There's good news and bad news about powder and crud (soft snow that's been through one or more freeze-thaw cycles). The good: Deeper, ungroomed snow holds you back, making it easier to manage your speed. The bad: It can magnify basic technical errors and leave otherwise polished groomed-snow skiers flailing. You'll need to adjust your stance, perfect your pole plant to ensure proper balance, and learn to approach even the ugliest snow with finesse. Here's how.
Awkward stance: On groomed runs we're taught to widen our stance and transfer pressure from one foot to the other. We're discouraged from keeping our feet locked together. But a tighter stance actually works better in soft, deep snow.
For photos of the solution, click the intermediate slideshow below.
Keep Your Skis Parallel
Let both skis run more or less along the same path. Powder or crud will amplify—and ultimately punish—any nonparallel turns such as wedges, steps or stems. Moreover, you may catch an edge if you allow your skis to wander off in separate directions. Use a narrow stance and transfer your weight gently. Stay in the fall line, and keep your skis parallel.
lazy arms and poles
If you're not proactive in your arm and pole movements, soft, variable snow can play havoc with your balance. If your feet suddenly slow, your upper body will pitch forward. If your skis accelerate, you can be thrown into the back seat. Proper pole plants stabilize your upper body, ensuring balance.
For photos of the solution, click the advanced slideshow below.
Flick Your Wrist, Don't Throw Your Arm
Arm and pole positions in the pictures are so perfect they almost look posed. Mike can see both hands. To swing his left pole forward, he must lift his hand to clear the pole tip from the snow. But his swing is the result of a flick of his wrists, not a heave of his arm. That's why he looks relaxed and balanced, yet alert, in his upper body.
Lack of Finesse
Serious crud is often found in serious expert terrain. Explore out here and you face not only challenging snow, but ever-changing contours as well. It's important to tread softly and allow your skis to do the work. If you muscle them, they'll dive—and you'll fall.
For photos of the solution, click the expert slideshow below.
Press Your Skis Into the Snow, Don't Twist Them
Experts with excellent balance needn't focus quite so much on keeping their feet close to one another, though their skis must stay parallel. If you can get your feet and legs out to the side, your edges will engage and pressure will build, flexing the middle of your ski deeper into the snow. The more your skis flex, the tighter your turn will be. Be patient and let your turn develop.