1. Look at the White Spaces Between The Trees
Never, ever look directly at the trees because what you see is what you get. If you’re looking at the tree trunks, you will subconsciously steer your skis there too. Keep your vision squarely focused on the white ribbon of fluffy powder that will be your path through the trees.
2. Plan Ahead
Keep your vision one turn ahead of your skis. Once you visually mark a turn, you want to be looking for what comes next. Your legs and body will naturally execute the turn after your vision has marked it. As you plant your pole to execute the current turn, your eyes should already be plotting your course to your next turn.
3. Control Your Speed with Short, Quick Turns
Skiing in trees leaves little margin for error, and you’ll need to ski at slower speeds than you would on a wide open cruiser. Short quick turns keep you in control of your speed as you navigate through the woods. Keep your hands out in front of you, and plant your poles deliberately to initiate each turn. For me, pole plants seem to happen more naturally if I envision that I am gripping the steering wheel of a Formula One race car.
Skiing moguls is a great way to train for tree skiing. Moguls force you to connect quick, short turns and keep you thinking a few turns ahead. Try to envision an aspen tree planted in the center of each mogul, and in no time, you’ll be shredding endless powder stashes hidden among the forest.
Norther is Steamboat’s best run for learning how to ski moguls, and it can be accessed from the Burgess Creek and Elkhead Chairlifts or from the top of the Gondola. Surprise (head right after the second pitch of the Vagabond trail) is another great place to work on skiing bumps. When you’re ready to start picking your first lines through the trees, head over to the Sunshine area and explore the trees between Tomahawk, Flintlock, and Quickdraw.