Learning to ski seems like it should be a doddle. You see the people on the TV and in the competitions throwing themselves down slopes at phenomenal speeds, and you think, “How hard can it be”?
Spins, twists, and jumps are all done effortlessly by the pros, whetting your appetite for the thrill of the mountain.
Then you strap your first pair of skis on. All of a sudden, the snow is tractionless, speed picks up far too fast, and you realize you have absolutely no control. Think of the early scenes of Bambi.
This isn’t even close to as easy as you thought it would be. The constant falls are punishing, and the learning curve feels more like a learning mountain.
It can seem daunting and impossible at first, but with a few of these tips for beginner skiers, some patience, and the proper techniques, you can be cruising like a pro in no time.
Learning the first movements and becoming comfortable with the basics will build the foundation for becoming confident and capable.
So How Do Beginner Skiers Start?
I’ll cover a lot of the points I feel were essential when I started to learn how to ski. I can impart some advice that kept me getting back up after the thousandth time eating snow.
Doing your own reading before you hit the first beginner slopes will save money on ski instructors and get you sliding sooner.
First and foremost, you’ll want to get yourself some decent ski gear. Knee braces or pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and most importantly, a cool ski helmet are all essentials for learning. No matter how good you think you’re going to be, you’re going to fall. Even expert skiers wear their protective gear.
Ski Boots And Skis
Secondly, make sure you have good new ski boots and skis. Nothing can mess with your balance and confidence more than loose boots and the wrong-size skis. Take the time to get them fitted properly.
Finally, get the basics down. You can’t run before you can walk. I have seen too many first-time skiers throw themselves down ski runs that are far too advanced for their level and end their holiday early. You also need to know the cost of skis before ski training.
Learn to control your speed, edge control, and most importantly, STOP!
Top Beginner Ski Tips
Here are some tips to get you going.
Pack Warm And Waterproof Clothing
Being cold and wet is one of the most unpleasant experiences in the mountains. It may feel okay when you are exerting energy and keeping your body temperature up.
As soon as you sit still on a ski lift, you are exposed to the elements, and it becomes painful. Before going skiing you should also need to know what to wear on a ski properly.
Wind And Waterproof
It is important to remember to dress appropriately for the environment. When you are learning, it is very likely you will fall a lot. This fills your clothing with snow and slush and will quickly soak through to your skin. Research your gear and look for wind and waterproof layers.
Bring extra layers, you can’t put a price on warmth. It is better to have to take unneeded layers off than not have them to put on. Good quality winter clothing like merino wool socks, insulated base layers, and thick ski gloves are super important.
Wear Goggles And A Helmet
Never leave the chalet without your skid lid. A helmet is easily the most important piece of safety gear you can wear.
Even when you are in a ski lesson, there is a chance you could take a nasty tumble and bash your head. Brain injuries are incredibly dangerous. Don’t cheap out on a helmet.
You must-have snow ski goggles when skiing. You can’t see anything when your eyeballs are full of snow or freezing over.
It is important not only to get warm goggles but to make sure they have good ventilation. The warmth of your face can fog them up, and that doesn’t make skiing easy.
Choose Beginner Friendly Ski Resorts
It is important to ensure the ski resort you choose to learn how to ski at has a beginner downhill ski area. Many ski resorts do have a few baby slopes at the bottom of the hill to practice in, but some don’t.
Ski slopes are graded, letting the skier know what to expect from the ski trails. The grading marks the gradient, surface conditions, and width, amongst other things. Make sure, when you’re looking to learn how to ski, you have appropriately graded ski slopes.
Nice wide slopes with plenty of friendly ski instructors are best for first-time skiers.
Rent Skis Before You Commit
Ski equipment isn’t cheap. A lot of technology and research goes into the best skis, and the price matches that. There is no point investing a ton of money into skis before you know exactly what you want.
All The Gear No Idea
When you learn to ski, you will also discover what you need from your equipment and the style you feel works for you. A downhill ski is different from a park ski, and pumping loads of money into the wrong type is an expensive mistake to make.
Head over to the local ski shop on your ski resorts and rent a good pair whilst you learn. Give yourself time to know exactly what you need before you buy.
Things like ski pants, boots, and other gear can always be bought beforehand though. You can still style yourself out.
Take an Introductory Lesson
Maybe not even just the one really. Of course, getting the basic techniques is a must, learn how to get your skis parallel and control your speed first. A good ski instructor can teach so much more.
Worth The Price
They often aren’t cheap, but an instructor will have you carving up the slopes quicker than teaching yourself.
Getting the basics nailed is one thing, but they can show you a ton of new skills. Ski lessons, even group lessons can really impart some good advice and give you more tips.
Forget The Ski Poles
Of course, on the mountain, you see people carving around with all sorts of cool ski poles, but as a beginner, they are not necessary. You won’t be going fast enough to need them, and it is much better to focus on upper body balance and control.
Get the basics of movement and speed down before you start grabbing poles. You won’t be needing them till you’re right out there on the mountain.
They’re usually used for pushing along flats during long days out or pulling snowboarders along when they’re stuck.
Bend Your Knees
Watching people eat snow because they have locked their knees is all too common. It is an easy mistake to make, the body instinctively tenses up when you’re nervous.
Learning to relax my knees, absorb the movement of the slopes, and balance my weight is something that took me an age to learn when I started skiing.
Putting more weight on your thighs and learning to lean forward through bent knees will lend you so much more control. Your skis will respond better to your weight control, and you’ll find yourself popping out of your bindings a lot less.
Look up, Not Down
The temptation to look down at your feet for a new skier is hard to resist. Staring at your ski tips won’t have you staying on your feet for long though and could end up with you bashing into others too.
Looking at your skis doesn’t help them stay straight and stops you from seeing where you are going. Hyperfixation will actually stop you from being relaxed in the leg muscles, which is what you need to get the natural movements of the mountain.
Stare down the slope into the mid-distance, or towards the next corner, you want to take. Keeping your head up, deep breaths, and relaxed muscles are the secrets to smooth turns. You can learn how to switch while skiing for a smooth & long drive.
Lean Forward & Be Aggressive With Your Skis
Putting more weight on the front of your skis will improve your responsiveness and help to control your speed. Keeping your knees bent whilst putting the weight forward is an unusual and quite unnatural feeling, but your beginner ski boots and skis will support it.
Skis will not react well to dainty, gentle movements. At high speeds, responsiveness will increase to smaller movements. Whilst starting out with skiing, it is important to learn how to really dominate the snow.
With each turn, it is important to let the skis know what you want them to do, you have to force them into the carve and push them to where they need to be.
If you fear the skis, you will find it hard to properly take control. Find out exactly how much pressure you can put through them and you will find your confidence goes through the roof.
Don’t be Afraid of Falling
It is going to happen, it is going to happen so many times. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned skier or you have just got out on the baby slopes, you’re going to eat snow. It’s simply an occupational hazard of a lot of outdoor activities.
Get Safety Gear
I remember when I started to learn how to ski, I was black and blue all over. After my first few days, I went out and bought myself all the safety gear, I came back to the slopes wrapped in cotton wool.
Falling over is going to suck, but it’s totally unavoidable. You just have to learn how to fall, deal with the pain, and most importantly, get back up again. My best piece of advice is to not let it put you off and brush yourself off. Safety equipment certainly helps too.
Learn to Control Your Speed
Being a danger to yourself is one thing, being a danger to others is another thing entirely. It is very important to learn how to slow down and stop when you need to, and to do it quickly.
Mountains are often very busy and the slopes can be quick. Don’t be a danger to others.
The temptation is when you have learned the basics, to hit the fastest slope there is. You know how to parallel ski, and you feel unstoppable. The problem is, you probably are unstoppable. Being out of control on a slope that is full of people and far too steep is irresponsible.
I have been clipped numerous times by skiers that have overestimated themselves and underestimated the slope.
Take a little extra time to become familiar with stopping at the drop of a hat and controlling your speed on all gradients. Your body will thank you, and so will your fellow skier.
Wearing a fancy dress is always fun, and making sure you’re the coolest looking shredder in the park is essential but make sure you’re doing it right. You can look great and still stay safe at the same time.
As mentioned before, windproofing and waterproofing are essential. The cold is not only a huge distraction, but it can become dangerous and make you ill. Ensuring you have high-quality and warm gear can keep you safe in the snow.
Thick layers and good gloves will keep you warm. When you’re learning, there are a lot of times you will be sitting listening to your class or waiting in a queue or on a lift. These moments of inaction will make you realize all the gaps in your clothes and everywhere the wet has got in.
High visibility is never a bad option as a new skier either. You will notice a lot of children’s classes on many resorts are made to wear high-vis bibs.
This is for their benefit as much as other people skiing around them. Being seen at a ski resort will keep people a little more cautious if you’re not quite up to full confidence yet. If you really want to enjoy this winter season, ski resorts in Utah that allow you to express your adventurous spirit are definitely heaven on Earth.
Learning how to ski for beginners feels like an uphill struggle when you first start out. It is physically punishing and muscles you never even knew you had will start screaming. However, skiing is a great way to burn some calories. The new terrain under your feet will feel unnatural and respond weirdly but stick with it.
One day it will all just click into place. It will make sense, and the wonders of many beautiful slopes, new resorts, and the freedom of a whole range will become your playground. A tip for all beginners who tend to feel cold all the time; invest in the best ski boot heaters and insoles or ski gloves to keep yourself comfortable.
It is a joy to learn and not only one of the best exercises you can do but also one of the most rewarding. All I can leave you with is that practice makes perfect, always get up after a fall, and have fun. Once you get the hang of it, you can also learn how to ski jump to spice up your life even more!