Skiing is one of my favorite activities. It’s a fun and challenging way of exploring the outdoors. I confess that getting started with skiing was a process of trial and error for me. I spent a lot more than I should have on equipment and used to feel intimidated about heading out to the slopes. I used to worry about my technique and about not knowing about skiing etiquette.
Here are my top ten tips for beginner skiers.
1. Choose the Right Location and Terrain
It’s tempting to choose a resort with a wide selection of trails. It makes sense for advanced skiers to pick a resort with different black diamond trails or options for freeriding.
However, as a beginner, you will spend most of your time on groomed runs. Ski resorts use snowcats, tractors, and other equipment to move and flatten the snow. These artificial trails allow you to practice downhill skiing in a safe environment.
Factors like the steepness of a slope, turns, and possible obstacle determine the difficulty level of a groomed run. Green Circle runs are the easiest ones, and they’re the ones you should start with.
I recommend choosing a resort with a good selection of Green Circle runs, and possibly a couple of Blue Square runs if you want to challenge yourself.
As you gain more experience, you might want to look for different types of runs:
- Powder runs allow you to ski on fresh snow. It’s more comfortable if you fall, and it feels very different compared to groomed runs.
- Freeriding areas are ideal if you want to ski off marked trails.
- Mogul skiing areas are large piles of snow where skiers typically create their own trails and shape the terrain. It’s a fun experience once you have enough controls over your speed and turns.
- Terrain park skiing provides you with artificial areas for jumps and other tricks.
2. Get in Shape Before the Ski Season
Getting in shape will help you have more fun on the slopes. Ideally, you should start working out six weeks to two months in advance to prepare for your ski trip.
You’ll be able to stay on the slopes longer without feeling exhausted and won’t need to take a day off to recuperate after a few days of skiing. You can also reduce your risks of injuries, and learning how to ski will be less frustrating if you’re in shape.
Many beginners don’t realize that skiing is a high-impact activity. Losing some weight can help reduce strain on your knees and joints, and focusing on core and leg strength will make learning how to ski easier.
You can work on your leg muscles with these exercises:
- Dumbbell deadlifts
- Skater hops
- Box jumps
Use these exercises to develop your core strength:
- Dead bug
- Hanging knee raise
- Butterfly sit-up
- Body saw
Incorporate some cardio or HIIT workouts into your fitness regimen. Developing your resistance will come in handy on the slopes. You can prepare by running, cycling, or swimming.
3. Account for Cloudy Weather and Windchill
It’s important to understand what kind of weather and temperature you can expect on the slopes to dress appropriately. Keep in mind that the combination of elevation and going downhill can worsen windchill.
If the weather is sunny and temperatures stay between 35 and 40°, you’ll be fine with a hoodie or sweatshirt, a light jacket, and some gloves. However, overcast skies or wind in this same temperature range mean you will need a hat and some thermal clothes.
If temperatures drop below 15°, make sure you wear a thermal shirt, a warm jacket, and some accessories to cover your face, ears, and neck.
I recommend investing in some ski pants and purchasing a jacket designed for winter sports to avoid restricting your movements. It’s best to wear layers since temperatures can change, and you might want to remove a few items of clothing if you go inside for a snack or cup of coffee.
4. Get a Seasonal Pass
You will need to purchase a pass to access the slopes and use the ski lift. You can find all-inclusive resorts with a weekly rate that includes your accommodations, meals, pass, and other amenities.
It’s usually more affordable to book a hotel and purchase a pass separately. Think about choosing an accommodation that isn’t right on the slopes. You can usually find shuttles or local public transit options to get to the slopes.
Purchasing a ski pass for a day or week can cost hundreds of dollars. It’s not unusual to see daily ski passes in the $70 to $150 price range. Opting for a seasonal pass for a resort or group of resorts will help you save money.
There are other ways of saving money on your ski pass:
- Book your trip early
- Travel during the off-season
- Use points on your credit card
- Look for deals and specials
- Take advantage of student, military, or senior discounts
5. Rent Your Gear
Purchasing ski gear can set you back $500 to $1,000. If you don’t ski often, it’s not an expense you can justify.
You also have to consider the cost of flying with your gear and the fact that investing in used gear or budget options can make learning how to ski more difficult. You might also pick the wrong gear due to your lack of experience.
Renting your skis, boots, and helmet can add up in the long-term, but it makes more sense for a one-week or two-week ski trip.
You will get advice from a professional for fitting and benefit from their recommendations if you don’t know much about gear. You can easily go back to the ski rental place to swap out your gear for another type of boot or skis if you don’t like what you rented.
Renting your gear also gives you the possibility of trying different activities, like snowboarding or cross-country skiing. If you have children, renting gear makes more sense since they will outgrow any equipment that you buy.
A lot of ski equipment rental businesses have packages to help you save money. Call different businesses in advance to get a better idea of the rates and specials available.
6. Make Sure Your Boots Fit Properly
Finding the right fit for your ski boots is one of the most challenging things about picking your ski gear as a beginner. ski boots.
Ski boots use a hard plastic shell and feel more restrictive compared to regular shoes. Many beginners make the mistake of sizing up to find ski boots that feel comfortable.
You should have some room to wiggle your toes when you adopt a skiing position, but don’t expect your ski boots to feel comfortable when you stand upright. If you can slide your foot back or turn it inside of the boot, you need to size down.
It’s best to rent your first ski boots so that you can get help from a professional and try on different sizes if needed. Wearing the right size will reduce your risks of injury and give you optimal control over your skis.
Flex is another important consideration when choosing your ski boots. Look for boots with soft to medium flex to provide a comfortable fit while giving you enough control.
Note that you shouldn’t size up to wear two pairs of socks or extra thick socks when skiing. Your ski boots will have a liner that insulates you from cold and humidity. Bring your skiing socks to try your ski boots.
7. Learn About the Ski Features That Matter
There isn’t a type of skis that is better than another for beginners. However, some features make skis more forgiving when you lack experience.
Choosing a pair of skis can be challenging when you don’t know much about gear. You might decide to go for the cheapest option, regardless of size or features.
Here are some of the features to look for when picking your first pair of skis.
A ski with a rocker design will have tips and tails that are slightly off the ground. You might encounter the terms negative or reverse camber to refer to this design.
Camber is the traditional shape of a ski. The tip and tail rest on the ground, and the middle of the ski form a flexible arc.
A traditional camber design allows you to dig into the snow to stop or accomplish sharp and precise turns at high speed. However, a rocker design will allow you to maintain contact with the snow and make slower sliding turns, which is a lot easier for beginners.
Don’t hesitate to pick wide skis. A ski width between 95 and 105mm will help you follow a trail and maintain a straight course even when you encounter slight bumps. Width also helps with balance.
A lot of beginners feel intimidated and pick short skis because they think they will have more control over speed. The ideal ski length corresponds to your height. You can pick skis that are slightly shorter than your height but keep in mind that short skis can make every turn a lot sharper than it needs to be and increase your risks of injury.
Lightweight skis might seem more forgiving if you’re a beginner. They’re easy to control, but navigating bumps will be more difficult. Don’t be afraid of weight since it will improve your balance.
Flex determines how easily your skis twist and absorb impact. Stiff skis give you more speed and power, but skis with a soft flex make turning easier and are more forgiving. It’s best to choose skis with soft or medium flex.
8. Don’t Skip Ski School!
You might be eager to head out to the slopes on your own or don’t want to add ski school to your expenses. If you’re new to skiing, you should consider signing up for a few lessons. You should ideally sign up for a week-long program to learn all the basics with an instructor.
Ski school is an excellent investment because your instructor will cover all the techniques you need to know about to get started and ski safely. They’ll assess your progress and give you personalized feedback for things like your skiing stance.
It’s possible to learn the basics on your own, but you will progress a lot faster with a few lessons. Ski school will build your confidence and provide you with the foundation you need to make skiing fun. You can progress even faster if you can afford private one-on-one lessons.
Another benefit of ski schools is that these programs typically have their own dedicated skiing area and lifts. You can learn and make mistakes away from the more experienced skiers without having to worry about getting in their way.
9. Learn How to Fall Safely
One of the most important skills you can learn as a beginner is how to fall without hurting yourself or sliding down a trail.
You’re going to fall a lot as you learn. There are a few techniques you can use to avoid injuries and get back up in no time.
Your first reflex might be to put your hands up to break the fall. While this technique can prevent injuries in other situations, it can result in a sprained or broken wrist, arm, or collarbone when skiing. The best thing you can do is to bend your elbow and roll into the fall.
Relax as much as possible. Tense muscles and joints increase your risk of sustaining an injury.
You might try using your skis to dig into the snow and stop. A sudden stop can result in a knee injury. It’s best to point your feet down and control your trajectory as best as you can.
If you can, fall backward and to the side. Falling backward between your skis means that you will keep sliding and will have no way of stopping.
Getting back up without taking your skis off requires some practice. Here’s how you can get back up:
- Scoot closer to your skis.
- Keep your skis parallel.
- Position your skis at a right angle from the slope.
- Use your ski poles to get back up.
10. Be Mindful of Your Knee Stance
Experiencing joint and tendon pain in the knees is a common problem skiers encounter. You can improve control and prevent pain by being mindful of knee stance and alignment.
Practice your skiing position in front of a mirror. Bend your knees and pay attention to where the center of your kneecap is. Your kneecaps should align with your second or third toe for a proper skiing stance. Be mindful of your posture and correct it while skiing. It’s common to bend your knees too far inside.
Beginners often position their hips too low. This stance creates a lot of unnecessary strain. Building quad and glute strength by doing squats ahead of your ski trip is the best way to adopt a more natural hip posture when skiing.
These ten tips should give you a better idea of what to expect from your first ski trip. Once again, I strongly recommend signing up for a ski school program so that you can learn all the basics I didn’t cover!