COLUMN: Powder skiing, freedom as you float over pillows

This is what it is all about, whether you are a freeskier, an alpine racer, or an intermediate skier, powder skiing is pure pleasure.

In my last column we focused on athletic skiing and this week we will focus on powder skiing.

Powder skiing: Freedom as you float over pillows. Creativity, as you draw flowing lines through the trees. Vitality, as you breathe in cold air between faceshots.

This is what it is all about, whether you are a freeskier, an alpine racer, or an intermediate skier, powder skiing is pure, playful, pleasure.

So, how can you make your powder skiing experience as fun as possible and stay out there all day long?

Stance, balance and coordination.

The same principles that apply to the rest of your skiing apply to powder skiing too.

Your stance should be quite tall with skis fairly close together. This way you can be absorbing the changing terrain with your legs, and a narrow stance with your feet will help you stay up on top of the snow where you have more control.

This stance should look a bit like the ’80s ski movie star heroes and you can even wiggle your hips to turn. Use your own style!

Your balance should be slightly forward. This is a surprise to many people as they feel that they should be in the backseat in the powder.

This was true with our skis from last century but now we have increased width and more shape that allows us to be in a more athletic position on our skis. Think tennis stance.

You should be on the balls of your feet and have a moderate amount of pressure between your shins and the front of your boots at the pole plant.

This pressure gives you the ability to actually be in control of your powder skiing experience.

Lift your hips at the pole plant and you will be ready for anything!

Coordination is the key. So, how do you improve your coordination? Use the tools that you have at the tips of your fingers. Your poles!

Plant them! And don’t just use your wrist to plant your pole, use your shoulder to put some weight on the pole as you plant it.

The pole plant is the timing device that allows you to float above time and space for that split second between turns.

This split second is your chance to rebalance and begin the next turn with renewed purpose.

Powder. Freedom. Creativity. Vitality. As we move through life we realize that these experiences do not come for free.

They are earned on this journey, and as we earn these moments, our respect deepens.

May you have many pure moments of joy in the mountains this season.


— Dylan Henderson is the head coach of the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified development level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association.

Nelson Star