By Lisa Blake
When the fluffy stuff falls and falls and falls, some of us buzz with anticipation, alarm clocks poised, ski boots warming, dreaming of those two sweet words: powder day!
But it’s not always roses.
“Powder—It’s some skiers’ sweetest dream and others’ biggest nightmare,” says Copper Ski & Ride School instructor Doug Sakata.
He should know. Sakata is a PSIA Fully Certified Instructor in alpine, telemark, snowboard and children’s skiing and riding and has been with Copper Mountain for more than two decades.
Here, Sakata shares the nitty-gritty behind a successful pow day:
What common mistakes are new powder skiers making?
Most powder skiers think that they have to lean back in order to have their ski tips ‘float’ back to the surface. This is probably the biggest myth about skiing powder.
The second mistake is over-turning your ski. The deeper the powder, the more speed control is automatically built in. Because of that, there is less need to turn your skis so far out of the fall line to control your speed.
What are the top Copper runs for practicing powder skiing?
Anywhere you can make fresh tracks because making your own tracks has a distinctly different feel than skiing in other’s tracks. I think Timberline Express is one of Copper’s best places to ski powder for new powder skiers.
Any equipment upgrades for big snow days?
How to ski versus what you’re skiing on should be the biggest focus. However, skis that are wider under your foot generate more flotation. This keeps you higher on the snow, which aids in skiing powder.
What about mental tips?
Think about skiing on top of the powder, not under the powder. The thought should always be tall, light and soft. Not low, heavy and abrupt.
How does spring powder compare to the snow that falls during other parts of the season?
Typically spring powder is heavier, it has higher moisture content which makes it more difficult to move around. Because of that, when you ski in thicker or spring-type powder, momentum plays an important role. When I am teaching people in the spring, I speak about turns being more shallow and more direct down the hill. The heavier the snow, the harder it is to initiate the next turn if your skis turn too far out of the “fall line” or the most direct line down the hill.
Quick hit list. What are five things to remember when skiing powder?
- Balance over your whole foot; do not lean back.
- Balance equally over both feet.
- Make slow progressive moves, not quick and jerky moves.
- Envision yourself slicing through the powder, not piling up powder with your skis.
- Focus on turning your feet and legs and not your head and shoulders.
Call on Sakata and the Copper Ski & Ride School pros for your next lesson.