Powder Principles: Law 2-Flotation


How well skis float depends a lot on the pilot. Hardpack skiers who are used to exerting pressure on the skis’ forebody tend to bog their tips down in powder (A). The sensation is much like tripping or feeling as though you’re about to be thrown over the handlebars. Nervous because they can’t see their tips in deep snow, many novices try to lever off their tails in an effort to lift their tips (B). Sitting back is rarely a good choice¿in any kind of snow (see Powder Myth No. 1 below). An aft stance makes it hard to steer and is awkward, unproductive and exhausting. The best powder stance is much like the one used on groomed runs, with weight centered over the ski’s narrowest point. Hips should be directly above the feet (C). Steve’s feet are submerged, but his tips float naturally because he’s maintaining adequate speed.

Powder Myth No. 1: Sit Back in Powder

Junior Bounous has spent decades teaching skiers to counter their natural tendency to ride their tails in deep snow (B). The problem, he says, happens because novice powder skiers are afraid of going fast enough to float, so they lean back to keep their tips from sinking. “Snow is just another form of water,” explains Junior. “Toss a flat stone fast enough and it skips across the surface. It only sinks when it slows down.”

His advice: “Ski straight downhill in powder. Find your balance, and wait. Then wait some more. When you think you have reached terminal velocity, start turning.” Then make like Junior¿enjoy the free-flowing feeling that the combination of momentum and powder offers (C).