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Instruction

No, You’re Not Supposed to Lean Back in Powder

Forget what you've heard. This is how you stay balanced on your skis in powder.

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There’s a myth about skiing powder that continues to circulate and make skiers’ lives difficult on pow days: That leaning back towards the tails of your skis will help you stay afloat in deep snow.

Anyone who’s tried this knows it doesn’t work. It just burns out your quads and makes it even more difficult to steer your skis.

While skiers of yore, schussing down pow fields on narrow, straight skis, may have had to lean back to prevent their tips from diving into the snow, we don’t have to do that anymore. These days most all-mountain and powder skis feature rocker technology, designed to keep skis close to the snow surface and prevent skiers from sinking into the snow. We can now stand perfectly balanced on our modern skis and just enjoy the ride.

But what does a balanced stance look like when you’re skiing powder? Maintaining a centered stance on your skis, no matter the pitch or snow conditions, explains professional skier Wendy Fischer.

“As slope changes and get steeper, a lot of skiers tend to let that push them back. That engages your hamstrings and quads, and powder skiing becomes tiring and frustrating,” she says. “You need to stay over the center of your skis so that you’re able to use your ankles from side to side and flow from turn to turn with less effort.”

In this video, Fischer presents a balance drill that you can practice on groomers to improve your stance and skiing technique in powder.

Watch: How to Stay Balanced On Skis in Powder

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Top 5 Balance and Stance Tips for Skiing Powder

  1. Don’t lean back. Keep your center of mass over your bindings.
  2. Narrow your stance. You’ve been taught to widen your stance when skiing groomers and variable terrain; but in powder, a narrower stance will give you a bigger platform and help you stay afloat in powder.
  3. Distribute your weight over both skis. On groomers and steeps, you’ve been taught to put more weight and pressure over your outside ski in your turns. When skiing powder, you want to distribute your weight more evenly over both skis in each turn so that the outside ski doesn’t dive into the snow.
  4. Ski with a more upright stance. Instead of really flexing your knees and driving your shins into the front of your ski boot, as you’ve been told to do when skiing on hard snow surfaces, work on skiing with a more upright, centered stance in powder. This will help you stay centered and balance when pitch and snow conditions change.
  5. Flex your ankles more than your knees. Your ankles are key to staying balanced in powder. This is the joint that absorbs the subtle changes in terrain and snow conditions.

Make Powder Skiing Easier

Enroll in SKI’s comprehensive “How to Ski Powder” course
Shop the best powder skis of 2021
Avoid these common powder skiing mistakes