Just when you thought you got the hang of this sport you show up to the mountain to find a whole new challenge. Skiing in icy conditions can be incredibly hard. And for those without experience can be potentially dangerous. Luckily, this article is here to breakdown everything you need to know to learn how to ski on icy snow.
How To Succesfully Ski On Ice
Utilize Your Edges
Ice is considerably more dense than your average snow meaning you will need a lot more pressure to allow your skis to dig in.
Without pressure on your edges you will find your skis will began to slide on the ice as opposed to carve into it.
Pushing heavily onto your edges especially when turning on ice is your best bet when looking to avoid sliding.
Spread Your Feet Wider Apart
A slightly wider stance when skiing on icy snow can help improve your balance. This wider base should allow you to feel more sturdy when you come into contact with an icy patch.
Be sure to not spread your legs too far apart. You do not want to be skiing from an uncomfortable position that could cause injury.
One of the most common sense tips when learning how to ski on icy snow is to slow down. If you come in to contact with a patch of ice at a high speed it’s going to be almost impossible to remain in control.
There is no harm in taking your time when skiing especially in rough conditions. You must remember that the slower you are going the easier it is to control yourself on icy conditions
Keep Your Skis Tuned
Keeping your skis tuned is another easy way to ensure you have more control on the ski hill. With sharpened edges you’re gonna find it much easier to dig into that ice and remain in full control of your skis.
This tip is very similar to sharpening your hockey skates. If you don’t keep up with the maintenance on your skates you’ll find yourself sliding all over the ice unable to effectively use the edge of the blade. This is the same idea with your skis without the sharp edges you will be unable to use them effectively.
Accept The Slide
If you spend a full day skiing on ice it is almost inevitable that you were slide at some point. It is important to remember that remaining calm and excepting the slide is one of the best strategies. Not panicking, keeping your balance, and allowing the slide to happen are often the best ways to ensure you don’t fall.
If you do begin to slide in the ski hill do your best to slow down but understand that fighting against the slide it’s a battle you won’t usually win.
Slide Down With Your Skis Perpendicular To The Hill If Needed
If you find the conditions are too tough or the hill to steep the safe bet is always to slide down with your skis pointing perpendicular to the hill.
You should be able to stand sideways on the hill and slowly let yourself slide down in a safe and controlled manner. Though this isn’t the ideal way down the mountain it is helpful to have this maneuver in your repertoire in case it is needed.
Watch And Listen For Ice
As you spend more time skiing in icy conditions you will be able to identify patches of ice with your eyes as well as your ears. The sound of skis scraping against ice should be something you’ll come to notice which will make it easier to anticipate an icy patch coming up.
Seen the ice patches coming should give you ample time to adjust your speed or avoid the ice patch all together.
How To Tell When The Snow Is Icy
The easiest way to tell how icy the mountains is always going to be riding down it yourself. But for those looking to determine the conditions before hand here are a few tips to help you out.
One of the most common situations that create icy conditions is when snow has not fallen for a long period of time. Fresh snow is typically lighter and softer, it is snow that has been on the ski hill for sometime that has a higher chance of form into ice.
If it has rained recently at your ski hill that is another factor that will increase the chance of icy conditions.
Night skiing is another situation in which I think additions are more likely. This is due to the lower temperatures that are typically present throughout the night.
Another common occurrence that creates icy conditions is the melting of snow and then a drop in temperature. It snow has melted and refrozen recently in your area then there’s a higher chance the snow conditions will be icy.
Areas Where You Will Often Find Icy Snow
Another aspect of avoiding icy snow is knowing the areas the mountain which are most likely to have it. Here is a list of areas where icy snow conditions are likely to be present.
Off Of The Groomed Slope
If the hill has been groomed you shouldn’t have to worry about icy conditions for the most part. It is off of the groomed slope that ice is more likely to develop.
Areas Where Skiers Have Moved Snow Into Moguls
Another common area for icy snow to arise is around moguls. The hard sharp turns that are typically present from skiers in moguls can often create icy patches making it difficult to get traction.
Areas Without Snow Cannons/Areas That Don’t Receive New Snow
As we stated earlier it is not fresh snow but rather snow that has been around for a while that you have to worry about. If there are some areas of your ski hill that do not receive snow from the cannons or haven’t received snow in sometime these are areas that are more likely to be icy.
Sharp Turns Where Many Skiers Slow Down
Sharp turns where skiers slow down can often result in icy patches. If every skier who makes his way down the hill takes a sharp turn at the same area it is only a matter of time before the snow compresses and the location becomes icy.
Why Does Ice Make It More Difficult To Ski?
There are many reasons why ice makes it more difficult to ski but it mainly comes down to the lack of friction in the density of ice versus snow.
Friction is used by skis to control the speed and turns, so when friction cannot be generated on ice it becomes very difficult to control your skis.
The density of the ice versus snow also makes these conditions significantly harder to skin. When you imagine skis carving in snow you think of the edge of the ski cutting through the snow. Since ice is much denser the pressure needed to carve into the ice is significantly higher.
This makes it much more unlikely your edges will stick into the ice and allow you to turn effectively.
Conclusion How To Ski On Ice
We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to ski on icy snow. If you have any more questions about this topic or anything we include in the article please reach out and let us know. If you enjoy this guide we hope you check out some of our others such as our guide to stopping on skis or layering for skiing.