As our thoughts start to turn to winter, we find ourselves, starting to think more about the excitement of the oncoming season. We find ourselves getting skis and boots out of the locker, even though we know that it is another two months until we get to play on them.
Computers are busy with preparations and talk of new snow, and our minds start running wild with thoughts of seasons past. Memories of the best powder days, of the finest blue bird days, of the friends, of the laughter, of the fun all start to coming to the fore of the mind.
With all these thoughts and emotions flying around, here at TDCski we have found ourselves starting to tell each others stories.
“Do you remember that time when…”, “What about when we…”, “The thing I loved that day the most was…” the stories go on.
If we’re having these thoughts then we bet you are too.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get everyone to share their stories?
So we thought it might be fun if we run a little competition – the winner gets a free TDCski Val d’Isere 3hr Private Lesson (€230-€280), or a free place on a 5 day Early Season Clinic (€300).
Win a Free Private Lesson or 5 day Early Season Clinic
To win this prize all you need to do is to post a photo and a story, or an heartfelt recollection, of what it is that you love about skiing the most on our Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/tdcski
A great photo, well written words, an overall passion for skiing.
The competition will be open until Val d’Isere’s opening day 28th Nov 2015.
Photos and stories will be reviewed by a select TDCski panel.
The Panel is looking for/judging based on – a great photo, well written words, an overall passion for skiing.
Winner will be announced on Val d’Isere opening day – 28th Nov.
We love skiing, we know you do too, so share those stories.
We love skiing, we know you do to, so share those stories with us and win some fantastic ski coaching.
After a bonkers couple of weeks of winter weather, the cold fluffy powder is restricted to the high north faces. But don’t fret. We have warm settled conditions now and my 2nd favourite type of snow – Spring Snow. It can be hard to find and get it good, so here is Coach Kieran explaining:
What is it? When the sun thoroughly heats the snow pack from the surface down to the earth, the prevalent moisture spreads uniformly across it’s depth. Given the right temperatures, this freezes solid in the evening and over night. The next day the sun can heat up the top inch or so, creating a ‘corn’ feel, on a firm base. It’s great to ski and potentially quite safe.
To early = smooth, slick, solid ice. Both dangerous and uncomfortable.
To late = slushy to the base of snow pack. Serious avalanche territory.
Too few cycles = bumpy, other skiers tracks, variable depths, variable thaw rates.
So what do you consider when finding Spring snow?
Timing: at 09:00 most of the East faces (Belvarde, Borsat, Charvet, etc) have been in the sun for a few hours, and given time to absorb those rays and soften. South faces late morning and lunch time. West faces are best in the afternoon.
Temperatures: The previous afternoon needs to be hot enough to melt out the other tracks and uneven nature of the slope. This will hopefully be +5 ish with direct sunlight. Overnight, the colder the better -5, brilliant. Especially with a deeper snow pack. As soon as the temperatures approach 0, or go above, combined with direct sunlight the snow will soften. It may be a short window of 1 hour to hit the slope at the right time.
Cycles: The more melt freeze cycles, the more compact the snow will be, and the fewer skiers tracks from previous days. This makes the snow and slope as a whole more predictable, and safer as it’s glued together at the bottom.
Aspects: The sun rises due East on the 21st March, and sets due West. After that date, it rises gradually more North East, but still takes a trajectory around the south of the sky. So North faces will remain mostly in the shade for the season. Southerly facing slopes at this time of year take a beating from the high sun. Take for instance the Fontaine Froid; probably the first slope to run out of snow at the end of April.
Angles: A slope will absorb more sun if it directly faces it. A very flat slope will be softened less than a 40 degree slope. Especially early East faces, and late West faces.
Slope base (anchors, rocks, grass, smooth slabs): This is a safety point more than anything. Rocks in the snow pack create pockets of air, and they heat up in the sun. A slope dotted with rocks is probably more unstable at this time of year than a big open white slope. A shrubby, or large scree based slope will have better anchors to hold the snow from avalanching than a smooth rock slope or fine grassy slope.
Altitude: This will usually relate inversely with the temperature, unless there is a pressure/temperature inversion in which the valley is colder than the high mountains. Generally the higher you go, the longer it takes for the Spring snow to transform from hard icy snow.
Wind: The same conditions as the day before mean very little if the wind is 5mph stronger. Slightly more wind can slow the transformation by more than an hour, and can stop it all together.
Cirrus Cloud: That very hazy, high level cloud that slightly dims your shadow. This can have a massive effect by absorbing the suns rays and stopping the transformation.
There are countless other factors to consider, especially when managing a group in this kind of terrain, but these are the main contributors to good snow.
Always carry at least a Transceiver, Shovel and Probe with you. We hand these out for use during our Spring Clinics, where you will be guided to cool spots, educated in finding good safe snow, and improve your technique!
Be safe, and try to get out for some high altitude resort fun in Val d’Isere over the next few weeks… We have spaces on our group clinics. The snow is amazing, the lifts will be dead quiet, and the sun is out!
When learning anything, it’s good to keep things simple. But if we make things too simple, then we can be wrong as often as we are right. Here are a few commonly held views on ski technique which are too simple to be right all the time.
ALWAYS FACE YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN THE HILL
This can be pretty uncomfortable, but some people strive to do this all the time. I find facing the same way as my skis more comfortable, and therefore make it my default position.
When to do it (face shoulders down-hill):
To help initiate turns, especially on steep terrain, but it’s not necessary to hold the position
When skiing linked short turns
When skiing really tight and steep couloirs
If skiing a straight/direct/inside line in the bumps
When you don’t need to:
Most of the time…
GOING UP AND DOWN
When you would do it:
On Piste: We all go up and down a little bit, it can help take us from one ski to another (see point 4 – ‘spreading the weight’), but critically, it facilitates lateral body movements inside the curve and across the skis. We don’t just do it for its own sake.
Powder snow: It often looks like short turns in the powder snow involve more up and down, but this effect is really just the re-bound of the skis (pushing the attached skier upwards) as the skis work in and out of the lovely bouncy fresh pow!
BEND THE KNEES
Yes, we need to flex our knees in order to ski, and can’t ski well with stiff, locked legs.
How much to do it:
A bit. We also need to bend at the ankle joint inside our boots and at the hip too – a bit.
Remember that skiing is not a static sport, so static positions and prescribed shapes are not terribly useful except as a base position to move from.
When to do it more:
When absorbing bumps
When creating big angles – flex the inside leg whilst keeping the outside leg strong enough to resist the forces.
MODERN SKIS REQUIRE WEIGHT TO BE SPREAD OVER BOTH FEET
Well, no. For recreational skiers the outside ski is the one to put more weight on, especially at the end of the turn when it is the downhill ski. We do need to steer the inside ski, but don’t stand on it too much.
When going straight
Standing still on the flat.
In soft snow, but only a bit. The outside ski is still dominant.
We work by linking any actions we make, to the results that we desire. This allows us to be adaptable and progressive. We do try to keep things simple, but not so simple that we are trapped by unhelpful and dogmatic “technique” for its own sake. In our coaching sessions; (as part of a group, or privately) we take beginners through to advanced skiers, both on or off piste, and justify our teachings with reason. We embrace some grey areas, and steer away from doctrine; that’s what makes being a ski instructor so interesting.
Remember though, technique is only part of it. We work hard with tactical and psychological subjects to improve overall skiing performance and enjoyment.
Coach Giles, is a ski teacher, a director of The Development Centre, and assessor of British ski instructors to the highest level. High amongst his most proud moments,is Fraser Hopewell passing his L4 technical exam [ed].