Skiing 101

02 Feb 2019

The thrill of skiing is captivating. Rolling down the slopes taming the steep mountain slopes will be on top of any thrill seeker’s list. And of course the views of mountains covered in white blanket are just unbeatable.

I haven’t always felt this way about skiing. I still remember the first time I went skiing. It was horrible. It was too tiring. I kept falling from the skis and those heavy ski boots don’t make it easy to get back on the ski. But with every ski trip my skill level and my love for skiing just grew. Now I can’t get enough of it. There are a lot of things that I wish I knew before I started skiing that could have helped me prepare better mentally and physically. In this blog I am going to put together how to prepare and what to expect in your first ski trip.

Kirwood Ski Resort, CA
Kirwood Ski Resort, CA

What To bring for skiing

Skiing can be an expensive sport. It requires a lot of equipments to keep you safe in the harsh and cold environment. You are going to need following equipments for skiing. This is in no way an exhaustive list.

Resorts usually provide rental service for skis, poles, ski boots and helmet. They usually don’t rent ski clothes. You should either rent or buy them in advanced. The Ski Renter in Mountain View is my favorite place for ski rentals.

If this is your first time skiing than most likely you are going to go for a ski lesson as you should. You won’t master the skill of skiing in those two hours of lessons but it will get you started on the path of learning. Learning skiing is like learning swimming or biking. The more you practice the better you get. Some resorts have ski lesson packages which include ski rental and one day of lift pass. If you are planning on going around lake Tahoe in northern California, Homewood Mountain Resort has one of the cheapest ski lesson packages that I know.

Kirwood Ski Resort, CA
Kirwood Ski Resort, CA

Ski Slope Levels

Ski slopes in ski resorts are marked with difficulty levels and they are called Piste. There are 4 major slope levels. They are decided based on slope gradients including other factors.

Park City Ski Resort, UT
Park City Ski Resort, UT

What to Expect in Ski Lessons

Skiing is all about managing your speed. Once you learn to handle speed comfortably, you will enjoy skiing. In the ski lessons, you will be mostly skiing on the green slopes. The instructors usually start by teaching you how to apply breaks. Edges of the ski act like your breaks. The most basic style of controlling your speed and turns is Pizza turns. As you feel comfortable with breaking the next step in learning is making turns. When you are skiing down the slope taking S shaped turns will help you pace your speed. This is a very fundamental technique in slope skiing. The wider the S curves the more you will slow down. And as you become better, taking narrower S turns will help you skiing on steeper slopes. Remember that the Pizza turns are just to get you started on the slopes. You won’t be able to use them on steeper slopes. That’s when more advanced techniques like Parallel Turn and Pole Planting come into picture. But don’t worry about them for now. Once you feel comfortable with the initial techniques try to transition to parallel turns to become advanced skier. Don’t worry if you keep falling and getting off balance in the beginning. It’s part of the process and the key to learning is keep practicing. Happy Skiing!

From learning ski and boot configurations to different advanced ski techniques, there are more topics than I can cover in one blog post. But as you practice more and more keep looking for that knowledge on YouTube or blog posts. It’s a really fun sport learn. But be careful on the slopes. Remember, it’s better to fall voluntarily than loosing control of your speed and end up breaking your limbs. Stay safe and Happy Skiing!

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Software Engineer at AWS using simulation to train robots. I am obsessed about history.