How To: Ski in Spring Conditions

After almost 2 weeks straight of snowfall, the current conditions are far from springy, but Jason Hunter, Park City Mountain’s Ski & Snowboard School Training Supervisor, knows how quick the snow can change.  

He says in warm, sunny days the snow can transform from packed powder to "corn" snow in a matter of a week or two.

“Corn” refers to the type of granular snow that freezes together at night and softens while warming up in the sun during the day.  If you’re on the mountain at the right time (after the snow has loosened, but before the shadows appear) corn snow can be your best friend in the spring.  It’s forgiving, but strong.

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The powder that we’ve been used to all year is light and fluffy so skiing or snowboarding almost feels like surfing while flying across on top.  In spring, skis and snowboards sink into the heavy, wet snow making for more difficult turns.

Jason says, “Powder is a lot gentler, but with heavier snow you have to guide your feet much more deliberately for strong, progressive turns of the feet and legs.”

“The first thing that I can think of is maintaining shin to boot contact with strong ankle flection so your skis don’t get push around in the heavy snow,” Jason says.  Bending your ankles and knees help to engage the tips of your skis for a rounder, smoother turn.

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Jason says using your upper body to stay centered is key.  “The way I describe it is if someone poked you in the stomach and how your stomach muscles contract.  A strong, stable, disciplined core helps keeps your balance through the heavier piles of snow.”

For those go-getters that endure the hard packed icy slopes early in the morning before the snow softens up, Jason recommends staying inside (he laughs) or light, progressive edge to edge movements rather than a hard, quick edge set.

From late season dumps to hard packed early morning runs, spring’s snow conditions vary more in the last two months than throughout the rest of the year.  To prep you for the day’s environment, get fitted with suitable equipment at a Park City rentals and repairs shop, learn from the best instructors the mountain has to offer, dress in layers, and most importantly drink water and reapply sunscreen.  Supergoop! Sunscreen samples and products available for purchase can be found in lodges across the mountain, including Red Pine Lodge and Legacy Lodge.

For instruction and tips on how to improve your skiing in any type of snow, I recommend a lesson with Park City's Ski & Snowboard School.  Even seasoned skiers and snowboarders can benefit from skiing with an instructor.  Each instructor at Park City Mountain goes through extensive training throughout the season to provide the best quality lesson.  From custom private lessons to guided group lessons, you'll find something that fits your exact needs at Park City Mountain.

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Interested in taking a lesson?  Click here!