Tjeerd Terpstra is a bona-fide ski pro. A member of the Dutch Interski team for the past fifteen years and a trainer with the Dutch skiing association, he is also the owner of an indoor ski hill in the Netherlands. This skiing legend has been kind enough to share some tips with us on how to slay that fresh powder! After all, whether you’re a small child waking up on Christmas morning or a seasoned athlete strapping on your skis for yet another freeriding competition, is there anything better than bluebird skies with a generous dump of the white stuff? Read on for Tjeerd’s expert tips on skiing in deep powder.
Skiing in powder snow can be difficult, especially when your skis are constantly sinking deeper and deeper. It gets exhausting when you have to constantly pull them out and shake off all the snow. Even more exhausting is leaning backwards all the time to keep your tips up. Below Tjeerd will explain the best techniques to use for skiing in powder snow.
Tjeerd notes that his students often assume they should be leaning backwards when skiing in deep snow. This is a common mistake but it will just tire you out. Because of being on a slope, most of your weight is already on the back of your skis anyway.
It’s important to have a neutral stance when skiing in powder snow. You should distribute your weight as much as possible over each foot and keep your legs slightly spread, about hip width apart. Keep your ankles, knees and hips bent and stretch your hands out in front of you. This position will allow you to adjust to different obstacles and variations in the snow while keeping your weight evenly distributed over your skis.
Keep a neutral stance over your skis when skiing in powder
Skis tend to sink into soft powder snow, especially at the back, leaving you with your tips sticking up. You can use this as an indication of whether your centre of balance is properly neutral. Like the skier in this picture, you should be able to look down and see your tips sticking out of the snow every time you make a turn.
On-piste skiing is all about how to grip the snow with your skis. Skiing in powder is a whole different ball game, seeing as the solid ground might be several feet down. Normal rules are out the window, and you’ll have to use alternate techniques to find solid ground and keep control over your speed and balance.
The best technique to adopt for carving through powder snow is to bend, stretch and turn. By first bending your legs and then stretching them as you turn, you’ll have the most control possible in the soft snow. This makes it easier to control the skis without leaning back or having to “pump” your legs.
Stretch your legs as you make a turn in powder snow
Your skis will “float” on top of powder snow, which makes it harder to control your turns. To make turns in powder snow, apply pressure to your skis so they push against the solid ground underneath. At the moment when you would normally lift your skis slightly to make a turn, keep them low in the snow instead. The skis will push off against the firm snow when you relax the pressure, springing up and making it easier to turn. Complete the turn and press your skis back into the snow for the next turn. If you want to go slower, just apply more pressure.
Off-piste skiing is the best! But it’s also hazardous and should only be practised by people who are experienced and know how to use avalanche safety equipment. Always bring an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe with you and ski with a partner. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s wise to hire a guide for a safe introduction to the terrain. And, of course, you’ll get all the insider tips!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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