Ready to venture beyond the margins? Our expert advice on how to master powder, bumps, and trees.
By Tim Etchells
If you want to improve your skiing or riding, there's no better training ground than rough terrain. Whether you're an alpine skier, a snowboarder, or a telemarker, advanced degrees are only awarded far from the finely coiffed runs—in the powder, in the bumps, and in the trees. It's not easy. Leaving behind the familiarity of carving corduroy is a challenge, both mentally and physically. But isn't that what got you hooked in the first place? "You can get away with sloppy technique on groomed runs," says Kim Reichhelm, 39, two-time extreme-skiing world champion and resident ski diva at Crested Butte, Colorado. "But if you aspire to get better, you've got to tackle more difficult terrain."
Reichhelm isn't just goading you in order to see you biff, as your pals would do. No, she's a bona fide instructor and runs the Women's Adventure Clinics at Crested Butte as well as coed clinics at the Alyeska Ski Resort in Alaska, which is why we asked her to dispense wisdom on skiing expert terrain. For snowboarding, we've enlisted 34-year-old Scott Palmer, a former world-class slalom competitor who has been head snowboarding coach at the noted Stratton Mountain School in Vermont for six years. And for telemarking we've called on Leighton White, 36. The Bend, Oregon, resident is considered one of the finest freeheelers in the country and teaches the Wy'East Telemark Clinics at Mount Hood.
We're assuming you know the basics—stay centered over your ride, look ahead, and keep your shoulders perpendicular to the fall line while letting your lower body turn across it. Everything else that you'll pick up from our instructors should stack neatly atop these tenets. "On groomed runs or on more challenging terrain, the building blocks are pretty much the same," says White. "You just learn to finish off the house in a slightly different way."
Photo: Paul Morrison