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Skiing on a slush

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
This is probably a novice question. I would like to know if there are any techniques or appropriate equipment that I should know when skiing on a slush?

I've recently learned how to parallel ski and starting to enjoy it. I could do it best in the early morning when the slopes are pristine and freshly groomed. In the afternoon slush takes over, messing up my rhythm every now and then.

Just redirect me if this topic had been discussed before. Thanks. :
post #2 of 47
Welcome to EpicSki, promiSKius!

Plenty of Pro's around here that I'm sure will help you out, but I'll take a stab since they're probably lucky enough to be out skiing right now [img]smile.gif[/img]

What you describe sounds pretty typical of turning the skis by pivoting or rotating them at the beginning of the turn and then allowing them to slide sideways with the edges scraping to control speed. Everything works nice and tidy while the grooming holds out and everything is flat, but things change when conditions or terrain are no longer smooth and flat; the skis start to catch on piles of snow, ruts, etc. causing loss of balance and a lot more work to pivot the skis around - particularly if they're mired in slush or deep snow.

Your best bet is to aspire towards a turn that utilizes the ski to make the turn rather than you turning the ski, where you and the ski are traveling in the same direction instead of having the skis turned across your direction of travel. Check out Bob Barnes description of such a turn in this classic Epic thread How do you make a perfect turn?

Other things that seem to work best for me in slush are to remain neutrally balanced fore/aft and insure both skis match angles.

My recommendation is to take a lesson from a pro! Ask for a Level II or, if you can get one, Level III Instructor!

Chris
post #3 of 47
Basically, Prom...., what you want to do is roll the skis onto corresponding edges with some weight on the inside ski so that the skis slice through the mush with the tails following the general path of the tips. You cannot pivot the skis, and picking up the inside ski often will get you into trouble.
post #4 of 47
When you hit those sticky spots where the water accumulates, you will feel pitched forward, just put a bit of weight on the heels to bring the tips up ... just a bit ... or pressure the inside edges to break the suction. This is for trying to get across a flat or on the lift runouts.

This time of year where the snow begins to hold water it becomes a major headache. The proper wax will help but not all that much. High fluro and graphite are ok but picking a line where the water isn't (look for the color) is a better bet.

Last year I witnessed multiple double ejections at one spot where people were trying to ride flat skis with their weight forward. No injuries, but it was quite a show.
post #5 of 47
The biggest problem in slush is the uneven nature of the surface. Kneale and Yuki offer sage advice.

I'd advise you to keep your weight centered over your skis so when you hit the heavier and lighter sections you don't get too jarred. To do this you want as tall a stance as possible so you can absorb as much as possible. Carrying the weight on your skeleton will help with fatigue.

Kneale hits it right on the head. An active inside ski, with more weight on it than you have on the groomed, will keep the skis slicing through the snow/slush as best as possible.

Lastly, slush is like powder in that if you have skis that are a bit wider I'd use them. Something like the Rossi B2 (Bandit XX) that is 74mm under foot will ski a lot better than a ski that is 65mm under foot.

One of the absolute best conditions is that hour between when the "snow" goes from frozen to slush, corn snow. It is fantastic.

If the slush gets too heavy it can get dangerous so use your judgement as to whether you want to keep skiing or call it a day and catch some rays on the deck with a Corona in hand.

Bob
post #6 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by promiSKius:
This is probably a novice question. I would like to know if there are any techniques or appropriate equipment that I should know when skiing on a slush?
Do you ski like this: Pivot, build platform, increase edging?

If so, then as a novice parallel skier, I'd guess that after the parallel platform is built, you're sliding, and not really gripping all that much, which is causing the problems as you bump up against the sides of slush piles....

You want to add more edging so that you hit those piles with the bases of your skis, and not the sides. More edging will limit the side slip, and so lower the risk of tripping up on a slush pile.

To apply more edge, point your knees into the hill instead of leaning more... Keep the upper body quiet, and shoulders level. ie, ski with yout legs.

Don't press hard on the skis, that makes them slip more. You'll need to flex at the knees more to let the ski stay in it's track.

Feet may be better closer together so that they are not independently affected by the terrain -- ie. you hit one slushy pile, both skis act the same way. It will limit the torque of one stuck/one free ski.

Obviously, the pivot should take place away from slush piles -- so choose turn locations wisely. You'll may have to exaggerate unweighting, especially if you are sinking.

I generally find all movements to be exagerrated, but you should try to ski more gently than on snow that holds an edge better.
post #7 of 47
Kneale is right: it worked for me yesterday at Beaver Creek, which it was in the 50s.
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by WVSkier:
Lastly, slush is like powder in that if you have skis that are a bit wider I'd use them. Something like the Rossi B2 (Bandit XX) that is 74mm under foot will ski a lot better than a ski that is 65mm under foot.
Actually, my own personal preference for slush is the opposite. A fat board tries to float on the slush, and gets bounced around. A skinnier ski works better for me in slicing through the crud. The secret, as everyone else has already said in different, is to ski the slush with as much forward motion and with as little sideways motion (e.g. skidding) as possible.
post #9 of 47
I am with josseph on this issue. I also prefer narrow, shaped skis for slush. Especially if I ski slow and make lots of turns (which is what I generally like).
post #10 of 47
I like the fat because of the float. I weigh 240, so I really sink deep.
post #11 of 47
Thread Starter 
The responses are very informative. It looks like I've been doing all the dont's.

When gliding and skidding stopped working for me I did explore some other ways. I did try to play with the fore and aft pressure, narrow and wide stance, degree of leg flexion, edging, and worse reverting to wedge turns. I did find that using more edge and riding the ski into its natural turn cuts through wet snow better. Unfortunately at that time, I am already tired and confused, so, I abandoned the idea thinking that I only got lucky. Looking back and going through the responses in this thread it was probably one of the better ways of skiing through slush.

Equipment wise, I'll stick with my narrow skis for now because that's all I have. Fat skis are intriguing though.

Thanks for all the responses. I'll keep it in mind for next season.

[img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img] [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #12 of 47
Quote:
Actually, my own personal preference for slush is the opposite.
That's why they make vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Everyone has their preference. Give me the Bandit XX in slushy snow over my 9S slalom any day.

But, I agree with you that the trick is to keep moving forward, not sideways. Hey, isn't that the trick for skiing in general????? Unless I'm in a steep couloir I want to keep moving forward.

You know how I know that the manufactureres intended the skis to move forward? I noticed that it's the tips that are curved upward, not the sides!

Bob
post #13 of 47
My best strategy for slush is to be agressive. You want to blast through the slush, not let it blast you. So, make strong turns, edge the skis, and slice through the slush or plow it out of the way. If you slow down and ski cautiously, or ski with the flats of the skis on the ground, chances are that the slush is just going to push your skis around and you'll have a hard time staying balanced. By putting the ski on edge and pushing through the slush, you gain a lot more control.

Craig
post #14 of 47
I just love that stuff.
yesterday at 2 pm I skied some backcountry mush off of donner peak in 75degree temps.

I like to teach and think about a whole life philosophy for the slush,
"stay in the moment!"
things happen slower, so you need more patience and need to let things develope naturally. let the skis do the work and enjoy the moment.

Cheers,
Wade
post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by WVSkier:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> Actually, my own personal preference for slush is the opposite.
That's why they make vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Everyone has their preference. Give me the Bandit XX in slushy snow over my 9S slalom any day.

But, I agree with you that the trick is to keep moving forward, not sideways. Hey, isn't that the trick for skiing in general????? Unless I'm in a steep couloir I want to keep moving forward.

Bob
</font>[/quote]Call me Vanilla Joe, as long as the slush is not a bottomless pit. :

I agree with you. The idea in general is to keep moving forward, and minimize sideways for the most efficient skiing. However, groomed and packed powder conditions are much more tolerant of sideways motion than are deep crud, heavy powder, or slush conditions. Slush condition is a good training ground to learn to minimize unwanted sideways motions.
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by WVSkier:

I'd advise you to keep your weight centered over your skis so when you hit the heavier and lighter sections you don't get too jarred. To do this you want as tall a stance as possible so you can absorb as much as possible. Bob
Most of the advise I have given to students the last month has been to keep their weight more evenly distributed over their skis in the slush, soft snow. I agree with most of what has been presented in this thread. However, I have found that a little bit lower stance has been more effective in skiing the slush. When I have seen skiers in a really high upright stance, and they hit the varying snow conditions, they seem to get pitched forward or sideways a little more often. This can cause some pretty spectacular yard sales. The key is to keep your joints flexed and moving so that, as WVkier says here, you can absorb as much as possible.

I also advise skiers to have their shoulders a little more square to the skis with only a little bit of counter and not force the turn. Trying to force the turn invariably leads to a lot of upper body rotation. In the really deep slush, however, sometimes you will have to use an active retraction of the skis.

A simple tip, without getting more technical, is to watch and feel what your knees are doing. Do not let your knees touch together.

Oh, and don't forget to smile [img]smile.gif[/img] ! Even though the ski season is coming to a close here on the resorts in North America, it is still snow and it is better than staying home and doing housework!
post #17 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
My recommendation is to take a lesson from a pro! Ask for a Level II or, if you can get one, Level III Instructor!
Chris, do you know anybody at this level at Snowtrails?

Thanks.
post #18 of 47
promiSKious, sorry, I do not.

It's likely someone here does - or maybe is an instructor there. Post a new topic seeking a recommendation!

Good luck!
post #19 of 47
I tried skiing some bumpy spring snow/slush yesterday and really made a mess of it.

One immediate difficulty for me was different accelerations experienced between a clean carve in which the aquaplaning almost seems faster than dry snow and the heavy cloyiness of the slush the moment the skis try and break sideways and skid. So I found in trying to hold a carve through the bumps and rutts that I was not controlling the speed effectively. Only by making shorter rounder turns could speed be controlled and these were so exhausing as the slush seems to require extreme edge angles to hold a carve and also apears to suction onto the skis and make realease more difficult. More skidding seemed very unstable and just as tiring. Is there an easier way to do it?

I wonder whether old fashioned unweighting might be helpful.
post #20 of 47
Das...You need to continue each turn until your speed is comfortable for you before you start the next one. Same technique, just ride it out a bit farther if your speed gets too high for you.
post #21 of 47
Sounds like good advice, thanks. I know that when I get outside the comfort zone, turn shape is one of the first things to go. Sadly it may now all have to wait until next year. Seems to have been an early finish this year.
post #22 of 47
Well, start next season developing the confidence that that you can, indeed, get back to a comfortable speed. That lets you accept the acceleration that occurs as you start a turn and makes you less anxious and hurried in the initiation. That generally will expand your comfort zone. And when slush season returns, you'll be prepared.
post #23 of 47
I attempted the narrow ski on slush this weekend. Truly bottomless slush is very bad to ski on narrow skis, especially near the base of the lifts.

Where there was firm base under slush, the narrow ski's would sink through the turns. Retraction helped to unweight and initiate, just prior to extension.

However, an easier approach was to get a bit further back near and transfer weight to the tail to generate a strong rebound. You can harness the rebound strength into a jump through neutral, and come down with ski's on the opposite side, already edging. It works, but it's aggressive and quite tiring. I don't have the stamina
post #24 of 47
I skied a couple days before and after rain this last week. No sweat on the groomers but the bumps and trees were quite a challenge. I did find that a much narrower stance helped a lot. It was easy to hit a rut where one ski was on scraped wet ice and the other with in 8" of glop. Keeping them together helped from getting spun around.
post #25 of 47
Kneale Brownson writes: 'Same technique, just ride it out a bit farther..'

so is the advice for slush really no different from other snows? Perhaps I was looking for an easier option and maybe I have to accept slush is just much harder work. At my current level of unfitness I find 20,000 vert ok for a day, but in this stuff 6,000 is exhausting! Making larger radius turns I was finding myself thrown by the bumps/ruts/crud, but the shorter turns are twice the effort as the skis simply won't carve on anything other than a radical edge, and then can be difficult to release.

I have watched people ski these snows in a much lighter manner, perhaps more pivoting, almost dancing accross it rather than ploughing through it. Is there a secret?
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by daslider:
I have watched people ski these snows in a much lighter manner, perhaps more pivoting, almost dancing accross it rather than ploughing through it. Is there a secret?
I suppose different people have different ways they prefer to think about when skiing slush and mush. What works for me is to let the skis do the work, which means **minimal** pivoting.

Instead of thinking about edging (e.g. edge setting against hard snow), I think more about my skis being at an angle on their sides, and thereby letting the pressure of the slush against the bases turn the skis for you.

For me, it is important to make sure both my skis are working in unison. During turn transitions, thinking about simultaneously softening the old-outside/new-inside ski and extending the old-inside/new-outside ski helps in keeping my skis in unison.

Finally, I think about making my CM move down the fall line as smoothly and as continuously as possible. During turn transitions, I think about making a definitive commitment of my body down the hill.

Sometimes, when the slush is really deep and bad, moving the skis closer together seems to help me.

Das, you made the comment, "these were so exhausing as the slush seems to ...suction onto the skis and make realease more difficult." Perhaps you are trying to release by forcefully pulling your skis from the muck (e.g. up unweighing). Instead maybe you should think about letting your mass move down the fall line as I described above. It's much less energy intensive getting your skis to stand at an angle on their sides than it is to pull the entire ski out of the glop.
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally posted by daslider:
I have watched people ski these snows in a much lighter manner, perhaps more pivoting, almost dancing accross it rather than ploughing through it. Is there a secret?
I can only suggest that they are harnessing the rebound energy of the ski to provide the needed lift during short radius turns.

The edge change at transition is very quick -- there is no real traverse, as neutral takes place either in the air or with very unweigthed skis.

Suggest that you retract (pull skis up) when the skis get under you, and move your CM across the skis and downhill at the very same time. There is no need for the bounce to get you fully airborne, but the bounce helps make this retraction easier.

The rebound should also provide sufficient unweighting to add more pivotting when on steeper slopes. More pivotting is necessary, due to the increased snow friction/suction. ie. the ski will not accelerate through the turn at he same rate, so you need to pivot it farther into the turn to catch up with your CM.

Either that, or the movement of the CM down the hill is decreased, which I've not found as successful.

Bear in mind that the pressure on the ski at turn completion needs to be sufficiently back to get the bounce, and the speed must be high enough for the bounce to happen.

Rhytmical poling, turns of same radius (SR), and arms held wide are all very helpful aspects.

Dancing on slush is definately an athletic approach. While it is more tiring, I certainly hurt a lot less, and feel much more in control when I'm doing it.

Hope this helps.
post #28 of 47
In heavy, deep slush, just about every student I've had tells me something like, "My skis get stuck in this stuff and I just can't turn them". As the previous posters have said, this is because the only turns most people showing up at ski school for lessons know how to make are skidded turns on a packed, smooth surface. So, the most important task is to teach the person how to make carved turns.

Unfortunately, this isn't as easy to do in slush as it is on a packed surface because of the re-emergence of fear. If a carving exercise doesn't work in a lesson on a packed surface, the student can always momentarily revert back to skidding to get themselves under control. Unfortunately, in heavy, deep slush, this familiar fall-back option (ie, skidding) simply doesn't exist, so even on very gradual pitches, the student feels like a beginner again, and fears of flying down the mountain like a run-away garbage truck re-surface in spite of all the speed-controlling friction from the slush.

In order to successfully teach any new skill, you first have to give the student something which makes them feel safe and in control. While it may sound counterintuitive, IMHO, one of the best ways to do this is by taking the student back to the good ol' PSIA-approved, narrow angle gliding wedge on green or easy blue terrain in these slushy conditions.

Just a few degrees of wedge in heavy wet snow will slow one waaaay down. The student thinks to himself, "Hell, this is easy – it’s just a beginner move. If I get going too fast, I'll just open up the wedge even more and come to a complete stop". Thus, the fear of lack of control and/or speed is instantly eliminated. If you sense that there still is some residual fear, have the student do some wedge change-ups straight down the fall line to convince them that this beginner-like technique really will keep them safe.

Now, you are at a psychlogical point where you can actually teach them how to do a proper, narrow-angle gliding wedge turn through the slush. I usually demonstrate that with the proper technique (eg, both knees move in the same direction), I can make a 180 degree turn in about a ski length or two, even at sub-walking speeds in slush.

This usually *really* gets their attention because this is exactly what they couldn't do a few minutes ago when they felt that their skis were "stuck". Now the stage is set for them to learn - they feel safe AND they see something very desirable, very "do-able" and non-tiring that they want to learn.

The rest of the lesson is a piece of cake. When they can all do very short radius, extremely slow gliding wedge turns (in the slush), I'll ramp up the speed a bit (cuz now they have the confidence to do so), let the skis spontaneously match, and away they go.

Tom / PM

PS - Note that just as in modern carving technique on packed snow, the importance of the big unweighting moves mentioned in previous posts is vastly decreased. They might be needed as the student progresses to really funky snow and really steep slopes, but for the usual spring slush on anything up to a black groomer, one can usually ski it extremely smoothly and non-athletically.

PPS - While I'm a big fan of fats for slush, the progression I described above works very well with the usual, normal width rental equipment. OTOH, as the new slush skier advances and wants to go faster, especially in cut-up conditions, fat skis definitely makes things a lot easier for them.
post #29 of 47
i just bought the head monster iM75 and had a blast for 3 solid days of spring skiing at killington my old crossmax pilot's made me work too hard-i took them out for one run and put them back in the trunk.they just went thru the crud effortlessly!!!!
post #30 of 47
i just bought the head monster iM75 and had a blast for 3 solid days of spring skiing at killington my old crossmax pilot's made me work too hard-i took them out for one run and put them back in the trunk.they just went thru the crud effortlessly!!!!
sorry double post
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