Learn To Ski – First Time Skiing Tips for Absolute Beginners

learn to ski

Skiing and snowboarding just didn’t fall into my radar. I had resisted going skiing or snowboarding for many years, despite my wife’s insistence that it would be a life-changing experience to learn to ski. The main reason for the unwillingness was the lure of the beach; a fondness for surfing and a constant yearn for warm weather.

Looking back there was also fear in the mix, and a distinct lack of confidence in the idea of learning to ski as an adult. It seemed people often get hurt skiing and snowboarding, frequently pull all sorts of muscles, and repeatedly exhaust him or herself in a bid to slide sideways down a mountain.

Beginner’s Guide To Skiing

Somewhat serendipitously I ended up in Oregon for Christmas, and headed off to Mount Hood for my first ever ski trip, and there was fresh powder everywhere. I read a beginner’s guide to skiing on the flight, even though I was sure I was going to choose snowboarding over skiing.  On my arrival, on day one of my week-long visit, the first time skiing tips that were coming from my very competent friends were plentiful and colorful.

The Best Way To Learn To Ski

When it comes to the best way to learning to ski, ignore your friends who can already ride. They just want to see you crash and burn so they can laugh at you. Rather go and book a few lessons from a trusted ski coach. There is no other way in to the world of competency. A ski coach will help you in ways you could never imagine, will always be super-patient, and will make sure that you don’t pick up any bad habits when you start your ski program.

A coach will also teach you the very basics, like how to attach your skies correctly, how to attach your snowboard, and how to sit on a Poma lift without embarrassing yourself and endangering others. Just these basics, executed with good form, will help your learn to ski processes immensely.

learn to ski

First Time Skiing Tips

One of the most important first time skiing tips that I picked up from my first coach, after he spent a morning watching me slipping, sliding, getting hit on the head from a ski lift and generally just flailing around uselessly, was that I needed to lean forward. That simple phrase – ‘lean forward, dude’ – was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received throughout my early days learning to ski.

Not Surfing, Skiing.

As a surfer, one tends to lean backwards, and much of your power and direction is based off your back foot, causing you to be focused around the weight over the tail end of the board. Being a surfer, this was the natural technique I tried to adopt. Epic fail.

In snowboarding or skiing, you have to lean forward to prevent falling on your behind. It is the most fundamental tip to get you going – lean forward as you start your run, find that optimum leaning position, and remember it.

Not Surfing, But Burning

While you’re learning how to ski, you will get sunburned on the slopes. Some people call it a reflected burn, and others call it snow burn, but either way, sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor is recommended while snowboarding, because you’re still going to be exposed to UVB rays while on the snow.

Learning To Ski As An Adult

As part of my beginner’s guide to skiing that was slowly indexing and filing itself in my head, another simple concept with profound results was the fact that you need to have the best equipment. If something is too tight it’ll start aching pretty soon after you start, and if something is too loose and you have a few big crashes in deep powder, you will be taking that white stuff in, and you’ll be cold and wet. Take the time to find equipment and clothes that all fit correctly. Not too tight but never too loose. It’ll translate to longer and more enjoyable stints on the slopes.

More First Time Skiing Tips.

You need to wear a helmet on at all times as well, so it’s best to get one from the get-go and get used to it as fast as possible. After a while you won’t even notice it, but you’ll have a bit of extra self-confidence any way. Your gloves need to be snug, and not have any entry points. If your hands get wet and cold, you’re out the game. Similarly, if snow or moisture seeps into your bindings, you’re not going to be able to maintain in the cold.

All the gear

If you have the gear, you have a few lessons under the belt, and your confidence is high enough, some say that the best way to learn to ski is to go to a beginner’s slope, and find your way down, having brief moments of riding and a whole lot of moments falling. If you do it enough times – head on down a slope and do your best to stand – you should pick up some skills, even if it is learning by failing. Remember that Green is the colour of beginner slopes in North America, Australia and New Zealand, while Blue is the colour for beginner slopes in Europe.

From the knees down

Another beginner’s guide to skiing tip I picked up that was quite hard to adjust to at first was the fact that you turn from your knees and not from your hips. With surfing and skateboarding, moving your hips gives you drive and speed, but that movement is irrelevant when racing over snow. When turning on powder it is all about the knees. This gives you direction and the ability to turn, and it also controls how you tap off your speed. With skiing and snowboarding, it is more of a task of how to control your speed as opposed to how to generate speed.

Speed is there already in abundance due to the combination of a smooth surface and gravity – heading down a mountain. Your knees, and more importantly bending them, are what will allow you to keep your speed in check.

Final Words

The best tip when it comes to learning to ski as an adult is to be brave, but not stupid. It’s easy to believe you have the skills needed for a double black diamond slope (most difficult type of slope), but if you do slam, it could finish off the rest of your time on the slopes. Try and ski within your skill-set, and before you know it you’ll be heading for the backcountry for the time of your life.

Watch the video below for other beginner tips.

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