Howard’s Blog

Winter fit

October 26, 2014

Winter is on its way and now is the time to think about getting ski fit before we step into our bindings.

After a long summer of perhaps not so energetic endeavours, the easiest thing we can do to start our get ski fit regime is to walk, instead of parking as near to the shop as you can how about parking about 400-500 yards away and walk after you have been around the shop and headed back to the car you could have clocked up over 1000 yards, that is nearly one kilometre! Which is really good.

For the tube users in London then how about using the steps and not the escalators, the same applies to high rise offices, you can try 3 or 4 flights of stairs before using the lift all these things help.

If you have a bicycle – great, oil the chain and get out and do some miles.

We are very lucky in skiing in that gravity does most of the work for us, so for us skiers strength in the legs is really important and any exercise to strengthen them is to be encouraged.

Take care when exercising and don’t over do it, I want to see you on the slope and enjoying it and not slowed down by a pulled muscle or worse.

Good skiing
Howard

Skiing off piste is not just about skiing the steep and the deep, it is about skiing off the marked and groomed trails and seeing and skiing slopes in all sorts of conditions and this time of the season (spring) gives you some of the best off piste conditions that you could wish for.

 

We are currently having glorious sunny days with temps climbing above zero but the nights are cold and below freezing, so the top snow layers are going through  a freeze thaw cycle.  After a few of these freeze thaw cycles the snow starts to develop a crust, to start with the crust can only be a few millimetres thick, but as the days go by this crust can be up to 10 cms thick and more than strong enough to support a skier.

 

Early starts, if you can hit the slopes as soon as the lifts open or even earlier if you want to walk up the mountain you can time it so that you ski the off piste runs just as the suns warmth has thawed the snow a little, not enough that you break through the crust, but enough that the snow is easily skiable and giving you a ‘gripable’ and very slightly loose top layer.  The skiing sensation is a joy and you ski it with a mid stance position with your weight on the balls of the feet and trying not to excessively weight the outside ski, keep everything as smooth as possible and nothing too aggressive! You don’t want to break through the crust.  By about mid to late morning the snow has melted too much and the off piste becomes too heavy and the likely hood of you breaking though the crust is a lot higher and not worth the risk.  If you are caught out off piste when the snow has ‘turned’ the best solution is to traverse out and get back on the piste.

 

Have fun and enjoy the slopes nice and early before the rest of the resort have had their breakfast!

Low Temperatures

February 5, 2012

With temperatures as low as minus 15 -20 degrees remember some simple rules:

Wear an extra layer – several thin layers are better – but ensure they are made of natural fibres or specialist fabrics

Wear a scarf/buff/balaclava/face mask or pull the collar of your jacket up to cover your month and nose

Wear googles – they actually help to keep your face warm and project your eyes

Keep your boots in a warm place overnight and make sure they are dry, this also applies to your socks!

Remember to stop more often and warm up; toes and fingers are particularly vulnerable to getting cold, if they do get very cold, never warm then directly on any heater, rub them and allow the blood to flow back, this can really hurt sometimes!

A question I was asked today was ‘Why does the snow squeak in these low temperatures?’

Quite simply it is the snow crystals breaking, they normally slip against each other but in these extreme temperatures they break.

Stay warm and happy skiing!

 

 

More on Powder

February 3, 2012

January produced a whole variety of snow conditions and different types of powder snows: ‘Proper’ powder snow falls at below -4c and is dry to touch, (often referred to a Champagne powers because it is so light. As a test try making a snow ball with it, it is pretty much impossible to make a snowballs with, the crystals don’t bind, which is why it flies up as you ski through it. The other ‘powder’ snow falls at above -4c and can feel wet to the touch and is easy to make snowballs from, even though this ‘wetter’ snow looks inviting it is extremely hard to ski and is sometimes compared to skiing porridge/wet concrete it is also known as ‘leg breaker’ snow because it won’t let you turn, if you find yourself in this heavy snow the best thing is to lean back a bit keep the ski tips out of the snow and make your way back to the piste.

Light powder!

 

Powder snow which is below -4c and difficult to ski is often the snow that comes with high winds, although this snow is cold and dry to the touch the actual snow crystal has been broken up by the wind so it is more of an ice crystal than a snow flake which means the snow is packed in very tight, with very little air in it, this snow feels ‘grippy’ you will sometimes notice a similar type of snow when you ski over a mound of snow cannon snow, these crystals are also small and tightly bound so they won’t let your skis turn as easily as the natural stuff, however their big big advantage is that they retain their coldness making the snow last longer, anything up to six weeks longer in some areas.

Heavy Powder!

 

Go out and enjoy the powder the next time you have a chance but make sure it’s a safe slope.

 

Next blog – mogul skiing

Powder Skiing

January 11, 2012

Awesome January Snow

Well I can report that Austria has indeed had some of its best snow for years, and these mounds in the picture are cars, which were left for three days!!!

In last few days the Amade system has had about 2 metres of snow and we have been out every morning in the fresh powder. Which has meant lots of questions about powder and how to ski it. Let me dispel one myth, you do not lean back in normal powder, the exception is the wet heavy ‘powder’ which we will look at later.

 

Normal powder snow; the type that falls in temperatures below -4c with no wind, sits on the older snow layers and gradually compresses under it own weight, so the best time to ski it is when it is falling or as soon after as possible.  Most powders will be sitting on a base maybe 20cms down or even 50-60cms. Whatever the depth of the powder the important thing to remember is that your skis will still work in powder, although the softer flexing skis and the broader/fatter ones will be better.

Skiing powder is a modification of on piste skiing, in that we still need to turn to keep our speed in check, and turning is the important thing, as we have little or no rebound from our lower/outside ski, as we do on the piste. Therefore, we need to create our own rebound and we do this simply by keeping both skis as close together as possible and keeping even weight on them. That is 50% on the right ski and 50% on the left ski, to create the turn we do what is called  ‘compression turns’. We suck up our skis by bringing our knees up and then we extend our legs in the direction of the new turn. After two or three turns you should be getting into a rhythm, this is important as it makes the turns consistent and keeps the speed in check, give it a go next time you see some fresh powder.

 

Next week more about different types of powder skiing.

 

 

Which ski for me and why do we flex skis?

Skiing on the right ski for you, is very important!

With modern skis the choice is huge and it is easy to get it wrong, so here are some simple tips to help you choose the right ski, either a rental or to buy.

Firstly as a rule of thumb, modern skis for men should come up to between the chin and eyebrows and for women it should be from the top of the chest to the chin, there are some variables on this but if you stick to this rule you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

Width of ski and side cut, the wider the ski the easier it will be to ski in soft/powder snow and more difficult in hard pack/icy conditions, the sidecut of the ski is the difference in the width of the ski at the middle, narrow at the middle and wider at the ends, the bigger the difference the ‘more radical’ the sidecut. The sidecut dictates the turning radius of the ski (how short/long you can make a carved turn) the more radical the ski the tighter turning it will be.

Flexing the ski (see pic) will tell you how stiff/soft the ski is, basically the stiffer the ski the faster it will be, a soft wide ski with a medium sidecut will be very good in powder snow but demanding to ski on normal piste’d slopes. A stiff medium width ski with a slight sidecut will be very fast on a normal piste but hard work in powder.

Like all things choosing a ski is a compromise between our ability and what we want the ski to do. We don’t want to keep changing skis for the different conditions so basically we want a medium flex ski with a medium sidecut, a slightly stiffer ski will be more demanding and give you a quicker ride whilst still allowing you to go off piste, conversely a softer flexing ski will make your turns a lot easier to initiate be easier in the softer snow but they won’t go so fast or be so demanding.

As always if in doubt ask the person in the ski shop for his advise, or email me and I will try and give you the right answer.

Howard

Welcome to my Ski Blog

My favourite phase on the mountain is, ‘just follow me’. I enjoy skiing especially with our guests and friends and hopefully giving everyone the confidence to try new slopes, explore different areas, but always skiing safely both on and off piste.

Comfortable Ski Boots!

Oh the joys of a comfortable ski boot.

Modern ski boots have gone through a huge transformation since the original leather ones, from variable flex to inbuilt warmers, the modern ski boot is a technological masterpiece.

However despite the cleverness of modern ski boots they can still be uncomfortable, if we don’t follow a few simple procedures.

1:

When storing your ski boots, even hire ones, even just overnight, make sure the tongue of the boot is pushed back in the boot and the clips are all done up. The plastic which makes up a ski boot has a ‘memory’, and if you leave the tongue of the boot protruding out of the boot, see picture 1, the tongue will have a fold/ruck created in it which will push down on your foot all of the next day or even worse forever! Clipping up the boot keeps the boot in its proper shape and makes it easier for you to get in and out of.

To keep your boots comfortable, always clip your boots up when not in use.

2:

Make sure you have no rucks or ridges or heavy seams in your ski socks, and it should only be your ski socks (together with your foot!) that goes into your boot. If you are wearing thermals or leg warmers make sure that the bottom of these finish just above the top of your boot, you may have to pull them up from the bottom to do this, and of course never ever tuck the ‘snow cuff’ of your ski trousers into your boots. The ‘snow cuffs’ are designed to go over the boot (see picture 2) and thereby stop the snow going up your leg! Any rucks or ridges cause blood flow restrictions which may make your feet feel cold! Or worse cause friction which leads to blisters or bruising.

Fasten the snow cuff outside your boots, only your socks should be inside your boots.

3:

Take the boot inners out and dry them, all modern ski boots come as both an outer (shell) and the inner. In spite of the modern design water still gets between the outer and inners, so you need to pull the inners out of the boot, and dry both the inners and the shell, this is an easy thing to do and you should do it a couple of times if you are on a weeks ski holiday, and certainly if you have been skiing powder or wet spring snow.

I hope this helps you and your feet have a more comfortable time on the snow.

Howard

Any question, let me know.

Next week: Why flex your skis?

Welcome to my Blog.

My favourite phase on the mountain is, ‘just follow me’. I enjoy skiing especially with our guests and friends and hopefully giving everyone the confidence to try new slopes, explore different areas, but always skiing safely both on and off piste.

Different conditions require adjustments to our ski technique so hopefully this blog will answer those questions of ‘how do you do that’.  This blog is designed to give you helpful advice and get you thinking about your skiing before you hit the slopes and when you are skiing the perfect conditions or the not so perfect.

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