Fundamentals of Skiing
This guide is all about the fundamentals of skiing. There are so many fun times to be had while skiing, whether it’s with friends, family, or others, it’s always a great time when you are out on the mountain. Skiing is a great sport that almost anybody can do and it’s a great activity for everyone who wants to stay active. Skiing has always been an important activity for my family and I hope that this guide will help people who want to try skiing for the first time gain a basic understanding of what they need to do it and how to do it.
Step 1: Equipment needed for Skiing
The equipment that is needed for skiing includes a winter jacket, snow pants, gloves, a helmet or hat, goggles, skis that fit, boots that fit, and ski poles that are the right length for your height.
Step 2: How to put on your boots and skis
So, what you want to do first is unbuckle the boot and then pull the tongue forward just like you would with a shoe. You want to make sure that your sock is pulled up all the way because if it’s not and it’s all mangled, then you may lose circulation to your feet and we don’t want that. When you go to buckle them, make sure that they are snug but not too snug, you want them to be comfortable. Once you have your boots on, it’s time to put on your skis. When putting on your skis, make sure that you find a flat spot in the snow because it makes putting them on way easier. In the right picture above, you are going to put you toe in the binding first, once you have your toe placed, then you are going to place your heal in the back part of the binding (Green is the binding) until your boot clicks in. Then you make your way to the chair lift.
Step 3: How to Get on and off the chair Lift
Once you get to the chair lift, you’re probably going to have to wait in line a little bit, which is annoying especially if it’s a nice day, then everyone is out. But, while you’re in line, make sure that nothing on your body is loose so that you don’t hurt yourself or get caught on the chair when you’re trying to get off. Once it’s your turn to get on the chair, there is usually a line in the snow that you ski up to and wait for your chair to swing around. Once you get to the line, make sure to look back at the chair swinging around so that you aren’t surprised and don’t get hurt. When the chair gets to you, then sit like you would normally and let it take you to the top. Make sure that you are sitting with your back against the back rest because strange things have happened, and people have fallen off the chair. Another thing to do while you’re on the chair is to look up at the view, there are some of the best views when you are on the mountain. After looking at the views, you’re getting closer to dismount the chair you are going to place your ski tips up (Just like the family in the second photo above). Once the chair hits the landing spot then you can get up and give you self a little push off but be careful not to run into your fellow skiers that are getting off with you.
Step 4: How to Move when you are on flat ground or small inclines
There are a couple ways to get yourself moving when you aren’t on a ski run/down slope. The first movement is called the “duck movement”. The picture on the left gives you a good idea of how to do this. You are going to dig the tips on the inside of your ski, lean forward a little bit and sway yourself back and forth like you are waddling like a duck. The use of your poles also helps you balance and create momentum while performing this technique. The Duck technique is useful when you are trying to get up to the chair lift, flat surfaces, and or small inclines.
The other way in which you can maneuver is the side step technique. This technique is usually performed when you are on the ski run and you lost a pole, or a personal item and you have to go back up hill to get it. So, in order to do this, you are going to want to face sideways on the run (just like the guy in the picture to the right) and dig your ski tips into the hill and step up.
Step 5: How to start and stop while on a ski run
When it comes to learning how to ski, knowing how to start and stop while skiing is the first thing that you will need to know how to do. When you go to start, you want to keep you skis parallel (French fry position), this will allow you to glide across the snow and get you on your way. When it comes to stopping, there are two different techniques that you can use. The first approach is called the “pizza or pizza slice” and in order to do the pizza, you are going point your ski tips as much as you need to in order to come to a stop. This stop is mostly used by beginner skiers because it is the easiest technique to do. The other way is called the “hockey stop” (pictured above on the right) which will allow you to stop on a dime. In order to do this, you are going to turn your hips, balance your weight to the uphill side and dig the side of your skis into the into the snow (kind of like when a hockey player digs their blades into the ice).
Step 6: Learning how turn downhill
I like these two pictures because there are a couple of different ways that you can ski down the hill. For beginners, I would suggest the turn approach because if you take the no turn approach you are more likely to go to fast and loose control. The first picture explains turning down the hill really well, say you are going to your left and you want to make a turn right, you will want to turn with your weight on the downhill ski. In other words, put your weight on your right leg and adjust your body while going through the turn. This process would be the same if you were going to your right, but opposite leg (downhill/left leg).
Step 7: Mountain signage
When it comes to being a beginner, you need to be aware of the signage that is on the mountain. Every mountain is different and therefore the signage will be slightly different. European and Japanese mountains have the same concept as North America when it comes to describing how difficult the run is (diagram on the left) but they may be different colors and or shapes. The reason that this is important to know is that you don’t want to be a new skier and end up going down a double black diamond (Expert only) because you could lose control and get hurt or struggle down the run, which is no fun.
It can be hard to get the hang of things when you are first starting out. I started skiing when I was four, which helped me get the hang of things faster. But, if you start later on in life, it can be frustrating and seem like the worst sport ever. Don’t get discouraged, start out on the easy runs, work your way up and to where you feel comfortable challenging yourself to do harder runs. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Step 8: Skiing rules
When you are skiing, there are some unspoken rules that skiers follow when we are out on the hill. So, here’s a little list of rules to abide by:
- The skier in front of you has the right away. Make sure your paying attention so you don’t run into them.
- Stop somewhere practical. When you are on the ski run, a lot of people stop to take a break. Make sure that there is no one behind you or close to you when you stop because it could cause a wreck. Thrust me, I have done that a couple times. The result isn’t too fun.
- Don’t stand on people’s ski while in line for the chair lift. You’ll get a couple death glares if you do.
- Help out other skiers. If a skier in front of you on the chair lift loses a ski right after they get on, make sure and grab and give it to them at the top. Or if someone is hurt on the ski run, make sure that they are ok.
- When you go to “hockey stop” like I mentioned before, make sure to stop below your fellow skiers so you don’t spray them with snow. Unless it’s your parents and you can get away with it like I do, but if you’re on a first date or don’t know the people very well, that won’t get you any brownie points.
- Have fun. This isn’t really a rule but it’s my rule. If you give skiing a chance, you will have so much fun and enjoy every minute of it.
Step 9: What to do after the skiing day is over
When it comes time to put your skis and ski poles up for the day, it’s time to head into the lodge for the “after party”. Many mountains have bars inside all of their lodges, which makes for a fun time after a long day on the ski hill. You never know who you are going to see, for example my family when on a ski trip last year and we saw Clint Eastwood which was awesome. (I tried to act natural, but I couldn’t help but stare)
Depending on what mountain you go to, sometimes the lodges have bands, and everyone goes out and dances. So, maybe you had a hard first day on the hill, but you could make up for it by cutting a rug on the dance floor. That would be something to consider. Overall, it is a great way to end the day and maybe get some tips and or cool stories from someone who knows how to ski.
I hope that this guide is helpful to any first-time skiers and that you enjoyed it as well. Skiing can be a struggle to get the hang of at first, but it’s just like riding a bike once you get the hang of it. It has always been something that my family has bonded over and maybe one day you and or your family will enjoy in the future. Go out there and just let loose and have some fun and I hope to see you all on the mountain!