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EpicMix of Vail
Why and How to Take a Ski Lesson from a Professional
How to Pick a Ski
Bill Jones, Ski
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Ski Slope Ratings
Skiing as a Career
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IS A SLIDING SPORT":
Skiing Groomed Snow
Groomed snow is that over which tracked grooming machines have passed, using blades in front to smooth slopes and tillers in back to churn it up into loosely packed powder, with the intent of creating consistent skiing conditions that are satisfying. Other types of groomers may be in use, with a similar effect. Not all slopes are groomed, some are groomed on a given schedule, and many are not groomed at all. Grooming most commonly takes place at night, but may happen in daylight, too, so the machines must be watched for, as they may run up hills or down.
Because groomers course over the resorts mainly at night, conditions are usually best on groomed runs when the resort opens in the mornings. As more skiers and boarders pass over the intricacies of the groomed snow, however, crystal incricacies are melted and then refreeze, making the surface harder and even icy as the day progresses. So get out early if you can. Sometimes snow will fall on a groomed slope after it has been groomed, creating confusion next morning when skiers find an unexpected condition. Too, at times such as in spring when snow turns slushy on warm days, then freezes hard at night, the groomers cannot break the surface and create the desired conditions.
Often slopes that are groomed have snow-making guns installed along them. This and the grooming service of ski resorts attract more visitors to enjoy their slopes than would come otherwise, as conditions are made more manageable especially for beginning and intermediate or occasional skiers. The services also add to the cost of lift tickets, for the grooming machines and the snow-making systems are expensive capital costs and create ongoing maintenance requirements, too. These costs have been incurred even on the learning slopes, and--along with ski patrol services--justify the practice of many resorts to require a lift ticket (better called a slope access pass) even if a lift is not used.
Tactical choices on groomed slopes have more to do with maneuvering in traffic. Be aware of the Skier's Responsibility Code and similar considerations including skiing ethics. Also, understand the concept of control promoted in this manual: "Control is the ability to alter the arc of the turn while you are in it", and understand that few will be able to do so. Because the slopes are easy to ski on, some ski unnervingly fast for lower-level skiers, a problem alleviated by leaving enough space.
Another element is choosing your route and its terrain and snow texture to suit your tastes. You can do this better by knowing how slopes are classified and how your abilities relate (See Skier Skill Levels 1-9 & Slope Ratings). Check grooming reports posted by the resorts, too. These are often at lift entrances and may be handed out in printed form at strategic spots.
You can also select, with a little experience at a given resort or some tips from insiders, slopes that are less or more crowded at certain times of day, and if you want to be seen you can look for a slope underneath an operating lift, or do the opposite if you like more privacy .
Grooming machines can only get so close to the edges of ski runs, and snow conditions there may vary from t he rest of the run. Skiing there, then, poses the hazard of having a ski sink into softer snow, hitting icy snow, clumps of snow, etc. This can be especially true in early season. Where snow-covered service roads cross ski runs, the groomers sometimes cannot maintain a consistent snow depth as they groom, and these become places to watch for exposed rocks and pebbles, especially on the downhill sides.
A final word: Eventually, after selecting the tactic to apply, you must "Point the skis down the hill; let them buck; the mountain will teach you!"
Contents of "TACTICS FOR TERRAINS and Snow
Textures and Racing":