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Skiing through ice patches - tips?


Certified Ski Diva
Hello Divas,

Recently I have skied in a large QC ski resorts, and was bothered by the ice patches. Tried my best to avoid them when I could, but was not always successful. I did not fall but still, I think I could use a piece of advice from more experienced skiers.

How do I behave when I see a sizeable ice patch on the slope that I am entering the next millisecond? So far, my tactic was to get lower, legs wider apart, no any new manoeuvers, all attention to my balance and to wait till the ice patch is passed. As soon as I felt solidly on the snow, I make the next turn.

Feels awkward when I feel being just carried down on ice by the forces, struggling to stay on my legs, unable to do anything.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
agree ^^^.. I always just stay balanced and flat over the ice and "Look" for the snow to turn on and not concentrate on the ice.. Stay calm...
When I don’t stiffen up on ice, I navigate it better. When I do have to make my turn on ice, I leave room for some sideways skidding, but I can make a pivot turn.

I think when you encounter it more often without disaster, it becomes challenging, not terrifying.


Angel Diva
A friend I ski with often has always been psyched out by ice. He has finally realized that whenever he encountered icy patches, he would stiffen up, lean uphill, brace against the outside ski (which would of course slide out from the pressure), and he would often fall. Now that he's focusing on staying relaxed and balanced over the outside ski (but no pushing) and sort of calmly sliding over the ice, it's working much much better. And he's no longer terrified by ice.

Randi M.

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Ice is a new thing for me. I grew up skiing out West but in the last three years have become an east coast skier. What I finally learned is not to be afraid of it. Meaning, if there is snow to turn on, turn on that. If you can ride across it. But if you can’t, just ski and don’t stiffen up. If you have sharp edges and really stick to good technique it’s skiable. But you can’t ski lazy. Don’t ride back seat, keep your shoulders facing downhill, keep good separation and trust your skis. Know that your skis will move faster and you have to really dig in when you are crossing the mountain to control your speed.

Randi M.

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Ok. It’s 4 am and for some reason I can’t sleep and have been thinking about this question. Probably because we just had an icy ski day yesterday.

Here’s the thing about ice - you have to control your speed. You can’t let your speed get out of you control and expect to hockey stop back into control. But you also can’t wedge - wedging doesn’t grip enough.

If it’s just icy in patches just let your skis slide across the ice. Turn where there is snow. As long as it’s patchy you can ski however you like because the tricky part - turning and controlling your speed - will still be done on the snow.

If the entire slope is slick you have to ski differently. In that case, you can’t expect to carve beautiful turns. The first thing to do is relax and slow down. When you point your skis downhill in your turn you WILL go faster than is comfortable. It will be scary for a second. Do not give into the urge to wedge or pull back or do whatever it is you do on a hill that is too steep but snowy. Instead complete your turn and let your skis go across the mountain. At that point really dig your edges in. Really concentrate on the uphill part of your feet. You’ll see that your skis do what they are supposed to and the mountain slows you down.

It’s actually easier to ski ice if you don’t make those very long snaky turns across the mountain that help control speed so much when you are on a hill that is too steep but has snow. You tend to tense up too much that way. That’s why I said what I said in the post above about good technique. It causes your edges to engage without tensing up your body. But if you are uncomfortable on ice you can make those turns and just getting those uphill edges in will work. At that point you will become less afraid.

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