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How to ski Powder? Please Post your tips and suggestions!

post #1 of 267
Thread Starter 

 

Hello everyone!

 It looks like this winter is going to be great for us ski addict’s with a lot’s of snow and POWDER days! . In this thread I am hoping to collect as much powder skiing advices as possible jsut so people like me can get some good idea on what to do when you get into the deep stuff.

 

 

For fist two years of my skiing I was staying on groomed runs until it became boring. That is where I tried to go off the trail into some powder just to realize that it is like I am skiing for the first time in my life. Some skiers are saying that you need to lean back and relax, the other are saying that you need to stay in the regular skiing posture. I have treid both and each one of those is lending me into the deep snow which is so hard to get out of!!

 

About me:

Male, 27, 6.3” 240lb, been skiing for 4 years, about 40days per year

Equip: Volkl Vertigo Motion & Dynastar 6th sense Huge (haven’t tried those yet, but figured wide skiis will help )

post #2 of 267
post #3 of 267

I printed this post by Weems out, and keep it with me when I go skiing, so that the next time I have an opportunity to ski powder I can read it several times before hand.

post #4 of 267

 

Welcome to EpicSki, Artemat!

 

You really got bored skiing?  Really!  Something's not right with that!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Artemat View Post

For fist two years of my skiing I was staying on groomed runs until it became boring. 

 

 

 

Here's an addition for the collection you're making from Bob Barnes.  Click on that arrow next to his name and it'll jump you to the whole thread.

 

I hope you are right about that powder this season.  Good luck with it.

 


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

"Start small."

Your first powder experience shouldn't be in "bottomless." Try six inches or so. That's enough to feel a little bit of the floating sensation of powder, the sensation of being "in it," rather than "on it," and of standing against the whole base of the ski, rather than just the edges, even when they're tipped. It's enough to taste the slowness, and the quietness, of powder, and to learn to ski it with rhythmic turns less compete than you'd use on the same slope without powder.

And it's not so much as to overwhelm with new sensations and challenges. There's still a solid base to support you if you lose your balance. If you get nervous, you can still usually twist the skis sideways and brake to a stop if you have to, although it's enough to show why you don't often want to do that in powder!

Start small. Gain confidence. Get used to the sensations.

THEN hire the helicopter!

Happy New Year!

Best regards,
Bob

PS--all of the above assumes that the skier does, in fact, have "decent technique" and tactics in the first place. Many skiers new to powder find that the condition reveals flaws and errors that they didn't know they had. Almost anything "works" on groomed snow. Great powder skiing--like great technique almost anywhere--relies on the skis going the direction they're pointing (as a habit), rather than skidding sideways to brake.

If it's not already a habit, my first advice for powder is to focus on making your skis go the direction they're pointed. And if that doesn't work, point them the direction they're going!

(Ironically, almost anything works in deep, light powder, too, once you get used to it. It's really one of the easiest conditions to ski. Poor, upper-body-rotation-based technique can huck the skis sideways quite effectively in light enough snow, especially with today's big fat powder boards. One sign of a technique that could use improvement is the inability to enjoy powder on both narrow skis and wide!)
 
post #5 of 267

A way oversimplflied verison of what you should do.

 

Go as fast you can while turning and look straight down the fall line and forget about falling. slightly out of control is ok at first.

 

its amoung the easiest things on the planet to ski once you get over your fear of it and since your young enough a couple falls will make you realize there is nothing to fear. 99 percent of the people who cant ski it because they just wont let go. Also when you fall its normally easier to let you ski go over you head down the hill before getting up.

 

If you posted videos of you skiing (even on a groomer with short turns) it will be glaring obvious what is stopping you from skiing powder.

 

 

 

post #6 of 267

There are regional styles. Colorado skiers are different than Squaw skiers. We recognize it on the mountain.

 

Consequently, I don't really agree with the emphasis of Weem's methods and would suggest to people that there are various techniques and philosophies. all good.

 

most important. ski well to begin with. it's all the same at the core of the experience.

post #7 of 267

Practical practices =  PATIENCE

If you are starting from a ' glide ';  start the run by bouncing a few times IN BALANCE without turning... this gives your skis some re-bound energy to begin the fabulous series of TWO FOOTED turns. The skis will flex and you use this to arc the ski - yes the ski still carves - and this stores energy for the rebound.  If you have to start from ' a secret entrance ' -steep, narrow, drop-in; deal with that energy first and re-gain your center of balance by doing a pivoting/smearing bottom turn to get the energy level back to a comfortable cruising speed.

Bouncy bouncy - the best skiers have HUGE  Extensions =  vertical movement when seen from afar. This Two Footed elongation is not just up and down but inclined and very PATIENT. The longer you are up, the farther your skis run in a turn and you have to extend and project over a longer period of time because the ski's rebound is slower to build and release. As you come across the fall-line, don't forget the  angulation  and face the fall-line. The movement down onto the ski is slower and more gentle than hard snow.... This slower reaction of the floating ski is why pow-pow is so cool.  Big Turns because the usual turn-triggers like bumps, surface stuff, is buried, so double the size of your usual turns. More time in the fall-line means more time heading back up hill to begin each turn at the 'same speed' ( given same slope ).  Think three dimensions and face shots which is problematic at a breath per turn.

post #8 of 267

My $0.02 is make sure you ski properly.  I used to blame my skis, once i got the proper skis, it was the boots, then I got the boots, well that left only pilot error.

Took a bunch of lessons on how to ski properly, then strangely enough, with practice, the powder seemed easier to ski....

 

Someone on here has a signature that applies, "... it's not that you can't ski the bumps, it is you cannot ski and the bumps prove it..." or something to that effect.

 

Enjoy!  How many days until xmas break??

post #9 of 267

I often see powder novices making the mistake of trying to turn more often than their speed dictates, they lose momentum, and get bogged down. The buoyancy of deep snow takes the place of a lot of the speed control which, on hard pack, is achieved by turning. Let 'em run, and make longer, shallower turns.

post #10 of 267

 

Quote:

How to ski Powder? Please Post your tips and suggestions!

Take a sharpie pen and put contact info on your skis.  Get powder leashes if you can find some.  Ski brakes don't work well in light, deep snow. Someone loses a ski about every other powder day somewhere, hope it isn't you.   Don't dress overly warm.  You're probably going to be working a little harder and burning more carbs so go lighter than you normally would go for skiing the same temperature on hard snow.  And......Get to the mountain VERY early. 

 

Then, follow this great advice:

Quote:
I often see powder novices making the mistake of trying to turn more often than their speed dictates, they lose momentum and get bogged down. the buoyancy of deep snow takes the place of a lot of the speed control which, on hard pack, is achieved by turning. Let 'em run, and make longer, shallower turns.

^^^^QFT

Oh, one more thing, you can cross your poles and use the X to push off to get back up.  Using your hands to push off deep snow is futile LOL!

post #11 of 267


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiandrun262 View Post

My $0.02 is make sure you ski properly.  I used to blame my skis, once i got the proper skis, it was the boots, then I got the boots, well that left only pilot error.

Took a bunch of lessons on how to ski properly, then strangely enough, with practice, the powder seemed easier to ski....

 

Someone on here has a signature that applies, "... it's not that you can't ski the bumps, it is you cannot ski and the bumps prove it..." or something to that effect.

 

Enjoy!  How many days until xmas break??

 

it was me with the bump sig....but the same can said about powder.

 


 

post #12 of 267

There's a lot of good advice to be had here.  However, skiing powder no matter how much you talk about it, has to be experienced to be learned.  Just get out there and do it a lot.  If you don't have frequent enough access to powder days you will be severely limited in your learning.  I agree the most with the poster who talked about starting on moderate pitch, going straight, and feeling the bounce and flotation.  Play with that and the float feeling relative to speed.  Then progress to turns.  One of the things I tell people is to imagine you are on a half inflated beach ball.  You can't go tooo far forward, or tooo far back without losing it and the feeling is squishy underfoot. Both feet are very much in play, and it's very hard to balance on one foot on that tippy footing and the one foot sinks much deeper if you do.  You won't learn to ski standing on a beachball, but your mental image of the kind of stance will help you.

 

If you are a waterskier, think about the moment you plane getting out of the water.  Too far back and you really feel the excess drag, too far forward and you go over the handlebars.  When you are centered over the pressure of the skis your legs are pressing right down through the center, and you rise out of the water. 

 

If you aren't a fairly strong parallel skier, don't waste the snow.  You need to be able to point the skis downhill, be comfortable and balanced at speed and have good independent leg steering.  There are no edges, its all about steering, balance, and driving the skis into reverse camber in the turn.  That's part of what the bounce does for you.  Powder is fluid.  You learned to ski on a slab.  Expect to fall a lot in the transitional learning process.

 

Work on your skiing on the non powder days.  Can you ski semi steep terrain at a constant speed?  Can you turn from way across the fall line one way to way across the fall line the other way without the slightest hint of a steming out or balance issues?  Can you do a hop turn completely into the air (even if only 3 inches) and land balanced while in motion?

 

If the answer to any of those questions isn't a strong yes, then you will have issues in powder.  Powder days are short, grasshopper, prepare thyself.


 


Edited by Mister Moose - 10/3/10 at 11:31am
post #13 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Moose View Post

If you are a waterskier, think about the moment you plane getting out of the water.  Too far back and you really feel the excess drag, too far forward and you go over the handlebars.  When you are centered over the pressure of the skis your legs are pressing right down through the center, and you rise out of the water. 



This is how I learned to powder ski. Thinking of it like water skiing, and maintaining momentum is paramount. At least skiing in powder you won't do a face flop, and possibly lose your bathing suit!

post #14 of 267

One word: Pontoon

 

OK, not really just that ski. It's just an iconic design point. There are lots powder surfing designs - Pontoons, Praxis, Kuros, etc...  And compelling hybrids & play skis like '11 ObSethed, S7, Hellbent, JJ, Bent Chetler, EP Pro, etc., etc... and many others...

 

These skis excel in powder & their designs have a significant impact on "powder technique". In this day of modern ski design, advice based on narrower & non-rockered skis is about as useful as someone telling you how to apply your buggy whip to your car... Get on appropriate skis & go have fun. It might take a few runs to get a sense of them - but we are talking about a hugely reduced learning curve vs old school designs. Go play. Go have fun. Scope it out. Simple as that.


Edited by spindrift - 10/3/10 at 2:27pm
post #15 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

One word: Pontoon

 

OK, not really just that ski. It's just an iconic design point. There are lots powder surfing designs - Pontoons, Praxis, Kuros, etc...  And compelling hybrids & play skis like '11 ObSethed, S7, Hellbent, JJ, Bent Chetler, EP Pro, etc., etc... and many others...

 

These skis excel in powder & their designs have a significant impact on "powder technique". In this day of modern ski design, advice based on narrower & non-rockered skis is about as useful as someone telling you how to apply your buggy whip to your car... Get on appropriate skis & go have fun. It might take a few runs to get a sense of them - but we are talking about a hugely reduced learning curve vs old school designs. Go play. Go have fun. Scope it out. Simple as that.


but the old technique works on the new stuff, but not the other way around.

 

 

post #16 of 267

Powder,  now we're talkin'!

There are lots of different kinds of powder, no two pow days are alike.  I prefer to think of it as untracked snow.  It can be light & dry, wet & heavy, deep & bottomless, dust on crust, windblown, champagne, blower, spongy, styrafoam, sticky, sugar etc.  Each one of these many concoctions can make for some delightful skiing.

 

In general I find that there are a few tweaks in a skiers basic technique that can turn fresh snow into a delight.

 

*A slightly lower stance with extra flex in the ankles.

*More even weighting over both skis.

*Learn to float & porpoise in the falline.

*Use the snow depth & consistency to aid in speed control.

*Realize that you are now in the snow, not on it & accept the euphoria.

*Do not twist your body across the hill to try & turn.

*Do not lean back unless you are on the verge of a double heel ejection.

*Do point your skis down the hill & let em' run.

*Do fill your bomb holes when you explode.

*Do know what & who is below you in avalanche terrain.

*Do not follow others into terrain you are unfamiliar with.

*Be methodical about looking for lost equipment.

 

Most important...  Never, never traverse across a virgin powder slope unless you have a damn good reason, & don't go in front of ME!

 

Now, these pointers will help using any ski design, but wider, longer, softer skis or maybe something with an early rise or rocker design will let you get away with some other stuff, make it easier & probably a lot more fun!

JF

post #17 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaSkier View Post





This is how I learned to powder ski. Thinking of it like water skiing, and maintaining momentum is paramount. At least skiing in powder you won't do a face flop, and possibly lose your bathing suit!



Or get a water enema at 45 mph when the asshole boat driver refuses to slow down, yea speed runs arent very fun on cheap water skis, so much vibration you cant see straight

post #18 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowyphil65 View Post





Or get a water enema at 45 mph when the asshole boat driver refuses to slow down, yea speed runs arent very fun on cheap water skis, so much vibration you cant see straight


 

Too funny!
 

post #19 of 267

Ive got a great pic of it somewhere, right before my ass hit the water, ill see if i can find it

post #20 of 267

Quote:

Originally Posted by snowyphil65 View Post

Or get a water enema at 45 mph when the asshole boat driver refuses to slow down, yea speed runs arent very fun on cheap water skis, so much vibration you cant see straight.


Didn't they tell you that you can let go of the handle ?

JF

post #21 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post

The buoyancy of deep snow takes the place of a lot of the speed control


That's almost as good as your signature, dude!

post #22 of 267

Powder may feel different because it is more like a liquid than a solid, and there is the practical matter that depending on your equipment choices you may need to ski it faster than you may feel comfortable, but technique-wise you shouldn't need to make any major adjustments.  Narrow your stance and keep your weight distribution a bit more equal, but other than that, there shouldn't be any difference between good groomer technique and good powder technique.  Great skiers look virtually the same in all conditions.

 

Of course, as Bob Barnes points out, if you don't have good technique to start with, you are going to have trouble in powder.  If you ski with a lot of upper-body rotation or heel pushing and skidding, you will find powder very difficult to ski.  Skiers who demonstrate excellent technique on groomers usually have little difficulty making the transition to powder.  The fact that you are struggling at least suggests that you still have some work to do with your technique.  If you can't get it within a run or two, I'd suggest finding an instructor who can work with you to overcome whatever limitations are holding you back and help you with your transition to off-piste conditions.

 

You don't learn how to ski powder.  You learn how to ski and then you ski powder.   

post #23 of 267

Smile, this supposed to be fun.

Keep both hands within your field of vision.  Helps keep the weight from going back

Look ahead; if you can see your ski tips your are probably looking down and your weight will most likely be back.

Stand neutral on both feet, you can go anywhere you need to from the center.   As the tracks out, it becomes more about adjusting to resistance.

Link your turns; you are in the best position to start a turn at, at the end of a turn.  Watch others, you don't see a lot of traversing between turns by good skiers, they are continually turning. 

 

There are exceptions to every rule.  If you want to straight line forget the last suggestion, and watch out for me below you. 

 

Powder cords; there have been a few mentions of looking for equipment, and these make it a lot easier.  I use 12' lengths of black parachute cord attached to a binding or brake, and tuck them up my pant leg under the snow cuff.  It is cheap, easy to find, and you never know when you will need a rope.

 

post #24 of 267

Thoughts:

 

Have fun and enjoy the experience.

 

Practice skiing ungromed snow in good rythm-- bumps are a good place to develop skills you will need for pow.

 

Fat skis help. Knowing how to ski helps more.

 

Learn to "ski" on traverses / cat tracks.  It is very rare to ski deep untracked snow in a resort setting with out at least some traversing around. 

 

Powder is hero snow. Be agressive and look to ski steeper terrain. Skiing flat slopes in deep snow will just tire you out. For me most blues with 2' of snow on a 85mm wide ski I have to straightline just to keep forward momentum.  

 

Limit defensive braking moves. These will make it harder to ski in good rythm and should be reserved for emergency braking in the trees or in chutes.

 

Learn to get up after you fall... The pole "X", learn it, live it, love it. 

 

Learn strategies for finding lost equipment. I think the cords are more trouble than they are worth -- personally. If you fall in pow the ski usually is not far form where they first release.


Edited by tromano - 10/4/10 at 10:36am
post #25 of 267
Thread Starter 

Wow! Thanks everyone, this is a lot of good information, this website can replace a ski instructor! I can't wait to strart trying all of these!

post #26 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artemat View Post

Wow! Thanks everyone, this is a lot of good information, this website can replace a ski instructor! I can't wait to strart trying all of these!



Haha! No way can this site replace a good instructor or coach. 

It can help make sense when you do get with one, & they can help you find your skis & clean your goggles.

JF

post #27 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post



Haha! No way can this site replace a good instructor or coach. 

It can help make sense when you do get with one, & they can help you find your skis & clean your goggles.

JF


I know, just kidding. I learned how to ski by myself and it took me a while, my brother in law got an instructor and in few weeks was skiing better then me at the end of my one year!! So, yeah, agree good instructor is good.. expensive...
 

post #28 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

Quote:


Didn't they tell you that you can let go of the handle ?

JF



i lost balance and fell when i let go of the handle lol, i dont have that pic on my comp, but ill explain it to you, i fell backwards, knees bent pretty well body at about a 45 degree angle to the water, ass about an inch above the water, didnt feel good lol, it was a competition between brothers, my bro did 38 on a wakeboard so i had to beat him on skis, bad choice with him drivin the boat

post #29 of 267

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowyphil65 View Post


i lost balance and fell when i let go of the handle lol, i dont have that pic on my comp, but ill explain it to you, i fell backwards, knees bent pretty well body at about a 45 degree angle to the water, ass about an inch above the water, didnt feel good lol, it was a competition between brothers, my bro did 38 on a wakeboard so i had to beat him on skis, bad choice with him drivin the boat



Never teach your girlfriend to ski...  & never let your brother drive the boat!

I had a similar experience with my brother pulling me on one of those big banana tube things.

LOL

JF

post #30 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post



Haha! No way can this site replace a good instructor or coach. 

 


 

OK, in all seriousness... There is one key thing I'd like the instructor crew to address. As Josh noted, "old" technique works well enough with powder oriented rockered skis. Mostly, at least. However, that technique is really demanding and vastly more time consuming to learn vs the more "neutral" easier approach to using newer rockered designs. Likewise, there are turn styles and shapes that are simple on a more modern ski, but virtually impossible on older school skis. Yet almost no high level instructors seem to have spent any real time on the newer designs. So where does that leave someone looking for powder lessons or coaching? Why would they want to spend a week of falling, sweating, burning thighs, etc, getting to play in powder vs maybe 3-4 hours to accomplish the "same" on newer designs?

 

I'm really not looking to pick a fight. It is something that has really troubled me the past couple seasons wrt to powder and off piste lessons. And has caused me to keep a ton of money in my pocket vs paying for lessons (did one carefully selected private last year).

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