Skiing powder is a totally different experience from skiing groomed runs and if you’re new to it, you can sometimes feel like you’re battling the snow rather than riding it.
The first step?
Dispense with all the things you think you know about skiing, especially skiing groomers. Instead, embrace an open mind and try these tips for perfecting your powder skiing.
1. Maintain a relaxed stance.
As soon as we cannot see our ski tips, we all tend to tense up. Get used to not seeing them. Find a comfortable slope, feet hip-width apart, balance over your skis (neither forward nor back), and relax. We tense up because we don’t know what is “under all that snow” that we might hit. But that is the last thing we want to do. Skiing relaxed allows our legs to absorb and feet move through unseen bumps and inconsistencies in the snow.
2. Keep your weight balanced on two feet.
Unlike skiing groomers, you will not as heavily weight your downhill ski when skiing powder. If you do, that ski will tend to sink or dive under significantly, sending you tumbling off in a cloud of snow. Rather, weight your skis more evenly, and initiate the turn by tipping the ski.
3. Start with baby turns.
With your skis pointed down the fall-line, allow yourself to pick up speed and then start with small little turns. Get a feel for the weight of the snow and as your speed increases, increase the radius of your turn.
4. Keep your skis, hands, and eyes all pointing in the direction you want to go – which should be down the run.
Powder is less forgiving. If you get caught in the back seat, or with your hips and shoulders pointing across the hill too far, it will be difficult to transition into the next turn.
5. Make round turns.
Many skiers, turn too quickly across the slope, resulting in a face plant or other similar crash. Rather aim for turns shaped like the letter C or S.
6. Speed is your friend.
Especially if the snow is heavy or deep, you will need greater speed so your skis can more easily slice through the snow. As you become more experienced skiing powder, you will become more comfortable with greater speeds.
7. Always ski with a buddy.
Many riders don’t know that falling head first in a treewell is just as common and dangerous as avalanches in the backcountry. In powder it is easy to become disoriented and truly stuck after a fall. Stay within line of sight (or voice) of your ski buddy and communicate about where you are headed next.