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February 12, 2013

Deep Powder Skiing

This past weekend we saw record amounts of snow drop all over New England, with more to come later this week. It has filled the woods with skiable powder so take vacation days, call in sick, escape to the north by whatever means you can because we just don’t see these conditions in New england that often.

Most of the trails we ski in New England are groomed affairs. When new snow falls the mountain areas put the big machines out and pack the fluff onto the existing snow so that they can maintain it for weeks to come. By grooming each trail every night and combining it with man-made snow, they can revive the surface to provide us with a quality skiing experience. If you do not live near a ski mountain or have the ability to just get up from your desk and go skiing when the dump comes, it is very easy to ski all winter and never experience a virgin mountain covered in new snow. There are just not enough powder days.

However, for those of us that love to ski on a natural surface, there are now stashes of powder all over the mountain. The most obvious are the glades. Here the trees prevent the groomers from entering into the woods. It is in these little playgrounds that skiing reverts to its origins; natural moguls, tree wells and soft snow that will slow you down, make you turn when you sometimes don’t want to and test your technique to the fullest.

Skiing in powder demands a little different technique than blasting down fully groomed runs. Because we do not get a lot of powder days in New England, most folks feel a little intimidated by going into the deep stuff. Powder snow does require that we adapt and modify the way we normally ski. On a groomed trail you can see your skis, you have a firm surface under your feet, and there are usually no obstacles around which you have to maneuver. Skiing in powder is different.

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