If you’ve ever gone to a ski resort, you may have noticed that slopes are usually pretty crowded. Or, at least, green slopes and blue ones always are. There, you can run into people of all ages taking ski lessons and snowboarders who are learning how to balance themselves. Thus, if you want to avoid hitting anyone, you should learn to control your skis as soon as possible. You do not feel like booking private lessons? Then keep reading, because this time we will teach you how to slow down skiing.
We know what you are thinking, so let us put your mind at ease. No, you are not being asked to learn parallel skiing if you are a first-time skier. True, stopping with parallel skis is the most effective way, but you need years of practice to do it right. Instead, we will provide an overview, going from the most basic to the most complex method to slow down your skis. First, we will teach you how the pizza technique works, then we will break in details wedge turns. Last, we will tell you about parallel turns and the hockey stop.
The Pizza Turn
It’s the base method, and it’s so safe that instructors teach it to kids during their first ski lesson. In a few words, when you practice pizza turns, the risk of falling is almost 0. But again, you have to get rid of fear and focus on balancing your body.
This technique is particularly effective on shallow snow, so practicing it on green slopes is fine. Since this is a method for beginners, it’s not suitable to cover large distances. Instead, the best thing to do is going down the slope a few meters at a time.
How It Works
First, turn your skis downhill and propel yourself down the slope to gain a little speed. As a second step, rotate your knees and ankles slightly inward. Then, bring the tips of your skis together and push the tails out. In short, your skis should form a V. Now, all you have to do is head downhill while keeping this posture. Finally, make sure to keep your skis edged.
The bigger the distance between ski tails, the sooner you are going to stop. Actually, it depends on how you distribute your body weight too. After all, pizza turns only allow you to push snow out of your way. Basically, that’s the same principle behind snow plows. And this is the reason why this method is also known as snowplow.
Why is it called the pizza method, though? Well, this name refers to the position you keep your skis in as you head downhill. We believe it’s pretty funny, considering that parallel skiing is also known as the french fries method.
When you use this technique, you should not panic. Fear of falling, in fact, may keep you from doing things right. For instance, you might:
- Forget To Spread Your Skis Enough
First-time skiers are always terrified by the ski stance, so they tend to bring their skis together. The problem is that when the distance between skis is not correct, you can’t create friction. In other words, it will take longer to slow down;
- Cross The Tips Of Your Skis
True, you should bring them together. Yet, assuming the correct ski posture implies being able to control your skis. If you do not have a grip on your skis, your tips will cross, and you will fall immediately;
- Keep Your Skis Flat
This is another mistake beginners usually make. The only thing that causes friction is ski edges. Thus, if you keep your skis flat, they will never create the friction you need to slow down.
Are you already able to master the snowplow? Then it’s time to move to the next level, which means you should now learn a method to change direction. Making S or C-curves, in fact, is the only way you can traverse across a slope. The good news is that this is a transitional technique designed to help you pass from pizza to parallel turns. For this reason, it’s not so different from the one we explained above. In this method, though, you’ll have to keep your skis in a pizza shape the whole time.
How They Work
First, study the slope and decide the exact point you’d like to reach. Then turn your skis downhill, bring the tips together and let yourself propel down for a few meters. At this point, you have to shift your center of gravity from the center to the side. For example, if you’d like to turn left, you must weigh on the right ski. We know that shifting your body weight in the opposite direction you’d like to go feels weird. Still, there is a logic to it.
To better understand this, you need to view a skier from the top. Also, you should forget about how you walk and consider your foot and the ski as a whole. When your skis are in a pizza shape, they are like arrows pointing in opposite directions. In particular, your right ski is pointing left, while your left one tends to right. Thus, if you weigh on the left ski, it’s only natural that you will turn right. We suggest having a look at these drawings, created to explain skiing mechanics.
How To Do It Right
Wedge turns are a basic technique, so you should practice it on blue slopes only. Here are few tips that will help you master the turns:
- Assume The Correct Position
When keeping your skis in a pizza shape, always remember to rotate your ankles and knees inward;
- Check The Angle
If you’d like to come to a complete stop, face your skis across the slope. To stop even faster, you can point your skis slightly uphill as you complete the turn. Are you an adventurous type? Then you can gain speed by skiing at a steeper angle;
- Don’t Panic
Wedge turns do not allow you to come to sudden stops. So, if you take longer than expected to slow down on yours skis, you must not freak out. Also, you should remember that speed is proportional to distance. In short, if you want to reach a distant point in a single turn, expect to gain lots of speed;
- Leave Your Ski Poles In Your Hotel Room
Of course, we don’t want to take crucial tools aways from you. It’s just that they are dangerous for beginners, and we want to prevent accidents from happening. Novices have little to or no control over skis, and fear leads them to use poles in the wrong way. For instance, some people drag them as they ski downhill, while others use them to increase speed. Even worse, some people use poles to brake! Do you still want to bring poles with you? Then use them only to balance between turns and gain some speed when you are downhill;
- Check Your Center Of Gravity
In wedge turns, the center of gravity must be shifted entirely onto the downhill ski. If you do not do this, you may not be able to control your speed.
Finally, here we are. Beginners are usually scared by parallel turns, but they are nothing you should be afraid of. Let’s discover how they differ from wedge turns together.
How They Work
To begin with, to learn parallel skiing, you need to develop the right ski stance. As we mentioned earlier, with this method, you will not bring the tips of your skis together anymore. This means you don’t need to rotate your knees and ankles either. Yet, since parallel turns require more energy than wedge turns, you’ll need to apply some pressure on your ski boots. How? By leaning forward and using your shins. Besides, you will have to turn your torso downhill when you make a turn.
As for the phases of the turn, they are similar to the wedge turn ones. We’ll summarize them briefly:
- Choose a point of the slope you’d like to reach in a single turn;
- Turn your skis downhill;
- Propel downhill (don’t use poles to build the speed!);
- Shift your weight on the downhill ski. This is the trickiest phase because you’ll have to turn both your skis at the same time. If the tips of the skis cross, don’t let that bring you down. This is a common mistake all novices make.
When you’re comfortable with parallel turns, you can try the hockey stop:
Are you wondering what’s special about it? Since you use your heels to slow down with your skis, you’ll come to a stop much more abruptly than with wedge turns.
Some More Recommendations For Beginners
We provided many suggestions, but we feel we did not tell you everything you need to know. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent injuries.
- Never hold onto anyone (or anything)
Beginners are scared of falling. Thus, they cling to anything they recognize as a lifesaver. The problem is, if you have gained speed, you’ll drag the person you are clinging to down with you. And you can cause him (or her) bad injuries too. Also, never try to slow down by clinging to a tree because you’ll break your shoulder;
- Never let poles hit the ground
This refers especially to when you are in the middle of a turn. If this happens, there are high chances the poles will get stuck in the snow. As a result, you would fall immediately;
- Never shift your center of gravity back
If this is your first time on the snow, your body will instinctively try to escape from danger (the snow). So, you will unconsciously shift your hips to control speed. If you move your body weight back, though, part of your skis is not in contact with the snow. And this may cause you to fall;
- Be careful with ski poles
Most beginners tend to fold their arms and hold their ski poles in front of them. Those who keep this posture do so because their instincts tell them to use their poles as brakes. And, as we’ve already mentioned, doing so is never a good idea. However, ski poles could cause even more dangerous situations. For example, if you keep them perpendicular to your body and turn them backward, you could injure someone. Moreover, this can also happen if you do not hold them tightly and let them swing in any direction.
How To Fall On Skis
Learning how to slow down skiing is crucial, but it’s not enough. In fact, even if slowing down will help you in many situations, there are still chances that you may fall. Especially when you are practicing. Also, while you’ll be skiing on low slopes at first, in time, you’ll be practicing on black diamond slopes. So, as you progress, the chances of getting hurt multiply. This is why learning how to fall on skis is essential. Here are a few tips that will allow you to prevent injuries.
- Falling on the side
In this case, the most exposed parts of your body are your head and your hips. To protect them, keep your arm at the side of your body. Also, try to rest your weight on your arm and leg as you fall.
- Falling backward
We know your instincts will tell you to do this, but you should never cushion your fall by bringing your hand back. Are you wondering why? Well, if you do it, you can break your wrist, shoulder, and elbow. Instead, when you fall, you should keep your arms at the sides of your body.
- Falling forward
This is easy, and the subconscious will help you too. All you have to do is flex your forearms and put your hands in front of your face. This way, you’ll protect your nose, teeth, and head.
When writing our articles, we always try to provide as much information as possible. This means we scan through already published content and ask ourselves if those pieces cover all the subtopics. Of course, we went through this step to write this piece too. And, as we scanned through the web, we understood that those pieces of information would not suffice. Thus, we crafted this piece, which not only explains how to slow down skiing but provides tons of other tips.
Being able to stop on skis is a matter of safety. Thus, before tackling any kind of slope, you have to make sure you can do it right. If you are a first-time skier, our suggestion is to go to the slopes with an expert. This way, when you are in need, you can always ask for help.