How to Ski For Beginners: A New Skier’s Guide to the Slopes
There are few experiences in this world that can compete with the joy of skiing. Speeding down a snow-covered slope is a sensation that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
Experiencing the wonders of skiing, however, hinges on knowing how to ski in the first place. What’s more, entering the world of snow sports can feel like a daunting task.
Thankfully, we’re here to help.
In this how to ski beginner guide, we’ll introduce you to everything you need to know before you hit the slopes. As an added bonus, we’ll discuss the different types of skiing and offer up some tips for beginner skiers.
We’ll even introduce you to the idea of using a downhill ski simulator like the Extreme Fit 360 to help you improve your technique. That way, you can make the most of your first time in the mountains.
What Is Skiing?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s talk a little bit about what skiing actually is. While you may have seen footage of ski racers on TV, the type of skiing that most of us do is quite different.
At its simplest, skiing is a way to travel over snow using skis. Traditional skis were long planks of wood that one attached to each foot. Attaching skis to your feet provides extra flotation when moving over deep snow. This helps prevent you from sinking into deep snow so you can move quickly and efficiently in the mountains.
Nowadays, skis are made from a blend of materials, including steel, wood, carbon composites, and fiberglass. Modern skis also tend to be shorter and more shapely than traditional models.
However, while the design of skis has changed dramatically over the years, their basic purpose hasn’t. At the end of the day, skiing is about sliding down snow-covered slopes and having a good time in the process. What more could you want?
What Are The Different Types of Skiing?
Now that you know what skiing is, we’ll take a quick look at the different types of skiing you might encounter. There are three basic categories of skiing. These include:
- Alpine – Alpine, or “downhill skiing,” is a type of skiing where the goal is to slide downhill. Downhill skis are designed with bindings that attach your entire foot firmly to the ski itself. You can go alpine skiing at dedicated resorts where there are chairlifts that transport you to the top of a slope. From there, you’ll slide downhill on your skis and repeat the process.
- Nordic – Nordic skiing includes a range of different ski disciplines. However, the most popular type of nordic skiing is also called “cross-country skiing.” Cross-country skiers use long skis with bindings that only attach to the toe of your boots, but not your heels. This binding style allows skiers to move efficiently over flat or rolling terrain but is generally not ideal for downhill travel. You can go cross-country skiing on groomed trails or in the backcountry.
- Telemark – The final type of skiing, telemark skiing, is a blend of the alpine and nordic disciplines. Telemark skiers travel downhill like alpine skiers. But, they use bindings that only attach to your toes, like nordic skiers. Telemark skiing is less common than alpine or nordic skiing. However, it is a fun and worthy pursuit for skiers of all experience levels.
As you can see, there are many different ways to enjoy yourself on skis. This article is primarily a how to learn skiing for beginners guide that focuses on downhill skiing. But many of the tips and tricks we’ll discuss here are relevant for nordic and telemark skiers, too.
How Do Beginners Learn to Ski?
At this point, you have a solid understanding of what skiing is. But the question remains: How do beginners learn to ski?
It’s true that skiing is a skill and technique-heavy sport. That means that very few people can hit the slopes and excel at the sport the first time around.
However, the reality is that there is no one way to learn how to ski.
For people who grow up in families where skiing is a popular pastime, they may have learned how to ski simply by spending time in the mountains with their friends and family. Meanwhile, others learn to ski by taking lessons.
All this means is that there’s no best way for beginners to learn to ski. Although most people will find that ski lessons are essential, the key is to find the method that works best for you.
How to Prepare for a Day of Skiing
Planning your first day of skiing can be both exciting and stressful. To help streamline your planning process, we’ll take a closer look at what you should pack and where you should go for your first ski trip.
What Do You Need to Go Skiing for the First Time?
Fact: Skiing is a gear-intensive pursuit. As a result, you’ll need to come prepared with the right equipment before your first snow-filled adventure.
Regardless of where in the world you ski, you’ll want to dress for the weather conditions. This normally means dressing in layers. For example, you’ll want to wear a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating jacket, and a waterproof jacket on top of that for weather protection.
You will also want to invest in a good pair or two of gloves to keep your hands warm. Goggles are also a must for all skiers in order to protect your eyes from the sun and snow.
Other than that, you can rent most of the skiing-specific gear you need at the resort when you arrive. Most resorts offer ski, boot, and pole rentals for a fee. You should also always wear a helmet when skiing. Many resorts rent helmets, too, but be sure to ask about the availability of rental helmets before you arrive.
Where Is the Best Place to Go Skiing for Beginners?
With nearly 6,000 ski resorts worldwide to choose from, finding the best place to go skiing for beginners isn’t easy. Indeed, while each resort is special in its own way, many popular ski resorts just aren’t suitable for new skiers.
The best place to ski if you’re new to the sport is at any mountain where there’s plenty of beginner terrain. That’s because you want to have access to a number of different slopes where you can hone your new ski skills.
Do note that every country has its own ski slope rating system, so you’ll need to do some research to figure out what terrain is appropriate for beginners in your region. For example, slopes marked with green circles are considered beginner trails in the US, Scandinavia, and some parts of Europe.
Additionally, you’ll want to look for a ski resort that offers quality ski lessons. Ski lessons are an essential part of the learning process for most new skiers. So, signing up for at least a few of them is helpful.
However, the price of lessons can be very high at large resorts. So, you may want to consider starting out at a smaller resort where gear rentals and lessons are more affordable.
Tips for Beginner Skiers
Skiing is one of those things that you have to practice over and over again in order to succeed. With that in mind, here are some key tips to maximize your learning experience:
1. Take Lessons from a Pro
If there’s one thing that all new skiers should take to heart, it’s this: ski lessons are an invaluable investment in your future skiing experience. While lessons are expensive and it is possible to learn to ski without them, there’s no substitute for professional teaching and instruction. Investing in a few lessons now will pay dividends down the line.
2. Look at Everything Like a Learning Experience
Learning a new skill as an adult can be challenging. You’re simply not used to being a beginner at something. This mindset can lead to frustration on the slopes, especially if you don’t feel like you’re progressing as quickly as you should. Taking on a beginner’s mindset and looking at your first few ski days as a learning experience can make everything much more enjoyable.
3. Start Slow
If you have friends and family that ski, it can be tempting to want to follow them into steeper terrain. But, plan to start slow during your first few ski days. Stick to easier trails and give yourself a break when you need it. After you gain more confidence in your skills, you can step up and take on more challenging slopes.
4. Plan Your Adventure in Advance
Spur-of-the-moment ski trips are very fun, but only if you’re already a confident skier. If you’re new to the sport, take the time to research and plan your trip. Spend time searching for beginner-friendly resorts that offer affordable lessons and rentals. That way, you don’t have to worry about logistics as you ski.
5. Train With Ski Machines
Skiing requires a large amount of muscle strength and coordination. While learning how to ski does involve a lot of time spent on the slopes, you can improve your physical conditioning by using a ski machine. These downhill ski simulators can help you develop the muscle coordination and endurance you need to maximize your time in the mountains.
Common First-Time Skiing Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
When you learn to ski, you’re bound to make mistakes—and that’s okay! Learning to fall and get back up is an essential part of skiing.
But there are some mistakes that you can avoid making well before you ever make it to the mountain. These include:
- Trying to Fight Gravity – Part of learning how to ski is learning how to fall. Trying to fight gravity will only lead to frustration. So embrace each fall as a learning experience.
- Overlooking Your Basic Needs – Your first ski trip will inherently be focused on your time spent sliding downhill. However, don’t overlook your needs for food, hydration, and warmth at the resort in the process.
- Purchasing Ski Equipment Too Early – Owning your own skis is exciting, but purchasing your equipment too early is usually a mistake. You won’t know what gear is right for you until you get more experience with the sport. So plan to buy ski equipment after you have at least a few weeks of experience under your belt.
- Forgetting Sunscreen – Sunburn is real, even in the mountains. Always pack sunscreen—and use it!—even if clouds are in the forecast.
- Neglecting a Positive Mindset – Skiing is about having fun. If you’re not having fun, ask yourself what you can do to make your experience more enjoyable. Sometimes you simply need to bring a positive mindset to the slopes.
After reading this how to ski beginner’s guide, you’re ready to hit the slopes for the first time. Although planning your first ski adventure can feel both nerve-wracking and exciting, the important thing to remember is that skiing is all about having fun.
When you’re just starting out, be sure to invest in yourself and your technique by signing up for a few lessons. Select a resort that’s beginner-friendly and try not to be too hard on yourself if things feel a bit challenging at first.
Remember: Everyone you see skiing on the mountain had to start somewhere. With time, effort, and perseverance, you, too, can enjoy the wonderful world of skiing. See you on the slopes!
Here are some of our answers to your most common questions about learning how to ski for beginner mountain sports enthusiasts:
Is skiing scary the first time?
Skiing for the first time can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Starting slow, taking lessons, and using a ski machine for training, can help make your first ski adventure an enjoyable experience.
Is skiing dangerous for beginners?
Skiing is an inherently risky sport for people of all skill levels, but there are ways to mitigate this risk. Taking ski lessons and learning proper beginner ski techniques can help reduce your risk of injury on the mountain.
How do I get over my fear of skiing?
Getting over your fear of skiing starts with going skiing on a regular basis. If you only hit the slopes once every 10 years, it’s hard to overcome your fears. Additionally, honing your technique and sticking to moderate terrain can help you get over your fears.
How quickly can you learn to ski?
Most people require about 1 to 5 days of lessons to learn the basics of beginner ski techniques. To become an intermediate skier, most people need to spend at least a few weeks on the slopes. However, these timelines depend on your comfort levels and the amount of time and money you can invest into lessons.
Can I go skiing without lessons?
You can go skiing without lessons, but it is not recommended. Without lessons, you won’t learn basic skiing techniques or safety precautions, which can increase your risk of injury. Furthermore, attempting to ski without lessons can lead you to develop bad habits in your technique that will be difficult to overcome down the line.