The thought of skiing crud strikes fear into the heart of many. It’s one of the most difficult terrain types to navigate and poses a serious challenge to your overall technique.
Most skiers don’t see learning how to ski crud as a priority. Choosing to prioritise piste or powder, they often fail to master the choppy terrain that’s seen so regularly in busy resorts.
This article uses ski instructor knowledge to provide you with the advice you need to power through the crud. If you follow the information in this guide, you will have the tools required to attack choppy snow with confidence.
What Is Crud?
Crud refers to fresh ‘ungroomed’ snow that has been ‘tracked’ by many skiers. It’s commonly found at the side of a ski slope, or underneath a chairlift.
Once the fresh snow is ‘cut up’ by many skiers, it will evolve into a choppy and uneven surface. One patch might be icy, while another could have a big lump of powder.
The unpredictability of crud is what makes it so challenging. Every turn will have a different feeling underfoot, while the uneven surface will put your balance to the test.
The appearance of crud is a common sight in ski resorts across the world. With so many skiers descending on the biggest resorts, powder snow can turn into crud extremely quickly.
It’s rare to find somebody that loves skiing crud, due to the technical and physical challenges it brings. However, once you master the technique, you are well on your way to becoming a better skier.
#1 Use The Right Stance
Being correctly balanced over your skis is vital when skiing crud. With an uneven surface underfoot, you can expect your body to be continuously pushed backwards and forwards as you ski.
The correct stance is athletic and agile. Your weight should be on your forefoot, like ‘a football goalkeeper waiting to save a penalty.
Ankles, knees and hips should all be slightly bent. They should be soft and ready to absorb any impacts.
In this position, you will feel like you’re leaning forwards slightly. However, since the middle of the skis is underneath your forefoot, you will be perfectly balanced.
One of the most common issues when learning how to ski crud is leaning back too much. In this case, it’s likely that you will fall backwards if you hit an unexpected lump of powder.
If you find yourself leaning back too much, we also have a guide detailing how to lean forward when skiing. It does a great job of explaining the basic stance in plain English, making it a useful read for most skiers.
#2 Stabilize Your Upper Body
Just because your legs are moving, it doesn’t mean your upper body has to follow. When skiing crud, you should think of your legs as the ‘shock absorbers’, maintaining stability in the upper body.
A stable upper body is vital for crud performance. It will drastically improve your balance, allow you to drive the skis around a tighter turn and generally improve your control.
The key is to keep your upper body facing in the direction of travel, which should be down the slope. If you swing your body to follow the direction of the skis, you will inevitably loose your balance.
The best way to promote a forward facing body often lies in the head and shoulders. If you keep looking down the slope, you will usually find your upper body follows suit.If you want to ski well, you need to look where you're going. Simple, right? Click To Tweet
#3 Plot Your Path
Whenever you’re skiing, you should always be looking ahead. Not only will it help to stabilize your body, but it also helps to plot the path ahead.
Using tactical skiing is a great way to improve your performance. It will give you that vital extra second to prepare for each turn.
Look at the terrain ahead and aim to plot each turn in advance. While you’re completing one turn, you should already be thinking about the next.
Skiing tactically will make performing the proper technique much easier. With an effective route already established, you will encounter fewer situations that are beyond your ability.
#4 Use A Rounded Turn Shape
If you watch any good skier, you will notice that their turns usually follow a C shape. The tips follow the tails, producing a smooth and rounded turn.
On the flipside, you will see struggling skiers producing predominantly V shaped turns. Instead of allowing the ski to follow a natural rounded shape, they are pushing the skis to the side.
Although they have some use on very steep terrain, V shaped turns will quickly make you loose balance on crud. With uneven snow underfoot, skidding sideways will likely end in a fall when you hit a lump of powder.
In order to maintain balance and control, you must drive the skis around a rounded arc. Be patient around the turn and allow the skis to follow a natural turning circle.
Keep your weight on the outside ski, applying pressure to drive the ski through the turn. This will work to control line and speed through the turn, while also keeping you balanced.
Pro Tip: If you need a refresher on the technique required to produce a rounded turn, we have an article called ‘how to turn on skis‘ that explains the basics in a straightforward way.
#5 Ski With Flow
Flow is when you carry your momentum from one turn to the next. It’s rhythmical skiing that results in symmetrical turns.
Skiing with flow involves constantly moving from one turn to the next. Instead of freezing your movements between turns, you will actively keep moving.
Since crud is uneven, producing a flowing performance can be a challenge. Each turn will feel different underfoot, which will likely result in a few mistakes.
The key is to remain positive and proactive with your skiing. Instead of freezing up after loosing some control, fight hard to maintain your balance and rhythm.
Counting in your head or using a consistently timed pole plant is a great way to practice flow. Counting will force you to maintain a rhythmical turning speed, while a pole plant will keep you proactively moving forwards.
#6 Relax Your Body And Mind
Skiing crud is all about shock absorption. The unpredictable snow underfoot can be incredibly bumpy and is a serious test of your balance.
The best way to negotiate uneven snow is with a relaxed body. All your joints and muscles should be ‘soft’, making them naturally absorb any bumps.
Keeping your ankles, knees and hips slightly bent will help them to work independently from your upper body. It will allow the skis to follow the contours of the snow without throwing you off balance.
You should feel that your muscles are in a relaxed state and that your breathing pattern remains consistent. Much of this comes down to state of mind, with a confident skier less likely to feel tense.If you ski with a relaxed body and mind, you will cut through crud without loosing your balance. Click To Tweet
#7 Use A Pole Plant
The importance of pole planting is often underestimated. It can feel unnatural for some, but when used correctly it can significantly improve your ski performance.
- Pole planting provides the natural rhythm required to ski with flow. With proper timing, it will help you to make symmetrical turns.
- Pole planting will keep your upper body facing down the slope. By helping to stabilize your body, it’s a vital tool to improve your balance on crud.
- Pole planting promotes keeping your arms out in front of you. This will greatly improve your balance and stabilization.
- Pole planting will help you balance through the start of the turn. As you shift your weight to begin a new turn, having the pole planted in the snow will aid your balance.
- Pole planting will make your turns more round. The need to ski around the pole should make a nice rounded turn shape, which is vital when skiing crud.
Pole planting is often the tool that can tie your whole performance together. If you want to learn how to ski crud, you first need to make sure you’re pole planting effectively.
#8 Practice, Practice, Practice!
Most skiers look to avoid skiing crud at all costs. They often find it too physically taxing or outright intimidating.
However, shying away from choppy snow is not going to aid your performance. Practice makes perfect.
In order to improve your technical skills, you need to attack challenging terrain. The more time you spend skiing crud, the better you will become.
Although it might seem daunting at first, one of the best ways to improve your skiing is by overcoming challenges. Attack the snow with a positive mind-set and you will start to see results.
The skills we have outlined in this guide take time to master. Many of them may seem unnatural at first, but they need to be consistently practiced until they become second nature.
If you want to master the whole mountain, you need to learn how to ski crud. It’s one of the most common snow types you will see in resort and navigating it with proper technique is vital.
Most skiers tend to shy away from crud. It’s often viewed as challenging terrain that takes extreme physical effort and a fearless mental attitude.
However, once you’ve learned the proper technique, choppy snow can become an enjoyable challenge. If you follow the tips outlined in the guide, you will gradually see your skills improve over time.
How do you feel about skiing crud? Does it makes you feel fearful or excited? Either way, we’d love to hear from you.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.