How to Ski In Powder

How to Ski Powder in 5 Steps

Powder skiing provides an unmatched feeling of weightlessness that truly can’t be compared to any other feeling on earth. People often say it feels like floating through clouds. There are many reasons that a great powder day is every skier’s dream.

It can also be incredibly daunting if you’ve never done it before. Watching good skiers ski powder down the mountain can be even more intimidating because they make it look so easy. You may think that powder skiing is something that you could never be brave enough to try. First of all, it’s important to know that having a good run of powder is achievable for any skier!

The most important thing to consider when skiing in powder for the first time is that it is going to feel a lot different than skiing a groomer. In fact, the technique behind these two types of skiing is very different. A few key things to remember when learning how to ski powder, is that you must maintain good balance, learn to steer your legs, and make sure you stay in the fall line. And remember that everything takes practice to get right! Below we will break down these tips to help you succeed when you learn to ski in powder for the first time.

Fore & Aft Balance

Being balanced in the correct way is the most important part to having a successful run in powder. There are a few different components to being optimally balanced

The first is fore/aft balance. This refers to how weight is distributed when leaning forward or backwards while on skis. It is a common misconception to lean back when skiing in powder. The first time you try skiing powder, leaning back is going to be your first inclination. It might seem like it will be easier because your tips are out of the snow, but it will be nearly impossible to make a turn. Additionally, your legs will get exhausted at the 90-degree angle, and it will painfully shove your toes into the front of your boot. No one wants that! To avoid leaning back and to ensure you are in a balanced position, make sure that the front of your shins have contact with your boot, as they should with any type of skiing

Adjust Your Stance

It is also important to be balanced in your stance. Every skier is going to have a different natural stance, meaning that everyone skis with their feet a different width apart. While some have a wide or narrow stance naturally, it is important to adjust your stance to be on the narrower side when skiing in powder. If your stance is too wide, your outside ski will often get stuck in the snow, causing you to crash.

A great tip to determine your natural stance in any form of skiing is to simply look at your tracks after you have skied down an easy run anywhere on the mountain. While it isn’t necessary to focus on a specific number of inches that your skis should be apart, you can use your tracks as a guide. Take a few runs adjusting the width of your stance on each run. Practice this first a few times on a groomed run, and get used to the feeling of skiing with a narrower stance. When you ski in powder, you will immediately realize why a narrow stance is key.

Once you have locked in the narrower stance, it is important to keep equal weight on both feet. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but also goes against what people often learn when learning how to ski. Equal weight on both feet is important when skiing in powder because it ensures that you will stay afloat at the proper times. If you put too much weight on one foot, you will sink into the snow and will most likely fall. Additionally, if the other leg isn’t weighted enough, it can cause your ski to get caught on the top layer of snow, also causing you to crash. Keeping equal weight on both feet is crucial to making good turns in powder.

Plant Your Poles

Pole planting is another extremely important element of balanced skiing. It is also something that is often overlooked in any type of skiing. You have poles for a reason. Use them! Think of planting your pole at each turn as a way to reset your body position. Focusing on this will make sure that you are in a good, balanced position. This is especially important in powder because you really need to work to maintain balance, as the forces will be pushing you backwards at all times. It can be really helpful to have poles with larger baskets, or “powder baskets”. These larger baskets will ensure that your pole stays closer to the top layer of snow, and doesn’t sink too deeply into the snow when you plant it.

Turning: Steer Before you Carve

Pole planting is another extremely important element of balanced skiing. It is also something that is often overlooked in any type of skiing. You have poles for a reason. Use them! Think of planting your pole at each turn as a way to reset your body position. Focusing on this will make sure that you are in a good, balanced position. This is especially important in powder because you really need to work to maintain balance, as the forces will be pushing you backwards at all times. It can be really helpful to have poles with larger baskets, or “powder baskets”. These larger baskets will ensure that your pole stays closer to the top layer of snow, and doesn’t sink too deeply into the snow when you plant it.

Stay in the Fall Line

It doesn’t really work to ski slowly in powder. You need enough speed to make sure that you stay moving, especially on a flatter slope. This is part of what makes powder skiing so daunting! If you make turns that are across the hill rather than down the fall line, you will get stuck in the snow because you aren’t going fast enough to move over it. Make sure that you feel comfortable skiing at relatively higher speeds. It is important to keep yourself in the fall line so you don’t get stuck. That being said, if you do get stuck, just get up and try again! One of the best things about powder skiing is that the risk of hurting yourself when you fall is so much lower, because you will just fall down into the fluff! To avoid fogging after your goggles get wet from a fall in deep snow, see our Best Ski Goggles, and check out the pair that is best for heavy snowfall.

Conclusion

Although this may sound like a lot of information to take in, remember that trial and error is the best way to learn just about anything! You need to actually try skiing in powder, considering these tips, to determine what works best for you. You cannot take one run and assume everything will work out well. You will most likely fall down a lot and get frustrated as you are practicing. It is so different than other skiing, and part of what makes powder skiing so difficult is that you must get used to skiing in a different way.

It will take many runs, and probably many falls, to feel fully confident skiing in powder. Just keep trying, and remember that falling is inevitable. For some recommendations on the best mittens and gloves to keep your hands dry after crashing on a powder days. Additionally, to ensure you stay safe when you fall, here are our recommendations for the Best Ski Helmets. Don’t let the frustration deter you, and know that when you do achieve a level of success, the feeling of floating through powder is like nothing else!

FAQs

Is it easier to ski in powder?

Powder skiing definitely isn’t easier than skiing on a groomed run or on any other terrain. Before attempting to ski in powder for the first time, you should make sure that you at least feel comfortable on skis first. Skiing powder will be very different, but you have a much better chance of success if you have the basic foundations of skiing down, and feel comfortable skiing at higher speeds.

How is powder skiing different?

Powder skiing truly is very different than any of type of skiing. Floating in and out of the deep, fluffy snow feels nothing else in the world! The best technique is much different than that of other skiing, as you need to focus on being balanced and equal footed and learning to turn in an entirely new way.

Should you lean back in powder?

No, This is the easiest mistake to make, and something you will see almost every beginner make on their first time. Many think that you need to lean back in order to make the tips of your skis float. However, leaning back is going to make it nearly impossible to turn, and puts you in a very reactive position. Make sure that you keep yourself in a good forward position, with your shins on the front of your boot, and you will be in a much better position to initiate the top of a turn.

Do powder skis make a difference?

Powder skis definitely do make a difference. They are designed to be much wider and “fatter” than regular skis. The wider surface area helps to distribute weight so that you don’t sink into the deep snow. Powder skis help you to glide on top of the snow. That being said, you still need to consider the techniques outlined in this article. Having a good form and technique will always trump having good equipment, and simply having powder skis will not turn you into a great skier. If you don’t have powder skis, but follow these tips, you are going to have a great day skiing powder on the mountain, no matter the skis you use.