As well as running ski instructor courses and snowboard instructor courses, here at SnowSkool we also like to provide you with helpful information on all things skiing and snowboarding! So, in this article we humbly offer some tips on skiing powder. There is actually another SnowSkool article, How to Ski Powder as well, if you're really thirsty for more powder skiing knowledge!
How to ski powder
There is a lot of debate about how wide your stance should be when you are skiing powder. There is not one definite answer in every part of skiing, you have to constantly adapt to the conditions. The recommended and taught stance in powder is a narrow stance. The reasons behind this are two-fold: 1 – you have less chance of catching an edge and 2 - it is harder to make smooth round turns when your skis are far apart. Think about skiing with your legs positioned straight down from your hips, narrower than your shoulders.
Planes of Balance
By this we mean the ability to adjust your balance between the ‘fore’ and ‘aft’ planes. In simple terms this means allowing your skis to adjust forward or backwards while maintaining a central balance, depending on the conditions.
As much as we’d like every powder run to be through the best champagne-powder imaginable, it is not always the case. You catch a small rock or rut; you hit some wind packed snow; your ski tips are dipping into the snow, etc., so you need to be constantly in an active and balanced position to allow your skis to move below you and adapt quickly.
You should always try to maintain a central balance on your skis. A common tip I have heard is “bend further back, sit over your skis” but this advice is wrong. By leaning back in your skis, you will burn your legs up, and you will have less control of your skis as the front and tips have limited contact with the snow. By sitting back your skis are also more likely to cross over and result in a face plant into a tomahawk or even better / worse a yard sale!
If you find your tips are going into the snow you then adjust your fore plane, push your feet further forward when you are skiing while still maintaining a central balance with your shoulders over your knees.
Overturning in deep snow can create a large and sudden amount of resistance on the downhill ski, which can cause a skier to trip and fall. Creating a rounder, smoother shape will allow you to carry momentum more easily, overcome resistance in the snow, and help to create a smooth rhythm that you can keep on carrying on with.
When we turn in powder we want to create a release of pressure. This can be achieved with a hop or extension and when you get to higher speeds you can also think about pulling your feet up. Bending at your knees and hip to release the pressure and allowing your skis to turn down the hill and back across with relative ease.
Pole planting should be used to help maintain a rhythm. Too many people do not know how to use their poles properly. Poles should be used the same way in every aspect of your skiing, from moguls to piste and powder.
Pole planting helps to maintain a rhythm. Think about planting your pole downhill at the end of each turn to help commit your balance onto the downhill ski. Keep both hands in front of you throughout your skiing to prevent yourself from leaning back after each plant, and also help you to maintain an active, balanced position in the centre of your skis.
Use your wrist, not your whole arm to plant the pole. A smaller movement is less likely to unbalance you. Do not ski with your arms by your side, swinging your arms up and forward, as this will create upper body rotation (using your upper body to assist turning). Your turns should come from your lower body, 100%!
Tools of the trade!
For more experienced skiers that really wish to excel and make your skiing that bit easier and soooo much more fun, grab a pair of powder skis.
For those that are just starting out skiing then a pair of ‘all mountain skis’ will be a great starting point, as pure powder skis can be difficult to control on groomed terrain, making them less versatile than all-mountain skis.
If you are more experienced and suited for a pair, you will notice a phenomenal difference to your skiing in deep snow. Added float is probably the biggest benefit to having powder skis, as powder specific skis usually start at around 110mm under foot. The greater the surface area on the skis the more you will stay on top of the snow allowing you to turn and react quicker and more efficiently creating that fantastic floating effect.
For More, Try a Ski or Snowboard Instructor Course
Another great way to push your ability to the next level, is through completing a ski instructor course, where you’ll learn the best ways to upgrade your technique, from the best teachers. You will also learn how to coach other skiers, giving you a far greater understanding of how to develop your own skiing. - If you can teach others to improve, you can definitely further your skill and technique! SnowSkool run ski instructor courses in France, Canada, Austria and New Zealand, and it’s an amazing experience to meet like-minded people who’ll become friends for life!.
Other Ski Instructor Course and Related Content:
SnowSkool also runs snowboard instructor courses, if you fancy giving snowboarding a go. For more information about ski or snowboard instructor courses have a look at these Snowskool blog articles to give you a further feel for the job: Where are they now? Ex-Snowskoolers and Which is the best instructor course for me?
Here’s our first post on How to Ski Powder
And if you want to learn to ski on powder like a pro – you could try one of our ski improver courses.