Factors That Impact Your Speed

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love to ski fast. I love the thrill of racing myself down the mountain, and I love exploring steeps in the backcountry. In my years of skiing, I’ve realized that certain factors continuously impact my maximum speed—I’ll sometimes crawl down slopes I can usually bomb, or I add 20mph to one of my slower runs without even trying. The ability to identify these factors will significantly improve your ability to control your speed, so I suggest giving them a read.

  • Terrain—Okay, so this one if pretty obvious. Slopes with moguls are going to be slower than groomed terrain. The fewer turns you have to make to make it down, the faster you’ll go. If you reach the crest of a bump, keep your hands forward and down in an attempt to keep contact with the ground.
  • Side Cambers—Applying more force on your turns will allow you to gain speed as you travel downhill. Additionally, relieving pressure on the ‘up’ turn will soften your fight with gravity. Really lean into your turns to gain or maintain speed.
  • Snow—Sometimes, the snow on the side of the trail is quicker; it’s had less traffic throughout the day, so the grooming is more even. Conversely, the snow in the middle of the trail may be faster; sitting in the sun will allow the snow to melt, creating a faster and frictionless surface. The consistency and speed of the snow will change throughout the day, so pay attention to where you can find the sweet spots.
  • Trees—Not skiing in the trees, per se—that will always be slower. If you want to practice skiing faster, pick a slope lined with trees or netting. The shadows will allow you to better see the terrain, allowing you to anticipate potential setbacks.
  • Your Equipment—This is the most obvious on the list, but it has the more impact on your speed. Certain types of skis are built for speed, while others are built for freestyle terrain and tricks. As a rule of thumb, the heavier and more narrow the ski, the faster it will go.