Beginners Guide to Powder, Tips & Tricks for Experts too

Beginners Guide to Powder, Tips & Tricks for Experts too

With all the fresh snow we’ve gotten at Tremblant recently, you’re inevitably going to come across lots of untracked and tracked snow around the Mountain. Of course, just about everyone knows that the untracked snow is called “powder”. The tracked up or uneven portions are also often referred to as “crud” which can be fun too, but usually requires a little more effort to navigate through.

First of all, we realize we might take some heat from the purists out there who accept nothing but the most ideal way to ski powder, but imagine yourself as a beginner or an intermediate. There you are, at the top of Tremblant and you need to get down the mountain through some heavily tracked deep powder for the first time. What do you do now?

What you need to keep in mind is that going from powder to choppy tracked portions represents a huge difference in the resistance to forward momentum (if you want to get really technical, we’re talking about changing drag coefficients). So when your ski or snowboard is on the tracked area, they glide easily over the compressed surface. But when they hit thicker un-tracked powdery areas, the resistance increases instantly, while your forward momentum wants to keep going. The result can be unpredictable, and if you’re going too fast, you may end up going head first over tips into the fluffy white stuff.

Here are some tips to help you get through it;

1. Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious thing to do, is slow down and take your time. Powder is meant to be savored and enjoyed!

2. Be prepared to use an “old school” skidded turn technique. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to “carve” in these conditions 100% of the time.

3. If you’re on skis, close your stance so your knees and feet are closer together. This gives you a more manageable platform to support or “float” your weight, particularly when going from a compressed packed area, to an unpacked deeper portion, where you need to break through a little wall of snow as you hit the higher resistance. This helps keep both feet and skis going in the same direction, without having one ski dig-in, or twist you around. However, this is largely dependent on your speed and skill level; as a beginner, you should probably keep your speed down, which will afford you a wider stance for stability and more time to react.

4. Now here’s the trick. Sit back just a little bit. Experts will tell you that you should stay centered, but they also have a very finely tuned sense of fore and aft balance, and are capable of rapidly compensating, so no prob for them. For the inexperienced, however, who aren’t as quick to react, sitting back a little bit will help you out in this area. As you pass into the higher resistance of the thicker snow, you’ll have a tiny bit longer to compensate for the shift, which can go a long way towards helping you correct for the forward momentum of your upper body. It will also help prevent your tips from digging in too far. A word of caution here though, leaning back too far reduces your ability to execute turns, so please judge your speed accordingly.

5. Stay low and compact. This lowers your center of gravity and reduces the leverage your upper body has over your lower body when you come into heavier snow.

6. On skis, keep your hands forward, and don’t let them drop!! Your upper body balance is controlled in large part by hand position, so keeping your hands up and forward is critical to managing your balance. Drop your hands, and you drop your balance!

7. Try to “wiggle” your turns on skis by throwing your butt towards the inside of the turn, back and forth over your skis if you can, while keeping your shoulders over the skis as much as possible.

A lot of these tips will also come in handy when it comes to skiing or snowboarding in and out of areas of man-made snow from the snow makers. You may encounter this frequently at the beginning or end of the season when staff are trying to build the base, or maintain it into the spring.

We should also note, there are many styles and philosophies out there regarding how to handle different types of terrain. Choosing the right technique for you is largely dependent on skill level, and who better to asses your skill… than an actual ski or snowboard instructor! Tremblant has an exceptional staff of ski & snowboard instructors available for lessons. If you’d like to know more about signing up for a lesson, click here for more info.

You can also watch some friendly instructors in action, skiing down Zig-Zag at Tremblant in the video below! The video is in high definition, so you may have to allow it a moment to load after pressing the play button. You’ll also have the option of watching some of our other videos at the end too! (select a video box, then click on the title that appears above it). 

École Sur Neige from Tremblant360 on Vimeo.

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