Slalom “Z” turns are a powder skiing technique many skiers rely on. A fun, safe comfort zone for many, they can be intimidating to move past. After all, learning new styles might have you falling and eating snow again. But from my point of view, that’s a good thing! If you don’t fall a few times a day or at least a few times a week, it means you might not be progressing as a skier. If you want to get better at skiing powder, you’ve got to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Before getting into new technique tips, you need to know and understand that your body position, experience and sensation will change.
- You will let your skis go … allowing them to leave from underneath you and start moving from side to side.
- You will lean in, instead of standing still.
- You will shift your weight from one foot to the other instead of skiing on both skis equally.
- You will push and surf through powder instead of jumping from one turn to the next.
- You will probably double your speed and unlock a whole new way of skiing.
- And … you will want to hike twice as much because runs will seem way shorter!
All this doesn’t mean that making small turns and 8s with a friend is not a beautiful, technical and fun way to ski. But if you’re like me and enjoy experiencing new feelings while practicing a sport you already feel advanced in, you should try this next time you hit an untracked slope.
Drawing Good Turns
Poorly shaped turns will never allow you to improve your skiing. Nice, round, smoothly linked S-shaped turns will give you enough time to do all the right moves! Take your time between the end of one turn and the beginning of the next. Even if it’s scary, let your skis go and try to enjoy and give time to that fall-line momentum. You’ll have plenty of time to slow down at the end of that same turn. So avoid turning anxiety and turn that Z into an S! Avoid doing long traverses; don’t wait an eternity to make the next turn—engage turns. Diagonals will kill your rhythm and movement fluidity, and even if you alter the size of the turn, try to keep the same pace throughout your run.
Body Position And One-Ski Skiing
Small turns allow you to ski on both skis and lean backward (which is even easier on rocker skis) and jump or pivot from turn to turn without hesitation. But for trying longer turns, you will need to start skiing differently: Just on one ski. Just on the outer ski. The inner, “uphill” ski will stay close, helping and pushing, but you can’t rely on it, you can’t or should not put weight on it. Your whole balance and position should depend on your outside ski. With spread legs, the inner ski will be one more problem to handle. You will stop using your two legs for stability, and balance using the G-forces of your turns.
Always facing downhill
It may sound dangerous, but pointing your tips down, along with your whole upper body, will allow you to turn fluidly while avoiding body rotations. Your skis should be parallel to your hips. Follow your tips with your shoulders through the arc of the turn. This will prevent you from getting stuck! Find a target at the end of your run and look at it—it could be a tree, a hut, or even your mate, whatever works. Keep your hands forward and while your upper body faces your target and ski toward it.
A good connection between your body and the terrain will allow you to ski smoothly and stay in control. Look ahead to predict what will happen. The bigger the turns the higher the speed, so you need to be ready for whatever is coming your way, thinking two or three turns ahead and knowing exactly how and where they will happen. You don’t need to look at your skis, just feel them and focus on where you want to go.
Trying longer turns, you might find it harder to keep a rhythm, but don’t get frustrated! In order to speed up you’ll have to pace down. You will do the same things and movements you are used to doing, but to fit them in larger turns you will have to move slower without ever staying still.