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December 18, 2007

The Slasher Turn

As a day like Monday — with more than a foot of fresh snow — gets late, do you ever find yourself straightlining from the tracked-out middle of a trail directly into a big pillow near the trees, picking up enough speed to bust through the fluff, slash a powder turn and rack up another face shot?

I highly recommend it.
I first started doing this on my snowboard, following the lead of the most skilled riders on the mountain, who always seem to know where to find those waning pillows of powder. They line up their turn from 20 yards away, speed toward the side of the trail and carve a huge powder slash, briefly obscuring themselves as snow flies into the air - usually riding away grinning (perfect example seen here from Jay Peak on Monday.)

When I switch back to skis — I go back and forth frequently these days — that slasher mentality stays with me, and I find myself lining up those same types of powder-pillow-busting turns.

Snowboarding's influence on skiing has been enormous and well-documented. Shaped skis may not exist without the deep sidecut example of racing snowboards. As well, skiers would unlikely be doing misty flips and corked 720s if not for snowboarders leading them into halfpipes and terrain parks.

Now I think I've stumbled upon another influence — The Slasher Turn. Of course, this can all be traced back to surfing, as most snowboarding — except for the freestyle tricks derived from skateboarding — can be. Powder snowboarding especially takes its cue from surfing.

And surfers are kings of the slash. Next time you're watching a surf video on TV, the web or whereever, keep an eye on the way surfers set up their big turns. They'll pump up and down across the wave to generate speed, waiting for the perfect face of water to form. Then — BAM — they'll lean into a huge carve with all their might, throw up their hands along with a giant wall of water and shed all their speed. Then they'll reload and do it again.

The best snowboarders do the same thing, especially in Vermont. The trails here are narrow, they get tracked out in a hurry and the best snow is almost always found in or near the trees. So as a powder day stretches into afternoon, snowboarders rely on that big surfer-style turn to maximize their face shots.

Skiers, I think, are just picking up on the concept. It makes for an afternoon of great fun to poke around for those pillows and throw your skis sideways into them like a surfer. Maybe you need to lean back a little bit, but that's OK. Just don't forget to ski away grinning.

It's slasher heaven out there right now. Check out the snow totals from Monday morning. Keep in mind too that Stowe and Jay Peak did not open their upper lifts until Tuesday because of a blustery Monday so that snow remained untouched a little longer.

We should have a Photo of the Day roundup to end all Photo of the Day roundups later in the week from the storm.

December 18, 2007 at 03:56 PM | Permalink


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