How to Ski in Control on Ice
Written by G. Tadj Hemingway
Boiler plate, blue powder, glass, no matter
what you call it, ice is a factor all skiers will
experience at one time or another especially if you
ski in the eastern half of the United States. Ice
is formed when temps warm up after a good snowfall.
The warm temps cause the snow to melt and compress.
When the temp drops below freezing, the melted compressed
snow turns to ice.
The primary concern of skiing ice is losing control
because of how slippery it is. In order to maintain
control while skiing on ice you’ll need to be
sure to set the inside edge of your skis in to the
ice as you traverse across the slope. In order to
set an edge you’ll need to have sharp edges
on your skis. Dull edges will not be able to give
you the control you’ll need on icy slopes. If
you have doubts about how sharp your skis are, check
out our ski tune
up page for tips on sharpening your skis. Below
are tips and exercises that will help your technique
of staying in control while on the ice.
|The Side Slip
a safe area to tryout the side slip; a short yet steep
pitch on a roomy hill. Stand in the traverse position
across the hill so that your skis are on a perpendicular
to the fall-line, with your hands in front of you.
With your weight on the inside edge of your downhill
ski, roll your feet, ankles and knees downhill so
your skis are off their edges and onto their bases.
Your skis will begin to slide down the fall-line.
Keep your skis across the fall-line as they slide.
When you’re ready to stop, roll your feet, ankles
and knees back into the hill again. Dig your uphill
edges back into the snow.
Practice this a few times in both direction until
you’re comfortable and confident.
Skiing on ice can be noisy. The sound of your ski
bases against the hard ice will create chatter. Many
skiers may become frightened when they hear that sound
and will flex and stiffen their legs leading to more
chatter. Ice chatter can be reduced or eliminated
by absorption. Relax your downhill knee and ankle,
bending those joints to absorb the chatter. As you
absorb the chatter you’ll have more control
over your skis while on ice.
More Skiing on Ice Tips
• Look ahead while skiing to
prepare yourself for any upcoming ice patches. If
possible, wait until you’ve passed over the ice before
you start your turn.
• Stay in the dynamic position with your upper body
facing downhill and your hands in front of you. Reaching
back into the hill will cause the tails of the skis
to skid out.
• While skiing on ice keep your movements subtle.
• While skiing on ice spread your feet further
apart giving yourself a wider stance.
• While skiing on ice keep all your weight on the
• When skiing a run and cross a patch of ice, stay
loose and go with the skid.