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Better Ski Technique Skiing The Steep In Powder Snow

If you are a competent off piste skier read on; otherwise it would be a good idea to read the two articles that introduce you to powder skiing, which you can find elsewhere.You will only be able to ski powder on a slope up to about 50 degrees. Any steeper than this and the snow will tend to avalanche in even the most stable conditions, and then it becomes a matter of coming down on whatever base there is underneath. If you throw caution to the wind you could of course come down in the avalanche itself.

As a general rule restrict the steep and deep to slopes with plenty of trees dotted around. This tends to reduce the chance of an avalanche. Trees have the added advantage of providing yet another challenge - how to get round them.Powder snow on the steep is best when it is thigh to waist deep; it is more exciting, and also has a tendency to slow you down, which is no bad thing. The braking effect of the snow against your skis, legs, and thighs, or even waist, means that you don't have to come round against the fall line so much with the jump turns, and the braking movement down on the skis can be more gentle.You will need to spread your weight more between the two skis, and it may take a little time to work a compromise between weighting the lower ski only, to weighting both skis equally.

You will be looking for a compromise between easy powder skiing technique, and the slightly more aggressive technique needed for a firm steep slope.The bouncing you do, and the depth into the snow you drop while you are bouncing will help to brake you. It will also determine the amount of snow that cascades up into your face and over your shoulders.

Wear goggles. You'll need them. Unless you are an ace swimmer, and can get your breathing synchronised with your bouncing, keep your mouth shut, except of course to whoop with sheer joy at the fun of it all.

Quite a few people lose a ski in the deep powder. If the avalanche risk is low, it is not a bad idea to have some kind of cord fastening going round your ankle and attached to the ski. Alternatively I have often managed to keep my skis attached by diving head first down the slope when I was about to fall! It takes a bit of time to clear the snow out of exposed orifices, but it saves digging around in angel poop up to your neck, searching for a ski that has probably moled its way into the next valley.

It is also important when skiing off piste in any condition to wear or carry some kind of reflector or transmitter that will help any rescuers dig you out, should you be buried in an avalanche. Do read the article entitled 'Skiers and Avalanches' if you are unsure about whether a slope is safe or not.

.Simon Dewhurst has taught downhill skiing in North America, Scandinavia and the European Alps for 35 years. He currently runs a ski chalet agency in the French Alps.

His book "Secrets of Better Skiing" can be found at http://www.ski-jungle.com/better-skiing/contents.htm If you have any comments about the above article, he will be happy to answer them.

By: Simon Dewhurst



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