Why bad skiing is good | The Ingrid Backstrom blog

skier Ingrid Backstrom makes a beautiful turn on steep terrain, surrounded by snow and bad visibility

Most skiers would agree that a sunny powder day is the best kind of skiing, followed by a stormy powder day, and then a sunny, cold groomer/park day as the third best type of ski day.

What you almost never hear is someone say that they can’t wait for a rainy ski day, or a day of heavy wet sloppy snow, or a frozen, crusty, icy day.

However, I’m here to go on record saying that crappy snow or bad weather can be some of the most fun, and here are my top reasons why…

1 Fresh air

When else can you spend eight or more hours outside breathing fresh air in the winter? Even if you ski groomers all day, your legs and lungs are still doing some work, and that counts for something. This is verging into ‘a bad day of skiing is better than a good day of work’ territory, but there’s a reason why people always say that phrase: because it’s true!

Getting a little breeze in your hair and snow under your skis is always worth it.

2 Bad snow makes better skiers

The best skiers are the ones who are out there every chance they get. They don’t take it too seriously; they are just enjoying the ride. They ski opportunistically, sniffing out the best snow on the mountain and chatting up everyone on the lift to try to glean some info and make the most of it.

The best slalom skiers generally come from the smallest hills with the iciest snow, because they know how to turn on hard snow and they get a ton of runs in.

When you can adapt your skiing to different conditions – sticky snow, crusty snow, ice – then you really dial in the balance and the micro-movements necessary to achieving the next level of ski prowess. Think of it as training!

3 Exercise

Speaking of training, the thigh burn thathappens in heavy, wet snow is like nothing else. Skiingtough snow is the best way to get in ski shape, and beingin ski shape is one of the main goals of my winter everyyear. Sneaking in some rough snow ramps up my progresslike nothing else.

After skiing when it’s rough out, the good days feel even more sweet … ‘Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield’

4 Creativity builds from constraints

When the snow is good, it’s easy to make decisions – just follow the freshies. When the snow is lacklustre, decision-making gets tough, and it forces out-of-the-box thinking.

Want to do a jump line or hit a squirrel trail? Sure.

Let’s go for a little hike! Or check out that far-out forest run we never do.

Ski backwards? Why the heck not!

5 Good company

A bad ski day is good for bonding – you have to work together to be creative (see #4, above), and when you do find some good snow or a fun lap, everyone gets to share in the success. You end up creating new stories, exploring and having adventures, connecting on a deeper level and building character together – and that is what skiing is all about.

6 The payoff

The real benefit of a bad ski day happens later on the next day with good conditions. After skiing when it’s rough out, the good days feel even more sweet. Like one of my favourite avalanche safety instructors, Kam Weakley, says: “Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield.”

If you can endure some less-than-perfect turns, it can help make the perfect ones nearly effortless.

And you just might learn something, get stronger and have fun along the way.

I’ll see you out there!

blurry figure of skier comes at camera, mouth open in celebration, by a wooden chalet on a snowy day

Catch up with Ingrid’s previous Fall Line blogs this season here:

❄ Ingrid is sponsored by The North Face