Skiing is a popular winter activity, but it can be hard to know how to get started. Not to worry, that’s why we’re here. Below we have ten steps that teach how to ski for beginners. These will help you visualize the most important steps of the process and give you a solid foundation for your skiing habits, especially if you’re learning to ski as an adult.
Table of Contents
Are you ready? Good! Now let’s get started.
Step 1: Ski Prep
There are a few things that beginner skiers are going to want to have before skiing for the first time. Trust me when I say that the first step in learning to ski is being prepared.
Make sure to plan ahead by getting a ski lift pass in advance. This helps speed up the process at ski resorts and gets you to the ski slopes faster. Saving time on the lift tickets means you get more time to practice.
Make sure to dress appropriately for a cold climate and have a thorough ski trip packing list so that you don’t forget anything important. Dressing appropriately means having multiple layers ready and some warm gloves. Preferably, your outer layer should have some amount of water resistance. It is especially important to have a good pair of comfortable ski boots. Also, get some ski goggles so that you can see what you’re doing and a helmet. Note that when preparing your outfit for skiing, it’s never a bad idea to have extra layers.
Renting Ski Gear
Skis and other gear can be expensive. However, having the right gear for skiing is very important. Luckily, many ski resorts have the option to rent beginner ski equipment. When renting ski equipment there are people that will fit you with the right ski boots, skis, ski poles, and helmet for your first day out on the slopes. They can also show you how the ski bindings work if you are unfamiliar with them.
Keep in mind that there is some important gear that you cannot rent out. Ski goggles can be useful for protecting your eyes when you ski, but you can’t rent out ski goggles from the resort. Also, you can’t expect them to lend you jackets and socks for your ski outing. Before skiing, know what you can and can’t rent at your ski resort.
Ski Area/Bunny Hill
Locate a ski area with minimal traffic. You wouldn’t want to run into anybody while practicing. This also minimizes the possibility of someone running into you. The best area for this at most ski resorts is the bunny hill. It is made to be a place for beginner skiers to learn and improve their skiing. You can also watch and learn from others in a controlled environment.
Once you start moving to more advanced areas, remember to be aware of your surroundings and stay clear of those flying fast down the mountain. That is basic skiing etiquette. If you are merging onto another run, uphill skiers have the right of way.
It is not a bad idea to consider having someone personally instruct you as they can spot and help you fix bad habits as you are learning to ski. When I say this, I don’t mean a friend but a professional ski instructor. After all, a good ski instructor won’t do you any harm. Consider looking into signing up for ski classes at the ski resort. Good ski instructors may cost money, but their classes are very beneficial for beginners.
With all of this preparation, if you manage to master the subsequent steps, you’ll be skiing in no time.
Step 2. Security
The next step is pretty simple. Once you get to the slopes, it’s time to secure yourself into your skis. All you need to do is slide your feet into the bindings until you hear a clicking sound. Do this for both feet.
If you need to undo the bindings there are two ways. The first is, using your poles, press the top of the bindings to unhinge them. The second way is to wipeout and the bindings become dislodged upon impact. Hopefully, you won’t be using the second option.
Step 3. The Stance
Now, the most important thing beginner skiers need to know is what stance to take. The stance required will be very beneficial going forward. Here’s what you need to do:
Keep your legs apart from each other, leaving yourself a gap that is comfortable enough for stable footing. You want to be in a position that gives your legs strength while keeping your knees relaxed and flexible.
For your arms, you’re going to want to keep them by your side, preferably holding your ski poles.
The goal is to have yourself in a position where your shoulders are ahead of your hips. however, you don’t want to be leaning forwards or backwards as that could cause you to lose your balance. Actually, that is a great segue into the next step: balance.
Step 4. Balance
Now that you’ve gotten into the proper stance, the next step is keeping it. If you can’t manage to keep the stance on the slopes, then you will not be getting far. You’ll most likely wipe out if you don’t learn proper form. So, it’s time to test your balance. Remember to practice on flat terrain while learning this step. Balance is a lot harder to learn when you are on a hill.
There are a couple of ways to do this. You can try switching back and forth between your natural stance and your ski stance to make it feel more natural. You can also try lightly hopping up and down to see if you can maintain the stance when you land. This is all to help ensure your stance doesn’t crumble later.
Remember that if you don’t get used to this stance and you remain stiff, it will be more difficult to maintain control in the future because skiing requires good control of your upper and lower body.
Step 5. Moving Your Skis
Once you’re sure you can keep your stance, it’s time to start moving. Let’s take things slow. You just started, so we’re still working on the basics. Since you don’t want to break your skiing stance, you need to focus on controlling your leg movements and adjusting the size of the ski wedges.
A classic way to think about this is using the Pizza and French fry method. It is called this because you visualize your skis in these terms, and this will help you know how to control the speed of your skis.
The bigger the slice of pizza, the slower you go. For example, the more you turn your skis in towards each other to form a wedge shape, the less momentum you’ll have.
The more straight the French fries, the faster you go. For example, by keeping your skis parallel to each other, you’ll gain speed. You can choose to think of this as moving parallel or using wedges, or maybe as carrots and celery sticks. Whatever helps you learn how to position your skis.
One thing that you need to think about when moving your skis is keeping them from crossing. When skis cross it leads to an emergency stop–if you know what I mean. So, while you are practicing this method, make sure to pay attention to how much weight you put on your skis. Putting too much weight on either foot can cause your skis to cross over, so try to keep control of your lower body as you practice your ski movement.
Step 6. Start Gliding
Now we’re finally moving forward. Get into your stance and practice controlling your speed by switching between pizza and French fry. The goal this time is to be able to slow down and stop. Practice this on a hill that isn’t very steep at first, lest you go barreling down the mountain and end up in an accident.
Remember that when you practice skiing, your torso should not need to move. Using your upper body strength, keep your core centered and firm regardless of how you move your skis. It may help to use your ski poles to keep your balance until you learn to be more relaxed.
The best part about skiing is being in control of the skis and on the slopes.
Step 7. Walking Uphill
Once you have a handle on controlling your movement, you can always test out how far you’ve come. However, that means once you go down the mountain, you need a way back up. Instead of trying to use the ski lift every time, you could also walk uphill. Now there are two things you can do.
The first thing you can do is sidestepping, which is, as the name suggests walking sideways up the hill while digging into the snow. Just as you walk, plant one ski in the snow after another as you sidestep up the mountain.
The second method involves walking up the mountain while keeping your legs out. To gain stable footing, you want to move your legs so that you keep your skis parallel with the mountain and use them as a foothold to move.
Step 8. Turning
Now that you’ve got a pretty good handle on all this, good job. Next, we’re going to talk about turning. After all, you don’t want to keep going in a straight line and barreling down the mountain. That isn’t skiing, that’s just an accident waiting to happen. So, to ensure that you control yourself properly, you need to learn how to turn. The key to this is learning how to stop.
Stopping is best done when slowing down by increasing the size of your pizza slice so that the wedge gathers more snow to slow down the skis. Once you have more experience, you can stop yourself faster by turning your skis parallel to the slopes.
At this point, you should be familiar with transitioning speeds and moving your skis. So, depending on which way you want to turn, move the opposite leg outwards to create a slice pointing in the direction you want to go. This means that if you want to turn left – start with the right ski and if you want to turn right – start with the left ski.
You should also use your ski poles as a way to balance your turns by pivoting off of them while turning your skis.
Step 9. Linking Turns
I know practicing turns sounds difficult, but it actually isn’t that bad once you get the hang of it. The key is to not kill all of your speed when making the turns. When turning to the side, use your other ski to close the gap between your skis and switch back from pizza to French fry and then you can just keep practicing like that until you get the hang of it.
Step 10. Bring it all together.
This last step is actually fairly simple as long as you’ve given yourself a good foundation with the previous steps. Practicing each movement on its own has given you some solid building blocks to work with, and now you just need to build a tower. There will still be some awkwardness at first, therefore, try to transition between the steps until you have developed a steady flow. Try to think of skiing as a series of movements rather than steps to help it feel more natural.
Once you feel that you’ve gotten a good handle on everything I’ve mentioned, you can put everything you’ve learned to the test and start skiing. No joke–you’re ready now. Everything you have done has led to this and I couldn’t be prouder of you. Now, before you head out to the slopes, I just want to say a few more things.
Don’t Be Impatient
The key to learning anything new is practice. I can understand the excitement of wanting to learn something new, however, you can’t let that excitement develop into impatience. Each step you take is to ensure you build a solid foundation for yourself. You might not get each step right away and some steps may be more difficult than others, but they’re all important.
Ask for Help
It’s fine if you want to get help from friends or a ski instructor if you feel like you are stuck. You can take lessons or watch videos to learn certain skiing tricks or to better visualize the movements. However, if you remember one thing when learning to ski, it should be that it is okay to mess up. You aren’t expected to get everything right on the first try. Just remember that you are here to learn something new and often times, the best way to do that is to make mistakes.
If you want to learn fast, get an instructor.
Your best bet when trying to learn to ski in a day is to get an instructor. Getting an instructor is also advised if you’re learning to ski at 40, and especially if you’re learning to ski at 50. If you’re older, you should have an expert help you with the proper form so that it will be easier and more beneficial for your body.
That was the point of all this, wasn’t it? You wouldn’t have started skiing in the first place if you didn’t think that skiing could be fun. You wanted to cruise on your skis, head down the slopes, and feel the freedom of the slopes. Well, here you are at the end and you’ve done everything you needed to learn how to ski for beginners. So, what are you waiting for? You don’t need my permission. Just grab your skis, hit the slopes, and ski to your heart’s content. It was a lot of work, but in the end, I hope skiing is even more fun than you imagined it would be.
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