Powder skiing – what a joy! But there are ways to do it better and enjoy the stuff more – so here are some top tips from Mark Shaxted, our CSIA Level 4 Ski Instructor based at Big White.
1. Stance – Stay Centered
A common error that skiers commit when skiing in powder is to sit back: powder adds extra resistance as the snow builds up under the tips of the skis, which can make it feel like you have to sit back to be centered.
Don’t do it! Maintain a neutral stance with your shoulders over your knees. This maintains better balance and flexibility - and allows your lower joints to be more mobile so they can adjust more easily as the conditions change.
2. Terrain – Adjust your turns for the snow
When the heavens have gifted one’s slopes with a fresh dump of snow, it makes the terrain flatter. This flattening opens up the opportunity to go faster or to build momentum and pin it on steeper terrain.
Because the extra resistance from powder can slow you down, adjust your turns by letting your skis stay in the fall line a bit more. This will make it easier to keep your speed and rhythm - even on the steeper stuff.
3. Pressure – The Pop and Smear
Use a small jump or ‘pop’ to lift your skis up out of the powder and make them lighter and easier to turn. The turn itself should be gradual - spending some time in the fall line.
Keep a steady rhythm to help you to bounce from turn to turn more effortlessly.
4. Line – Choose your own path
When riding with other people it’s very common to end up riding the same line and path as the person in front but on a powdery day this doesn’t make a lot of sense, as you’ll lose out on the freshest, most joyous snow. Our advice is to be unique and set your own path to get as much powder as possible.
Use the powder as your playground! Search for any fresh patch you can find as the day goes on and jump around in it. Set your intention to kick the snow up as high as you can on each turn to help keep you active.
5. Skis – Right tool for the right job
If you’re able to get a set of skis specifically for powder, or if you’re spending a winter somewhere where a snorkel’s advisable, then a set of fat, rockered skis would stand you in good stead. See the image above on how rockered skis differ from standard skis: they’re u shaped rather than n shaped.
These fat, rockered skis don’t get so buried in softer conditions. Their design can help you to float on top of the snow with fewer adjustments - the feeling’s likened to surfing by some.
And that’s it…
That’s it then. So the next time you’re going to ski on powder – do all of the above so you can do it better.
One Last Thing… riding powder is like everything else, it takes time to master but we generally get fewer opportunities - whether there’s any powder or not is down to the whims of Mother Nature. So when the opportunities do arise, seize them! And the best thing about learning powder is that the crashes don’t hurt - most of the time!
Now, Why not Try a Ski Instructor Course?
Another way to really push your skiing ability to the next level, is through completing a ski instructor course. If skiing is a love of yours why not learn to instruct and spend 11 weeks out in the mountains on what is effectively a fully catered skiing holiday! SnowSkool run both ski and snowboard instructor courses in France, Canada and New Zealand. See below to find out more about SnowSkool ski/snowboard instructor courses.
If you're a snowboarder check out: How to Snowboard on Powder