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How to Heli Ski: From the Pros at CMH

If you're an intermediate...

1. Weight both feet equally: On hardpack, you stand mostly on your downhill ski, which gives you the power you need to carve a turn. In powder, however, a weighted ski will dive down and knock you off-balance. So distribute your weight on both skis and steer, rather than carve, through the fluff.

2. Make small vertical movements: To turn in powder, you need to make your skis a solid platform in order to pressure the soft snow. Lower your body into a crouch, then stand up, bouncing up and down slightly. Go too low, however, and you’ll lose your leverage— and your stamina. Your muscles will become fatigued from overuse.

3. Get up to speed: You need to stay on top of the powder, which means speed is your friend. Go too slow, and you’ll end up weighting one ski and losing your balance. Choose a straighter line or steeper terrain, pushing yourself into territory that may initally feel outside your comfort range.

4. Get a rhythm: It all gets back to equal weighting. To stay centered, you need rhythmic pole plants in front of your body. If you let your shoulders rotate, you’ll put too much weight on one foot, sink a ski and lose your balance. With level shoulders facing the fall line, plant near the tip of your ski.

If you're advanced...

1. Center yourself: Most advanced skiers think the key to powder is to sit back on their tails. But you won’t ever be able to ski agressively from the backseat. Center yourself fore/aft (it might feel like you’re angling slightly back) just enough so your ski tips float up and become free from the snow’s resistance.

2. Get efficient: Too much body movement, especially shoulder rotation, inhibits your agility, making it tough to turn quickly through trees. Keep a quiet upper body, with your hands in front and arm movement restricted to a minimum. Pole swings should be no more than flicks of the wrists.

3. Angulate: Many confuse being “centered” with being too square on their skis, causing them to cross the fall line too much and over-weight the downhill ski. At speed on steeps, being equally weighted on both skis means your knees are angled into the slope and your center of mass is moving down the fall line.

--Roko Koell, CMH Director of Powder Performance


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