Powder days are coming up and you’ve got your board setup for powder, so here are some simple tips for riding in powder.
1) Gentle turns
Unless you need to make a sharp turn, always use gentle pressure when turning in powder. Turning too hard can create too much edge angle, which basically means your board digs into the snow and you end up under 30 cm of powder, instead of on top.
Aim to have a light touch when turning.
2) Avoid leaning over your nose
A common mistake made when riding in powder is to lean over your nose with your upper body to initiate a turn. Don’t do this. This will dig your nose in and send you flying upside down.
You want to always aim to keep your body weight centred or slightly back and to use your hips, knees and angles to do most of the turning. Deep powder is similar to surfing, you want to be riding on top of the snow and keeping your nose from digging in.
3) Keep your speed up
Speed is your friend. Powder will slow you down, so try to keep your speed up. Speed will help you to cut your way through the powder, as well as stop you getting stuck on flat spots.
4) Remember your ‘un-weighting’ and ‘weighting’
Bouncing up and down in between turns is called ‘un-weighting’ and ‘weighting’. Just before you make a turn, you bounce up and shift your weight into the direction of the turn. This helps because you’re reducing your weight by bouncing up, which makes it easier to turn. When you come down from your bounce, you’re putting your weight back down, which helps you to complete the turn.
This isn’t a powder technique, it’s a general technique for riding, but it’s especially useful to remember for riding in powder because it’ll help you to stay on top of the powder, rather than under it.
Trees / Gladed Runs
Riding deep powder in trees is hard. It’s one of the toughest skills to master, so don’t be discouraged if you find yourself getting stuck a lot.
1) Never look at the trees
Your body follows where your head looks. This means if you look at trees, you’ll end up faceplanting a tree. Always be looking at the gaps between the trees.
2) Take your time – ease into it
Don’t go full speed in a tree run unless you know the area well. Always do a slower run to figure out the area first. Tree runs are fast and require you to know the route, so take some time to learn the run first.
3) Plan a few steps ahead
The reason tree runs are so hard, is because you’re combining sharp, quick turns in powder with an obstacle course. When you’re in the trees, try to plan a few turns ahead of where you are. The tighter the trees, the more you need to be sure you know where to turn in order to avoid running into a tree.
4) Ride with a friend
Tree runs can be filled with ‘tree wells’, which are deep pockets of snow at the base of each tree. They can be dangerous if you get stuck in them, especially if more snow falls from the tree branches and covers you up.
Always try to ride trees with a friend and try to keep within sight of each other.
One more thing…
Don’t be worried if you feel like a beginner again. Deep powder is hard to ride and even good riders can be taken down to beginner levels in deep powder. There’s nothing like 40 cm of snow to make you feel like a beginner again 😉