Downhill skiing, also known as alpine skiing, has been around
for a long time. (Cross-country skiing is also known as
Nordic skiing.) You may feel like it's only a sport for
the young, but that's not true. It appeals to a wide range
of people, because it has a wide range of levels. You can
spend a winter's day gliding down calm gentle ski slopes
or dive-bombing down through the trees.
One of the best things about
skiing is that it gets you out in the fresh air in the
middle of winter. In some places, the only chance to see
blue skies during the winter season is at the top of a
mountain. The views are always breathtaking. The trick
to enjoying the sport is staying warm and using equipment
for your level and style. Try it, you'll love it.
First Day Out
It's not uncommon to have
a friend who is willing to teach you to ski, but it is
not always the best choice. Both the teacher and student
need to be patient. The last thing the student needs is
additional pressure from a stressed friend. You might
be better off taking a beginner ski class and later meeting
up with your friends for a couple of easy afternoon ski
trails. Your first day will be more enjoyable with the
camaraderie of other beginner skiers. Once you get some
of the basic control skills down, you can venture out
onto the easier ski slopes.
It's advisable for you to
pick up a pair of basic ski pants for your first day out.
You should be able to get a relatively inexpensive pair.
For the fashion conscious, black goes with everything.
You'll also want a wind and water- resistant jacket or
a shell. Layering your clothes works well for skiing,
enabling you to shed clothing if you get over heated.
You should rent your skis
in the beginning. Packages that include equipment, lesson
and lift tickets are available at most mountains. The
rental equipment comes with boots, skis, and ski poles.
The rental shop will be able to fit you for your level.
They're also very knowledgeable and helpful so ask lots
The rest of the equipment
you need, you will have to supply. The remaining equipment
includes something to keep you head and neck warm, sunglasses
or goggles, ski gloves, water and wind resistant jacket
and pants, wool socks, and sunscreen. If it is really
cold, add extra layers.
Moguls - mounds of
snow or bumps created on trails. Mogul trails are marked
for advanced and expert skiers. (Skiing over moguls is
difficult and requires training. They are not advisable
for new skiers.)
Snowplow - beginners'
speed control technique used by creating a V shape with
your skis. The fronts of the skis almost touch and the
backs of the skis are wide apart. Pressure is placed on
the inside of both ski edges to slow you down.
Trails - paths on
a ski mountain that skiers follow to descend the mountain.
They are marked and color coded by degree of difficulty.
Trails are also known as runs and slopes.
Color and Shape Coding
System for Trails
circle runs are the easiest beginner trails.
square runs are
the intermediate trails.
diamond runs are
for advanced and expert skiers.
The double black diamond
runs are for expert skiers ONLY!
Hitting the Slopes
In order to improve, you
have to ski. Practice. You may be ready to ski every weekend,
but you will want to find a group to ski with. If you
don't already have a group of friends that ski, check
out a ski club. Most cities have ski clubs that organize
To continue your progress,
consider taking a ski class at least once a year. It's
a good way to keep on top of your technique and build
Your first equipment investment
should be in ski boots. Rentals rarely fit right, they
hurt your feet and hinder your skiing ability and enjoyment.
Don't buy used boots. Get the best for your level and
style of skiing, and most importantly they should be comfortable.
If you buy a good, comfortable pair, they should last
you a long time.
However, buying used skis
from a ski shop is a great way to get a good pair of skis
at a bargain price, and you get to try them out first.
There are a lot of new styles and shapes in skis with
varying prices. Take a test drive on the new ski shapes.
You may find you just can't live without them.
The best time to buy ski
clothing and equipment is at the end of season sales or
pre-season before the stores get their new shipments.
Ready to Fly
Advanced skiers benefit
from the slightest advancement in technology. Depending
on how often you ski, renting demo skis can be a great
alternative. If you ski all the time, this might not make
sense financially. Renting demo skis allows you to always
have the best equipment on the market. If you plan to
do this, know the skis you want and call ahead to reserve
If you're having problems
progressing from an "advanced" intermediate
level skier to an expert double black diamond skier and
your form is perfect, it may be psychological. Some skiers
have found their skiing improved through other sports,
particularly balance and mind sports like Tai Chi. It's
worth a try!
would like to hear what helped you the most in advancing
your skiing ability. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
- Remember the skier below
you has the right of way. You must avoid others skiers,
which means you must ski in control. Don't pass close
to someone when you're going fast. It creates a dangerous
situation for both skiers.
- Don't stop in the middle
of a ski run, always stop on the sides.
- Don't stop in an area
were skiers above you cannot see you.
- It is very uncool to
litter anything: trail maps, cigarette butts, gum, etc.
- Don't wear cotton as
an undershirt. It traps dampness close to your body
keeping you cold. Try some of the new high tech materials
or even winter running clothing.
- Freshly waxed and sharpened
ski edges give you better control. Even as a beginner
you'll appreciate the difference.
- If your hands and feet
get cold easily there are a couple of things to try.
First, mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, but
offer less movement. Second, you can try glove liners
available at most ski shops. Also, there are glove and
boot warmers available for a couple dollars at the ski
shops. They work well.
- Unfortunately ski theft
is common. There are locking devices available. If you
don't have a lock, swap one of your skis with a friend
and leave them in different visible places. A thief
is less likely to take an unmatched pair of skis. Bring
quarters for the lockers and ski storage.
- Frostbite and hypothermia
are possible if you're not careful. Keep warm. If you
are cold, stop by the lodge for a quick warm up. The
cold really zaps your energy and frostbite is painful.
- Good equipment is important
for good health. Ski bindings must be in good working
condition. Leg and knee injuries occur when ski bindings
don't release when they should.
- Altitude sickness is
real. Rapid altitude changes and dehydration are the
most common causes, so drink lots of water. In mild
cases you'll have a case of the blahs, low energy. For
severe cases medical attention and evacuation is required.
Symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, fainting,
dizziness, and shortness of breath. Always seek proper
- Most of your body heat
is lost through your head. It is important to wear a
hat, especially on cold days.