Learning to ski for beginners
With our tips and exercises
So you finally want to take on the challenge to learn how to ski and to glide down snowy slopes in picturesque winter landscapes? It is never too late to (re-)try this winter sport. Naturally children will learn the technique a little faster and they are a little less fearful than adults, but with our tips and exercises even as an adult you can learn to ski quickly and with lots of fun along the way – without having to do a course. After all, not everyone wants to participate in a lengthy and expensive ski course straight away. With our tips and exercises you can learn to ski as an adult and start to glide down gentle slopes. But, what equipment do you need, which slopes are suitable and how do you master those first turns?
The right equipment
Especially in the beginning it doesn't have to be the top-notch, latest brand equipment. If you have friends, maybe you can borrow their equipment for the first day. Or simply use the Sport 2000 rent ski hire service. You will find Sport 2000 rent partners in almost all major ski areas. Here you can hire well maintained, top quality equipment at favourable conditions. And best of all, skis, shoes and poles will be fitted to your individual needs. In other words, your beginner’s equipment will be matched to your size and weight, so that everything fits perfectly.
You can even hire a ski helmet here, which, while not compulsory for adults, is still recommended for safety reasons. Also remember the following items in your outfit:
- Ski pants
- Ski jacket
- Ski gloves
- Ski socks
- Ski goggles
Basic fitness, warm-ups and stretches before skiing
If you want to learn to ski, you should prepare by exercising in your everyday life. This could be classic endurance sports like running or swimming, or cycling and using the stairs regularly instead of the lift. It is simply important that you have a basic fitness level, so that you can concentrate on the techniques while learning to ski and will not run out of steam too quickly.
Before putting on your skis you should also do some stretches and warm-up exercises to warm the muscles and prevent injuries.
Warm-up exercises before skiing
When skiing, you use almost all muscles in your body. Therefore you should definitely completely warm-up prior to skiing. Effective exercises include:
- Arm rotations (windmills) – in the same and opposite directions
- Trunk rotations – clockwise and counter clockwise
- Lunge step (for more stability you can use the ski poles)
Repeat these movements 15 to 20 times in 3 sets. You can do these exercises while wearing your complete ski outfit and boots.
Correctly strapping on the skis
After arriving on the slopes warmed up and with all your gear, it is time to correctly strap on the skis. It is important to make sure that you are in a flat area, not on a slope. Have both stops, which are on the outside of the ski bindings, pointing down to avoid the skis slipping away from you. Lay the skis on the snow, shoulder width apart and parallel to each other, at right angles to the slope. Pick up the poles, clean the snow off the soles of your ski boots and point the tip of the ski boot into the binding of the first ski, before pushing your heel down into the binding. Now you can put on the second ski in the same manner. If there is a slight slope, always put on the lower ski before the upper ski.
Learning to ski for beginners – practice on the flats first
To get a feeling for the skis and the gliding motion, the following exercises are very helpful:
Holding onto your poles, gently glide each ski back and forth alternately. When you are confident doing this, you can glide ahead, taking a gentle lunge step forward.
Lift one leg at a time and try to keep your balance, without using the poles for support or maybe just a little.
Do you remember the small scooter you had as a child? One foot was on the scooter board, the other was used to push off. Do the same thing with your skis now. Take one ski off, gently push off with that foot and try to balance and glide on the ski on the other foot. Repeat this exercise with both legs, until you have a good feel for your skis and the gliding motion.
Now put on your second ski and try to push off with the poles to glide on both skies, keeping the skis parallel.
First skiing attempts - Learning to ski for beginners
Now look for an easy slope with a gentle gradient. This can also be the children's slope with minimal inclination. For the beginning, this will be sufficient to start gliding. Pick up your skis, walk up the hill a bit and put your skis back on (sideways to the slope). The simplest technique at the beginning is the schuss. Turn your skis to point downhill, the skis shoulder width apart and parallel to each other, while supporting yourself on the poles.
Now allow yourself to glide forward down the slope using the so-called “schuss” technique. If you start to glide too fast, use the “snowplow” to slow yourself down. Create a “V” with your skis, by pointing the tips together and the tails apart and push down on the two inner edges of the skis. This will automatically slow you down. The poles are not necessary for this exercise and can be lifted up and pointed back.
Tip: Should you crash land or simply fall over, align your skis sideways to the slope and, supporting yourself with the poles, pull yourself up.
Learning to ski as an adult – Now it is time for the first turns
When you are confident to ski straight downhill and to slow down using the snowplow method, it is time to learn to turn and change direction. This too should be practiced on a gentle slope until you gain some confidence. For the first turns you will not necessarily need the ski poles either.
Start sideways to the slope and turn the parallel skis pointing slightly downhill. If your left shoulder is to the slope, slowly turn the skis clockwise down the mountain. Now you will automatically begin to glide.
To take a turn to the right, tilt your feet to the right, followed almost instantly by your knees and then tip the thighs and your hip to the right. Push off harder with your right foot (right outside edge), to finish off the turn. You have now mastered your first right hand turn. To turn left, do the opposite of the instructions above. You should practice this until your turns are fluent and confident.
Later on you can add the ski poles to lead into the turn. If you want to do a right turn, plant the right pole into the snow slightly ahead of your body and proceed with the footwork as described above and the turn will work even better. As a general rule, though, it is wise to first master the footwork before attempting to add the poles.
Look for a easy ski area for your first turns
As a beginner, look for an easy ski area with plenty of blue runs. Take your time and do not set your goals too high. Take a snack, enough money for the ski pass and a meal, and your first day on the slopes will be a great success.