Learning to ski off-piste can seem quite daunting, however there has probably never been an easier time to learn to ski off-piste. The latest fat skis, comfy boots, easy to use avalanche equipment, experienced skilled guides and off-piste coaches means that your first off-piste adventure should be very enjoyable experience.
As a beginner off-piste skier you should feel safe with all the new available safety equipment and choose a guide or coach who will take you to some gentle beginner off-piste terrain. This combined with the latest skis should help to make the first time in the powder fun and memorable. The best time to learn to ski powder is on a piste directly after a fresh snowfall.
Below are a few tips to help you prepare for your first adventure off-piste and to help build your confidence.
[su_spoiler title=”Learn how to use your equipment, Safety First!” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]If it’s your first time off-piste you should expect to be taken by your instructor on some nice gentle slopes and perhaps just the sides of the pistes. These areas are relatively safe and not prone to Avalanche, however it’s still important to understand how to use your equipment. In case of an emergency you will need to know the number of who to call for help, and also how to search in the snow and locate any people caught in an avalanche.
Tip – make sure your insurance covers skiing off-piste and helicopter rescue.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Lines and flow in the snow” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]Unlike on the groomed runs where we have a solid piste to work against, the off piste snow under us will be soft and moving. To start the turn try extending your legs , this puts some force on the skis and combined with some active leg steering helps the skis to turn.
Start by linking some turns together on a gentle slope and when confident try to increase the tempo and make some shorter turns. The lines you create in the snow should look like a series of linked semi circles or ‘C’ turns in the snow.
Tip – Try to avoid long traverses or dead spots between the turns[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Posture and body position” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]It is a common misconception that in powder you sit back to get your skis out of the snow. There are times when we may need to sit back (such as when we’re straight running along a flat in heavy powder) but in general don’t do it, it’s much better to be centered position, on top of your skis and in control.
If you do sit back it puts you in a tiring position and from here it is difficult to control and turn the skis. The same basic principles apply whether you are on a groomed run or in fresh snow. Remember what you have learnt on the piste and take this with you to the new fresh snow.
Tip – Narrow your stance width a little compared to skiing on the piste.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Timing and the Pole Plant” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]It’s very important to make a strong and enthusiastic pole plant. The pole plant helps you to maintain the rhythm of the turns down the whole decent, and leads to a more flowing performance.
Keep your hands away from the body and out in front, when planting the pole (as when on the piste ) there should be no elaborate arm movements that are likely to throw you off balance. The action of the pole plant should come from the wrist and not the whole arm ☺.
Tip: Practice your pole plant on the groomed run to build consistency and try using a pole with a powder basket.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Fitness” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]It’s a good idea to prepare your body for skiing off-piste. Skiing in powder snow feels amazing however can also be quite tiring on the legs compared to piste skiing. We strongly advise you to join the local gym and embark on a gentle exercise program. Focus particularly on leg strength, endurance and also core strength.
Strong legs will help you to keep making turns all the way down the slope without running out of gas and falling over. The strong core will help to keep you upper body in a balanced position and allow you to make consistent turns through the powder snow.
You may wake up the next day feeling muscles you never knew you had![/su_spoiler]