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How to Avoid Face-Planting or Tearing Your ACL in Spring Slush

A professional ski instructor's tips for staying centered over your skis, no matter the conditions.

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Skiing spring corn can be as fun as skiing powder (discuss). If you know how to handle the constantly changing snow conditions, that is.

One thing that gets skiers tripped up in sticky spring snow is staying balanced on their skis. If you’re leaning too far forward over your skis when you hit a patch of slush, you get jerked over your ski tips. If you’re leaning too far back, well, bad things tend to happen when we lean back on skis, spring conditions or not.

Related: Skiing and Your ACL

Just like powder, spring snow demands that skiers stand perfectly balanced over the center of their skis. What does that look like? Think about keeping your belly button in line with the middle of your feet, explains professional ski instructor Todd Casey.

“Most of us know that we want to stay over our feet on our skis. Often times we mistake pushing our chest forward for moving forward,” Casey says. “When we do that, our core and weight actually move aft. We need to think about keeping our center of mass over our base of support.”

Watch: How to stay balanced on skis in crud, slush, and chunder

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3 Tips for Skiing Spring Slush

  1. If there’s ever a time to wax skis, spring is it. Wax your skis with wax intended for warm snow and air temperatures. This type of wax will help your skis’ bases shed more water and glide over sticky snow more effectively.
  2. Pick your ski wisely. If skiing at the resort, use a ski with a moderate waist width and a rockered tip (and tail). Snow conditions are likely to be firm bordering on icy in the morning, and mashed potatoes in the afternoon. A ski with a waist width between 80-95mm is your best bet for gripping firm snow in the morning and staying above the fray in the afternoon. You don’t need those fat powder boards. More surface area can be a negative in slush.
  3. Consider slope aspect. Ski eastern and southern aspect slopes in the morning, which will be the first to warm and soften with morning sun. Save the western and northern aspects for the afternoon—those slopes will be firm bordering on bulletproof in the morning, but the snow will keep longer into the day.

More tips from the pros

Pro skier Marcus Caston on how to crush crud
How to use your poles in moguls