Now that you’re warmed up, you’re ready to go. Skiing is ultimately just gliding along, distributing your weight so that it makes the skis move the way you want. That may sound overly simple, but with our step-by-step exercises it really will be easy. For now, you won’t need your poles. Set them aside so you can concentrate on the essentials and improve your balance.
1. On the level
No need to start the first lesson with a faceful of snow, so start on relatively level ground. It’ll be a little like cross-country skiing on Alpine skis. Get a feel for your skis by sliding around, jumping a bit to test your balance, pivoting your knees and hips, even practice standing on just one leg.
Another exercise is to move like you’re on a push scooter, by taking off one ski and using that leg to propel you forward and glide on the other ski. This is also a good chance to practice stepping out of your bindings. Simply push on the small divot in the raised lever behind your heel. The lever will move down until the binding’s heel springs open.
In general, work on your balance and your feel for skiing by holding both legs and feet together and gliding along whenevr you have some open space. Beginners should focus on not letting their center of balance be too far back. It’s common for them to spend a lot of time unexpectedly sitting in the snow…
2. Give yourself a brake
For everyone’s safety, learning to brake has to be mastered quickly.
Always feel like you’re in control of your speed. The best method for stopping at this point is the snowplow technique. Just flare out the tails of your skis as you bring the tips closer together and dip the inner edges down. Squat slightly to bring more force to bear, and keep your hands at hip level, with the poles pointed backward if you have them, for a low center of gravity. Be careful not to cross your ski tips over each other.
Practice this technique while simply standing, using your poles to stabilize you. Point your toes and knees inward, with your upper legs and hips spread out. When you’re set, launch into motion in the snowplow position.
When you feel comfortable with these basics, it’s time to head downhill. Square your shoulders so you’re looking at the base of the slope and get in a moderate snowplow position. Push off with your poles, glide downhill a bit, then go into a full snowplow position and come to a stop. Keep your shoulders squared to the slope the whole time.
3. Straight downhill
The next step requires some boldness. It’s skiing straight down without stopping. You’ll probably pick up a little speed on this one, so find a slope that’s not steep and, ideally, has an open area, even a slight rise, for stopping at the bottom.
Go uphill to your starting poimt with a sidestepping maneuver. Stand with both skis parallel together, perpendicular to the hill so there’s no sliding down. Lift the uphill ski first, with your weight on the downhill ski. Plant your uphill ski, shift your weight to it, then lift your lower ski up to be alongside your uphill ski.
Repeat this stepping maneuver till you reach your chosen starting point, then angle your skis down the slope. Position them hip width apart, bend the knees slightly so your shins press against your boots. Put your hands on your knees to lean slightly forward in an alert, prepared stance. Keep the upper body slightly forward, feeling balanced, and descend.
If you feel you’re going too fast, you know snowplowing will slow you down. Tap the brakes every so often to be sure you feel in control overall. Later, as you feel more confident, you can raise one ski slightly or do low jumps, to build up your balance and feel for the hill.
4. Taking turns
The snowplow also helps you learn to take turns. It’s a demanding technique, but effective in maintaining control in a turn. Find an area steep enough to generate moderate speed, and wide enough to execute large, gradual turns.
When taking a left turn, feet, knees, and hips dip to the left. The torso remains mostly upright. Weight is placed over the downhill- the right- ski, and the inside edge of the right ski is tilted to bite into the snow.
As a guide to be sure the upper body’s center of balance is positioned correctly, you should be able to place your hand on your right knee. Or hold your poles together in both outstretched hands, and they should be parallel to your path as you begin your turn.
If you’re taking the turn correctly you should be able to lift the upper- the left- ski off the ground as you turn. Practice turning like this till you feel confident. Gradually it will come naturally to bring your skis back together, parallel, between turns.