skiing off piste in Andermatt

Five Ways to use Piste Skiing to Prepare for Off Piste

Published on 6th Nov 2018

In Europe’s ski resorts, this season has been one of off piste and powder power! (Apart from December when we were convinced global warming had written off the Alps as a ski destination completely) But we mustn’t forget that the snow fell equally as much on the resorts’ pistes too. Team Ongosa want to reignite your passion for piste skiing – suggesting how you can use the groomers to prepare your skills and ski fitness for off piste sessions.

steep off piste snowboarding

Ski steep pistes – to secure your upper body position

Verbier’s Mont Fort is a steep black with a great view. Our tip to make the most of learning how to ski steep, is to cut across right at the top, to the right of the tram line and make your way down an even steeper (but slightly smoother) route. Les Deux Alpes area of La Fee also has excellent piste skiing with challenging gradients. The steepest groomed option for piste skiing in Austria is the Harakiri in Mayrhofen. A classic that features on many piste skiing bucket-lists. Read about how Mayrhofen keep the piste in tip top condition here

Using moguls on piste to learn how to ski off piste

Ski mogul pistes – to test your knees and flexibility

La Chavanette, otherwise known as The Swiss Wall, in Avoriaz starts with a sign that denotes it for ‘experts only’. Much like Tortin in Verbier, the moguls on these runs form later in the day, so make life harder for yourself and spend the morning warming up. Tackle the fully-formed moguls post coffee break in the afternoon. In Zermatt, you could take the Stockhorn lift and play in Triftji’s mogul fields until your heart’s content. (Or until your legs give up!)

snowboarding off piste to train fitness

Ski long pistes – to train your ski fitness and endurance

The Sarenne runs 16km from Pic Blanc at 3,330 metres to Alpe d'Huez at 1,860m. It’s one of the longest pistes to ski in the Alps and the harder top section can be avoided. The 'Eleven' piste in Ischgl is an 11km red/black run from the resort’s highest point right back down to town. Another we recommend is the Aguille Rouge in Les arcs which spans 8km with a vertical descent of over 2,000m. We challenge you to beat the thigh-burns and ski these pistes with minimal breaks – then you know your cardiovascular fitness is ready to head for hiking in the backcountry!

European Snowsports race training on piste

Ski competition pistes – to test your control on the best maintained snow

Many of the Alps’ world-famous competition pistes are open for the public to ski. But because they’re so valuable to the resorts, the snow on them is kept in tip-top condition, so you can really work on your technique here. This doesn’t mean they’re easy though; Die Streif in Kitzbühel has a steepness of 85% and is often seen as the hardest World Cup Downhill race of the season. The Face de Bellevarde in Val D’Isere has an easy beginning section, often begging the question as to ‘what’s all the fuss about?’ but this all changes at ‘La Mur’ (the wall) – the steep second half of the piste. An easier option is The Olympiaabfahrt at Patscherkofel, Innsbruck. A red perfectly maintained with state-of-the-art snow cannons, it’s easily conquered. But beware – in the week or so before a race these runs are transformed sheet ice for racing. Not the best prep for your powder adventure!

Playing on ski tips off piste

Ski showstopper pistes – these beautiful runs will make you consider if you even need to venture off piste!

There’s no doubt skiing off piste show’s off the best of mother nature’s untouched backcountry. But piste skiing can provide some pretty epic vistas too. Pic du Midi de Bigorre in La Tourmalet gives far-reaching views from the highest point in the Pyrenees you won’t believe. On the other end of the spectrum is The Hidden Valley in Cortina, which takes you on a winding piste through craggy pink peaks and frozen waterfalls.  If you are after the big, bold views again, we love the Olympia Run, in Igls, which offers super-fun, speedy piste skiing with wonderful views of Innsbruck.

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