Nothing looks cooler than a skier ripping big turns down a massive, virgin face at 60 miles an hour, but getting to that ability level takes years of practice and training. Step one is getting into the sport, and when you’re awkwardly walking to the bunny hill that suddenly seems steeper than you thought, things can quickly become overwhelming. Here’s a few skiing tips to help you make it through that first day.
1. Slow down
Take a breath before you do anything, move slowly, and concentrate on one thing at a time. You’re not going to go pro on your first day, so focus on taking baby steps. For those of us who aren’t epic multi-taskers, it helps to focus on skills and harder terrain separately. Perfect a skill, then bring it to new terrain. Resting between attempts allows for you to clear your mind and reflect on what you’re doing. And remember, if you burn yourself out on day one you might just ruin the rest of your first skiing experience.
2. Find your balance
An athletic stance is paramount to balancing on sliding sticks. Almost every sport teaches the same “ready position” – knees slightly bent, weight balanced over the balls of your feet. Things will be much easier if you focus on keeping this position. A helpful hint? It’s impossible to have your weight too far forward on alpine skis. Weight forward, not forward lean.
3. You are now a pizza fanatic
In seconds, things can go from great to terrifying as you start to speed downhill and panic sets in. Practice making your “pizza wedge” on flat ground by sliding your heels out before transitioning to a slope. If things ever get too fast for comfort you can always throw down a power wedge to bring yourself to a stop. A wedge is a tool you will use at all levels of skiing, so get it right early on.
4. The correct emphasis on gear
It’s easy to get carried away with the newest, most advanced, most expensive gear out there, but anything made in the last five years will work just as well. The one thing you shouldn’t skimp on is comfortable boots. As a beginner you don’t need the highest tec or even new boots, but they’d better be comfortable. Search around on craigslist, consignment stores, and even ask your local gear shops if they are selling old rentals. Don’t just try the boots on, wear the socks you will wear skiing and spend at least 20 minutes walking around in them. Small pains can become unbearable when you’re in them all day. As for your skis, poles, helmet, goggles, and outerwear, you can find decent, used gear at affordable prices with some common sense and a bit of research or help from a friend.
5. Have fun
Don’t take skiing too seriously. Some people progress slower than others, so avoid getting down on yourself and trying to compete with the olympic athletes out there. Skiing is all about having fun, so take a page out of Shane McConkey’s handbook: goof around a little, and get max enjoyment out of life.
Words by Cotopaxi Ambassador Bjorn Bauer