Tips to Ski Powder Snow

Most people believe you need to lean back in deep powder to be successful. However, leaning back where your hips are far behind your feet and heels will often strain the quadriceps. 

Instead, think about balancing over the whole foot; stacking your body over the center of your feet.

Strategy in Powder Snow

In powder snow, there is more resistance due to the compaction of the snow. In other words, take a straighter line down the hill since the snow itself will naturally slow you down.

In skiing, the snow has to compact to enable the skier a gliding surface to slide on. In powder, there is more time for compaction since there is more air in the snow

Another strategy for powder is to ski trails or runs with more pitch to them. This can help aid in overcoming the resistance of powder snow.

Gear for Powder

Rockered skis and early-rise skis aid in floatation of powder snow since the tips naturally stay above the snow. Rockered skis are those with a reverse camber. Camber is the natural bend of a ski. Lay a pair of traditional skis flat on the ground and notice that the tips and the tails make contact with the ground, but the center does not. This is called camber or when the skis are pressured, the center bends into the snow. 

Now lay a pair of rockered or reverse camber skis on the ground. Notice that the center or middle part of the ski touches the ground, while the tips and the tails do not. By keeping the tips above and out of the snow, the rockered or reverse camber and early-rise skis are able to float through the powder.

Ski With Rhythm in Powder

Singing a song or listening to a music can often help skiers initiate and link turns in the powder.  Music can also aid skiers in timing of their turns. Pick a song that is relaxed and rhythmical so you can make symmetrical turns and turn shape.

Most skiers tend to have a difficult time getting the skis to turn in powder and start turns by turning their upper body. Resist this temptation; try to turn your feet and legs under a stable upper body.

Gain some speed first before trying to initiate a turn in order to overcome the tendency to turn with or rotate the upper body. Try skiing powder with no poles or with your arms crossed. This will allow you to initiate a turn with your upper body. First, your shoulders will move. Next, they will face up the hill making it difficult to turn the other way.

Have fun and enjoy the powder.


Ski Instruction Examiner Kevin Jordan is a Diamond Pro and Ski Trainer for the Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen.

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