Killington, VT: 12/16/12

If skiers are wondering if The Beast is back, the answer is a rousing “I have no idea what that means.” However, I did ski at Killington today and if it had been with William Faulkner he might have called his book the Sound and Sting of the Fury.

Early season isn’t my favorite time to ski, but because skiing is my favorite activity I’m compelled to take advantage. In turn, yesterday was the last day to take advantage of a 2-1 ticket deal from Ski Magazine. So a few motivated friends met up to make turns in the face of a cruel wind and the double-edged sword of an ideal snowmaking window before Christmas break.

As always, being out early sure helped. Visibility was tough all day, but empty early runs on Superstar accelerated the process of getting comfortable on skis again. You couldn’t see if you were about to ski into an erratic mogul or a falling skier, so it was important to use the force to feel the snow underneath.

Cascade was the trail of the day. A large and scary “Experts Only” sign up top yielded to a perfect bump line for brave skiers that could navigate the ice, loose rocks, and wind at the gondola terminal. It was pretty gruesome, but a clear alternative to the white ribbons that had become clutter with skiers by midday.

A couple of hours in, I noticed that it was actually snowing at a decent clip, too. That snow mixed in well with the man made, and made the afternoon very pleasant. It was a great day. Nothing beats skiing in falling snow because it holds in the air a promise of better turns tomorrow, and hopefully for all of us.

Get Your Carve On

Skiing on hard surfaces is at times unavoidable. Unlike skiing on soft snow, on hardpack you’re often putting 80 or 90% of your weight on your outside ski. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get more performance from the inside ski. In fact the more you use your inside ski, the easier it will be to carve on any surface.

Start with a wide stance placing your feet under your hips. If you’re too narrow you can’t use that inside ski to your advantage. If you naturally ski in a narrow stance make a run with an imaginary beach ball between your legs. Practice some railroad track turns in this way and use your little toe to “slice” the snow.

In the past, instructors advocated a big lead change: at the beginning of the turn the new outside ski tip was ahead of the other ski so that the body was pointed down the hill. This counter allowed the skier to use the body like an uncoiling spring to get the skis to turn faster. This type of turn is still helpful if you are skiing off piste, in The Slides or in any situation where you have to turn in a tight spot.

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NY Ski Magazine: Québec’s Laurentians

Last winter, I completed my tour of Québec’s three ski regions with a five-day visit to the Laurentians, an hour northwest of Montréal.

Tremblant Village, Quebec Laurentians
Tremblant Village

Due to the fact that the offerings there comprise an extremely popular full-service resort along with a dozen or so local hills (all 1,000 vertical feet or less), the Laurentians tend to get less attention from south-of-the-border skiers than the Eastern Townships and the mountains north of Quebec City, and understandably so.

That said, if you can put your usual expectations aside, it’s an interesting trip that mixes large and small: fun off-the-beaten-path hills, cute villages, great food, friendly locals, along with a couple days in the second biggest French-speaking city in the world, if you’re so inclined…

NY Ski Magazine
Québec’s Laurentians: The Autoroute-15 Ski Corridor