Backcountry 101: Learning the Basics

Skiing outside resort boundaries holds an increasing appeal to me, and it seems I’m not alone, considering the abundant backcountry gear options available in traditional ski shops and numerous mentions in the mainstream ski press.

For me, it’s a desire to explore new venues for my ski lust and to try new things along the way. Moreover, owning a condo at Solitude, Utah – where there are great lift-assisted backcountry options at the summit and many more at Brighton just up the road – definitely helps stoked my interest in earning turns outside the resorts.

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Early Season Drill: Thousand Steps

The Thousand Steps Ski Drill is my favorite early season drill to get everything warmed up and working together.  It’s a popular exercise in instructional and coaching circles because it works all four major skiing skills – Balance, Edging, Rotation, and Pressure Control.

Select a wide green or easy blue groomed slope. You can get going quite fast so pick a safe spot to do it.

Start by sliding across the hill and making a series of sidesteps up the hill. Once you get the feel for this, as you start a new turn step your downhill ski onto your little-toe edge and balance on it and step the uphill ski down the hill too. Continue stepping until you are going across the hill in the other direction and then repeat.

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Gore Mountain, NY: 11/24/12

It’s only opening day if you’re there right?  We’d missed Gore’s spring skiing bumpfest yesterday. And as I checked the weather last night, a week of warm inversion, followed by rain, and a cold front…well, I wasn’t expecting much.

Gore Mountain NY

It started spitting frozen precip last night and eventually it turned to a light snow. It actually snowed on and off most of the night and day on the hill, and I’m recording an inch for the top of Bear.  Much of what fell on bare ground vanished, but you could see it was sticking to the trails.

Zelda, Neve and I all made cautious first turns.  While it seemed kind of crazy to get Neve a lesson when she was only likely to get one run in off the Gondola, I was glad that her first turns were handled by Erin, not me.

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