Loving the slush
So much for spring powder; this is definitely the year to learn to love slush. Whatever. Perhaps you could pretend, because skiing deep slush requires techniques similar to the ones you wish you were using for skiing powder.
First and foremost is knowing how to deal with the drag on you skis which the slush creates. But in slush this resistance is trickier than it is in powder, because in slush it is usually inconsistent. If you are skiing a groomed run, the slush often comes in clumps built by other skiers. If you are skiing Back Bowl slush, the slush often has icy lumps – fondly called “death cookies” – buried inside it. And sometimes the slush, wherever it is, is really slick, or really sticky, or both.To deal with these inconsistencies, always keep your knees bent so your legs, and particularly your quads, can serve as shock absorbers. Also, maintain your normal forward stance or else you will exhaust your quads in no time. More importantly, maintain your normal stance so that in case one of those clumps bumps you back toward your heels, you will have some room to recover.
Maintaining your normal forward stance also increases your power, which always helps for dealing with slush which can be quite heavy to move around. And, just like in deep powder, using both skis as a unit when you turn –i.e., weighting them equally–enables you to power through the slush instead of letting it buffet you around, or letting it divide your skis and entice you to fall.Another powder technique which is helpful in slush is to be more patient in everything you do. In other words, don’t rush your turns. Let your skis travel smoothly around the arcs of your turns rather than zig-zagging them around. In this way the slush won’t jostle you as much.No matter how much you pretend, though, slush doesn’t exactly provide powder’s addictive sensation of floating on a bottomless base. Quite the contrary, slush has a firm base, where you can usually set a good edge. In that way it’s easier to ski than powder.
But when it comes to choosing between slush and powder, somehow being grounded isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Whatever. There is always next year.Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.