23February 2021

Q&A: What’s a simple way to improve my powder skiing?

We’re not ski instructors or coaches, but we know without a doubt that the better prepared you are on your equipment and for the conditions (whether that’s your technique or your fitness), the more fulfilling and amazing the experience of heli-skiing will be.

We want that. Fewer limits. More send. Bigger smiles.

So. As a team that skis and rides a LOT of powder (we’re crazy lucky, we know), we often get asked how to have the best technique in deep snow.

And while there’s definitely stuff to be said that applies specifically to the backcountry, the best advice we can give is just as relevant if you can see your skis or not.

heli skiing kicking horse

(Sorry snowboarders, this one is for the two-plankers only. But I’ve got something for you here.)

The fundamentals help you everywhere, and the one we like the best, because it reinforces all the others, is…

Pole planting

If you already pole plant like Rudi (every turn, without fail, so automatic it’s like blinking to you), then you know: it’s the basis for your rhythm, timing, and it’s the action that starts a cascade of minute changes that sends you successfully into the next turn.

heli skier slashes a turn in bc blower pow

If your pole planting style is more “casual” or “occasional” or you’re not sure why or if it matters at all (isn’t that just for the slalom folks, not the freeriders?), I’ll try to persuade you.

Why is pole planting important?
  • It keeps your body in the right position, with hands and upper body facing down the fall line, staying dynamically separated from your lower body.
  • It’s there to remind you if you’re creeping into the back seat. In challenging conditions, if you suddenly lose your pole plant, everything is probably about to fall apart, UNLESS you can get it back.
  • It marks the end of the compression as you complete a turn, initiating the uncoiling of the spring (that’s you) so you can pop up and off one downhill edge ready to transition to the other.
  • It encourages you to be looking ahead to the turn to come, mapping out the direction of travel.

It’s as much a part of your turn as pushing on a downhill edge.

And no, it’s definitely not only for racers. If you watch the big mountain pros, the deep powder pillow droppers, the best of the best – you’ll see a hand reaching out of the powder cloud.

Because it’s a key part of good skiing. Full stop.

If you aren’t yet 100% committed to the pole plant, that’s our advice. Hands up and out! Give it a shot.


For more posts on ski technique, gear and fitness, check out this selection.






FREE stuff that’ll make you smarter, happier and better-looking (well, the last one might be a stretch).

Click on the image below to grab it.