In poor visibility, the shadows and definition from tree-lined pistes break up the whiteness and enhance visibility. Armed with this knowledge, you need not miss a day’s skiing. In fact, bad weather days can be some of the best, as you’ll often have the slopes to yourself.
Keep it real
Have realistic expectations about skiing in these conditions. Much can be gained from working on specific skills that are ordinarily neglected. You will reap the rewards on the next sunny day. Slow down and go for quality. Focus on rhythm, feeling your feet, and planting your poles. In very poor visibility, it is vital to look ahead and not down.
Nobody enjoys poor visibility, but you cannot control the weather. Focus on the controllables. Your route is up to you and even in a total whiteout there are ways to navigate. Listen for the lifts to help orientate yourself, head to the side of the piste and follow the numbered piste markers, counting down to number 1. Making these types of choices and decisions will help remind you that you are in control of the situation.
Head for the trees Realistic expectations Controllables
Throughout the season we will be sharing top tips in Coach’s Corner that will help with some of the common issues skiers face on the mountains. Here is a taste of the topics still to come:
Skiing in poor visibility
Negotiating narrow paths
Coping on crowded runs
This article will look at dealing with the dreaded ice.
Who needs grip?
The belief that you should try to grip on ice is a widely held misconception. Trying to grip will usually result in you skidding, whether you mean to or not. Deliberately skidding is what you must do. Learn to love the ice, by choosing to skid, this way you can control your speed and direction. Remember, skidding is the correct technique for skiing on ice, so take control and choose to skid.
Tensing the upper body often causes you to lean back up the hill unbalancing you in the process. To stay loose and balanced, consciously relax how tightly you grip your poles. It is likely that you grip them very tightly when you encounter ice. Consciously loosen your grip and you will feel your entire upper body relax; maintain this as you tackle the icy sections.
Search and conquer
To improve, you need to seek out the ice and practice (where you are comfortable to do so). Although reading the terrain is something that comes with experience, everyone can stop and assess what lies ahead. Focus on what you can control. The route you take is your choice, so look for the ice and enjoy.
Yesterday saw a freak snow storm hit the Tarentaise valley, almost half a metre fell in Val, whilst even down in the valley there was widespread chaos as trees laden with fresh wet snow came down onto power cables. It was pretty strange going sledging with my son on 1st June when the last time we’d had enough to sledge was Christmas! It hasn’t snowed properly in the valley for about 4 months and now it decides to come down thick and fast and ruin our tomatoes and geraniums!
Here today gone tomorrow. The summer snow was short lived. The sun was back out today, the sledge got put back in the shed and it was time to get back on the bike…what a strange old world!
Although it hasn’t been a bumper snow season this year, we have still had some great conditions. The alarm bells were ringing loudly last week as temperatures soared and the most sun affected slopes began to get greener and greener but we have just enjoyed a relatively cold few days with good night time freezes which will see us nicely to the end of the season. If you stay high there is some great touring to be done, with spring snow on smooth open slopes. These shots were taken today on the Genepy ridges between Tignes and Val.
A big thank you to so many of TDC’s clients for having sponsored Paul, Giles or Ben for their forthcoming mammoth ski on the Bellevarde mountain. The event starts at midday on Wednesday 20th April and finishes at midday on 21st and will see a team of 6 spend 24hrs skiing the mountain. When the lifts close for the day, the guys will don their skins and will spend a good 16hrs walking up and down. Original plans were to be based on the Face but with the conditions as they are the pisteurs have stepped in and for safety reasons we will now be lapping up and down from La Daille.
If you haven’t already done so and would like to support our efforts have a look at the website that explains the event and the charities involved. Along with off-line donations we have raised almost £15000 so far.
For those of you who have been following the progress of Paul and Giles in Pontis Mountain Triathlon, or indeed for those who have donated to the cause – here is an update. If you haven’t heard about our fund raising event please have a look at www.pontismountaintriathlon.com
Well, what a day. We were rolling by 0945, slightly behind schedule but we can blame Justin for that!
The ride along the valley flew by; a 400m climb but very gradual and the boys were all riding well. Some beautiful scenery and some welcome cloud cover as we made our way towards Bourg St Maurice for a quick sandwich stop. We had been joined by some new recruits John Langridge and Paul Alcock who both rode impressively. John being less experienced and with fewer miles in the legs set off before us. Not knowing quite what to expect he showed great form and put in a sterling ride, finishing well before the rest of us. We quickly worked out that Paul had some pedigree when it comes to endurance events and were very grateful to ride in his slip stream until Bourg…then he was gone!
Piers and Tom joined us at Bourg (great effort Tom…first alpine col and in trainers on a hire bike, very impressive) and then locals Jules and his mate Nicholas rode the final leg from Val to the col to add a Gallic flavour to the day.
We always knew the climb would be hard and it didn’t disappoint – it was gruelingly long. Just shy of 50kms of steep alpine road from Bourg to the col, everyone fighting their own battle to arrive exhausted at the top.
We had some great support on the road and in the pub afterwards, which really added to the occasion. We’re looking forward to the run now…after a little bit of a rest! and look forward to seeing many more friendly faces in Malvern on Saturday 9th October.
Thank you, thank you to everyone who has donated, we can’t believe the total and with two events still to go hopefully we’ll smash the target. Keep an eye on the blog for more photos and training stories and finally a big hand to Jon who rode like a Trojan and then drove 16hrs back the UK today, I bet the hamstrings has something to say about that!
On friday night, as the lifties were thinking of shutting up shop, 8 tdc coaches were frantically packing supplies into back packs, ready for the inaugural tdc night tour. The snow had been falling all afternoon and visibility wasn’t great but what did that matter on a night tour, surely that’s the idea! It proved to be a pretty strenuous journey to the Refuge des Fours, a two hour skin that culminated in a steep bumpy gully high above the Cugnai Valley, but once we had the stove fired up and pumping out heat we were all glad to have put in the effort. A delicious 3 course meal washed down with lashings of red wine was then topped off with a few glasses of whiskey. The laughter continued into the small hours as the snow and wind continued to drive against the hut outside. Although heads were a little fuzzy in the morning we had enjoyed a brilliant night, very different from your average Friday evening. The ski home was almost as much of a slog as on
the way up! Poor visibility and heavy wind blown snow made for a long arduous trudge out of the valley. Any hopes of cutting our efforts short by taking the Manchet Express chairlift were dashed as we rounded the corner to see it closed! Lets get the weather right next time team…looking forward to it already.
Sunday 27th December 2009, beautiful blue skies as you can see and some tremendous snow. Although old timers in Ste Foy, Jenny and Louise had never made the trip over the back of the top lift and down to the summer village of Le Monal. Along with Dad Andrew and tdc’s Paul, the team had a memorable ski across the undulating upper slopes and then down through the woods to the village. The walk back always builds a good appetite and onceÂ back at the chalet we feasted on Christmas left overs. There were some weary legs in the afternoon but not so for the tireless Mr Wright senior and the well rested Phillipa, who joined me for a few runs on the new lift…still lots of soft snow up there. I am not sure the frozen rain forecast for tomorrow is going to be quite so nice, but maybe memorable for other reasons though.
tdc coaches working on the World Cup Super G today in Val d’Isere.
The Face de Bellevarde provided an awesome spectacle as over 30 racers crashed out on one of the hardest courses on the circuit.
Flat light and snowfall all day made conditions even harder for the competitors but this didn’t deter Lena (tdc‘s new coach for 09/10), who managed to get photos with Bode Miller, Ted Ligety (2nd Place) and Andreas Walchhofer (1st place), not to mention getting on the podium and bagging a bottle of champagne in the process!
The second day of the VIP ski host training saw the groups run by tdc‘s Phil, Paul and Josh ripping up the powder all over the Espace Killy. a special mention goes to 63 year old Roger who was on fire in the off piste over in Tignes and has a few tricks to show the youngsters. For some these were their first turns in the deep stuff, so there were plenty of face plants…not a bad way to clear the head after a few beers the night before! The sky was a perfect blue and everyone made great progress. For the 3 tdc coaches it has been a pleasure to ski with such a personable group of people, we look forward to seeing some of you back again next year. Have a great season, cheers Paul, Phil and Josh.