Shades of Grey
Flat light is rarely anyone’s ideal skiing condition but don’t let it detour you from an incredible day on the slopes. During those snowy, winter days you will often find that the light is not quite the same as our famous, blue-bird days. Realistically though some of the best powder is prime for the taking on those grey, flat-light days.
The difficulty with flat-light is that our confidence and comfort while skiing is based mainly on our vision. Like anything, we like to see what we are doing. When you diminish the ability to decipher terrain, obstacles and changing conditions our immediate response is apprehension.
Here are my tips for ways to minimize the fear and capitalize on the conditions while skiing on those grey days:
1.) Stay In The Trees!
This might sound crazy, but anything that can give you a reference helps your depth perception. Skiing within the trees gives you cues to the variation on terrain. On those grey days stay away from the wide open bowls and trails and look for more wooded areas or trails that have trees sidelining like 2:30 Trees and Cyclone.
2.) Lighten Up Your Lenses
You may not realize that you have options for your goggle lenses. Often goggles come with mirrored or dark lenses, which are not ideal for flat-light. Most goggle manufacturers have “low-light lenses”, which are lighter and often rose or yellow hued allowing for more light and definition. This makes an enormous difference. In my ski racing days, we would often chose from 5-6 different lenses daily based entirely on the light. You can visit your ski shop and inquire about the appropriate lenses. You will notice the difference!
3.) Ski Like it’s Sunny
The biggest problem with not being able to see is it affects our confidence and approach. This is even more dangerous because it puts us on the defensive. The best approach is to tackle grey days with confidence and assurance. It becomes more of a mind game than anything else. Challenge yourself to use the strategies mentioned above and have the mindset to ski the same as you would with perfect light. You will be amazed just how well you will ski. The truth is, your body knows what to do, you need to trust yourself.
No matter the weather, enjoy the turns!
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Caroline Lalive Carmichael
Caroline Lalive Carmichael moved to Steamboat with her family in 1995 and joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. After one season, Caroline was named to the U.S. Ski Team and competed for 13 years, attending two Olympics. After retiring in 2009, she returned to Steamboat as a coach. She and fellow Olympian Nelson Carmichael were married in 2012 and welcomed their daughter, Freya, in 2015.