How to ski in deep snow

1. Choose fatter skis
With technology borrowed from snowboarding they’re easy to use and tend to float on the snow. Most modern fat skis are also rockered, which means they have a reverse camber (shaped like a banana) and turn more easily.

2. Spread your body weight across both skis
It is important to keep the outside ski weighted and active throughout the turn but it can help to focus on the inside ski. Once you feel a platform of snow under the inside foot ensure the ski is tilted as much as the outside ski and then steer it through the arc.

3. Move your centre of mass inside the line of the turn
This helps you to use the shape of the skis to steer them and make long open turns.
It feels a little like riding a bike round a fast open bend in the road. Have the confidence to let the skis run; the faster you go the more you can lean in. Get it wrong and it’s a soft landing, so go for it!

4. Let your skis do the work
When the terrain is less open, the rocker allows you to control your speed and direction by pivoting the skis, even in deep snow.
Smearing and skidding used to be ways to control things on smooth pistes but now you can use these moves in the deep stuff. Simply turn the feet across your direction of travel and see how much spray you can create.

5. Don’t lean back too much
Skiers often think they should lean back in deep snow, however too much will result in thigh burn and a loss of control. To maintain balance along the length of the skis try pushing them forward as they sink into the snow. This allows you to drive the skis rather than being taken for a ride.

6. Master your line
If you can stay balanced as the skis sink into the powder then there is no need to turn the skis too sharply across the slope. Choose a line which results in a speed at which the skis float, but they don’t run away from you. This might be slightly faster than you think!

7. Short Turns
Shorter turns in soft snow are suited to a narrower ski, like an all mountain type. Allow the skis to sink in to the snow and as they do, steer strongly from the thighs and hips. The skis will rebound out of the snow if you lift the tips of the skis at this time. The light period at the top of the rebound is the time to change edges and prepare the next turn.

8. Poles
Whatever skis you are on, use of the poles in the deep snow is essential. A strong pole plant will control the upper body and give you the confidence to let the skis keep moving through the end of a turn. It’s worth having larger baskets on your soft snow poles.

NB. Off-piste skiing should always be practiced with appropriate safety equipment and in the presence of a professionally qualified instructor or guide.

As skiers and snowboarders who spend almost all of our time in the Canadian Rockies, naturally we have a love affair with powder. The magical lure of deep powder skiing is everywhere, in the winter it’s in movies, on posters, and in your Facebook feeds. The pros may make it look natural, but the truth is no-one is born an expert at powder skiing. Whether you’re a veteran skier who just needs a few reminders, a beginner skier, or an intermediate who is starting to venture off the groomed slopes these 4 powder skiing tips will have you skiing like a pro in no time:

4 easy powder skiing tips for your next ski vacation

1. create a large surface area to float on

When skiing on hard-pack or groomed snow you’d usually use your downhill ski to start the turn, but if you try that in powder you’ll just end up driving one ski down into the snow like an anchor. Instead, you need a body position that lowers resistance and increases floatation so you keep moving and don’t get stuck.

How to create a larger surface area with your skis in deep snow

Weight both ski evenly, keep a centred (but agile) stance and keep your shoulders over your toes. Spreading your body weight evenly across both skis will help you keep your tips above the snow.

2. Forget edging, learn to steer with your body weight

Edges are useless in deep snow because there’s nothing for them to grip on. To change direction without increasing resistance on your downhill ski, you have to switch techniques and focus on steering with your body weight instead. You do this by weighting and unweighting as you would in moguls.

How to turn using weighting and unweighting while skiing powder

In the apex of the turn bend at the knees and weight the skis as if you’re trying to push the snow away underneath you. Then when you’re ready to finish the turn and start the next one, extend your legs to unweight the skis making it easier for your body and skis to change direction.

3. Push yourself to spend more time in the fall line

In powder, speed is your friend. When your skis are on the top of the snow you glide along with little to no resistance, but when your skis are under the snow your tips will start to nosedive (as we’ve all experienced) grinding you to a halt. Think of your skis like an aeroplane… you need speed to generate lift.

How to use speed to stay afloat when powder skiing

On a powder day, on a piece of terrain that you’re comfortable with, practice turning your skis down the slope into the fall line to pick up speed. When you want to slow down start making a turn across the slope. Repeat this while each time increasing your time spent in the fall line.

It’s important to remember that speed is a relative term. What seems fast to you might not be fast to someone else, but the most important part of learning to be comfortable at speed is to always be in control. When practising, it’s very important to maintain the correct body position outlined in skill 1.

4. Lengthen your turns

Now you’re feeling better about skiing with a little more speed it’s time to link everything together. You’re going to go from fast fall line skiing with slow turns, to elongated, smooth, flowing turns that maintain the same speed throughout. This is best practised on wide open runs or in bowls where you have a long run ahead.

How to lengthen your turns to keep speed and momentum in deep snow

Make sure you have even weight on both skis, a centred stance with your shoulders over your toes. Start by completing whatever size turn you feel comfortable with, as you weight and unweight through the turn as described in skill 2. Once you feel comfortable, start allowing the radius of your turn to get longer and combine that with a shorter transition between turns. Shorter transitions between turns will keep your skis facing down the slope longer and help you keep momentum, rather than skiing across the slope which will ultimately slow you down.

If you still have questions about skiing powder or you have some great powder skiing tips of your own, please share them with us and our followers on Twitter , Facebook or Instagram .

Still having trouble? Maybe it’s time for powder skis

If, after all this, you still don’t feel like you’re floating, it might be time to look at your skis. What width underfoot are they? Are they too short? Too long? Skiing powder isn’t just about technique, having a ski that creates a large surface area but is also easy to move around is a sure-fire way to improve your powder skiing.

A brief history of powder skis

In 1988 Atomic tasked one of its engineers, Rupert Huber, to come up with a better powder ski. So, Huber sawed a snowboard in half, turned its steel edges inward, attached ski bindings and the fat ski was born. After few rounds of refinement the first powder ski was born, the Atomic Powder Magic (or Fat Boy as they lovingly became known). You might also say that he created the first splitboard.
At 115 millimetres underfoot the Fat Boys were the first super-wide powder ski of their kind and they revolutionised skiing forever. “They made it easier to ski fluffy powder snow because they had so much more surface area underfoot. They were also much shorter than the lengths people were skiing on in that day, making them easier to manoeuvre.” – said Jake Strassburger, alpine commercial manager for Atomic.

Skiing powder is a totally different experience from skiing groomed runs and if you’re new to it, you can sometimes feel like you’re battling the snow rather than riding it.

Dispense with all the things you think you know about skiing, especially skiing groomers. Instead, embrace an open mind and try these tips for perfecting your powder skiing.

Buy lift tickets in advance on Liftopia.com and save.

How to ski in deep snow

1. Maintain a relaxed stance.

As soon as we cannot see our ski tips, we all tend to tense up. Get used to not seeing them. Find a comfortable slope, feet hip-width apart, balance over your skis (neither forward nor back), and relax. We tense up because we don’t know what is “under all that snow” that we might hit. But that is the last thing we want to do. Skiing relaxed allows our legs to absorb and feet move through unseen bumps and inconsistencies in the snow.

2. Keep your weight balanced on two feet.

Unlike skiing groomers, you will not as heavily weight your downhill ski when skiing powder. If you do, that ski will tend to sink or dive under significantly, sending you tumbling off in a cloud of snow. Rather, weight your skis more evenly, and initiate the turn by tipping the ski.

How to ski in deep snow

3. Start with baby turns.

With your skis pointed down the fall-line, allow yourself to pick up speed and then start with small little turns. Get a feel for the weight of the snow and as your speed increases, increase the radius of your turn.

4. Keep your skis, hands, and eyes all pointing in the direction you want to go – which should be down the run.

Powder is less forgiving. If you get caught in the back seat, or with your hips and shoulders pointing across the hill too far, it will be difficult to transition into the next turn.

How to ski in deep snow

5. Make round turns.

Many skiers, turn too quickly across the slope, resulting in a face plant or other similar crash. Rather aim for turns shaped like the letter C or S.

6. Speed is your friend.

Especially if the snow is heavy or deep, you will need greater speed so your skis can more easily slice through the snow. As you become more experienced skiing powder, you will become more comfortable with greater speeds.

7. Always ski with a buddy.

Many riders don’t know that falling head first in a treewell is just as common and dangerous as avalanches in the backcountry. In powder it is easy to become disoriented and truly stuck after a fall. Stay within line of sight (or voice) of your ski buddy and communicate about where you are headed next.

Skiing powder is a totally different experience from skiing groomed runs and if you’re new to it, you can sometimes feel like you’re battling the snow rather than riding it.

Dispense with all the things you think you know about skiing, especially skiing groomers. Instead, embrace an open mind and try these tips for perfecting your powder skiing.

Buy lift tickets in advance on Liftopia.com and save.

How to ski in deep snow

1. Maintain a relaxed stance.

As soon as we cannot see our ski tips, we all tend to tense up. Get used to not seeing them. Find a comfortable slope, feet hip-width apart, balance over your skis (neither forward nor back), and relax. We tense up because we don’t know what is “under all that snow” that we might hit. But that is the last thing we want to do. Skiing relaxed allows our legs to absorb and feet move through unseen bumps and inconsistencies in the snow.

2. Keep your weight balanced on two feet.

Unlike skiing groomers, you will not as heavily weight your downhill ski when skiing powder. If you do, that ski will tend to sink or dive under significantly, sending you tumbling off in a cloud of snow. Rather, weight your skis more evenly, and initiate the turn by tipping the ski.

How to ski in deep snow

3. Start with baby turns.

With your skis pointed down the fall-line, allow yourself to pick up speed and then start with small little turns. Get a feel for the weight of the snow and as your speed increases, increase the radius of your turn.

4. Keep your skis, hands, and eyes all pointing in the direction you want to go – which should be down the run.

Powder is less forgiving. If you get caught in the back seat, or with your hips and shoulders pointing across the hill too far, it will be difficult to transition into the next turn.

How to ski in deep snow

5. Make round turns.

Many skiers, turn too quickly across the slope, resulting in a face plant or other similar crash. Rather aim for turns shaped like the letter C or S.

6. Speed is your friend.

Especially if the snow is heavy or deep, you will need greater speed so your skis can more easily slice through the snow. As you become more experienced skiing powder, you will become more comfortable with greater speeds.

7. Always ski with a buddy.

Many riders don’t know that falling head first in a treewell is just as common and dangerous as avalanches in the backcountry. In powder it is easy to become disoriented and truly stuck after a fall. Stay within line of sight (or voice) of your ski buddy and communicate about where you are headed next.

PSIA Alpine Demo Team member Ann Schorling provides a few pointers to help maximize your time on a powder day.

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Avoid getting bogged down in pow by opening up your turn shape. Instead of turning across the hill with rounded turns, adjust your turn shape to be more open and down the fall line. Speed is the trick to not getting stuck in powder. Photo: Lee Cohen

Every winter, devoted skiers closely watch the weather, get up early, and wait in long lines before lifts open just to ski in untracked snow. For many skiers, a great powder day can be one of the defining days of the ski season, or even the highlight of the year. Some skiers, on the other hand, find deep snow challenging, exhausting, and avoid skiing in untracked snow altogether. For folks who haven’t yet figured out how to adapt their skiing to softer snow, skiing in powder can feel impossible. As it turns out, powder requires different skiing strategies than groomed or firm snow, so adding a few tactics to your bag of tricks can make a huge difference. If you find yourself staying inside when the snow falls, or seeking out groomed snow when the resort reports six inches of fluff, the following tips can help you find the joy on a powder day.

  • Problem: You get bogged down in powder and have to work too hard to make turns.
  • Solution: Maximize Flotation
    • When skiing powder, you’re no longer just making turns left and right on top of the snow but making turns in powder. Every movement in powder will be easier when skis are closer to the surface of the snow, so try these tactics to maximize flotation.

Four Tips to Improve Your Powder Skiing Technique

1. Adjust Your Turn Shape

Every skier learns to turn across the hill for speed control. But in powder, speed and momentum are your friends and prevent you from sinking into the snow. Think of a jet boat—when a jet boat speeds up, it sits higher in the water, and when it slows down, it sinks lower. To maintain speed between turns in powder, adjust your turn shape to make more open turns down the hill rather than across the fall line.

2. Bounce

In particularly deep or heavy snow, you may need to add a little bounce to your turns. Popping out of the snow between turns can make it easier to change edges and direction. It also lets your skis and gravity do the work during the rest of the turn.

Video Tip: Bounce at the End of your Turn

3. Adapt Your Stance

On groomers, we want to pressure the skis’ edges to grip the snow; but in soft snow, we need to spread pressure more evenly over our skis to keep them from diving into the snow. You’ll float best if your upper body is balanced right over your feet. Keep your skis closer together to create a larger platform, like a raft.

4. Be Patient

Soft snow won’t react to your skis the same way groomed snow does, so everything happens more slowly in powder. If you push on powder, you’ll only sink deeper and work harder. Instead, move downhill more than across to take advantage of gravity, and wait until you feel some pressure underfoot before making your next turn.

About the Author: PSIA Alpine Team Member Ann Schorling

Schorling is currently a member of the prestigious Professional Ski Instructors of America Alpine Demo Team. When she’s not traveling the world on skis, you’ll find her coaching steeps camps and training other instructors at Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Need a few more powder pointers? Enroll in SKI’s online course Go Deep: How to Ski Powder to get more tips and tricks on how to maximize flotation and fun in deep snow from Schorling and professional big mountain skier Wendy Fisher. Sign up today!

Learning how to ski off piste in deep powder snow can make fairly accomplished groomed run skiers feel somewhat like beginers again.

The following off piste skiing tips will help you cut through the frustration quicker and help you on your way to skiing deep powder snow with the flow and comfort you would like to feel.

How to ski in deep snow

Use a two footed platform of pressure

Aim to push both skis into the snow when intitiating your turns, this will help distribute pressure onto both skis which provides a more predictable feeling with the skis when deep in the snow. This is because snow creates resistance around the skis. The deeper the skis are in the snow, the more snow resistance is felt by the skier around the skis. By pushing both skis into the snow with a more equal distribution of pressure, the snow resistance around each ski also becomes more equal, thus making it much easier for the skier to make both skis do the same thing at the same time.

How to ski in deep snow>

Make smooth shaped turns

Go for smooth fluid movements and turns with a smooth, curved shape. This will encourage a more fluid off piste skiing run. Any abrupt movements or turns will have an abrupt effect on your balance. Smooth turns and a good rhythm are essential for a fluid powder skiing run.

How to ski in deep snow

Push the heels downwards

Not to be confused with leaning back! Dont lean back!

In very deep snow, we should aim to push the heels downwards a little to help keep the ski tips up out of the snow. This movement is very subtle, but very effective. It WILL stop the feeling of the ski tips wanting to dive deep into the powder snow which is oftern followed by the well known forward face plant. This movement of pushing the heels down also allows the skier to maintain a relativley centered balance point along the skis length, which is far more comfortable than leaning back.

How to ski in deep snow

Remember to pole plant

Smooth, coordinated and well timed pole plants are a very important part to off piste and powder skiing. This will help you to build fluidity and rhythm into your run. The pole plant also helps for commiting to the turn and helps the skier move the body forwards and in the direction of the new turn.

How to ski in deep snow

Join Mark on an off piste ski course!

Speed Control In Deep Heavy Snow?

Can’t Twist the Skis, & Can’t Run Straight!

Hope you don’t mind the email. I have followed read some of your comments on Snowheads and В skied with Charlotte Swift in LdA a couple of years ago and she introduced me to your DVDs – only got the first two so far.

I am OK when the snow is flat and groomed – but really struggle when it gets steep, particularly when the snow is heavy and soft.

If I try and rotate the skis – they won’t twist – or they start and then I trip up. My friends say just point more downhill and go for it!!В But I gain too much speed and end up doing sudden brakes to control speed.В

When it is steep and soft I usually end up transversing across the piste – taking a deep breath and doing some type of snatched turn to get round.

I know there must be a way out of this, but try as I might I’m stuck

Can you point me in the right direction?

Sure, I’m happy to help if I can. В

You have my first two DVDs, so you know from the Basic Edging DVD that your two primary speed control tools are skid angle and turn shape. В On groomed snow you can use both of them, and the full spectrum of possibilities within each. В You can steer a turn as tight as you desire, and you can inject as much skid angle as you like, to the degree of being able to ski very steep terrain at extremely slow speeds. В

That luxury does not hold true in deep and/or heavy snow. В Trying to inject significant skid angle in that type of snow is a futile endeavour. В It’s very hard to twist your skis into much of a skid angle, because the snow fights your efforts to do so. В If you do manage to achieve much skid angle, you promptly become a virtual snow plough, and come to a quick stop. В Your only practical options are to steer using a very small skid angle (what I call narrow track steering), or to use no skid angle at all (called carving). В

When it comes to turn shape, your options are more limited there too. В Remember, there are two means of shaping your turn; В radius, and degree of turn. В The smallest radius turns are only achievable through steering, but as you’ve discovered, steering a small radius turn in deep or heavy В snow is very difficult. В The snow resists your efforts to aggressively twist you skis and turn sharply. В It fights back. В You’re therefore rather resigned to employing turns longer in radius than those possible on groomed trails. В В

Fear not though, Garth, all your speed control tools are not gone. В I said there are two means of shaping your turns. В Degree of turn was the second, and in heavy/deep snow you still have full use of it. В Remember, degree of turn refers to the angle you are to the falline when you finish your turn. В The bigger the angle, the more you control your speed. В In a 90 degree turn, you finish your turn with your skis pointing perpendicular to the falline. В In turns that are over 90 degrees, you actually continue turning until you’re pointing somewhat uphill. В The bigger the degree, the more you turn up hill. В Degree of turn, is the tool you must fall back on when skiing heavy/deep snow. В

When using degree of turn to control your speed, expect to experience the roller coaster effect. В Through the first half of the turn, until you reach the falline, you will feel yourself accelerate. В It’s that feeling you get as a roller coaster crests the top of the track, and begins to drop. В Your stomach migrates to your mouth. В Through the second half of the turn, after you’ve past the falline, you’ll begin to slow down. В It’s similar to the feeling you get when the roller coaster has reached the bottom of the drop and is starting to climb again. В The longer you continue to turn, the more you increase your degree of turn, and the more your speed drops off. В

Bottom line is, you have to be patient. В Don’t struggle and fight, trying to tighten your turn, beyond what the snow wants to yield. В Go with the flow. В Go with what the snow will allow, which will be a bigger radius turn than you may be used to, and expect to experience the roller coaster sensation. В In time you will come to like it, just as people come to enjoy roller coasters. В Like on a roller coaster, you will come to trust that the acceleration will be followed by a slow down period, taking you back to a speed you find comfortable. В When you understand that, and know you have the skills to create that slowdown after the falline, anytime, and to whatever degree you want, you’ll come to enjoy the acceleration phase of your turns. В It’s the “wheeee”, sensation, one of those things that make skiing fun.

You can somewhat experience the roller coaster effect on the groomers. В Do you remember the part in Basic Edging where I present the “start long radius, finish short radius” drill? В If not, go back and have another look. В Doing that drill will produce the roller coaster sensation. В The longer radius at the start of the turn allows the skis time to accelerate more, and the shorter radius at the end of the turn quickly bleeds the gained speed off. В Doing that drill will allow you to get a taste of the sensation you’ll be experiencing up on the steep and deep, in a more comfortable environment. В

Hope that helps, Garth. В If you have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to write. В I’m always happy to help.

Craving snow? Live vicariously through crazy talented skiers shredding deep pow.

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Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Skiers have long chased after the sacred powder day. They anxiously await those times when the heavens open and blanket our mountains in white flakes, though those days are often few and far between. Despite how it may feel right now, powder days are just around the corner, so to celebrate the upcoming season, here are some of the best deep snow edits and ski films that will make any skier drool.

‘AFTERGLOW’

In collaboration with Philips TV and the Swedish Agency Ahlstrand & Wållgre, Sweetgrass Productions produced one of the most visually stunning and logistically impressive films on this list. Featured athletes Chris Benchetler, Pep Fujas, Eric Hjorfleifson, and Daron Rahlves adventure into Alyeska’s fluffy powder after sunset. From skiers wearing light suits to rainbow lit backdrops on the mountain face, this film pulls the viewer into a different world. Deep pow shredding and backlit big air shots will make every skier watching yearn for colder days and bottomless snow.

‘Rejoice’

Oregon native Sammy Carlson rips the backcountry near Revelstoke, B.C. in this film shot by Bryan Metcalf-Perez, Clay Mitchell, and Kaleb Weston. Carlson hardly needs an introduction, but if his name doesn’t ring a bell, he is most well-known for landing the first triple cork 1260. Although “Rejoice” is short and sweet, watching Carlson drop deep pillow lines and enjoy endless face shots will get snow lovers stoked for winter.

‘Valhalla’

“Valhalla” is not your average ski film. With an interesting screenplay that accompanies the gnarly shredding, everyone can enjoy this edit, no matter their interest in the sport. Directed and written by Ben Sturgulewski and Nick Waggoner, this film takes viewers on a journey through a fictional world including a ski camp named Valhalla. From unlimited powder to a naked ski segment, “Valhalla” keeps watchers engaged and begging for more. Watching athletes such as Cody Barnhill, Sierra Quitiquit, Alex Monot, Pep Fujas, Eric Hjorleifson, Kazushi Yamauchi, Zack Giffin, and Molly Baker blow through piles of powder will both soothe and ignite your snow cravings. To access the full movie online, head over to Sweetgrass Production’s website.

‘Solitary: Piers Solomon’

Piers Solomon, a Swiss freeskier and Patagonia athlete, shreds through the powdery backcountry in Japan, British Columbia, and Switzerland in “Solitary.” Filmed by DPS Cinematic, the edit begins with calming shots of Solomon skinning through breathtaking mountain scenery contrasted with sweet crash reels in deep snow. The edit is a mere five minutes, but packed into that short time are insane face shots, technical lines, and big air. Solomon’s smooth, effortless style creates a seamless ski film that not only shows off the athlete but showcases the beautiful snowy environment.

‘Attack of La Niña’

The Matchstick Productions film “Attack of La Niña” showcases the historic snowfall that occurred in 2011 around North America. From Alaska to Colorado, MSP highlights amazing locations during one of the snowiest seasons of the past decade. Featuring athletes such as Cody Townsend, Gus Kenworthy, and Ingrid Backstrom, “Attack of La Niña” is packed with talent. Throughout the production, it seems to never stop snowing. The film has everything: big air, gnarly lines, infinite snow, and a great cast and crew to give a classic ski movie feel. To access the full movie go to Matchstickpro.com.

Check out Matchstick’s Latest Trailer: “Huck Yeah!“

Want to ski pow like these athletes? Take your powder skiing skills to the next level this season with SKI and AIM AdventureU’s new online learning course Go Deep: How to Ski Powder. Learn tips and tricks for skiing powder from professional ski instructor Ann Shorling and ski legend Wendy Fisher. Learn more about this online course here.