Posted by Mark (Macca) McDonald on

How to ski steeps the APSI way

How to ski steeps the APSI way

By Mark Mc Donald APSI

Skiing steeps is in. The steep skiing celebration is flashed up at every turn by our industry ski movies.  There is a push towards riding our own mountain wave and finding our own steep line signature. Whether you decide to make your sign inbounds or out in the backcountry, here are some good tips to have in mind.

If you are starting out, to learn your first steep decent make sure you are able to execute a strong hockey stop style turn. This means that you can twist both skis firmly across the hill and use your ankle, knee and hip to flex and bend inwards to set an edge that holds and brings you to a complete and absolute stop. Use the pole plant at the end of the turn to ensure that you have one more anchor and block any upper body rotation. As any rotation of the upper body may bring you around too much, making it easy to fall and the steeps is not somewhere you want to fall. Practice these to the left and right, then slowly link a few with hardly stopping on some blue to black marked terrain.

The next step is to try on a steep slope. Firstly, select a slope like a secret agent, always have an escape plan. Therefore, a small steep section no more than four or five turns that has a flat run out is a wise first choice. Places that spring to mind around Australia are Ruin Castle cornice in Falls Creek, Balls to the Wall in Thredbo, The Cornice race hut, Mt Hotham, the side of Macglocklans shoulder, Mt Buller and some of the steep parts of center valley in Perisher provide some great places to pre-test your skills.

Once you are comfortable down a steep short slope and also can stop at will, its time to move on to longer steeper pitches. This is where at times you will need to have the skills listed below to potentially get you through and out of obstacles or icy sections that may be on your signature line.

  • Edge set checks. Being able to jump and set on the same edges to safely move down a steep section where a turn may be too tight or too steep to risk making a complete turn at this time.
  • Sideslips to maneuver around a rock or past an area to reach a more desirable line.
  • Develop the comfort to be able to hop the start of the turn. Use a strong extension in the legs to get the skis of the snow and then be able to land strongly and softly by bending all the leg joints equally while moving the ankle, knee and hip inwards towards the slope to ensure that you have a solid edge platform to secure yourself with comfort on your new favorite steep line.
  • Remember, choose a line that is with in your ability and that has no surprises. A classic example would be the Rock Gardens at Blue Cow during early season, where the low snow and rocky outcroppings can put you in over your head.

Posted by Hotham Academy on

Heavenly Season 2017

Hotham Academy Trainers Heidi Ettlinger and Richard Jameson live and reside in Lake Tahoe during the USA winter, which is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in Northern California. Being a ski instructor is a dream job most of the time, but ski instructing this year was a little different in Lake Tahoe. This season broke all records with a snowfall of 660 inches recorded so far at Heavenly Ski resort where Heidi and Richard live and play. That’s over 16 metres of snow in 1 winter! Check out some of these incredible photos taken from the slopes at Heavenly this season……

Heavenly Tower Pad
Heavenly Tables
Heavenly Chairlift
Heavenly Boyahs

The Heavenly staff had tons of powder skiing but also plenty of practice at snow shovelling this season!! Most day lodges that you normally walk upstairs to get in, had snow tunnels leading you down into them instead…..

There certainly was a lot of snow…… This graph was created in mid-March. And it’s still snowing outside at the end of April!! I guess mountain biking will not be happening this spring…..

Where there’s an epic season being recorded, it wasn’t surprising to see some of the Hotham Academy Crew drop in for some fresh tracks. It was great to put into practice all the technical training over the years and adapt them to some classic powder turns.

MP Pow
NP Pow


It’s all about the float!

Hopefully, we will see some deep snow in Hotham this winter. Here’s 5 quick tips to help you in the fluffy powder if we do.

  • Get out those Fat Skis
  • A closer stance
  • An even weighted platform
  • Going up and down
  • Skiing arc to arc


1. Get out those fat skis. 

A ski that’s at least 100mm in waist width is a good start to making the powder easier. A wider ski will help you float more on top of the powder, making the skis easier to turn. The Nordica enforcer was a ski of choice this season in the states and was voted one of ski magazines “ski of the year”.

2. A closer stance 

Especially if you find yourself on a narrower ski in the powder, try to keep your skis together as close as possible. One platform is better than 2 separate ones for floating in the deep snow. Try to make the 2 skis act as one and you will be able to turn them where ever you want to go. A good thought is to imagine there’s a tennis ball between your boots and you need to squeeze it so that you don’t drop the ball as you go down the run. This constant muscle tension or squeezing sensation will hold the platform together and stop the powder snow pulling your feet apart.


3. An even weighted platform 

Usually we teach people to stand 100% on their outside ski to maintain balance and get the edges to bite into the snow. However, in the powder this will make your outside ski sink and diverge away from your other ski (this is when bad things happen!). Try to weight your skis more 50/50 or even on both feet. Once again this more even weight distribution will help the skis act as one platform and keep you floating better on top of the soft snow.

4. Going up and down 

Aggressively extending through the transition of your turns by popping up will help your skis seek the surface (or even get out of the snow), making them easier to turn. You will look like your bouncing through the snow rather than bogging down in it! Once your speed increases and your skill level grows you can calm this motion down to a smoother transition from turn to turn


5. Skiing arc to arc

Making sure you are not on a run too steep, try to finish your turns less and ski more down the fall- line. The added speed and consistent pull down the mountain will again keep you more on top making the skis easier to direct where you want them to go.