10 Tips for Skiing Powder


Photo by Ashley Smith 1/24/12

Winter is definitely here in Tahoe! With almost four feet of snow accumulating over the past few days, we’re all quite anxious to get out and get some fresh turns. Riding through powder can be one of the greatest experiences in skiing, but it can also be a little intimidating.

As we all know, skiing powder isn’t exactly like skiing hard pack. Although good technique will help you handle any terrain or snow condition, certain adjustments can be made in the powder to make your experience more enjoyable and a bit easier. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this fresh snow.

1. Stay focused and have a plan. Make sure you always ride with a buddy. Especially in deep snow, it is easy to get stuck after a fall. Look out for your friends and never leave anyone behind.

2. Observe all signs and warnings. No matter when you go skiing, it is always smart to be aware of your surroundings. Fresh snow can leave obstacles just below the surface, making them difficult to see but easy to hit. Ski patrol isn’t out to ruin our fun… if runs were safe enough to open, they would be open!

3. Equipment—I know you love those straight skis from 1986, but there is a reason they don’t make them like that anymore! Advancements in ski technology have made skiing a whole lot easier. Take advantage of this people. Why work harder than you have to? Try demoing a pair of skis that are 85mm+ under foot when skiing powder. The wider base will help you create a platform in the snow so you can float easier.

4. Narrow your stance, but not so close your skis touch. Keeping your feet a bit closer together makes a broader platform to stand on. Instead of two small bases, you now have one big one.

5. Stay centered over your skis. One of the most common misconceptions about powder skiing is that you need to lean back to keep the tips out of the snow. All this does is make your legs tired and makes the front of your skis lighter. When they are completely unweighted, the tips move, often crossing and sending you over the handlebars. Keep your hands open and out in front. If your arms are back, your weight goes back.

6. Even weight distribution. In deeper snow, it is better to keep weight on both skis. If the skis are weighted differently, they will go to different depths in the snow making it very difficult to turn.

7. Steer with your legs; don’t worry about tipping the skis onto the edge. Twist your femurs (thigh bones) simultaneously to get a smooth and consistent turn. Don’t rush this! The snow will slow you down…be patient and round your turns.

8. Unweight your skis to start the turn. It is obviously easier to turn your skis if they are out of the snow. While we don’t need to leave the ground every time we make a turn, bringing your skis closer to the snow’s surface means there will be less resistance and it will be easier to turn. Try making a small hop or bounce at the beginning of the turn.

9. Keep your upper body quiet and facing down the fall line. The more you move it around, the more likely you are to lose your balance. Allowing your legs to turn underneath your body requires less effort than turning your entire body. This will also help you maintain momentum.

10. Head up! Look where you’re going. Skiing powder (especially in Tahoe with the fabulous lake views) can be an amazing experience. You definitely don’t want to miss it because you were staring at your feet…

~ Megan Roepke, Heavenly Ski and Ride School



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