The braille by ski

While the recent spate of storms brought great skiing, we’ve lost our bluebird days and KAVU visibility.

By Keith Liggett

 

While the recent spate of storms brought great skiing, we’ve lost our bluebird days and KAVU visibility. Skiing the last couple weeks became more an exercise in Braille than actually skiing. Bumps appear and pass underfoot as you flail away trying to stay upright. Snow all looks the same—a flat white sheet on a pitched angle—and all the underlying features lying silently hidden in wait.

So what to do in flat light? How do you stay on top of your skis and not get too tossed around?

First. Be loose. If you tense up, bumps, like the berm, will toss you completely out of whack. Be loose and absorb easily. Legs bent, arms in front, a little hunched forward, be ready to suck it up or to extend down to keep your skis on the snow.

Second. Always be turning and be aggressive in your turns. Don’t hesitate. Turn. Reach out and make each pole plant a strong and dive into every turn. Keep you skis loaded and turning. This will help with Three.

Three. Be aware of your speed. Feel “through” your boots to the snow. Focus on the texture of the snow and how it contacts your skis. Through the boots, through the ski and into the snow, feel with the bottom of your foot. Use the whole flat of your foot on the ski to create a strong and sensitive base.

Four. Lightly drag your poles. Let your baskets ride on the snow just enough to feel the bouncing and to give a perception of the uphill and downhill terrain differences. The bounce of the baskets will help you maintain a sense of the snow in the same way as feeling through your boots.

Five. Ski close to features. If you ski down the middle of a bowl in a white out, you will lose all sense of speed, balance and control. Ski near trees. Ski on the edges of the terrain. Ski from feature to feature.

The terrain features in your peripheral vision will keep you aware of your speed, the pitch of the run and (with a bit of attention) imminent changes.

Don’t let a couple clouds and a bit of snowfall chase you off the hill. Be a bit aggressive. Stay loose. And let ‘er rip.