Getting Started / 101

Get Ready For Your First Time

skiers on slope

If you've never been skiing before or you're a beginner skier, you may not know where to go skiing, what to wear, or even where to start. Here are tips for a first time skier. It is suggested to be in good physical condition before learning to ski. If you have weak knees, ankles or even shoulders you should consider strengthening these areas before attempting to ski. If you have any doubts or concerns always check with your doctor before trying this sport. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Although skiing is a wonderful and enjoyable sport but it is usually done at high altitudes in dry air so make sure you do not have any medical conditions that may be affected by these conditions.

Look for a Ski Resort with Beginner Terrain

While most ski resorts offer trails for beginners, there's no need to head out to a ski resort that is mostly focused on expert trails for your first time skiing. If you have a local ski resort, start there. As long as your resort has terrain suitable for beginners, that is a great place to try your first ski adventure.

Check In Your Closet Before You Buy

There's no need to run out and buy fancy new ski clothes for your first time skiing. As long as you have warm clothing, a sweater or a fleece jacket, and some kind of insulating warm pants to wear under waterproof snow pants and a good warm winter jacket you should be warm enough. Remember a pair of winter gloves. If you like skiing, you can purchase your ski wardrobe before your next trip.

Think Seriously About Taking a Lesson

You may have already seen this suggestion in our outline but it can’t be stressed enough. If you don’t like skiing on your first attempt you may never try again. A professional ski instructor can make the difference between finding a new sport that you love or having a terrible time in the cold and never trying it again. Skiing is a wonderful sport and most people can pick it up on the first day with proper guidance no matter the age or ability. Even if your friends ski and want to teach you, investing in a ski lesson is a better idea. Start with a “Beginner Group Class”. It is sometimes helpful to watch others attempting the same new techniques as you. You'll get started with a good basis of ski knowledge, and with continued lessons, you'll be a great skier before you know it. Make sure to specify that you are a beginner skier with no (or little) experience on the slopes. Later as you progress you may want to take more advanced “Private” lessons to work on specific skills that you want to improve on or acquire.

Rent Your Skis, Boots and Poles

Don’t borrow from others. The fit of these items is essential to performance and enjoyment. Newer equipment has some big design advantages and they can make your first day a fun experience. You will need to go to a ski shop that offers rentals. There is also a good chance that the resort itself will have rentals available but check before you go. To make sure you have the best selection and get properly fitted you may want to take care of these before you head to the resort.

Ski Safe

Ski with caution and work hard to stay in control. During your lesson, make it a point to listen to your instructor, because later, you can practice what you've learned on your own time. However, don't push yourself too hard - on your first day, it's best to stick to terrain that you know you can handle.

Get Lift Tickets

Before you go skiing, you will need a lift ticket. A lift ticket provides you with access to the mountain and to the ski lifts. Lift ticket prices vary. Discounted lift tickets are typically available for off-peak times - mid-week and early or late season. In addition, many resorts offer discounts for children, teens, and Senior Skiers .

Now you’re ready for the Mountain “or the Bunny Hill” to get you started

When you're a beginning skier, it's important to get started skiing with appropriate gear and lessons, and to know the basics of navigating your way up and down a mountain.

Tips

These skiing tips for beginners will help you get started.

Ski Beginner Trails

When you're just starting to ski, it's important to know the ski trail signs and choose the easiest trails down the mountain.

How to Use a Rope Tow

Rope Tows

Rope tows are often used on the beginner slopes. When you use a ski rope tow, you will be pulled up the slope by a rope while standing on your skis.

How to Get On and Off a Chairlift

Most ski resorts have chairlifts to transport skiers up the mountain and riding the chairlift is one of the first things you'll need to learn to do. Many of the bigger resorts have high speed chairs that slow way down for you to get on and off the chair. But even if they have high speed lifts it is most likely that you will be getting on and off conventional lifts as well. So watch others as they get on the chair before you jump in line. Make sure you are comfortable on your skis and have mastered getting up after falling before getting on the chair lift.

Getting On a Chairlift

Be ready to move to the loading line once the chair that will be in front of you has moved by. Move quickly to the loading line. Once you have reached the loading area place both poles in one hand, holding them about half way down the pole. Turn around and get ready to sit down as the chair moves under you. It is best as a beginner to try and sit on the outside of the chair if it hold more than two skiers. It will make loading and unloading easier for you.

Getting Off a Chairlift

Ok you made it to the top. Now as you get close to getting off point the tips of your skis up a bit and scoot up just a bit in the seat. Once your skis have touched the snow it’s time to stand up. All lifts will have a downward slope as you get off so be ready to stand and ski forward as you get off the lift. Don’t panic if you do fall. Ski lift operators will be there and they will assist you or slow the chairs down for you to get out of the way. Just get up and out of the way as soon as possible.

How to Ride a Gondola

A gondola is an enclosed carriage (like a cable car). You will need to remove your skis before getting on and just enjoy the ride. Your skis will be on the outside of the Gondola so make sure to grab them as you get off at the top.

How to do the “Gliding Wedge” The gliding wedge, or snowplow, is the starting position for a new skier. This is the beginning stance for all learning skiers and will give you good control and a solid platform for improving. This requires the tips “front” of your skis to be close to touching and the tails “back” of your skis to be spread apart. It places your skis in a “V” shape. This will also be the way you first learn to slow down or stop. By increasing the width of the distance on the tails of your skis you will begin to slow down. By decreasing or shortening the distance between the tails of your skis will allow you to increase your speed. This stance will be the building block for learning to ski so it is worth your efforts to master this technique.

How to Turn

Once you have learned the snow plow you can begin to use it to turn. You will put more weight on the ski you want to use to trun. If you are turning right you will use your outside left ski to start the turn by placing more weight on that ski and begin turning it in the right direction. The same goes for turning left by placing more weight on your right ski. This will take some practice but stay with it and you will pick it up. Remember the outside foot turns you, this will end up being the ski on the downward side of the slope. Keep your hands and poles in front of you for balance. Pretend your holding a big tray of food in front of you and you don’t want to sill or drop anything off the tray.

Now that you are heading down the mountain remember a few basics.

  • Never Lean Back. Leaning back on your skis will cause you to go faster and lose control on your skis. Your control “steering” is from the tips “front” of your skis. So keep your weight balanced between your boots and the front of your skis.
  • Ski Safe. This means always control your speed. It’s the person above that is responsible for not running into anyone below them. So don’t be the person that plows into others. Remember you’re on snow so if you feel you’re getting out of control and can’t use your wedge to slow down the fastest way to stop is just to fall. Better to fall on your own by simply sitting down or preferably just falling to your side than to hit others or something really hard.
  • Don’t get frustrated and take your skis off to walk down. It is way harder than it sounds! Take your time and just work on your basics. It may take longer than you wanted but you will get to the bottom and hopefully in the process begin to enjoy the wonderful freedom that is skiing.

Beginner Check List

  • Skis
  • Ski Boots
  • Poles
  • Ski Gloves
  • Ski Jacket
  • Ski Pants or Waterproof Shell
  • Ski Socks
  • Sun Glasses or Goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Helmet (Suggested)
  • Check to see if you can get ski pass early for a discount
  • If you're getting a lesson book early (Start with group lessons, watching others can be helpful)