WHILE SOME OF US CONSTANTLY SEEK OUT PRISTINE POWDER, ready to spend our savings on cat or heli, others watch ski movies with powder dancing all around and wonder, how do they do that?
Some adjustments are required from groomed resort skiing. Powder is deep and bottomless – there’s no firm surface to anchor your edges and stand strong against.
First, you need long, fat skis. If the skis don’t offer enough surface area below you, there’s a chance you won’t go anywhere. I skied at Monashee Powder Cats in early December (see page 30) on a pair of 95mm underfoot, 175cm length skis. They were perfect for the conditions – a substantial base of more than 60 centimetres, and about 12 centimetres of fresh snow. I returned the following week to 70 centimetres of fresh, bottomless powder. I eagerly clicked into the same skis and immediately sunk to the point of being stuck. Luckily, the staff snowmobiled a pair of 115mm, 185cm rental boards to me and I was set. Use the right equipment: if you don’t have it, rent it.
How can you use those giant boards to your advantage? Think of them as a single platform, working as one under you, hip width apart. Imagine the movement you would have to make if you had two trampolines set at a shallow V angle and you were bouncing from one to the other, side to side. It’s a push-and-pull movement with your feet, ankles and knees. The quicker the movement, the quicker you will rebound to the other side, and in the deep powder, the shorter and more dynamic the turns will be. Don’t overdo it: less is more.
Moving your hips to sit back while bouncing between those trampolines would take extreme strength. You would lack balance and coordination, and even the strongest individual wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long. Those big powder boards will float, eliminating the need to sit back to keep your tips up – that’s old school! Find your athletic stance that allows you to trigger the maximum amount of energy with the least amount of effort. That’s where you want to be, or work to get back to as quickly as possible.
Lastly, skiing powder is a feeling activity. Each turn is different, depending on whether you are skiing in gladed trees, on a wide-open glacier, on a moderate pitch or on a steep slope. Leave your hyper-analytical brain at home and feel what works best for you. Play around with different positions and various pressures. Know that what works for you is unique to you. When you feel that perfect turn, anchor it into your muscle memory and work to recreate it again and again.
Everyone can enjoy powder skiing. When it snows at your local hill, venture off the groomed terrain if just for a turn or two to experience the true pleasure of gliding through fresh powder, making your own tracks in the snow.
– By Edith Rozsa. Photos by Bruno Long.