How to Ski Powder

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Downhill skier skiing in fresh powder

Fluffy, bottomless powder is the stuff that many skiers’ dreams are made of. But, getting the hang of skiing through soft snow can be tough, especially if you’re accustomed to cruising on groomers.

 

How to Ski Powder

  • Find and maintain balance: Keep your ankles flexed and your shins in contact with the fronts of your boots.
  • Steer with your legs: Rather than carving with your edges, use your legs to steer.
  • Stay in the fall line: Aim to make crescent-shaped turns that keep your skis in the fall line (the route that leads straight down the slope) rather than skiing way across the hill.

 

VIDEO: How to Ski Powder

 

Finding and Maintaining Balance While Skiing Powder

To ski powder, you need to be able to stay balanced while traveling on top of and through light, fluffy snow.

skier skiing in powder with a narrow stance and evenly distributed weight

How to Find and Maintain Balance While Skiing Powder

  • Focus on body position and weight distribution: For the best balance and control, keep your ankles flexed with your shins in contact with the fronts of your boots. It’s OK if your weight goes toward your heels as long as you can do it while you keep your ankles flexed. In this position, you'll be able to guide your skis through the snow and your tips won't run away from you.
  • Use a narrower stance: In soft snow, use a narrower stance than you might on groomers for a smoother ride.
  • Keep your skis more evenly weighted: All good skiing requires that the outside ski takes more of the weight. However, don’t try to press that outside ski into powder—stay soft and light.
  • Swing your poles: Good pole motion is key. Begin to swing your pole forward before you finish your turn. Keeping your poles moving will help you establish rhythm.

 

Steering and Choosing a Line in Powder

Powder turns are way more about using your legs to steer than using your edges to carve like you do on groomed slopes.

skier skiing downhill in powder, making crescent-shaped turns

How to Turn in Powder

  • Use your legs, not your edges: Visualize a gentle arcing turn and use your legs to actively but gradually guide your skis.
  • Maintain speed: Speed will help keep your skis from getting bogged down in the snow.
  • Stay in the fall line: When choosing your line down the slope, aim to make crescent-shaped turns so that your skis stay in the fall line instead of zigzagging and skiing way across the hill.

 

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Contributing Experts

Robin Barnes

Professional Ski Instructors of America National Alpine Team member, Robin Barnes, has been teaching skiing since 1990. In her pursuit of powder, she enjoys two winters each year: one in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the other in Portillo, Chile.