Perfect Turns: Powder
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Powder skiing can make your skis feel heavy and difficult to turn.
Many new deep-snow skiers lean back, trying to keep their tips out of the snow, which can cause their legs to tire. Instead, stand on the center of your foot and push the tips of your skis down into the snow at the beginning of the turn. The skis’ turned-up tips will float to the surface, allowing for easier initiation. Imagine your skis are dolphins swimming through the snow, making small direction changes every time they surface. -Andrew Docken, Aspen, Colo.
When skiing powder, make turns as if switching on a light. The key is which type of light switch you imagine. Pressing on your skis like turning a toggle light switch on or off will lead to Z-shaped turns that don’t feel controlled. A better choice is to imagine your turns coming from a dimmer switch, which turns a light on gradually. Pressing on your skis this way will lead to C-shaped turns with control over speed and direction. -Brian Beardsley, Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.
To ski powder, you need to be a solid parallel skier with a functioning pole plant.
Practice in powder on a smooth, intermediate slope. Unlike groomed snow, powder requires a narrower stance so that your legs work together as a unit. With your skis closer together, it will be easier to equalize your weight on both skis so that your skis press into the snow together. -Rick Hodas, The Canyons, Utah
There’s nothing like the lure of powder. Yet deep snow can be frustrating even for good skiers. In soft snow, learn to ride the bottoms of your skis, not your edges. Practice this technique on moderate terrain with a little loose snow: Tip your skis just enough to feel the piles of snow push against the bases of your skis. Balance over both feet and steer both legs to help the snow push your skis through the turn. Equal parts deflection and guidance will produce smooth, graceful powder arcs. -Rob Sogard, Snowbird, Utah
The key to skiing powder with balance, strength and power is a solid stance. Whether you’re flexing or extending, your feet should remain under your body-not too far forward or behind. Try walking in your ski boots. It’s impossible to move your legs and feet forward if your body doesn’t go with them. The same principle holds true when skiing. Keep your feet under your body. Most of us lean back or retreat with some part of our body. To combat this, try pulling both feet back while you ski. This will allow you to move more effectively and efficiently on all terrain, especially in powder. -Jen Jakob, Snowmass, Colo.
The No. 1 tactical error in powder is miscalculating the speed needed to plane your skis. New wide- body powder skis help you float through fluff, but you have to get comfortable at speed if you want to tap their full potential. To overcome your fear of speed, practice the following tactics on your next powder day: Ski straight down the fall line of a moderate pitch without turning. Next, ski behind someone faster than you. Good powder technique comes together when mixed with a healthy dose of momentum. -Chris Fellows, NASTC