Anyone who's spent time skiing the back country dreams of only one thing: Drifting through endless acres of virgin powder snow, carving first tracks through glades with billows of snow flying over their shoulders.
Most recreational skiers rarely have the opportunity to catch deep powder days during their one-week vacation. But, if you do, you'll find that riding through powder snow uses all of the same principles as skiing on any other snow surface. It just takes a few adjustments.
Correct Skiing Stance
Assume a "functionally tense" stance with your weight evenly distributed over your feet, from toe to heel. Functionally tense means that your body is relaxed but ready to react to any challenge you encounter. Bend your ankles, knees and hips so that you can absorb or extend over variable terrain without losing your balance. Your entire lower body should act as a shock absorber, while your upper body remains quiet.
Weight and Balance
Many people incorrectly assume that you should sit on the tails of your skis when skiing powder. Nothing could be further from the truth. As in other types of snow conditions, always stand directly over your feet and press forward with your knees, bending your ankles. The resistance of the snow will press against the tips of your skis, balancing your weight. Hold your hands in front of your hips and slightly to the side as if holding the ends of bicycle handlebars. Keep your upper body erect and look up.
Chooing Your Line
Stay within the fall line of the mountain and avoid traversing across the gravity line. The gravity line is an imaginary path from the top of the mountain to the bottom. Skiing across the gravity line will dramatically reduce your speed and make it more difficult to initiate the next turn. By staying in the fall line, you can maintain turn rhythm and more easily initiate your turns. The density and resistance of the snow will reduce your speed and keep you from going too fast. Strive to maintain a constant turning rhythm. Try singing a song or counting.
Where Are My Feet?
Skiers who ski deep powder often become disoriented when they can't see their feet. Relax. There's no need to see your boots. Monitor the position of your feet just as you would when walking down a flight of stairs. Relax and enjoy the experience.
Article Written By Allen Smith
Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.