How to Ski Powder: 4 Pro Tips

Coming out West from the East Coast? Heading to the sugary slopes of Japow? Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) instructor Ann Schorling has some choice advice.

Powder skiing is the holy grail of ski conditions. Yet surprisingly, many people don’t feel comfortable skiing deep powder. Oftentimes it’s the simple fact that they’ve not been exposed to it enough. The truth: With a handful of tips around technique, body weight, and mechanics, you can prep yourself for a powder day this season. SKI’s new online education course, “Go Deep: How to Ski Powder,” can help. We tapped Jackson Hole ski pro Ann Schorling to co-teach the course alongside freeskier and Olympian Wendy Fisher. Along with the SKI Mag crew, the two traveled to Fernie Alpine Resort, on B.C.’s Powder Highway, to film the course last winter.

A few weeks ago, SKI caught up with Ann Schorling to talk about the experience, share her thoughts on how to get the most out of a powder day, and reveal her favorite spots at her home hill—Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Ann Schorling (right) and Wendy Fisher teamed up to co-teach SKI’s new online education course “Go Deep: How to the Ski Powder,” available on Oct. 12. Make the most of your next powder day!File photo

SKI: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when they’re trying to learn how to ski powder?

I guess there are two that come to mind. One, powder is slow to react so everything takes longer. When people try to turn powder for the first time, they try to turn at the same speed that they would on firm snow. It doesn’t work and so they wind up working harder to try to make the turn happen as fast instead of being patient and making more subtle movements and letting the turn happen more slowly.

Second, we’ve all been taught—if you’ve been taught in skiing—to make turns that are round and go across the hill at a controlled speed. If you’re in powder that causes you to sink farther down in the powder and you slow down, and it makes it really hard to start the next turn.

SKI: What’s been your favorite powder run, powder day, and powder destination?

Gosh, I am very biased toward Jackson Hole. I think it’s tough to beat a powder day in Jackson. My all-time favorite powder run would probably be Alta 1 in Jackson or Tower Three.

SKI: What’s been your go-to setup for skiing powder?

For a powder day I typically like a ski that is about 100 underfoot and has a rocker tip so the ski will float a little bit more. My current favorite powder ski is the Rossi Rallybird. It’s a playful women’s powder ski that can do it all.

Schorling puts in a turn on some days-old pow at Fernie Alpine Resort, B.C.Courtesy of Ryan Dionne

SKI: What should people look out for when they’re watching talented powder skiers? What techniques should they be looking at and trying to emulate?

Notice the shape of their turn, then compare it to the turns that we would normally see on a groomer and notice the difference. Most of us who’ve been taught to be on firm snow have been taught to roll up on our edges to make the turn happen and because powder reacts more slowly, the higher your edge angle the more your skis will dive into the snow and get bogged down. If you watch pro skiers, you’ll notice that they actually don’t have a lot of edge angle when they’re skiing powder. They’ll have a little bit but not a lot.

Get powder-skiing tips straight from Ann Schorling this season in Go Deep: How to Ski Powder,SKI’s new online course dropping on Oct. 12. For the five-part course, SKI teamed up with Wendy Fisher and Professional Instructors of America’s (PSIA) instructor Ann Schorling to teach best practices for skiing deep powder safely and successfully. From choosing the right equipment to the anatomy of a good powder turn, you’ll learn pro tips and tricks that will get you skiing the deep with confidence. Check it out here.