Everyone loves skiing on fresh powder. Unfortunately, as the weather starts to get warmer in spring that powder turns into slushy snow. Skiing in this slush can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with the conditions. Therefore, it is important to learn how to ski in slushy snow.
To ski in slushy snow, you need to think about the time you go out, your skis, and the wax you are using. When you’re on the hill you should also adjust how you ski to stay off your edges, make bigger turns, and keep your weight evenly on both feet to help you power through the dense snow.
You don’t want to miss out on a day of skiing because the snow was slushy. A few small changes can help you adapt to the conditions. Read on to learn everything you need to know when skiing in slushy snow.
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Things To Do Before You Go Out Skiing
Slushy snow occurs when the temperature gets warmer, usually at the end of March depending on where you are. If you know that the weather is going to be warm you can bring a ski that is wider underfoot than a regular carving ski.Changing to anything over 85 mm in width can help you surf through the slush. It is also recommended that youwax your skis with some warm weather wax.
If you know what snow conditions to expect far enough in advance it will also benefit you to work on your quad strength. Do a couple of quad-specific exercises, such as squats and wall sits, in the lead-up to your ski trip and get your legs in fighting shape.
9 Tips For Skiing Slushy Snow
1. Keep Pressure Underfoot
The first thing you should do is keep your weight evenly distributed so that pressure is on the ski under your feet.This will keep your skis flat on the snow and help you avoid catching an edge. Try to do this throughout your day’s ski, turns, and straight runs, as it will help you push through lumps of slush.
2. Check Your Balance
A common mistake skiers make when skiing in slush is to hold their weight on the back of the ski. Keep your knees bent and give yourself a lower center of gravity. Be careful not to stand up too straight as you are likely to lose balance and tumble at your first bump.
3. Alter Your Turns
You will want to make wider turns to help you float around the slush. Also, try to keep off your edges or at least find them slowly when you take corners. Use your feet more than your edge and put a skid in your turn.
4. Keep Your Skis Parallel
When the snow is in a choppy condition you will want to keep your skis parallel as often as possible. You might be tempted to use a wedge, but a wide stance can cause your weight to shift and lose grip. This will make it a lot more challenging to get through the slush, making your legs tired after only a few runs.
5. Choose Your Route
Take a little time to plan your route. As you ski you will want to aim for gullies and clear patches. Avoid areas where there are lumps and bumps as these can be heavier than you might think. If it looks like you need to go through the slush, your best bet is to push through with straight skis.
6. Pick Up Speed
Slushy snow is sticky and heavy, some people even compare it to skiing on sand. Try to go a little faster than you normally would otherwise you might end up at a standstill.You don’t need to be a speed demon, but it will give you a little more power when it is very wet.
7. Practice On An Easier Run
If you are unused to skiing in slush the best thing you can do is to practice on a run that is a little easier than you would typically ski. This is so you can get used to the feel of the slush in a place that isn’t super challenging. When you move onto a steeper run you might even find it a little easier than when it has normal conditions.
8. Plan The Time You Hit The Slopes Accordingly
As slushy snow can get chopped up by others on the mountain it is best to get out on the hill as soon as the sun hits the run. This way the snow will still be undisturbed and not as melted. Depending on your resort this can be later in the morning. Aim to finish your day earlier in the afternoon before the snow has melted too much.
9. Apply Warm Weather Wax
If you know that the slopes you’re going to be skiing on are going to be slushy, you can plan ahead and apply warm weather wax to your skis. This will help your skis cut through the more liquid-like slush. You should always make sure you know the conditions of your route before changing your wax, as warm weather wax will wear off very quickly in cold weather, and you might damage your skis.
Drills To Help You Ski In Slush
It is important to keep your skis parallel when the snow is slushy. Below are 2 drills to help you keep your skis together so you can enjoy skiing even in the slush.
Side slipping is not only a great way to safely get off a run that might be a little too challenging, but it is also a great drill to practice keeping your weight evenly distributed and your skis flat. Practice this at the side of a run so you are safely out of the way of other skiers.
To start, keep your skis horizontal to the fall line and your edge engaged so you are standing still. Next, you want to slowly flatten your ski until you start to slip downhill. You want the motion to be smooth and controlled, so add your edge as necessary to change your speed. The goal is to get used to how it feels to have your skis flat on the snow while they are slipping.
Garlands are a great exercise to keep your skis together in a turn and are similar to side slipping. As this drill will involve a little bit more movement than a side slip, you will want to practice on a slope with low traffic.
You will start this drill in the same position as the side slip. First, you are going to point your skis so you will travel across the hill. Next, you are going to flatten your skis out and bring your tips down the fall line, then slide them back up the hill before they are pointing fully down. This half turn will give you the feel of a full turn without the commitment.
Make a couple of these turns one after the other. When you need to complete the turn make sure you have made your skis completely flat so you don’t catch the edge and fall over. Repeat this exercise of half turns, going up and down, until you are confident you can maneuver easily in the slush.
Take It Easy
While skiing in slushy snow can be a fun experience, it is important to know what to look out for when you are out for the day. One of the toughest things about skiing in slush is how heavy it is, and after a few hours it can quickly become a lumpy dense mess. You must try to follow the tips above as it can be easy to damage your knees and ACL injuries are not uncommon.
Keeping off your edges and toning down your aggression while skiing goes a long way when it comes to preventing injury. It is important to know your limits and give yourself regular breaks even when you don’t think you need them. You need to use a lot more energy to ski in slush versus regular snow conditions, so don’t feel disheartened if you find it hard.
To ski in slushy snow, it’s best to consider when you go out on the slopes, alter the way you approach turns, and perhaps use warm weather wax. You should try to stay off your edges, and make wider turns with your weight kept evenly above both skis to ensure you have enough power and stability.