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HOW TO TRANSFER SKILLS FROM THE PISTES TO OFF-PISTE

The feeling of making fresh tracks in untouched deep snow is a truly breathtaking experience. Heading off-piste for the first time can be daunting, but with the right preparation and safety precautions, going off-piste can be a real highlight of any ski trip. Ski Club of Great Britain have put together some handy tips for any first-timers hoping to go off-piste this ski season.


Have the right set-up

A wider ski allows you to float through powder with ease, however, you don’t need the extreme fat backcountry skis. An all-mountain ski is perfect for a skier starting to go off-piste because the ski is designed to grip on pistes and glide through deep snow. Although it is achievable, a typical piste ski or slalom ski is harder work off-piste because they are heavier and their turn shape is more aggressive. 

Plant your poles well

This is a skill that will help your skiing on- and off-piste. When initiating your new turn, a small flick of the wrist will improve timing and will keep your arms forward through the turn. Make sure your pole plant isn’t near your feet and is nearer the tips of your skis planting down the hill. Ensuring your pole plant is placed in the right position will help with balance in deeper snow without tripping over your poles. 

 

Upper body management enables your legs to be more active throughout the turn because your body isn’t twisting uphill. Twisting your upper body can restrict your legs range of movement. 

Practice your short-radius, controlled turns

Edge control and speed management are two key skills that will help you flow through powder conditions. Being able to rotate your skis sideways in a smooth manner is a good way to control your speed and turning pattern. On piste, try small radius turns on steep pistes without picking up too much speed. Practising this skill will allow you to get a feel for your skis, whilst being able to control yourself throughout the run. 

Try the sides of the pistes

Before heading out on an off-piste voyage, build up to it by doing a few turns on the ungroomed snow by the pistes. Make sure it’s a safe environment and you can re-enter the pistes easily. 

Don't lean back

It’s a common misconception that you should lean back through deep snow. On piste, skiers should use more forward flexion, but off-piste you should find a middle ground. Finding the centre point of the ski will allow the whole of the ski to be active through the snow, rather than having your tips ride high by leaning back. 

 

Flexing and extending is also an important movement whilst off-piste. Extending your knees and ankle joints allow you to lighten the ski and change edge easily. Flexing gradually through the turn smooths out the turn shape and stabilises the ski through the snow. 

Try an off-piste ski clinic

There are many British ski schools and coaching services around the world that run dedicated off-piste clinics to improve deep snow skiing. Pick the right course for you and spend a week improving your technique with highly qualified instructors or coaches. 

 

An off-piste course can be a bit pricey, but Ski Club members have access to great discounts on specific off-piste trips with many ski schools. 

Try our Leader and Instructor-Led Guiding services

The Ski Club of Great Britain has intro to off-piste sessions on our Leader and Instructor-Led Guiding services. Book onto a beginner or intermediate session on our Instructor-Led Guiding sessions to ease into the off-piste experience. The dedicated guides in the resort will find level appropriate terrain and the group will be skiing at the same level too. This service is exclusive to French resorts and St Anton only. 

 

The Leader service is available outside of France and St Anton. The Ski Club Leaders are there to show the best terrain and ski areas appropriate to the level of the session they are running during the week. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to socialise with like-minded skiers, with our social hours that are hosted at local bars after skiing. 

 

Find out more:

https://www.skiclub.co.uk/ski-club-leaders

https://www.skiclub.co.uk/instructor-led-guiding

Don’t forget, Ski Club GB members benefit from 15% off at Snow+Rock, so visit us in-store for in-store expertise and ski gear from the very best brands.