Nick Moynihan: 5 things I love about different types of piste

British racer Nick Moynihan on why we should embrace the huge varieties of runs

Nick grew up in the French Alps where he caught the infectious ski bug. He has racked up title after title at the British Junior Championships over the past few years, and has now moved onto the Europa Cup and World Cup circuits. When he’s not sessioning the gates, he loves nothing more than letting his skis run on an open piste – or in the powder. Here he picks his five favourite types of ski runs.

Early morning runs

Not much beats that first run of the day. The crisp mountain air on your cheeks, the sun rising over the peaks, your body still holding onto the last of the warmth from the gondola. That combined with the feeling of the fresh groomer crunching under the edges of my Experience 84 skis as I cut the first tracks of the day makes the early morning alarm that little bit easier. There’s every inch of the slope to express yourself. You can be confident that the snow will be consistent for you and above all you can work your skis however you want without external distraction or judgement. A perfect harmony.


Why do I love it? The first reason is that off-piste is the foundation of the sport; scaling mountains and discovering untouched snow before grooming existed is where it all began. Secondly the feeling of skiing in powder is a sensation I have never been able to find anywhere else – that floating feeling, effortlessly bouncing between turns. Finally, there is something very pure about creating your own tracks through freshly fallen snow; I love skiing a powder face, looking back and enjoying that brief moment of seeing my single track in the deep snow, my own mark on the hill.

Nick in powder – a sensation like no other

Black runs

You won’t feel the adrenaline if you’re not gunning it down a challenging slope. The main attraction to a nice steep slope is the ability to lay it over in the turn. Due to the speed you can gain from a harsh gradient, once the edge bites and you’re bending that outside ski, you can really lean into the turn. You can’t recreate those sorts of angles anywhere else. Add in some speed and you can find yourself creating all sorts of forces through your boot and body to give you that sensation of a strong, speedy turn. Once the hip gets tight to the snow you feel like a total boss flying from one curve into the next.

Long runs

Long pistes and I have a love/hate relationship, but on the whole the love comes through. They are a rarity, but when I find one it is near impossible for me to not want to point the skis down and rip them up. Covering some serious mileage and linking turns until the legs can no longer hold out is a hugely fulfilling feeling for me. You also have more options in terms of how you tackle the run. You can take it slow, work on your technique, or (if there isn’t anyone around) you can slip into a tuck and build some fast speeds, or stretch out for some high-rush long radius turns.

Low-vis pistes

Yes, really! Skiing in low visibility hinders one of the senses, which I find stimulates the feeling I get through my skis. With this sense of touch significantly more in-tune than when the visibility is high I find you can really feel sensations and forces that you otherwise wouldn’t notice. Ripples in the snow and uneven terrain are no longer overcome by avoiding them, but more by absorbing and reacting to them as they pass from the tip to the tail of the ski. It will take your skiing to the next level and highlight where your weaknesses lie.   

Nick Moynihan is sponsored by Rossignol