How to Ski Better?
Whether you’re new to skiing or you’re a seasoned pro, at some point, you’ll want to learn how to ski better.
Becoming an expert skier gives you the skills you need to tackle the slopes at ski resorts around the world. Doing so provides you with more terrain to enjoy during your ski days, making each outing all the more enjoyable.
However, learning how to be a better skier isn’t always as easy as it might seem. Improving your skiing skills takes time, energy, and dedication. It also requires a solid understanding of how to practice and train specifically for skiing.
To help you master the slopes during your next ski trip, we’ve created this quick guide to improving your skiing ability. In this article, we’ll discuss proper skiing techniques and we’ll offer some ski better tips to improve your performance. As an added bonus, we’ll even take a look at how ski machines can help you make the most of each training session.
How Do You Ski Properly
Skiing is a pursuit with a steep learning curve. For many new skiers, being able to stand upright on your skis and make it down a slope without falling is an achievement in and of itself.
At some point in your skiing career, you’ll likely want to improve your skills and technique. Doing so enables you to take on more difficult slopes so you can better enjoy your time in the mountains.
Improving your skills as a downhill skier starts with understanding the proper form for alpine skiing. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the most important aspects of ski technique, from your stance to your turns.
Ski Stance & Posture
The ski stance is the basis for everything you do on skis. Without good posture, your ski technique is sabotaged before you even start moving downhill.
Thankfully, the proper ski stance is very similar to the classic athletic stance—with a few modifications.
As with any athletic stance, the alpine ski stance requires that you stand with your feet approximately hip-width apart. Your hips, knees, and ankles should all be slightly bent. This slight flex in your lower body joints allows your body to react quickly to rapidly changing terrain.
Once your feet, knees, and hips are all slightly flexed, it’s time to focus on your balance. New skiers commonly “ride in the backseat,” or lean backward, while heading downhill. This causes them to lose their balance on the slopes. Instead, focus on flexing your ankles and keeping your center of gravity over both feet.
To test if you’ve mastered the ski stance, find a flat place where you can stand with your skis on.
Then, jump up and down while wearing your skis. You should be able to land on your feet perfectly balanced each time. Otherwise, you likely need to adjust your stance to better center your body weight over your feet.
Stopping is an essential technique that all skiers should master before hitting the slopes. There are two primary stopping techniques in skiing: the snowplow and the parallel stop.
The snowplow stop, which is also known as the wedge or pizza stop, is arguably the easier of the two methods. This method involves positioning your skis so that the tips are together and the tails are far apart, like a triangle.
To do the snowplow stop, you’ll push your heels outward to provide resistance to your skis as you slide downhill. All of this resistance should eventually bring you to a stop. This technique requires a decent amount of lower body and core strength to accomplish, especially on steep slopes. However, mastering the snowplow is essential for developing your skiing abilities.
The second, and more advanced, of the two stopping techniques is the parallel stop. Also known as the french fries or hockey stop, the parallel stop is the most effective way to stop yourself while moving down a steep slope at a high speed.
To do the parallel stop, you first need to build up momentum as you slide downhill. When you want to stop, you need to shift your body weight at your hips toward the downhill ski. As you shift your body weight, you need to bend your knees and turn your feet uphill so that your uphill edges dig into the snow.
Your skis should be parallel with each other at all times during this technique. Additionally, your skis need to pivot approximately 90 degrees and become perpendicular to the slope in order to stop your downward momentum.
Keep in mind that the parallel stop is an advanced technique that requires a lot of practice to perfect. When done properly, the parallel stop allows you to quickly and efficiently stop sliding downhill in any terrain.
Although sliding downhill at high speeds is fun, doing so without the ability to control your speed is risky and dangerous. Thankfully, a few expertly placed turns here and there can help you navigate tricky terrain and control your speed.
As is the case with stopping, there are a number of different ways to turn on skis. The most common ways to turn on skis include the wedge turn and the parallel turn. Advanced skiers may also use the carving technique.
The good news is that the techniques for wedge and parallel turning are very similar to the techniques for snowplow and parallel stops.
To use a wedge turn, you will orient your skis in the same pizza-shaped position that you use in a snowplow stop. However, instead of putting enough force on your skis to stop yourself from sliding downhill, you’ll shift your body weight from one ski to the other to change direction.
When using the wedge turn, you will put more weight on the downhill ski. This allows your body to turn and stay balanced at the same time.
However, if you want to change direction, you will put pressure on the foot that’s opposite the direction you want to travel. For example, if you want to turn to the right, you’ll put pressure on your left foot. To turn to the left, put pressure on the right food.
To use a parallel turn, you will position your skis just as you would to do a parallel stop. But, instead of turning your skis so that they are perpendicular to the fall line of the slope, you will turn your skis between 30 to 45 degrees to one slide to slow down your momentum.
As with the wedge turn, parallel turning requires alternating which foot you put pressure on in order to change your direction. If you want to turn to the right, you need to put pressure on your left foot. For left turns, put pressure on your right foot.
The third and final turning technique is the carving turn. Carving is an advanced technique that involves putting enough pressure on your skis so that they are bent into an arc shape. This arc shape allows the ski to slice through the snow with minimal resistance.
Proper carving technique requires substantially increasing the angle of your ski edges to the snow, which can feel strange at first. This position is very difficult to maintain and it puts a lot of pressure on your lower body. Using a ski machine for training can help you develop the strength you need to carve properly.
As a result, learning how to carve properly almost always requires professional instruction. If you’d like to learn how to carve, consider hiring an experienced and qualified ski instructor to show you how it’s done.
How Can I Improve My Ski Skills?
Now that we’ve discussed some key aspects of skiing technique, it’s time to focus on how you can improve your skiing abilities. Without further ado, here are 5 tips to be a better skier the next time you head to the mountains:
1. Invest In Ski Lessons
Although ski lessons can be expensive, there are few better ways to improve your performance on snow than to spend a day with a pro. This is particularly true if you want to learn advanced techniques like carving or if you want to review other fundamental skills.
So, next time you plan a ski trip, buy yourself a few private or group lessons. When you finally master that carving turn, you’ll be happy that you did.
2. Train At Home
When you can’t get to the mountain to ski, your next best bet is to train at home. Regular ski machine workout sessions can help prepare your body for the physical demands of skiing.
Studies show that training with a ski machine can help recreational skiers develop functional muscle coordination. This type of muscle coordination is essential if you want to master advanced ski techniques. That means that time spent training at home can help prepare you for fun on the slopes.
3. Focus On Technique
If you’re skiing with your friends, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the fun and excitement of sliding downhill. While skiing should be fun, however, anyone looking to improve their skills needs to focus on their technique at all times. This means that you need to commit to executing the best possible turns you can on every run, even if you slow down a bit in the process.
4. Seek Out Tricky Terrain
As a new or intermediate skier, it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of skiing on moderate terrain. Although moderate terrain is great fun, at some point, it won’t be challenging enough to help you advance your skills. So try to push yourself every once in a while. Seek out more challenging slopes whenever you can so that you can build confidence in tricky conditions.
5. Ski As Much As You Can
Simply put, if you want to ski better, you’ll need to ski—a lot. Training at home is an important part of developing your skills, strength, and endurance. But few things are better than actually going skiing when you’re looking to take your technique to the next level.
Whether you’re brand-new to skiing or you’re a seasoned snowsports enthusiast, we all make mistakes on our skis from time to time. Here are some common mistakes to know—and avoid—during your next snow-filled outing:
- Forgetting To Bend Your Knees. Your knees should be flexed at all times while skiing for maximum balance and control.
- Sitting Too Far Back In Your Skis. Proper ski position requires leaning slightly forward so your ankles and shins press up against your ski boots.
- Staring At Your Ski Tips. It’s tempting to want to look at your skis as you slide downhill. But you should look at what’s in front of you at all times.
- Keeping Your Feet Wide Apart. When making parallel or carving turns, your skis need to be relatively close together at all times.
- Having A Fear Of Falling. No one likes to fall, but falling is a fact of life when skiing. If you’re not comfortable with falling, you won’t push yourself to try new skills.
Ski Like A Pro
Learning how to ski better is a life-long process. Regardless of if you’ve been skiing since childhood or if you just started last week, focusing on your technique is a great way to maximize your fun and enjoyment in the mountains.
To improve your ski skills, consider investing in ski lessons and a ski training machine. When combined with frequent ski sessions, lessons and a dedicated training regime can help you become the skier you’ve always wanted to be.
Here are our answers to some of your most commonly asked questions about how to ski better intermediate and expert-level runs in the mountains.
What Does It Mean To Be Good At Skiing?
Being good at skiing means something different to everyone. However, most people would consider a “good” skier to be someone who can comfortably ski advanced-level slopes at a resort. Ski grading systems vary from country to country, but these are normally black diamond or black circle-rated pistes.
How Long Before I’m An Expert Skier?
Everyone advances as a skier at a different rate. But most skiers find that they need at least 2 to 4 months of ski experience before they’re able to ski on expert-level runs with relative comfort. Perfecting your skiing technique, however, can take years.
How Can I Improve My Ski Skills?
You can improve your ski skills by spending more time on the slopes with an instructor that’s experienced in working with intermediate to advanced skiers. Training at home with regular ski machine workout sessions can also help improve your skills, technique, and endurance on snow.
How Can I Practice Skiing At Home?
The best way to practice skiing at home is with a dedicated ski training machine, like the Pro Ski Simulator. Although nothing beats the experience of shredding down the slopes, a ski machine can help you improve your balance, reaction time, and muscle coordination so you can improve your skiing ability.