Just like any skill that’s worth obtaining, the most important trait to have going in is a willingness to practice. When most people think of skiing the first thing that comes to mind is a thrilling and enjoyable ride in the snow, followed by a huddle around a fireplace with a nice mug of hot chocolate telling tales of speed and dexterous maneuvering. While this vision absolutely can be the reality of skiing and actually is for millions of skiers around the world, the truth is a bit different when you’re first starting out. The most important thing to keep in mind when learning how to ski is safety.
Although the need for practice is similar to most skills and arts, a major difference between skiing and learning to, say, play a musical instrument, is the potential for injury. While the idea of earning bragging rights from daring maneuvers on the slopes is alluring, attempting anything difficult before you are ready can end with tragic results. It’s critical that you keep to beginner level slopes and beginner level moves until you have put the appropriate amount of practice in. Because of the level of danger that goes with the sport it’s also very important that you take lessons from a qualified instructor. You can gain a lot of important tips online but none of them can be considered a substitute for hands-on instruction.
When you’re first starting it out, be careful sure of the difficulty level of the slopes you are considering going down. In North America, there is a system of symbols that can be found on trail markers and ski maps that will alert you to the trail’s difficulty level. Be sure to study up on what each symbol means to avoid any confusion when you’re out on the powder.
- Beginner: A green circle is used to denote a beginner level trail, which are usually relatively slow, short and free from obstacles.
- Intermediate: A blue square means that the slope is intermediate level and will be a little bit steeper and faster than a beginner trail with more obstacles. It’s a good idea to avoid intermediate until you have had considerable practice on trails marked with the green circle.
- Difficult: A black diamond is used to denote a difficult level trail and, because of the steep grade, narrow path and obstacles, is incredibly dangerous for a beginner.
- Master: A black diamond with an exclamation point through it, or a double black diamond, is used to denote an extremely difficult level course. As a beginner, don’t even consider looking at these courses. These courses are only meant for the very experienced and highly skillful skier.
Right of way is another very important rule to understand before going out for your first time. When skiing down a slope, any skier who is ahead of you has the right of way. If this skier falls, you must be able to avoid them. Be sure to leave plenty of distance between yourself and any skier who is further down the course than you. It’s also important to be aware of your surroundings and to never willfully take a risk by trying a course that is beyond your level. You must watch out for the safety of yourself and those around you and if you fall you are actually putting other skiers in danger. Never attempt a course or maneuver that is beyond your current skill level and experience. Your instructor should be able to give you specific information about this and let you know when it is time to try an intermediate level trail. Knowing the proper method of putting your skis on is also very important. A full explanation of the proper method can be found here.
There is much to learn before getting out to the slopes and it’s a good idea to take some time and research the subject thoroughly online. When you’re ready to get out there, find a qualified instructor in your area and sign up for regular lessons. Once you begin your lessons, it won’t be long before you are out on the slopes trying out some basic techniques. If you stick with it and put the time in, your goal of ripping up powder will come to fruition before you know it. If you’re going to be traveling to a distant ski destination, consider shipping your skis ahead using a trusted ski shipping service. This way you won’t have to worry about lugging your skis around with you in the car or airport. Patience and dedication are key. Rushing through the basics can lead to serious injury and, at the very least, a spoiled ski trip. If you put your time in, you will be rewarded in the end.