How to… Off piste

It is well known that off piste is by far the way to go in order to get the best of that fresh powder. Ski runs tend to be busy, which means the fresh snow is quickly ‘trampled’ over and left with a lesser quality, heavier snow with a slushy consistency. They will still be fun, but perhaps not quite as fun. We’ve put together a short list of tips to help make your venture into the world of off piste a little smoother.

This is the most important starting point and something to think about before you even set out for your little adventure. The equipment you choose to use is what will keep you safe and help you get the most fun out of the back country. Helmets, boots, skis/boards, poles, snow wear…

It is important to research which equipment will be best suited for you and your style of skiing or boarding. Your boots should fit snuggly, your ride waxed and your clothes warm. Helmets are a must; trees have a tendency of making a lot of unwanted appearances, as well as rocks. Trees and rocks will not be your friend if you happen to lose control.

Riding down the slopes at high altitudes and high speeds is a fitness intense sport. Combine this with the cold, wind and potentially being a little sorry for sights following drinks après ski in the previous days. We’re not saying you have to be preparing yourself to run an ironman event, but please keep in mind that in riding off piste, your safety relies on your ability to stay controlled and exhaustion can impede this ability. Take it easy and stay within your bounds.

It is also very important to note that going off piste is entirely different from being on a well groomed run. You should take care to think about how to adjust your tactics on this different terrain. For example, you will have more obstacles to avoid, steeper drops and deeper snow (which may cause you to turn far more widely). You should actively attempt to make your manoeuvres pre-emptively and make sure you commit. Visualise everything before you move and your body will be more likely to follow your will.

Consider your skis or snowboard to simply be an extension of your feet. If you follow the golden rule of ‘think with your feet’, it is far more likely the rest of your body will follow. When you first put on your gear, take a moment to move it about and help your body to adjust to its new range of motion and its boundaries. Visualise big smooth arcs in the snow ahead and use your feet to slowly carve those curves. Stay relaxed and enjoy. Simple.

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