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What is the technique for using piste-only skis on thick powder?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yes I know one isn't supposed to be doing this, but if you only have the one pair of skis handy and it snowed heavily overnight so there is say 10cm of powder.

Someone said you need to point down the hill first and get some speed. If you try carving right away you just get stuck, as I found...
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Way back when we only had 1 pair of skis (Dynastar Course 190s - it was 1988) we could still manage heavy off piste.
I would be constantly feeling the pressure underfoot on both skis, and turn by exaggerating the flexion / extension to really get the skis unweighted. I would throw in the odd jump turn for good measure, but always try to stay in the fall line with my upper body.
So the bit about pointing downhill seems about right.
I do not have any new skis (K2 Fugitive park ski is the closest thing). Personally in thick pow, I'd head to the hire shop, excuse yourself for being mis-guided all this time and get a snowboard.
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@Peter Stevens, not to carve but to use them as best you can like an off piste ski!
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@WindOfChange is right about exaggerating flexion. We certainly skied powder before shaped skis. I recall some great days at Telluride on 190s with no sidecut...anyway, 10 cm is sort of an in-between depth and you should be able to handle it easily with sl or gs skis rather than even all-mountain. It's when the snow gets above the boot tops and starts to get heavier that wider skis come into their own.
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203 for slalom and on piste, 207 for GS and powder.
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Modern piste skis have soooo much mors float. 10cms you shouldn’t even notice. That’s not even enough for me to fire up the snowblower.
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As you say you need a bit of speed, and then weight /unweight your skis through flexion and extension to allow you to turn. Don’t force the turns or you’ll end up leaning back. Try and stay centred on your skis.
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@under a new name, They do indeed.

One question I've not been able to answer: Did old straight skis make it easier to ski powder than, say, a shaped modern short SL ski?

I'm thinking back to 190/200 cm skis that I used to use, and it just seemed like the powder technique depended on being able to easily release and kind of "pedal" through the turns -- whereas when I've tried to ski real powder on, say, a 170 cm narrow waisted shaped ski I've had more trouble.

It almost seems like the deeply shaped sidecuts get "stuck" -- not sure I'm describing it correctly -- and that the shortness of the skis makes it harder to keep the tips up.
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@Pasigal, Short answer, IME, "no".

I did a half day heli-skiing on Rossi 9X Oversizes (probs 170s) - no great problems but much harder work than my chums on fat powder skis. I switched for the next day...

But much easier than say my c.1999 203 7SKs!!

@Peter Stevens, If it's really powder (such as we had in Chamonix this mid-morning) 10cms really isn't enough to force a change in technique. 20cms is getting there, but if really light, still not enough to warrant much of a change.

Once you get deeper, you do want a little more gradient and you want to start off traversing to get a feel for what the snow's doing. Bounce up and down a couple of times. You then turn more or less as normal but with a bit of a bounce in initiation to "make a contract" with the snow and start a platform for your skis to ride on.

But really, it is the same turn. Perhaps a bit slowed down. And weight a little more centred on skis and rather more equal across them.

And on my previous comment, most piste skis with 80-85mm waists would have been marketed as powder specific skis in the early '00s ... Shocked
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If you have good on piste technique you can ski powder on any ski. A natural tendency is to get into the back seat when off piste and then you are stuffed. I was taught to keep weight centred (middle of foot) start to ski down the fall line and not flex too much (particularly not get across the fall line/traverse). Turn by steering feet. This was 30 years ago and times may have changed!
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http://youtube.com/v/2soYD8LX7YI
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I prefer to ski intelligent powder but thick powder will do Happy

As for technique, I agree with retsil. This video was at the start of the season (8 Nov 2019 I think) so the base was still a bit uneven, I had a pair of skimo skis. 66mm underfoot, 168cm short without a heap of sidecut. The second pitch is about black slope steepness - 30 degrees. Obviously with something in the 100mm range and a bit longer you'd ski a bit different (longer turns, staying more on the surface) but still weight centered both side to side and fore and aft - afterwards it is just micromovements.


http://youtube.com/v/6S6ljcBvPpo

This book is probably one of the better texts on skiing on modern skis fwiw:-

https://www.amazon.com/Ski-Whole-Mountain-Condition-Time/dp/0971774838/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ski+the+whole+mountain&qid=1577456149&sr=8-1&tag=amz07b-21

My piste skis are more like 75mm underfoot with a largish shovel and I'd certainly say they are easier to ski off piste in all conditions including powder than straight skis from the past.
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In the above video the skier is going almost straight down the hill, with almost no carving. I can see that works fine.
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You know it makes sense.
@Peter Stevens, not really, pretty nice powder tracks.
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Mate and I booked a carving clinic lesson a few years back in La rosiere and it snowed about 30cm of light powder overnight but we never changed our skis. Was a fun day (especially when my pal got stuck tips first into a snow drift on a black and spent about 10 minutes trying to get out all of which I spent laughing
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Lean back and swing.
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sheffskibod wrote:
Mate and I booked a carving clinic lesson a few years back in La rosiere and it snowed about 30cm of light powder overnight but we never changed our skis. Was a fun day (especially when my pal got stuck tips first into a snow drift on a black and spent about 10 minutes trying to get out all of which I spent laughing


For some reason my original message clipped off the two nuggets of information we were given during the session...I am blaming the clunkiness of the SH website (but could be my alcohol content). So the original message was a pleasant anecdote but made no sense.

First was to keep skis together . Old school , make them work like one ski to some extent...

Second was to give the ski tips a quick flick upwards using your feet (not necessarily by leaning back) as you initiate the turn.
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Both skis?
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Not together.

Flick wherewards? Not that either.
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Hahaha - was doing lots of falling on GS skis today in Adelboden in 20-30 cm of powder. Visibility was crap though most of time... always thought I have an OK piste technique but not today ... the skis simply tried to go different directions as soon as tips dived. When tips on top of snow it was OK’ish. Some funny ejects
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davidof wrote:


http://youtube.com/v/6S6ljcBvPpo


Nice lines but rubbish pole plants - and no helmet. What were you thinking? Toofy Grin
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Red Leon wrote:
davidof wrote:


http://youtube.com/v/6S6ljcBvPpo


Nice lines but rubbish pole plants - and no helmet. What were you thinking? Toofy Grin


Happy I should be arrested.
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I only have one pair of skis and they do everything - even grass - brilliantly as long as I ask them properly. There are a few secrets to skiing deep snow if you are just starting out and were not born on skis. Here's four of 'em. The first is to keep the skis FLAT. The second is to your WEIGHT over the middle of your skis for as long as you can! The third is a special DEDICATED pole plant. The fourth is to find a RHYTHM. Don't know how commercial I'm allowed to be but my book 'Secrets of Better Skiing' explains it all!
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How do you mean "your not supposed to do this", there are no rules, ski what you like with what you have! Years ago we all just had "narrow" skis, and whilst wider skis make certain conditions easier and more enjoyable it's perfectly possible to ski offpiste on "piste" skis.

feet close together, weight centered, no huge jumps or up/down movements, just be a little more gentle and patient with the weighting of the new outside ski. Don't try to skid or quickly rotate the skis, try and ski nice rounded turns, think of making C shapes not Z shapes.

This is me on some 74mm piste skis in chopped up off piste....


http://youtube.com/v/cZ10oyaO0zg
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I would echo the above. I had some great experience after it dumped up to 1m of snow overnight in Grandvalira, turning all runs into off piste challenges with Fischer Race RC piste skis! As stated above weight centred, c shaped turns, no rush to turn as you are going to get some speed control just by going through powder anyway, imagining the two skis together was moving like a boat! Luckily the pistes were pretty empty so had a lot of space to draw the Cs!
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I learnt to ski off piste on 192cm skis. Hard work! Hired some fat boys (anyone remember them?) and it was a doddle. On the 192s it was a combination of skis close together (or they go they're own way and you fall over) , not leaning back (or you lose control) and getting into a rhythm. Power traces always useful as it is amazing how far away a loose ski can bury itself.
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Head up, Knees together and bounce!
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@AL9000, out of interest what is the purpose of the bounce?
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kitenski wrote:
@AL9000, out of interest what is the purpose of the bounce?

It is from back in the day, when using straight skis. As I understand it, it had 3 purposes:

1. The bounce pushed the skis into reverse camber, which then "pinged" you up, making the skis lighter, less likely to trip you up at the start of the turn - thus making turning easier
2. A 2 footed bounce helped with making a 2 footed turn, with weight on both skis.
3. Rhythm
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Old Fartbag wrote:
kitenski wrote:
@AL9000, out of interest what is the purpose of the bounce?

It is from back in the day, when using straight skis. As I understand it, it had 3 purposes:

1. The bounce pushed the skis into reverse camber, which then "pinged" you up, making the skis lighter, less likely to trip you up at the start of the turn - thus making turning easier
2. A 2 footed bounce helped with making a 2 footed turn, with weight on both skis.
3. Rhythm


I assumed that, and also agree its "old school" but wanted to check, I personally think with shaped skis it's no longer required and a huge waste of energy.
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kitenski wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
kitenski wrote:
@AL9000, out of interest what is the purpose of the bounce?

It is from back in the day, when using straight skis. As I understand it, it had 3 purposes:

1. The bounce pushed the skis into reverse camber, which then "pinged" you up, making the skis lighter, less likely to trip you up at the start of the turn - thus making turning easier
2. A 2 footed bounce helped with making a 2 footed turn, with weight on both skis.
3. Rhythm


I assumed that, and also agree its "old school" but wanted to check, I personally think with shaped skis it's no longer required and a huge waste of energy.

The correct ski now makes things so much easier.

Back then, the skis were about 62mm underfoot and had a radius of (IIRC) 60m.

There were 3 ways to turn:

1. Bounce down and let the skis spring you up
2. Strong Up Unweighting
3. Press the skis down into the snow through the turn, then let the wall of snow push the skis up, allowing you to change edges and push down again. I think it was called Avalement. It was like skiing invisible bumps.
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Whitegold wrote:
Lean back and swing.


Porcine swingers?
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simon234 wrote:
I only have one pair of skis and they do everything - even grass - brilliantly as long as I ask them properly. There are a few secrets to skiing deep snow if you are just starting out and were not born on skis. Here's four of 'em. The first is to keep the skis FLAT. The second is to your WEIGHT over the middle of your skis for as long as you can! The third is a special DEDICATED pole plant. The fourth is to find a RHYTHM. Don't know how commercial I'm allowed to be but my book 'Secrets of Better Skiing' explains it all!


Comedy Gold
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kitenski wrote:
I assumed that, and also agree its "old school" but wanted to check, I personally think with shaped skis it's no longer required and a huge waste of energy.
A key problem I see when people make the transition from piste to off-piste is a lack of movement. This almost certainly means they get in the backseat, and find it almost impossible to get re-centered. I think that keeping their normal movement patterns going when they get in to softer snow is one of the key ingredients for success. It doesn't need to be the exaggerated up and down movements which were taught for skiing deep snow on skinny skis, although when a skier loses their movements and starts to ski in a static position one way of addressing this is to encourage them to exaggerate their flexion and extension. If the hips fall behind the feet by the end of the turn, simply focusing on extending your legs will almost certainly bring your hips forward.
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Weight slightly forward or neutral, be a bit more bouncy and angulate more to drive the skis around. You definitely need to keep your speed up or you can't get the turns started. Pole plants help.

This vid was on a pair of 170cm Rossi Hero Masters in some chopped-up lightish powder and I have a slight wobble in the middle when my weight gets pushed back. I'm 185cm and prefer a piste only ski as I don't venture off piste unless the conditions are really good. I prefer big carving turns on flat, empty pistes.

I haven't linked a vid before. Hopefully this will show up......

http://youtube.com/v/9FQ9uBUhnbQ
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Tips that have helped me ....
On a hard piste you bend the skis by putting the weight on the edges with most weight being on the inside edge of the outer ski.
In powder you bend the skis by using the whole base of both skis, the weight on each ski is more equal as too much weight on one ski will cause it to sink deeper than the other. This means the skis are much flatter in powder than when carving on a hard piste. You have to go with the flow, just standing on the skis will most likely have you in the backseat. A slight dolphin move (see second vid below) while keeping your nose over the front of your binding and pole plant with the flick of your wrists without letting your hands fall back. It takes time for the pressure under the ski to build up in powder as if in slow motion and it's feeling this build up of pressure then releasing it at the right time by flexing into the next turn that is a key element of powder skiing. (Feel the force luke). Rather than a straight bounce it's waiting for the platform to build under the skis, flexing at the ankles & knees then pushing off this platform into the next turn.
When steering the skis in powder steer from the hip with the full leg and not just from the lower legs / feet. (the downside to this is it reduces that sexy bum wiggle often seen in older school skiers with yellow hats)


A piste ski will most likely be stiffer with less surface area than an all mountain / powder ski so to prevent sinking to a halt you will need more speed to bend the ski and keep afloat = a more direct line downhill.


http://youtube.com/v/aBpCkfn2Wks


http://youtube.com/v/0eXnB04zKqE


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sun 5-01-20 15:52; edited 1 time in total
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kitenski wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:
kitenski wrote:
@AL9000, out of interest what is the purpose of the bounce?

It is from back in the day, when using straight skis. As I understand it, it had 3 purposes:

1. The bounce pushed the skis into reverse camber, which then "pinged" you up, making the skis lighter, less likely to trip you up at the start of the turn - thus making turning easier
2. A 2 footed bounce helped with making a 2 footed turn, with weight on both skis.
3. Rhythm


I assumed that, and also agree its "old school" but wanted to check, I personally think with shaped skis it's no longer required and a huge waste of energy.


I disagree with you. Looking at your vid I don’t think your technique will work in bottomless powder. Your weight is centered front to back but you weight your downhill ski too much. It’s just a piste technique adapted for chopped up powder. I’m no instructor and a bit old school but in properly deep snow I still think you need an element of bounce just to get your rhythm going. Once up and running it is,of course, effortless.

I’m talking short radius turns here of course, which I think is what you are trying to do. Obviously if you are ripping m9nster lines on big open slopes then it’s a different technique all together but anyone can do that, given wide enough skis.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Sun 5-01-20 16:18; edited 1 time in total
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Haven’t seen any videos yet of deep powder.

I’m with @zzz ...
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@zzz, @under a new name, I think there is a big difference between old school "bounce" and modern movements...

Perhaps @rob@rar, can comment if he was "bouncing" in this video or not...


http://youtube.com/v/sZaL5bk4QaY

I'm definitely "moving", extending and shortening legs in this one but not "bouncing"


http://youtube.com/v/xB3pUlpIICw

NB neither vids are on piste skis though!
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