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I could use some tips on skiing fresh, moist snow

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, just got back from Killington skied for 2 days. I officially graduated from greens, to the blues ! There was some less challenging blues that I felt very much in control, and some TOUGH blues that frustrated me, as I kept crashing. It was light to moderate snowfall all day, and I was really having a frustrating time negotiating steeper blues with 4" of wet snow on the trails. I really had a hard time keeping my skis parallel. Visibility was poor as well (fog/wind/snow on the upper elevations). One ski would hit a bump, and just send me bailing. Man, were my legs spent after sking the sticky snow powder !! Is there any type of sking method one needs to do to more efficiently ski wet sticky powder vs. groomed powder ? Thanks ! 

            Rich

BTW, a veteran skier who observed me fall a few times, came over to me and commented  that I was skiing too far foreward, and I need to keep my weight more "into the hill"  ?? I was a little confused about how to do this, ifd anyone could elaborate a little further...
Edited by richkay228 - 2/24/10 at 11:16am
post #2 of 15
Well Rich, you know it's a rough day when good sams are offering unsolicited advice. If the advice was meant to get you to sit back on your skis, you got full value out of what you paid for that advice. If the advice was intended to get you on higher edge angles and balanced against your skis, then it was on the right track.

If your technique relies on a lot of steering, you're going to get very tired in fresh wet snow very quickly. You'll also have a hard time keeping your skis parallel because fresh wet snow often likes to be grabby. If this is the case, there's a good argument that your technique needs an overhaul to get a more balanced blend of tipping involved, even for groomed runs. Getting video of you skiing on a groomed run would be helpful. The odds are that your key "go to" movements for any kind of turns is what is causing you trouble. Otherwise, we're just guessing.

Fresh wet snow creates added resistance against turning forces. In general, you either need more power to overcome that resistance or make shallower turns so you do less turning. To get more power, you can work muscles harder to turn, get higher edge angles or you can cheat and go faster. Going faster let's momentum give you more turning power. If you make shallower turns, then you'll go faster. Voilà, problem solved. Trying to get higher edge angles and make shallower turns may seem contradictory, but there's an exercise you can do at home on a swivel chair that can help to show how its done.

Start by taking your shoes off. With your feet flat on the floor, try to tilt one foot onto the little toe side by raising the arch of the foot and not moving your knee in any direction except up. That movement should be easy. Now try tilting the foot onto the big toe side. You'll probably need to swivel the chair and move the knee to make this happen, After you work each foot individually, work them both together using the least amount of chair swivel possible. The cool part of this drill is that you can see how you can get your feet onto edge while still keeping the upper body centered over the feet. We want to be more over our feet in powder, but without the flatter skis that would normally result from this.

There are two other adaptations that will help. First, keep your feet a little closer together and work them as one unit instead of independently. Second, make your turning movements in slow motion.

One final piece of advice. A bad tune in wet powder makes life much more difficult. One of the tricks I use is Zardoz NotWax. It's a Teflon like rub on "wax" treatment that works wonders in wet grabby snow. Get some now so that you're ready for those 50+ degree spring skiing days.
post #3 of 15
As therusty implies, a bit more speed can be helpful in these conditions.  It seems counter-intuitive to go faster when you are not feeling all that comfortable on your skis, but it does make for less effort and more stability in wet, chop, or heavy corn, resulting in you actually feeling a bit more comfortable (unless you are exceeding your speed comfort zone, of course).  We are not talking about really going fast, just going a wee bit faster.
post #4 of 15
 big huge long rockered skis today was quite a day but I am glad it was that heavy. lots of people with out huge skis left and left tons of untracked snow!
post #5 of 15
There was 12" new of PNWet Concrete today. 95mm waist @ 185cm skis did a nice job at any speed. Lots of Hecklers on the lift today.
post #6 of 15
I hate those conditions, similar to spring.  Heavy wet snow, just looks to me like nature's ligament shredder.  I carry speed and lean back more to get by.  Proper wax for the conditions will help a lot.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post

I hate those conditions, similar to spring.  Heavy wet snow, just looks to me like nature's ligament shredder.  I carry speed and lean back more to get by.  Proper wax for the conditions will help a lot.

leaning back more will put alot of stress on your ligiments than staying centered and driving though it.

this wasnt anything normal today it was huge moisture content storm extremely heavy snow!
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks Rusty for the detailed tips ! I'll keep all you're info stored for the upcoming springtime conditions !

 

          Rich

post #9 of 15
More tipping; less twisting.
More speed.
More patience.
It's pretty easy to fight your skis and point them where you want to go when the snow is packed down flat, but you have to understand how tipping and pressuring your skis differently makes them want to go the same way you want them to go when the snow is a little deeper and heavier.
post #10 of 15
Wet and heavy snow requires:

  1. Balance.  You don't want to be too far forward (face plant) or back (stress on ligaments and overall lack of control).  And you want to make sure that both skis are tracking the same line, which means a balanced stance, laterally.
  2. Using the fall line more.  This means taking straighter, more direct lines down the trail to try and gain speed.  Wet, heavy snow tends to feel "sticky," especially at lower speeds.  And while a proper base prep (wax, grind, etc.) will help, using the terrain to your advantage will help more.
  3. Keep your motions simple, deliberate and controlled.  This is often the toughest thing to do if you're still gaining skills and confidence on steeper terrain, as the instinct is to correct things right now.  But wet, heavy snow doesn't tend to reward quick corrective maneuvers unless you have a really strong technical base from which to draw.  Thus why you see folks advocating tipping over twisting: it's a simpler move, gets you less contorted.  And patience indicates being deliberate and controlled in your actions.
  4. Patience in knowing that this won't be an immediate skill gain for you.  Let's face it: wet and heavy snow is an extreme skiing condition, especially in the days of well-groomed surfaces and man-made snow of a consistent density.  The extremity is compounded when you are still learning, so it can be frustrating, calling for a lot of patience with your ego.  But that leads to my final tip:
  5. Embrace the chance to learn while you're still developing your overall skiing skills!  Since you're still learning the ropes, this is a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill without having to "un-learn" a lot - it puts you a few steps ahead of a lot of fellow skiers, even those who have years of experience and would rate as "experts" in many eyes.

So take advantage of the situation and go to it!  If you can, it wouldn't be a bad idea to either take a lesson or hire a private instructor for a few hours to act as your eyes and ears: somebody who can watch you ski and provide accurate diagnoses to help you progress in your quest to master wet and heavy snow.

Good luck!
post #11 of 15
 after yesterdays fun heavy snow, today was unskiable 3-4 feet of snow in the sidecountry of stowe grrr. there is such a thing as unskiable snow.

heading somewhere with powder tomorrow.
Edited by BushwackerinPA - 2/25/10 at 12:49pm
post #12 of 15
Unskiable? With your quiver? Bite your tongue. Betcha chaos coulda skied it.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by songfta View Post

Wet and heavy snow requires:

  1. Balance.  You don't want to be too far forward (face plant) or back (stress on ligaments and overall lack of control).  And you want to make sure that both skis are tracking the same line, which means a balanced stance, laterally.
  2. Using the fall line more.  This means taking straighter, more direct lines down the trail to try and gain speed.  Wet, heavy snow tends to feel "sticky," especially at lower speeds.  And while a proper base prep (wax, grind, etc.) will help, using the terrain to your advantage will help more.
  3. Keep your motions simple, deliberate and controlled.  This is often the toughest thing to do if you're still gaining skills and confidence on steeper terrain, as the instinct is to correct things right now.  But wet, heavy snow doesn't tend to reward quick corrective maneuvers unless you have a really strong technical base from which to draw.  Thus why you see folks advocating tipping over twisting: it's a simpler move, gets you less contorted.  And patience indicates being deliberate and controlled in your actions.
  4. Patience in knowing that this won't be an immediate skill gain for you.  Let's face it: wet and heavy snow is an extreme skiing condition, especially in the days of well-groomed surfaces and man-made snow of a consistent density.  The extremity is compounded when you are still learning, so it can be frustrating, calling for a lot of patience with your ego.  But that leads to my final tip:
  5. Embrace the chance to learn while you're still developing your overall skiing skills!  Since you're still learning the ropes, this is a perfect opportunity to learn a new skill without having to "un-learn" a lot - it puts you a few steps ahead of a lot of fellow skiers, even those who have years of experience and would rate as "experts" in many eyes.

So take advantage of the situation and go to it!  If you can, it wouldn't be a bad idea to either take a lesson or hire a private instructor for a few hours to act as your eyes and ears: somebody who can watch you ski and provide accurate diagnoses to help you progress in your quest to master wet and heavy snow.

Good luck!
 

Excellent post. Very good info in this. I have a group of kids this week for a  vacation program and we have been getting some different conditions for the past 2 days. Today some of them were complaining about the heavy wet powder so I told them this is the top group we should be skiing all of this not just staying on the packed and groomed. They got the hint and started venturing in off groomed a little bit at a time. Using all of the above tactics they got stronger as the lesson went on. They went further and further between crashes and the smiles were getting bigger and bigger. When conditions are like this ( any "extreme" ) you have to embrace them and your ability just keeps on improving.
post #14 of 15
BWPA: lots of people without huge skis left and left tons of untracked snow!

I am sure you meant "lots of people without skills ...", but I will let it slide this time.
post #15 of 15
Great posting from songfta.  Combine that with Rusty's advice to edge more and let the skis slice through the snow rather than pushing them around sideways.  Balance, balance, balance, then put the skis on edge together and they'll slice a turn for you.
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