Skiing, in its essence, is using bladed paddles on your feet to control your fall down a mountain. In practicality, it is a fantastic winter sport that will take you to the tallest mountains, beautiful views, and adrenaline-pumping runs. You will experience actual challenges as the skill gap in skiing is a layered wall full of challenges you must overcome. However, the reward will be powerful, coloring your character and enabling you to see a good part of the mountain world while enjoying it. So, let’s dive in and learn how to start skiing as a beginner. We’ll dive into several things on what to think about before and during the initial moments of exploring the sport.
Also, note I often refer to “skiing” to encompass both skis and snowboarding. It’s a shorter word than “skiing and snowboarding,” and both boards are viable.
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Difference between ski and snowboarder for a newbie
First things first, what boards to use? It is essential to note the differences between the boards. Skis sit on both of your feet and move where you point your toes. They are very tightly set to your feet, so ski boots need to be tight. Ski boots are always uncomfortable. They should not be cutting off circulation or painful, though. Snowboarding boots are much more comfortable than ski boots as the mechanics of the snowboard rely less on a tight connection and more on the bindings around the boots.
Because of the natural inclination of skis, it tends to feel more natural than a snowboard. Your brain will tend to pick up on the motions more naturally and quickly. Skis have a high learning curve with more advanced techniques and are not easy to fall or rest in versus snowboards. Snowboards fall often and naturally. It is normal to see snowboarders resting on the snow, while skiing is uncomfortable to sit down in. Snowboarding is unnatural, however, and takes a long time and practice to break through the early stages of using the boards to start feeling competent. Thus, I make the following conclusions for folk to think about. Skis are easier to begin but harder to advance on. Snowboards are harder to begin but easier to become more advanced in.
Which one is right for you? Try skis if you want to hop in and quickly start making progress. On the other hand, if you prefer comfort and the style of a snowboard, try it with the mindset that it will not be easy to start.
Finding the proper slope to practice on
You will immediately find that climbing even the most minor slopes feels scary. This is because you are falling, and it takes the brain some time to feel comfortable. What you want in a first slope is what they call “bunny slopes.” Many resorts have a rope tow, a track, or something that assists you in going up and down the bunny slope fast. No lines. The most important thing at this stage is repetition. You want to break your brain of that fear, and it will take many times falling and getting back up to do it.
Some folks start doing green runs, which I don’t recommend as the lines for the lift tend to be quite long, which will slow down your ability to make many repetitions. However, once you feel good on the bunny hills, you can graduate to the green runs or skip for the blues.
A special note for snowboarders is that you will naturally want to catch yourself with your hands if you fall forward. Therefore, practicing keeping your hands at your side when you fall is essential. In addition, your wrists are very easy to break with even low-speed falls forward.
Practicing to feel the carve
On the bunny slope, your primary goal is to stay standing down the slope. Next, determine how using your edges will apply brakes to your speed and even stop you in the snow. To get a feel for the motion, riding your edges down the bunny slope is okay. This is all part of building comfort in your ability to control the fall.
Once you can make it down the slope controlling your speed, you must start trying to do your first carve. A carve is pointing your board down the slope, turning the board to a braking position, and then transitioning back to the other side to rinse and repeat. This is controlled moments of braking while also maintaining your speed and direction. The carve is your primary control over the boards. It will look like you are moving the board through the snow with an “S” pattern. The carve can take quite some time to learn if you start feeling good on the bunny slope. Keep practicing the carve and start on the green runs.
Don’t be afraid to go faster
When skiers are trying to progress in the sport, I see two important things that must be developed. First, you will always be limited by whichever one is weaker. You must practice and feel more confident about progressing your skill level. 1) Comfort with speed and 2) Skill to control your boards. Many folks focus on progressing their skills to control their boards but fail to become more comfortable at faster speeds. This makes for my picture of a skier who finds it very hard to progress into more advanced runs like single and double diamonds. They overcontrol and brake around every corner to not feel like they are going too fast. They ultimately slow their ability to progress.
Thus, it is essential to challenge yourself to go faster and faster. Please do ALWAYS remember to control your speed around others, as it is your responsibility to be a safe skier. It is vital to embrace speed and constantly build that comfort zone to control the speed at faster speeds.
It is essential to keep practicing. Even should you hurt yourself, rest up and get back into it. Don’t be swayed when you start; before you know it, you’ll blow through the beginner levels and enjoy the slopes as an intermediate skier.
As always, do more research before you travel to any location and plan on skiing for the first time. Start planning your trip now with Travel-Wise’s free trip-planning tools to have you on your way to your destination faster than ever!