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Weight back in pow?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Saw it everywhere at Sierra-at-Tahoe over the weekend. Have heard and read that NO, powder skiing does not necessarily entail a little "tail-weighting," that it's the same as usual, an even balance, fore and aft.

Folks in the back 'cause they're tentative and it's poor technique that's "working," OR is it true; weight a little back IS the way to keep the float?
post #2 of 17
back seat/tailweighting pow skiing IS poor techinique. you don't need to do that with the new skis. I do just fine maintaining a centered stance. Or I try, at any rate. Moot point now for this year!!

post #3 of 17
The front of the skis will naturally float to the top of the powder at a certain speed. Such as at the middle of at turn, when they are pointing straight down the fall line.
It's not so much a matter of the skier purposely sitting back, as not actively keeping the tips down. And the more the tips come up, the farther back the skier is forced. A vicious cycle. So keep those tips down, damnit! :
post #4 of 17
Hi Ryan--

I think that a lot of people sit back in powder out of the natural instinct to brace yourself against the "unknown." And I suspect too that many skiers are uncomfortable when they can't see their ski tips, so they sit back to bring them to the surface.

But you do NOT need to sit back to keep the skis from diving. With your weight pressing down in the middle, and the snow pushing up evenly along the base, the skis will bend into an even arc that will keep them floating in the powder if you keep your speed up. Standing balanced over the sweet spot is as important in powder as on the groomed. You do want to keep some pressure on the tips, as well as the tails.

On the other hand, the POSITION that results from being balanced over the sweet spot WILL be a little farther back in powder than in/on "faster" conditions. Remember that the position of balance differs depending on a number of things. Even the type of wax on your skis will affect they way you stand on them for balance. Powder is "slower" than most other conditions, so balance requires being a little farther back. This is NOT the same as "sitting back on your tails"!

Furthermore, in "bottomless" powder, your skis actually float IN the stuff, rather than gliding ON it. In the snow, they often float a little "tips up"--not at the same angle as the slope. So your balanced position on them will LOOK a little back to an observer. They can't see your skis--they only see your body position relative to the snow surface, and it looks "back" even if you're balanced.

So there are several reasons why many skiers actually DO sit back in powder. And more reasons why even balanced skiers may give the impression that they are sitting back. The myth of "sitting back in powder" will probably live on for a long time!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 17
At Fernie, prior to class, they do a ski off. Anyone who is already in the backseat is not taken into the powder. Of course, they only tell you this if you "make the cut", but the first thing they do is dispel the "weight in the back" myth.
post #6 of 17
The front of the ski is longer (and the shovel generally wider) so if you stay centered the tips will come up. Skiing on the tails will only tire you out, and you will generally not have as much control.
post #7 of 17
Just another quick thought: Maintain snug shin pressure on the front of your boot and lower your stance at the same time. This is a good strong stance which allows you to work to sweet spot of the ski and to have good leg movement to keep the skis working together when linking your powder turns. And you will have the natural strength to ski and balance as your skis cut through the snow like Bob said. The relax both legs together to release the turn, HAVE PATIENCE and let the skis ride to the surface and continue to lead the edge change with new inside foot.

And do that ALOT!

post #8 of 17
hey, what works for me is:

at the end of the turn think about pointing your toes up toward the sky. i am NOT saying sit back here, just pressure your tails a little (and pick your toes up), this will cause the tips to float up and, in theory, make initiation to the next turn easier as the skis are up and floating. thii can cause them to accelerate a little, its like ya wanna kiss your ski tips.

this works for me, i may be missing the mark, but hey. please dont berate me too much as i am only a 18 year old kid, who teaches on a indoor snow slope in the UK. this does work for me though, i hope it does for you.

its all about moving along the skis length, not hulking your body (and therefore centre of mass) about.

later guys

post #9 of 17
Personally, I'm always reminding myself to keep forward and balanced in all conditions. Used to ski in the back seat, especially in pow, so I am always alert to this. If you get in the back seat, the ski gets faster and you lose some control and agility, plus your legs get fried, and it really is more fun to ski in the snow than on it.

By staying balanced in deep powder, my speed in controlled, and turns become effortless, almost done without thinking. Of course, don't get too far forward, because a face plant is right round the corner. And that Utah pow is a little easier to stay balanced in than that powder in the sierra's or back east.
post #10 of 17
But the backseat can be a useful place if you get too "low and slow".... if you need to turn and your speed has gone and it's getting flat and .... you've gotta change your line.

Kind of a Killy move, sit back and jet the ski through the turn.
post #11 of 17
Hey Andy (Skierdude)--I don't think you'll ever get berated around here for an honest, well-intentioned post! Welcome to EpicSki! (I know you've been here for more than a month, but better late than never!)

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 17
thanks Bob

i feel this move works for me, and hopefully it helps someone else. i live in England so no snow, BUT today i'm going to Tignes, France to ski. OH YEAH

time for some turns, eh???!!!!

pray for POW
post #13 of 17
I agree with Bob.

And I also agree with Skierdude. But don't forget the second half of your move. If you pull your toes up through the deep part of the turn, then make sure and push them back down as you change edges. The toes up can help the skis rise from the snow, and toes down brings them back into the snow in the fall line.

It's kind of a porpoising effect that you can feel in the ankles as well. As you gain trust in it you do it with the whole leg system (basically a flexion/extension). This approach mainly works on skis that are a little narrow in the waist and don't naturally float as well.

The modern all mountain skis and pow skis float so much you don't have to do this stuff to make them work.

Interestingly, the powder and all mountain skis just allow you to ski normally. The problem with them is that they also invite you to ski badly, as you can go into the powder and just pivot yourself to death.
post #14 of 17
To Bob Barnes,

I found your comment about powder snow being usually slower than other conditions.Here is a possible exception from my own experience:

When at Snowbird last April,I was traversing from one groomed slope to another in the vicinity of the Tram, and came into about three to four inches of fluffy dry POW.

My skis took off like a shot.the stuff was like for want of a better expression loike "greased lightening." When I hit the groomed I slowed down dramatically.

As to technique, I try to think about pressuring my heels at the end of the turn, without moving back from a balanced position.I make my turns as if I was skiing in slow motion.

Due to being a flatlander and not spending all that amount of time out west, I have yet to conqour POW on the steeps, maybe my next trip.
post #15 of 17
One thing I see that has not been mentioned is that, I believe one must be pretty aggressive in the pow. Staying in the fall-line and attacking the terrain helps me stay in balance and neutralize the resistance powder can create sometimes. With this type of mentality, I never find myself in the back seat!-------Wigs :
post #16 of 17
Ryan, your question is a good one. If the terrain is low angle(flat) and the snow deep even the best powder skiers on modern wide skis must sometimes drop their hips and lever to the rear(yes sit back)in order to gather speed and turn. This is the exception to the rule. Here are the basics to real powder skiing. 1) Speed is your ally. 2)Stay centered fore and aft over more or less equally weighted skis.This allows your skis to run at the same depth in deep pow. 3)Be patient. Let your skis follow a curved path to the fallline. Don't force the beginning of the turn but rather emphasize the end of the turn(the guiding of the skis across the hill). 4)Keep a flowing rhythm with no dead spot in your movement pattern. A statue is sure to become a victim in powder. Pole plants are key here. Plant and immediately start reaching forward and down the hill for the next pole plant. This will keep you centered, balanced, and rhythmic. 5) BE ROUND OR BE ON THE GROUND. Good powder skiers leave curved tracks in the snow because their skis are moving forward not sideways through the turn. No one has learned to ski powder without a few faceplants. Pay your dues and have fun. Good Luck. DonnyB
post #17 of 17
Bob's book (Encyclopedia of skiing) has an excellent discussion of this under "balance". He gave an abbreviated version of it above but if you can you should have a look.
Having said that it's still a little strange to see photos of powder free skiers ripping turns with their hips low and back. Certainly in photos in the "Athletic Skier" Scott Schmidt appears to be back skiing through powder. Maybe Bob could comment.
I think simultaneous edge change is also one of the more important aspects and one which enables people to ski powder with quite a wide stance. I used to think you needed your feet together but you reallly don't. Keeping your body ahead and "falling into the future" helps with the simultaneous edge change.
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