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Tips for skiing off-piste powder

By James Fock Subscribe to RSS | March 28th 2012 | Views:
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A while back we looked at some general skiing techniques that can form the basics of your riding, from the piste to the powder. We had a look at some of the theoretical knowledge behind skiing movements, and basic technique, from one of the leading authorities on the subject, the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA). However, it is more than likely when you arrive in BC that it’s going be dumping, so here's the tips we really thought you’d need to know centre around skiing deep off-piste powder.

Contrary to what you might immediately think (and feel), a fairly narrow stance should be encouraged when skiing deep snow. A wide stance essentially creates two bases of support that risk causing the skis to wander. Paradoxically, lateral balance is more difficult with a wide stance in soft snow, whereas just the opposite is true on hard snow.

Always strive for a centered stance. In deep snow the skis want to plane to the surface, and resistance of the snow around the boots tends to slow the feet. As a result a centered stance may appear to be slightly back.

Some pointers to remember when trying to find a good stance in powder snow are to focus attention on feeling the feet being centered on the footbeds, and to hold the arms away from the body for better balance. Make gentle up and down movements to gain familiarity with the springy sensation of bottomless snow, and to further enhance your balance. Mobility is one of the keys to relaxation, less fatigue, and better equilibrium.

The slower you are moving the more difficult it is to turn in deeper snow, so every increase in speed will actually increase the ease of turns. Also, turning with the lower body should be actively practised, and emphasizing rhythmic turns close to the fall line will produce more desirable skiing.

Un-weighting, as apposing to leaning into carved turns, makes for more refined powder skiing. Just like snowboarding in powder, slight shifts of the body change the placement of the weight over the skis. These subtle movements are more beneficial than larger more aggressive movements, and will result in longer smoother turns. Anticipation is key to riding deep snow, look out for flat areas that require more speed to ride through, and try to flow with the contours and different shapes of the mountain.

James Fock - About Author:
Last Frontier heli ski have been a pioneering force in heli skiing since 1996. Visit our corner of British Columbia and discover what makes Last Frontier a legend in its own right.

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