The quest for gully cushions while skiing the bumps |

The quest for gully cushions while skiing the bumps

Elizabeth Eber

Maybe it’s the first glimmer of impending wimpiness.

Or maybe it’s just a craving for foot candy. Whichever – if you ski bumps a lot, there’s definitely one thing you seek – soft landings. And there’s no more tasty landing than a gully plumped up with fresh powder.

So what’s the secret to setting your edges into these gully cushions? First of all, good enough bump-skiing technique to be able to put your skis wherever you want them to go. After that, it’s all in the anticipation.

When skiing the bumps, there’s a strong tendency to focus on your current turn. And for good reason; on the big bumps, those turns often have a distinctive “do or die” flavor. However, while bumping, you would be less likely to crash if you focused instead on the turns yet to come.

There’s a good reason why bump-skiing technicians stress looking at least two or three bumps ahead at all times. It allows you to analyze the terrain in enough time to be able to choose the optimal place to turn for purposes of control and style.

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Deciding where those turns should be is often made easier by the “lines,” or paths created on powder days by bumpers who have gone before you. However, after enough bumpers in various sizes, as well as flocks of snowboarders, have done their carving, those helpful lines can become lethal. At that point, you might not wish, so blithely, to follow them.

Instead, sometimes you might do better to choose a bump downhill to your right or left rather than stay in the line directly ahead. And this is where indulging your hedonistic tendencies can actually help you improve your bump skiing.

Specifically, take up a search for the nearest gullies filled with left-over powder, and see how that ratchets up your anticipation skills. You’ll find yourself looking farther ahead than you ever thought important or even possible.

As soon as you start bribing yourself with this foot candy, you’ll realize not only how addictive those soft landings are, but also how much easier it is to maintain your rhythm and control by planning ahead for your turns.

In addition, skiing the gully cushions will allow you to keep going longer because the soft landings lessen the stress on your quads.

So, after the powder is tracked and the lines are drawn on the big bumps, anticipate, anticipate, anticipate, and enjoy all those tasty, sweet landings.

Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.

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