Big storms have brought some much needed snow to the west coast over the last couple of weeks and snow starved skiers are flocking back to their favourite resorts, particularly here in Whistler. Everyone is getting up early in search of fresh powder and first tracks. However the first turns of the season in fresh powder always come as a bit of a shock and can leave your legs exhausted after one run. Here are some tips to help you make the most of powder days this season whether it’s your first of the season or first ever.
Don’t lean back
It is a common assumption that powder skiing is made easier if you lean back and keep your ski tips above the snow. While it is obviously important to keep the tips from sinking leaning back on any terrain makes it harder to turn the skis. Always maintain a centred position on the skis and try lifting the tips up at the same time by feeling your toes pushing on the tops of your boots.
Point your skis down the hill more, turn less
Even if you are not leaning back turning in powder is difficult because of the weight of the snow. It is also quite hard to maintain speed. Instead of trying to carve through powder like you might do on a groomed run try pointing your skis down the hill more to maintain speed and turn less. Use the deep fresh snow to slow you down rather than trying to do lots of large turns to control speed.
Keep a strong core
Balancing in the powder can be tough because of the weight and depth of the snow. Bumps, other peoples’ tracks and the fresh snow can surprise you and knock you off centre. Use your core strength to powerfully smash through the powder without letting it shock you. With a friend try standing on your skis in a relaxed position and get them to push and shake you. Then try tensing all your stomach muscles and get them to do the same. You will feel much more stable when your core is tensed.
As powder is so much softer than other terrain it is not necessary to dig your edges into the snow as much for grip, or to slow yourself down. Keep more equal pressure on each ski throughout the turn using up and down movements to keep your skis above the snow. Stand tall at the beginning of the turn and flex down at the end. As your turns will be quick and short you should feel like you are bouncing from one turn to the other.
Use a pole plant to help you keep a rhythm. At the start of each turn as you bounce out of the last one punch your hand forward and plant your pole in the snow down the hill in front of you. Always keep both hands in front of you to prevent you from leaning back after each plant.