have been able to size up the relative nature of the western powder you encountered. However if the powder was relatively good mid winter cold dry powder you would not have had any problem slowing down particularly as deep as you related. So my guess is you were skiing in some relative degree of wetter snow. A good powder skier who only has skied Colorado or Utah is in for a rude humbling experience the first time they go to the West Coast and are unfortunate enough to get some of that cement which is part of the menu. -dave
post #11 of 29
Oboe – First things first, relax and breathe. Next this is one of the times “two” footed skiing works best for most skiers. Put your feet reasonably close to each other but not locked to each other and turn both feet together. If you are an accomplished powder skier a wider stance can work but if you are not then a wide stance will allow one ski to “lazy” up and shovels go opposite directions. That is not good. Powder is actually a lot “slower” than skiing the same terrain less the deep snow. It may take a little bit to get use to a “straighter” fall line decent but you need to keep up the speed to “assist” your turns. Then stay centered on your skis as you would normally, no back seat skiing please that is a myth, but “bounce” from turn to turn. This will help you to release your skis from the snow so they can turn. Then do not shape the turn as much as you would without the powder. As someone said earlier over “shaping” the turn will lead to over powering the tips which can lead to over your…… A little trick I have used to with my students to start the turns is to “both hands go and then feet follow”. Another words point to the turn with both hands bounce up and then slowly follow with your feet and then settle down point hands bounce up and then settle. This puts a slight coil between the upper and lower halves of the body and as you “bounce” from turn to turn using both feet together the coil unwinds then re winds etc. Inexperienced powder skiers tend to “rush” their turns. Turns develop a little slower and softer in powder so do not be in a hurry. Think of slow lovemaking! It is love! The best fun is to make a great powder run through a mogul field where the powder is deep enough the moguls appear to be little pillows. You can't really see the treachery so you just ski it! Try a slope you can feel comfortable in a little more of a straight line decent so the fear factor is less. It is hard to learn if you are very uncomfortable. If the powder is very heavy your “bounce will need to be more powerful so your skis will release. If you really need to stop take a nice arc to the side but heavens do not fall down! Powder cords on your skis are nice. You can get them at most shops but a colored cord tied to wach binding will work just as well and then stuff the cord under your ski pant cuffs so it will stay there. Make the cord about 3ft. long. If you would fall the ski may dive under the snow but the cord will float to the top of the snow and it is easier to find your ski. Above all have fun!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 01, 2001 03:56 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Floyd ]</font>
post #12 of 29
To ski powder (so I've been told during lessons , and it does seem to help) even weighting of skis, lots of up and down movement to weight/unweight the skis and don't be afraid to pick-up some speed. Proper technique is important stay centered (do not lean back) if your quads are burning your too far back.

As an instructor once told me

"You can't bluff in the fluff"

Any mistakes or improper technique will show up when skiing powder.
post #13 of 29
BG, try to do a little in-between work! It's awfully hard to make knee-deep or waist-deep work in your first powder outing of the season. If you've been skiing Eastern hardpack & ice and all of a sudden you find yourself in powder, you're not going to do well until you do a few things

-- relax
-- let your skis run down the fall line until you feel yourself "plane" up on the snow
-- stay balanced and ignore the old coots who say you have to "sit back" or "lean back" in powder
-- think of your two skis as a platform and try to make all your ski-foot-knee-leg movements with uniformity
-- relax
-- relax

and the most important

-- relax
post #14 of 29
Remember to match your turns to the snow conditions: the deeper the snow, the more the ski should stay in the fall line. Like others have said, don't rush it. You need to give the ski time to work in the deep snow; don't panic and whip 'em around. Carry more speed. Find a mild slope and go straight down the powder line, getting a feel for the terminal velocity. Embrace it.

Forget about cutsy weldeling and arc stronger GS turns. Let the snow slow you down. Try not to lean back, but you may need to do so when encountering varied terrain. The position of your hands should draw an infinity symbol in the air as you go from turn to turn. Feel the bounce in the skis as you pop from turn to turn. When in doubt, go straight.

Now, if I could only practice what I preach!!
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Jaws, going straight was the problem - I was going straight at a good clip and needed to turn. I had to fall down to avoid disaster. So I really do need to learn to turn and anything else that slows me down in deep, steep powder.
post #16 of 29
I know the feeling, oboe. I feel like I am really close to finally getting the knack of skiing deep powder expertly, but I also get uncomfortable carrying a lot of speed. I often end up leaning back and bailing, or trying to kill speed with a skid and end up falling with my momentum sending me over the top.

I would venture to say that my problems would go away with more practice in legitimate powder conditions as I grew into my comfort zone. It is also worth noting that the water content of the pow has an affect on the way you ski it. Light Champagne is much easier to ski than heavier New England snow. You can plow right through the Champagne and you can get away with mistakes. In heavier pow, the ski really bends and rebounds, throwing you off balance if you are not careful.

I think the key to effectively skiing pow is speed. You have to go through the snow to make the ski bend. On packed powder runs, you can get away with a pivot move or skid to scrub speed. This won't work well in pow. And that's the rub - you (we) really need to carry more speed to ski pow well, but what do we do when the speed gets too much and the run is narrow or treed?

I suppose the answer may be to use exaggerated up-unweighting and basically make a hop turn. Or hip check the hill. Or skid and hope for the best. When I ski out West in pow, I focus on carrying more speed and turning less. I get in a mode where I'm trying to do too much. I need to relax and make turns strategically. Use the terrain to your advantage and head towards the deeper snow to slow down. Keep the weight forward and dive into the snow. I think the bottom line is that we need to increase our comfort with higher speed and just go for it. I believe there is a minimum speed at which pow turns must be made, and you and I are not yet quite comfortable at that speed, so we have trouble. With more practice comes speed, and before you know it, we wouldn't be worried about slowing down.

I have skied with some great skiers over the years, and they always make it look easy. One thing I notice is that they are not turning much at all. I have keyed off that and have seen results. As you get more comfortable, you can let 'em run and rip.
post #17 of 29
I never skiied powder like you all describe, but from watching the movies, I think it's all in the unweighting. I see skis bobbing in and out of the snow, flexion and extension. The skiiers ski fast too.
post #18 of 29
You are cool!

I love this forum!

Your post is knida like the guy who stayed at the HOLIDAY INN last night, Hugh?

Like, I have not done brain surgery before but I stayed at a HOLIDAY INN last night SO, NEXT!

(psst, zeek, he is calling YOU!)
post #19 of 29
There is a lot of good advice here Oboe. But, until you ski with someone who really knows how to ski pow, you just aren't going to get it from a book or reading the above details. Unfortunatly, if you are afraid of going too fast in powder, you will not succeed. Speed is the key. Speed floats you and weighing and unweighing with slight turn initiation, linking of the turns and not getting your tips very far out of the fall line, will get you some degree of success. Dipping your tips in deep pow will only get you one thing and it's called a face plant or a head over, which isn't a bad thing. Just embarrasing, but it happens to everyone at some point. Just part of the pow experience. Fatties will help. I like Chubbs in a 180 or anything with a wide underfoot will make it easier for you. Bottom line, get with someone who is a good powder skier and follow and learn. I have made some good pow skiers out of some people who never strayed off the groomed. Good luck.

One thing I should mention about speed in pow, there will be a point where you will reach a speed and go no faster.once you reach this speed with control it will become comfortable, trust me.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 04, 2001 10:28 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Lars ]</font>
post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 
Lars, bro! Operative words: " . . . with control" That was the problem - going fast OUT OF CONTROL, and I had no idea how to get back in control. So, I guess the word SPEED was less important than the word CONTROL. In retrospect, I think I was sitting back from where I could do nothing, just like on the groomed sometime! I'm hoping to duplicate these conditions in deep powder so I can find out. Here I go: Hope hope hope hope C'MON, SNOW! DAMIT!
post #21 of 29
oboe, <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Here I go: Hope hope hope hope C'MON, SNOW! DAMIT! <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


-just kidding

Some of these instructors are going to make fun of the below but heh heh.

Just think of your self as a really big 5 foot diameter light rubbery ball with you on top slowly bouncing in sync down the slope. If you bounce too far forward you take a header, too far back its shoot out like slipping on a banana peel. No you keep bouncing your body weight right on top of the ball and everything is balanced. Another analogy is to think of your skis like a moving trampoline with you bouncing right in the middle. Or remember how when you were a kid and you and your friends got some long board and bridged it between some blocks. Jump anywhere off center and one goes off at any angle but jump up and down right in the middle and its smiles and bouncing time. That is the way it has to be with your skis, bouncing right in the center. Of course it really isn't quite the same and one has to discover on their own all the sensations of balance and the elasticity of the snow which can very from storm to storm and even run to run a bit.

As for Lars advising to ski powder with some Chubbs. Heh hey! I just won an ebay bid at $257 some used 180cm Chubbs with demo bindings Sunday. They gave em to UPS today so I going to even be having more fun now! [img]smile.gif[/img] -dave
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Dave, that decription of the sensation really does help. Chubbs??? Right now, a skate board might work in Vermont.
post #23 of 29
oboe: Sometimes skiing in deep powder can feel like gentle bouncing on a mini-trampoline. When I want to slow down I sink a little lower and the snow slows me down. No substitute for mileage though.
post #24 of 29
For an article on the Alta powder technique, log in to the PSIA Web site: www.psia.org. Then select Table of Contents/Member Education/TPS Archives/Guest Services and Teaching/"Secrets of the Deep".

Works for me!
post #25 of 29
For an article on the Alta powder technique, log in to the PSIA Web site: www.psia.org. Then select Table of Contents/Member Education/TPS Archives/Guest Services and Teaching/"Secrets of the Deep".

Works for me!
post #26 of 29
For an article on the Alta powder technique, log in to the PSIA Web site: www.psia.org. Then select Table of Contents/Member Education/TPS Archives/Guest Services and Teaching/"Secrets of the Deep".

Works for me!
post #27 of 29
Speed is your friend. Two skis are skied as one. Everything is done as if you are in sloooowwww motion. Big turns but never sharp. Momentum and balance are key ! Otherwise enjoy the taste of snow and I don't mean face shots.
post #28 of 29
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by oboe:
... to sort of dive the tips for speed control.... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Lots of good tips already. When folks put pressure on their ski tips in powder, it very slight, very subtle, and usually for a very short time. It's a wonder full feeling having your skis IN the snow, not surfing on top. As you're ending one turn and beginning the next, a subtle tip pressure can work well--but not yet for you.

The next time you're in powder, rent fat boys, ski with both feet close together, equal pressure on both feet (NEVER weight the outside foot), equal balance fore & aft, and make lots of turns. Make so many turns that you worry about going fast enough. Then begin refining your technique.


post #29 of 29
After a year of teaching in the back bowls of Vail in some epic powder let me offer my two cents on the "equal weight" issue. What I've learned, and what I teach is this: the degree that you go to equal weighting is proportional to how "bottomless" the powder is.

That is, if it's only a few inches over a packed surface, ski it like you would normal packed powder; but, if it's really deep and bottomless, then use equal weighting. If it's somewhere in between, then use a 70/30 or some other comfortable proportion.

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