How To Turn On Skis

Once you pick out all your gear and hit the slopes, turning is one of the first skills you will learn as a beginner skier. Turning is key for you to have an epic day on the mountain.

Turning is your way of steering down the mountain in all different types of terrain. Before you venture to the peak, you should learn some basic skills to set yourself up for long term success.

Here’s my guide for beginner skiers on how to learn turning quickly and efficiently, while having a blast at the same time!

Lower Body Position

Since turns are done mainly with your lower body, let’s talk about stance. A great stance will help you ski in control, manage your speed, and allow you to get on your ski edges to make turns.

You should start with your feet at shoulder width apart. Being too narrow will not be good for control and could allow your skis to overlap resulting in some undesired falls.

If you go too wide, you’ll also have less control as your skills progress. Aligning your feet at shoulder width helps your entire body stay in perfect alignment which will keep you wanting to get back on the chair lift and make more turns.

You should have a slight bend in your ankles, knees, and hips. When it comes to these joints, “Straight Sucks!” When you don’t have any bend, you’re not allowing your muscles to work in your favor and turns will become a lot harder and control will suffer in the process.

Try to align your feet in the center of your boot. You don’t want to be too far forward with your shins against the front of your boots. The same idea applies for your calves against the back of your boots.

You’ll want to find your balance directly in the center of your body and slightly bend into that position.

This will set your lower half up for impressive turns while cutting down on your chances of forming bad habits.

Upper Body Position

Even though turning takes place from using your legs, your lower body position shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind. The skiers who can complete any type of turn on the mountain have mastered control of their whole body at every point throughout the turn.

Controlling your entire body while turning will help you manage your speed and make your turns look easy to anyone watching.

Amateur skiers will often forget about the upper body so if you learn the importance of it early, you’ll set yourself up to dominate tough terrain for years to come.

Your shoulders and head are the two things that you should pay attention to on your upper half as a beginner.

Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed with a ninety-degree bend in your elbows. Keep your hand forward and if you’re using poles, place them in the snow at the top of your boots on the outside of your skis. 

For a beginner, I highly recommend initially learning to turn without poles because poles typically create bad long-term habits for skiers. If you’re going to learn with poles, make sure you keep them in the front of your body to avoid using them incorrectly.

Your head position is also very important for you to make great turns on the slopes.

Think of your body as a steering wheel. Your head is what gives your body the ability to see what’s going on in your path. If you drop your head on the slopes, you’re giving yourself two issues.

When your head drops, you won’t be able to see what’s going on in front of you and this could lead to a bad collision. You’re also going to want to have your head up in order to maintain a great body posture.

If you drop your head, your body will want to slouch as well because your brain is telling your body that’s where I want to go. This will cause extra strain which will only lead to more injuries and bad habits.

I recommend placing your eyes directly on your target destination. This will allow you to focus on where you want to go and see any obstacles in your way. If you keep your head up, you’ll have a lot more fun on the mountain and master turning in no time.

Pizza and French Fry Position  

These two positions are the first things ski instructors teach skiers during a lesson. This is the first thing you should understand as a beginner who is looking to start turning.

The Pizza Position is when you make a wedge with your skis. To do this you’ll push out on your boot heals and bend your knees slightly inward to slow down or stop. The harder you push to get on your inside edges, the quicker you will come to a stop.

The French Fry Position is the fancy term for keeping your skis parallel. This position will stay with you even when you’re no longer a beginner and have the desire to tackle tougher terrain. On the other hand, the Pizza Position will be utilized minimally after you become somewhat comfortable controlling your skis.

Practice going from a French Fry to a Pizza Position on flat ground. When you feel comfortable doing this, it’s time to move up to the bunny slope to practice turning.

Wedge Turn  

Before you’re able to make turns while keeping your skis straight, the wedge turn will be your best friend. The wedge turn allows you to stay in control and really gauge your own speed.

You control your speed and turns by utilizing your ski edges. Ski edges are critical for turns on tough terrain so this will be your first introduction to seeing their importance on the slopes.

The snowplough turn may not look like other skiers turns coming from the peak, but everyone started with this technique when they were a beginner. 

To snowplough turn, start in your pizza position by digging in with the inside edges of your skis. Don’t dig too much that you’re completely stopped, but apply enough pressure where you’re moving at a relatively slow pace.

To turn, apply extra pressure with the inside edge of your downhill ski. By downhill ski I mean the lowest one once you make the turn. If you want to turn right, your downhill ski would be your left one and visa versa.

With the wedge turn, you should really focus on applying pressure to your downhill ski through your boot. The harder you push, the quicker you will be able to get on edge and this knowledge will be very valuable moving forward.

When you’re perpendicular to the hill, your speed will slow because your skis won’t be going downhill. Slowing your speed will help you link turns which is the next step in the learning process.

Linking Turns

Learning to turn is great, but if you’re unable to put multiple turns together it will be very tough to get down a trail. Once you’ve mastered the wedge turn, it’s time to add another turn to it and then repeat this process from top to bottom.

To link turns, your uphill and downhill skis will flip flop positions and responsibilities. As I said before, your downhill ski is the one where you’re applying pressure. The uphill ski should be fairly relaxed.

When you’re looking to add another wedge turn, you should transition your weight from your downhill ski to your uphill ski. When you start applying pressure to the inside of your boot, you will get on your ski edge which will naturally cause your skis to turn.

When you are confident with your ability to slowly turn, try to pick up the pace. To do this, all you have to do is transition your weight between your inside edges a little quicker and your skis will do the rest of the work.

As you get more comfortable with this technique, you won’t feel the need to have to be perpendicular to the mountain to slow down. You’ll be able to control your speed by making quicker turns and actually embrace a slightly faster pace.

When you’re embracing speed, it’s time to move up one level and start to lose the pizza position in your skis.

Parallel Turns

Even though this is a short article, all the techniques leading up to getting your skis parallel take time so don’t be fooled. Learning to turn is a process!

Every amateur is still trying to master parallel techniques because everyone can improve their skills no matter where they are in skiing ability.

If you trust the process early, good things will happen when you get to learning the parallel stage of the turn.

Moving away from the pizza slice will begin at the bottom of your turn. When you’re transitioning your weight from your downhill to your uphill ski, try to straighten your skis when you get to a forty-five-degree angle on the trail.

In order to do this successfully, you’ll need to keep your feet at hip width. This helps your ski edges stay on the same level plane and puts your body in a really comfortable position. When your skis get wider turning becomes a lot more difficult.

It will be more comfortable to widen your feet to slow yourself down. This is the same concept as the pizza position, but do your best to stay parallel for as long as you can because the hope is to ditch the wedge in this stage.

Push yourself to stay parallel as long as you can at the bottom of your turn before transitioning into a pizza slice. Eventually you’ll be able to stay parallel while transitioning into your next turn as you gain more control over your edges.

The technique for the wedge turn is exactly the same as a parallel turn. The movements are smaller and they look more advanced, but the concept of getting on your ski edge is necessary for beginners all the way up to rippers at the Olympic level.

Parallel skiing is a great introduction to carving which is the final technique you’ll move to when learning how to turn. 

Carving Technique

With continued practice, you’ll be able to refine your skiing techniques to a point where you’re ready to carve. When you get really good at edging, carving will come easy.

This is because carving is using your edges to make all your turns on the mountain. The knowledge you will learn on the bunny slope is the foundation of this turn so that’s why it’s important to believe in each step of the process.

Modern skis make carving possible for every level of skier that can control their body on the slopes. Let’s take a look at how you should carve down the mountain.

Carving is an intense version of parallel skiing. Carving is when you dig in with your edges to make turns while flying down the mountain. Carving will help you maintain your speed which will allow you to make fluid turns.

Your skis don’t really slide when you’re carving because of how hard you’re pressuring on the inside edge of your ski. This goes back to the wedge turn. The harder you pushed, the more you turned.

Pressure gets you on your ski edge and reduces the risk of sliding. If you have a good pair of carving skis, all you have to do is initiate the movement with your boots.

To start a carving turn, keep your skis at hip width just like the parallel turn. Your downhill ski is still your best friend and you should apply more pressure to it than your uphill ski.

The majority of your weight should be applied to the middle of your downhill ski and you’ll be carving all day long.

Final Thoughts

I know there is a lot of information in this article and everyone has their own way of teaching beginner skiers how to turn.

Despite this, the most important concept in this article is to take your time while learning and remember that each stage will help you as you advance through the learning stages.

If you keep this in mind, you’ll improve faster and be making expert turns in no time!

How To Ski For Beginners

Ski season is almost here and for a lot of people that means fun days on the mountain shredding down epic runs with friends. Ski season is my favorite time of the year and this is because of all the great days I have had on the mountain with my friends and family in my twenty years of skiing.

I’ve met a lot of people who would like to learn how to ski, but have never begun the process. If this sounds like yourself, you’re missing out on some serious fun. Skiing is enjoyable for skiers of all abilities and there is truly a trail for everyone!

I’ve talked to a lot of people who want to try skiing, but have delayed getting on the slopes and I always ask them why? The biggest reason I’ve heard from people who don’t try skiing is because of how hard they believe it is to get started from the actual technique to the gear they’ll need to keep them cozy on a chilly winter day.

There are some necessities to getting on the slopes for the first time, but it’s a lot simpler than any beginner would expect.

Here’s my basic beginner guide for you to hit the slopes for the first time and have an amazing day. I’m going to discuss six topics that you’ll want to know for your first day out on the slopes!

  1. Basic Equipment
  2. What to Wear and Essential Apparel
  3. The Best Trails for Beginners
  4. The Basic Techniques that you Should Learn First
  5. Getting On and Off the Chair Lift
  6. Mountain Etiquette

Basic Equipment

When I think of ski equipment the first thing that comes to mind is skis and boots. These are the two most essential pieces of equipment because you can’t have any fun on the trails without either of these items.

Skis and Boots

If you’re venturing to the mountain for your first time, I highly recommend that you rent your skis and boots.

There are so many benefits to renting for your first few trips to the ski resort. You won’t have to lug around your equipment and you won’t have to spend any extra money on gear that may end up being uncomfortable.

Renting also gives you the ability to try equipment that you may want to purchase when you make the commitment of grabbing your own gear.

The first time I went skiing in Italy, I rented all my equipment and ended up buying the same skis when I got back to the US because of how great they were on the mountain. To this day, those skis were my all-time favorite that I have ever used in my skiing career.

Skis and boots are two essential items that you should rent from the resort. When you get to the rental shop, make sure you tell the rental technician that it’s your first-time skiing and they will make sure you’re comfortable with all your equipment.

You’ll want to ask for a shorter pair of skis than they would normally give a person for your height because smaller skis are easier to control. After a few trips, you’ll be in a bigger pair fit for your height, but control is key for a successful day on the slopes.

I believe boots are more important than skis when we’re talking about someone’s first day skiing. Your feet are strapped into your boots so you want to make sure they’re going to be happy.

When you’re with the rental technician, comfort should be your main thought when trying on boots. Sometimes boots feel comfortable in the base lodge, but when you get on the mountain they may start to pinch or make your feet sore. If this is the case, head back to the rental shop and they’ll be happy to fix the issue.

Poles

For your first day skiing, poles are definitely unnecessary. They will become important down the road, but they create bad habits for new skiers so my recommendation would be to ditch the poles on day one.

If you’d like to use poles you can rent them, but I assure you that they aren’t needed to ski. If you learn the basics without them, you’ll be a better skier in the long run!

Helmets and Goggles


Skiers who don’t wear helmets are becoming few and far between on the mountain so I highly recommend wearing a helmet. It’s a great way to give you an added level of protection and warmth on the slopes. 

Any basic ski helmet will do, and these are available for rent or purchase at your local ski shop. I assure you that buying a helmet for your first day is a great investment!

Goggles are another essential piece of equipment. Some people wear sunglasses, but no matter what you’re wearing, you’ll want some eye protection.

Goggles help you see the snow better, they keep snow from getting in your eyes, and they also prevent your eyes from watering as you fly down the trail.

Goggles are the perfect complement to a great helmet!

What to Wear…The Essential Apparel

When you’re getting dressed for a cold day on the mountain, layering will be your best friend. A good rule of thumb is that the more layers you wear the warmer you will be so take this into account when you’re checking the forecast.

Layering

In no way do you have to buy a bunch of new gear to go skiing. Your winter wardrobe should be sufficient for a day out on the mountain.

The first pieces of apparel that you’ll want to look for are your base layers. This is the first thing you’re putting on. A wool shirt, fleece pants, or any tight compression gear will be great for a base layer.

On top of that, you’ll want a layer of insulation like a fleece jacket or pullover.

Finally, you’ll put on your ski jacket and ski pants. These are obviously for added warmth, but they also are for water resistance. You will get wet on the mountain so having a good jacket and pair of pants will keep you dry and feeling great all day long.

The combinations are really endless for what you should wear under your ski jacket and pants, but make sure to add extra layers like sweatshirts and sweatpants when temperatures drop.

Socks and Gloves

Socks are very important because happy feet make for happy skiers. You’ll want a pair of wool knee-high socks. Ski socks come in all different lengths and thicknesses, but this is one piece of apparel that I recommend you go out and buy.

Regular socks just don’t do it when it comes to the mountain!

When getting ski gloves, don’t think about style. Think about warmth!

You’re going to want gloves that keep your hands warm and dry. There are heated gloves which can get a little pricey, but if your hands are cold with gloves try mittens first for extra warmth.

I alternate between gloves and mittens depending on the temperature. If you need added warmth, just add a hand warmer for some extra heat.

Extra Accessories

By no means do you need these extra pieces of apparel, but I wanted to mention them because they have saved me on some cold winter days.

Winter sock hats when worn under a helmet are very comfortable and help with regulating your body temperature. I started adding a sock hat under my helmet a few years ago and it’s really allowed me to get some extra runs in on cold days.

To accompany a sock hat, I also would recommend wearing a gaiter. These are the masks that go around your neck and you can pull them up to cover your face. Gaiters are a lifesaver and the best part about them is that they can just be worn around your neck when they’re not needed!

The Best Trails for Beginners

When you make your first trip to a ski mountain, you’ll see a bunch of trail signs with a rating system.

Before I get into explaining the trail rating system, let me start by saying that the first trail you need to master is the bunny slope. Get comfortable on your skis before progressing to harder terrain, but with a little work you’ll be on tougher trails in no time.

The way the ski trail rating system works is by using a combination of colors and shapes.

Green circles mean those specific trails are the easiest types on the mountain. These are made for beginners and usually feature smaller flatter descents. When you first make the trip up the lift to the peak, stick with green trails to make your way down.

While all levels of skiers venture down green trails, typically these are filled with new skiers, so it gives you a great area to work on your craft.

The next step up is blue square trails which mean intermediate difficulty. I’m not going to lie…These vary in difficulty depending on the mountain so keep that in mind as a beginner.

Intermediate trails are my favorite to ski on because they’re usually kept in great condition, frequently groomed and they have descents that vary in steepness.

Black and double black diamonds are next on the list, but as a beginner I wouldn’t venture anywhere near these trails. These are for experts and when attempted too early can really ruin a skier’s confidence.

Bunny, green, then blue: Follow that progression for a great day of skiing!

The Basic Techniques You Need to Learn First

As a brand-new skier, I would recommend getting a quick ski lesson to kick off your day. All mountains have great instructors that are certified to set you up for a successful day on the slopes.

A couple years ago I was a new snowboarder trying to learn the skill after a lifetime of skiing. After a one-hour morning lesson, my instructor had me confident enough to go to the peak to ride the greens by the middle of the day.

Now I definitely prefer skiing, but my first day snowboarding wouldn’t have been as fun without my initial lesson.

Before you progress up the mountain, you’ll want to master a few basic skills:

Ski to Pizza Stop

Stopping is key to a successful day on the mountain. When you feel comfortable stopping, you’ll start to gain confidence in your ability to control your skis. The first technique you should learn is the ski to pizza stop.

When you start your trip down the hill, you’ll begin to pick up speed. The more you make your skis into pizza shape with the tips close together, the slower you will go. Play with this technique and in time and keep trying to straighten your skis to speed up and pizza to slow down.

Friction slows you down. The inside edges of your skis are what you will dig into the ground to slow yourself down. Push your heels out to begin the pizza slice. To come to a quick stop continue digging in with your heels.

The Snowplough Turn

After you learn how to stop, the next technique that you need to learn is how to turn. After you master the snowplough turn you will be moving on to more advanced techniques, but this sets the foundation for great turns down the road.

To snowplough turn, start in your pizza stop position by digging in with the inside edges of your skis. Don’t dig too much that you’re completely stopped, but apply enough pressure where you’re moving at a relatively slow pace.

To turn, apply extra pressure with the inside edge of your downhill ski. By downhill ski I mean the lowest one once you make the turn. If you want to turn right, your downhill ski would be your left one and visa versa.

Once you get directly across the hill repeat the process with the uphill ski and that will become the downhill ski as you complete the next turn.

Getting Back Up

As fun of a sport as skiing is, I guarantee when learning you will fall. The pros fall so don’t expect yourself to be any different!

Getting up after a fall can be tough if you don’t know the basics. It all starts with your body position!

When you fall, use the hill as your friend. It may have made you fall, but the slopes always want to help you get back up!

Put your skis directly downhill and bring your body as close to your skis as possible. This concentrates your power to help you push up with ease and forces you to push yourself a shorter distance to get back to your base.

Push with your uphill arm and throw your downhill arm back over the middle of your skis to get your body going in the right direction. Shift your weight back over your skis and you’ll be standing.

This will take some practice, but it’ll become second nature after a few attempts.

Getting On and Off the Chair Lift

The chair lift is your ticket to another run, a short rest, and breathtaking views depending on the mountain where you’re spending your day. Different resorts have different styles of chair lifts. You may see the classic low speed two person all the way up to the high speed eight-person bubble lifts.

No matter the chair style, the principle of getting on and off is the same. Let’s start with getting on the lift!

On most lifts, you’ll be waiting behind a bar that will open when it’s time for you to approach the lift. If there’s no bar, there will be a lift attendant signaling you to move forward.

The first thing you need to remember is to unloop your wrists from your pole strap. I know I said earlier that you don’t need poles for day one, but when you get them don’t forget this necessary step!

If your pole got stuck in the ground with your wrist in the loop, the lift won’t stop quick enough to save you and this could lead to a short day on the mountain or a potentially severe injury.

Lift attendants will often remind you of this, but do your best to remember so your epic day shredding doesn’t come to a quick end.

As soon as the gates open or you get the go ahead to prepare for getting on the lift, scoot forward to the stop line. Put your ski tips right at the top of the line.

Be under control, but don’t take your time moving forward. The quicker you get to the line, the more time you have to prepare to get on the lift safely.

Once you’re on the line, grab both your poles in one hand and look behind one shoulder to see the chair approaching. As soon as the chair gets to you, sit down and lift your ski tips up to prevent them from getting stuck in the ground.

Before you know it, you’ll be riding up the mountain taking in some great views. Put the bar down, kick your feet up on the footrests and relax.

On the chair lift, I have two tips. The first is to enjoy seeing the mountain from a different viewpoint, but also take care of your personal belongings and poles. If you check your phone or wallet, make sure it’s secured because if it falls off the lift your day will be filled with more searching than skiing.

I’ve never dropped my phone, but I have dropped a pole from checking my phone so take my advice and be extra careful!

After a nice break on the chair, it’ll be time for you to get off the lift. When you get within 30 seconds of the exit ramp start preparing to get off. Take your feet off the rest and when everyone is ready lift up the safety bar.

Keep your ski tips up so nothing gets caught and hold both your poles in one hand. Use your opposite hand to push off the chair.

A new lift will slow down, but an older lift will drop you off slightly faster than a newer one so be prepared for this as you’re riding up mountain.

As your riding down the small slope from the chair, depart straight off and don’t turn until both your sides are clear. Be cognizant of other lift riders that are departing as well.

I read the actions of other riders when they’re getting off the lift and I either depart slightly faster or slower to limit congestion in the off-ramp area.

If you ever fall off the lift which still gets the best of every skier, don’t worry as lift operators are there to stop the lift until you get up and clear the area.

Mountain Etiquette

Mountain etiquette is critical for every skier. It’s important to know mountain etiquette so nobody infringes on anyone else’s day on the slopes.

The National Ski Areas Association has put together a code of conduct that every skier and snowboarder need to abide by on the mountain. It’s a comprehensive list that covers everything you need to know for proper mountain etiquette. The list is as followed:

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

These rules are meant to keep everyone safe and if you live by them on the mountain, I know your first day skiing will be amazing.

I hope this information was helpful and I hope to share a few runs with you in the future.

Happy skiing!

How To Skate On Skis

Picture this, you get off the ski lift and prepare for your run down the mountain. You tighten your boots, put your wrists through your pole straps, and begin your descent down the trail.

As you get towards the bottom of the run you can see the ski lift off in the distance and you can’t wait for your next epic run. Before you know it though, the ground begins to flatten out and so does your speed.

You eventually come to a stop and the lift for your next run doesn’t seem so close anymore. This forces you to shuffle over and use your poles to push towards the lift.

Trust me…We have all been there!

Now you have to skate your way to the lift.

Now a lot of different styles of ski skating are utilized in cross country skiing, but here I’m just talking about skating when you’re you need an easier way to travel on flat terrain with regular downhill skis.

What is Ski Skating?

You’ll find a lot of fancy definitions on the internet for ski skating, but mine is pretty simple. Ski skating is the combination of using your inside ski edges and poles to push simultaneously, while shifting your weight back and forth for an easier way to move forward.

Ski skating will be your best friend on the mountain because once you’re able to do it, you won’t need to just utilize your arms and poles to push on flat ground.

The strongest muscles in your body are in your legs so why not use them! It’ll make your life easier and allow you to put your energy into crushing epic downhill runs.

Ski skating may feel somewhat hard at first, but I promise that once you learn the rhythm of this skill, you’ll be doing this technique with ease in no time.

How to Ski Skate?

The key to successful ski skating starts before you even use your arms or legs. Body posture is the first thing that you need to conquer to set yourself up for success.

Body Posture Checklist

  1. Stand straight up with a slight knee bend.
  2. Make sure your skis are shoulder width apart.

If you need to slightly widen or narrow your skis that’s fine because comfort is always key. Many skiers make the mistake of being too wide or too narrow though which sets you up for failure so a small adjustment is okay, but don’t make too big of a change where you lose power.

In ski skating balance plays a huge role for success. Before this skill becomes second nature, don’t forget to check your balance.

Here’s a tip: Since you’re using one ski to push at a time check your stability while standing on one ski. Alternate picking up your right and left foot to see if you’re in a good stance.

Once body posture is taken care of, it’s time to get to the fun part…skating!

Here’s the process for a successful speed skate to make you enjoy the flat part of the mountain:

  1. Make sure you’re in a comfortable and athletic stance.
  2. Point your skis out on a slight angle. This shouldn’t be too drastic, but it gets your skis started on an angle to push off your inside edges.
  3. Slightly move your hips forward and have a small lean in your upper body. When you move your hips and body forward, it will take a little pressure off of your legs when you start skating.
  4. Now it’s time to push and waddle. Dig into the inside edge of one ski and push.
  5. This initial push will start the gliding process. As you begin to glide bring your legs back to shoulder width and then repeat as you’re moving.
  6. After repeating the push a few times, you’ll be gliding with ease. Take more time in between pushes as you pick up speed to reduce friction. Once you get moving you won’t need to push as hard to gain momentum.

So that covers your legs in the ski skate, but arms can be really helpful in propelling you back to the lift as well! Arms are secondary to legs in the ski skate, but when our whole body is working together in unison, we will be much stronger.

Here’s my first pole tip and it will save you some frustration on the slopes. Always loop your wrists into your pole straps for added protection because if you’re skating and a pole gets stuck in the snow it won’t be fun.

This has gotten the best of me more times than I can count so learn from my mistakes!

The pole strategy I like to use is the double pole push. For the double pole push, you’ll be pushing both poles together with every single glide off your inside ski edge.

The benefits of pushing with both poles is huge because in my experience it’s easier than pushing with one at a time and you get a lot more power. More power means you’re back on the ski lift quicker and getting in more runs down the mountain!

Details of the Double Pole Push:

  1. Have your arms bent at a 90-degree angle while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Being too tense will create tired arms which makes for weaker pushes.
  2. The 90-degree arms will help you push straight down and then roll back to their starting position when working simultaneously with your legs.
  3. Plant your poles right before you start the push off the inside edge of your ski. Use your poles to help propel you forward with your legs.
  4. Push off with your poles and bring them back to a 90-degree angle with relaxed shoulders.

That covers everything you need to know for incorporating ski skating into your day down hilling to make your life easier on flatter ground. I hope these tips were helpful and you get a few extra runs in this season because the flat ground didn’t stand a chance slowing you down!

How To Stop On Skis

We all love taking a run down the mountain feeling the wind rush past our body. For me, this is when I feel most alive on the slopes, but the secret to a great day doesn’t just come from skiing. Stopping is key to a fun and safe day on the mountain because we need it to stay in control.

For a beginner skier, stopping is one of the first techniques you need to learn to have an epic day on the mountain. When you gain control over your skis and feel confident in your stopping ability, I guarantee your skiing will improve!

My stopping technique has evolved over the years, but I’ve learned three techniques in my twenty years of shredding: The pizza stop or wedge stop, the snowplough turn, and the hockey stop.

Let’s start with the pizza stop because who doesn’t love pizza!

The Pizza Stop or Wedge Stop

The pizza stop or wedge stop mean exactly the same thing so don’t get confused. I like to refer to it as the pizza stop because that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I see someone using it on the slopes.

If you’re new to skiing the pizza stop is the first technique you should learn. To do the pizza stop, picture a triangular slice of pizza. You will form a triangle with your skis by digging your inside ski edges into the snow.

The more pressure you apply to the snow with your edges, the slower you will go. This stopping technique is great for beginners because it gives you a lot of control over the speed of your skis.

The Pizza Stop Technique

  1. Apply pressure to the inside part of your heels which will begin to push your skis out in a pizza shape.
  2. Continue to push your skis into the pizza shape. As your ski tails move farther apart, the more you will slow down.
  3. As you widen your ski tails, you will move on to your inside edges for more friction and faster stopping.

When learning the pizza stop, be aware of your ski tips. Make sure you don’t have them touch because if they get crossed your stop could turn into a fall and that’s the last thing any skier desires. Start slow on level ground and the pizza stop will become a no brainer as you advance to more technical trails.

Use the pizza stop when you’re learning the ropes on the bunny slope or trying to slow down on flatter and tighter terrain. This is a great way for a gradual stop when you see a busy area coming up in your path.

The Snowplough Turn

The snowplough turn is the next step up from the pizza turn. You’ll start with the same technique, but ultimately make a turn for a faster stop! Once you get comfortable with the regular pizza stop, add this into your style and you’ll be stopping like a pro in no time.

The Snowplough Turn Technique

  1. Begin by completing the entire pizza stop technique. Once your skis are in the pizza shape, it’s now time to turn!
  2. To turn, you’ll push hard into the inside of one ski and take pressure off of the other. To turn right, apply pressure to the inside edge of your left ski. To turn left, apply the pressure to the inside edge of your right ski.
  3. You’ll have a side that feels better, but do your best to get comfortable with both because you never know when you may have to turn the other way!
  4. The goal is to stop when your skis are going directly across the slope.
  5. Continue applying pressure to the inside edge of your downhill ski so you don’t slide down the hill because nobody wants to slide when they’re trying to stop!

The main thing to remember with the snowplough turn is to apply the initial pressure with your downhill ski. If you start the turn with your uphill ski, you’ll be sliding down hill and turning up hill at the same time. This won’t make for a pretty or comfortable stop.

I use the snowplough turn when I’m on flatter terrain that is also really busy. If I need to come to a quicker stop the snowplough turn will definitely be my choice over the pizza stop.

The Hockey Stop

As you get better and better, the hockey stop will become your best friend. That’s not to say that you will never pizza stop or snowplough turn again, but I use the hockey stop more than either of the previous two.

If you have ever watched a professional skier or someone shredding on the mountain and a huge cloud of snow fly up as they stopped, they were using the hockey stop technique.

When you’re able to do it correctly, it really makes stopping fun and that’s saying something because stopping means your run is probably coming to an end! Whenever I ski with buddies, we always try to hockey stop and spray each other with the cloud of snow that shoots up from our skis.

Let’s get into the details about how to execute the hockey stop!

The Hockey Stop Technique

  1. Slightly rise your body posture up to take some ski pressure off the snow. This will set you up for a better stop and people often forget this part of the skill.
  2. Apply a lot of pressure to your outside ski and begin to turn on your inside edge. By outside ski, I mean the downhill ski once you make the turn.
  3. Begin to sink and bend your knees while turning both your feet into the mountain.
  4. Dig your inside ski edges into the snow. The amount of pressure you apply corresponds with how fast you will stop.
  5. As you come to a stop, slightly move off your inside edges so you don’t fall back into the mountain.

When I was learning the hockey stop, the biggest mistake I made was not digging in with my edges enough to quickly stop. I would softly dig and that made me slide more than desired and I’d often lose my balance. This made for some unnecessary falls so don’t be afraid to edge into the snow.

I hockey stop every opportunity that I get because it’s the quickest way to come to a halt. On steep terrain where you’re moving quickly, the hockey stop will be your best friend. The only time I don’t utilize the hockey stop is if I need to gradually stop on my way to the ski lift.

The technique needed for the hockey stop is learned from the pizza stop and the snowplough turn. Mastering those will really help you when it’s time to progress to the hockey stop.

This is also the most fun way to stop in my opinion, so you’ll want to use it every time you have the opportunity. I always feel like a pro when I come to a quick stop and see a cloud of snow spray right up from my skis!

Always remember that it’s okay to go slow! Don’t be afraid to take time learning this stopping progression. In life, we walk before we run, and the same principle applies on the slopes. Get really good at the basics and the harder techniques will come naturally.

Parallel Skiing vs. Carving

I have been strapping up my ski boots and locking into my bindings since I was a little boy. For a lot of people winter means cold and miserable, but for me it means great days on the mountain skiing some gnarly terrain!

In my twenty years skiing, I’ve seen a lot of skiers shredding down mountains using all different types of turning styles, but the two that stand out are parallel skiing and carving.

The main difference between parallel skiing and carving is that in parallel skiing your skis stay parallel to each other the entire time where carving means you are turning completely on your edges. Carving is essentially a more advanced version of parallel skiing that lets you turn while retaining as much speed as possible.

Differences Between Parallel Skiing and Carving

In my skiing career, I’ve used and still use both styles to make turns down the mountain. There are pros and cons to each style and these vary with skill and terrain, but before we get into all that let’s take a closer look at each form of turning!

Parallel Skiing

Parallel skiing technique skis just like it sounds. In order to parallel ski you need to keep your skis parallel which is much easier said than done, but any skier who takes the time to learn the technique will be shredding in no time.

The first part to successful parallel skiing is keeping your feet at hip-width. This helps your ski edges stay on the same level plane and puts your body in a really comfortable position. When your skis get wider turning becomes a lot more difficult, but it slows you down.

Remember pizza slicing when you were learning how to ski? You went slower and the same principle applies to parallel skiing. The closer your skis are to hip width, the faster you will go!

Be careful to not bring your skis to close together though because this decreases your knee mobility which makes turning a lot tougher. Turning your skis is your steering wheel for a safe trip down the mountain so stick with hip width and you’ll have an epic day on the trails.

In parallel skiing, we start slightly edging to make turns. When we start carving the edging becomes a little more intense, but successful parallel skiing is the first step to more advanced methods.

When you turn, your skis are always pushing on the same edge. When you use parallel skiing, your skis will slightly slide on the snow when you’re making turns, but this definitely helps control your speed. In order to make an edge change your skis will need to be flat before you get up on your edges again and this creates the natural turn progression down the mountain.

Parallel skiing is best when we become comfortable skiing at a decent pace and our upper bodies play a huge role in this process. When you turn, you’ll want your upper body staying calm and balanced. Picture your upper body maintaining the place where your legs should be if you were standing straight up. Keep your upper body relaxed and perpendicular to the mountain and you’ll get comfortable with this technique in no time.

Pros

  • It’s a great first step to learning how to carve.
  • It can be used on any terrain.
  • It’s the foundation of every other advanced turn in the sport.
  • It teaches balance and confidence which is necessary when moving away from the snowplow technique.

Cons

  • While it can be used on every type of terrain, it’s not the best in all cases.
  • It’s not the best technique for combining speed and control.

Carving

I would describe carving as a much more intense version of parallel skiing. If you have ever watched a professional downhill race and studied the skiers, you’ll see that they are getting really low and digging into the snow with their edges. They are utilizing carving to fly down the mountain.

If you’re looking for speed, carving technique is the way to go to get down the mountain as fast as possible. When you’re carving, your skis will not slide at all when making a turn. This is because your edges are digging in so hard that you’re literally “carving” your way down the mountain.

Modern skis are built for carving and really do most of the work for you on the mountain. You just need to be able to transfer your weight and trust your ability which comes with more and more experience on the slopes.

If you go to a ski shop, you’ll see skis that almost look like an hourglass where the tip and tail is really rounded. These are the skis that designers have built to make carving possible for skiers of all abilities. Because of the ski shape, they edge along an arc shape with makes for pretty turns and epic runs.

Carving skis do a lot of the turning work, but they still need you to initiate the movement. To start a carving turn, keep your skis at hip width just like the parallel turn.

The best way to start a turn is by rolling your knees over the ski which helps get you up on your edges. This always feels uncomfortable at first, but a huge mistake that people make is not rolling their knees enough which causes their skis to slide. When your skis slide while carving turning becomes very uncomfortable.

A good rule of thumb is that when you’re feeling slightly uncomfortable roll those knees over a little more and that will lead to a great turn. The pros are rolling their knees so much that they’re hips are almost touching the snow so don’t be afraid to push outside of your comfort zone!

The outside ski of the turn is your best friend and you should apply more pressure to it than your inside ski. More advanced skiers use their inside foot in the turn, but it shouldn’t be your first thought when learning how to carve.

When turning, transfer the majority of your weight to the middle of the outside ski and that will create some sharp carves down the slope.

Pros

  • The most efficient way to turn in skiing.
  • It’s the turning style that produces the fastest speed.
  • The skis help create the turn once you get on your edge.
  • You don’t slide on the snow.

Cons

  • Unlike parallel skiing, it’s not always possible depending on the conditions.
  • You need carving skis to properly carve (Most skis are designed this way so this probably won’t be too big of an issue)
  • You need to sharpen your ski edges frequently.
  • If you’re not comfortable with basic parallel skiing, carving isn’t a technique that you can confidently try.

So when should you use each technique?

The first thing I would say is that you can’t carve before you learn how to properly parallel ski and get comfortable getting up on your edges.

Parallel skiing is the foundation of every other turn in the sport so never forget that when you’re working on the basics! Once you conquer parallel skiing and advance to carving, you won’t always be able to utilize this technique on the mountain.

For the typical skier, carving works best when the snow is soft enough for their ski to dig into the snow. Ice is not a carver’s best friend because it’s tough to edge through the ice and not slide. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but when I see ice I personally change my game plan up and utilize parallel skiing for more control on the slopes.

Parallel skiing can always be used, and some great skiers never even attempt to carve.

My biggest advice as someone who has been skiing their whole life is to get great at the basics and everything else will grow from there. I go skiing and some days I chose to not push as hard and utilize parallel skiing, but there will be other days where I’m shredding with my friends and really want to fly down the mountain so I carve.

When you get good at parallel skiing, carving will almost come naturally because parallel turns are the foundation of the carve.