Skiing the steeps, powder and bumps part 2

Patti’s tips for master MOGULS:

1. When it comes to skiing bumps, a positive mental attitude is key. First, you need to decide that you can do it, then decide that the moguls won’t control you.

2. Use your legs as shock absorbers. Most people just keep absorbing and never extend of course, they get tired. Here’s the rhythm: At the top of the mogul, you absorb; at the trough you need to fully extend your legs and upper body. Visualize the V-shape between the moguls, the absorption at the top, the extension of legs and body at the bottom. The size of the mogul doesn’t matter as long as you have that constant absorption and extension.

3. To pick a good bump line, traverse across the mountain first and look for a line of the mountain first and other, forming a “zipper.” Then keep your upper body quiet, shoulders pointing down the hill. If you find yourself breaking (bending forward) at the waist, that means you’re absorbing with your upper body instead of with your legs. Imagine your head rubbing along a ceiling. Your head should always touch the ceiling because it’s your legs, not your upper body, that supply the power.

4. For accurate pole plant technique, think of reaching down the mountain. You just want to touch the tip of the pole–don’t actually plant it all the way because that will cause your upper body to twist and leave you unprepared for the next pole plant. For quickness in pole-planting, think of reaching with the bottom of your pole instead of the top, using a lot of wrist action.

5. You can ski bumps slowly and still be aggressive. To slow your speed, try digging your edge in on the bumps–that will keep you speed in check.

When it comes to powder skiing, mountain and helicopter skiing guide Helene Steiner, 33, of Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing in British Columbia, is the expert. She has probably logged more powder days than any woman, averaging 20,000 feet a day during peak season. She was the first woman to pass the prestigious UIAGM (the international association of mountain guides) course in Europe in 1985 and is the only woman to help guide for Wiegele’s.

“There’s a fairy tale out there that you have to be an exceptional skier to handle powder. But after one run, I guarantee that a fit intermediate can ski powder. Why? Because there are fewer rules in powder than hardpack–and if you fall, it’s like falling into a feather bed.”

Helene’s tips for handling POWDER:

1. Don’t lean back. Keep your weight on both skis. Leaning back puts unnecessary stress on your thighs. If I skied like that, I wouldn’t be able to last even one run.

2. Lean forward before you head down until you feel the front of your boot against your shins. Think about keeping your weight on top of your skis. Your tips won’t sink if you’re balanced and you maintain you speed.

3. Pole plants in powder are easier than on hardpack but are just as important in keeping your body position forward. Keep your hands in front of you so you can always see them. In powder, pole plants are used more as a guide to form your turn around, rather than for balance.

4. Getting up after falling in powder can be the most difficult thing about powder skiing. Here’s a trick: lay both your poles on the ground, parallel to each other, place one hand on them in the middle and lean on them to push yourself up. Make sure your skis are headed downhill when you do this.

5. To make your life easier in powder, try the fat powder skis that many ski manufacturers now offer. They may look funny, but they really help keep you afloat. Most powder skis come about 20 centimeters shorter than what you would normally ski and are usually more maneuverable than a long slalom or giant slalom ski. Most of the guides at Wiegele’s use them, by the way.