Every skier needs to learn how to stop. But if you want to up your game and stop with a bit of flair while also learning an essential skill that can bring you to a halt quickly, you need to know how to hockey stop.
I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life, and I have a solid knowledge of skills gained through first-hand experience. I learned how to hockey stop pretty early in my on-snow career, and I like to help other skiers learn how to do it too.
This post will show you how to hockey stop on skis. I’ll help you learn the proper technique and provide other useful information to help you become a better skier. The hockey stop is handy, but it takes some time and skill to master.
Let’s get to it.
The hockey stop isn’t necessarily a skill that you will learn on your first day of skiing. It takes some skill and technique, and it’s more of an intermediate skill than a beginner skill. This shouldn’t keep you from learning it; you just need to be prepared that it might take some time.
Every skier needs to learn how to stop, and there are a few different methods for stopping on skis. If you are just learning the basics of the sport, I highly recommend checking out my other post on how to stop on skis.
You need to learn the basic stopping maneuvers before being ready to try a hockey stop. You also need to know how to parallel ski, which is basically when you ski without making a snowplow and keep your skis and knees together as you turn.
If you have any experience with ice skating, you will probably pick up the hockey stop pretty quickly. The maneuver gets its name from ice hockey and is essentially the same stop hockey players use to stop really quickly on the ice during a game.
How to Hockey Stop on Skis
This section will help you learn how to hockey stop on skis. While I’ll do my best to provide you with all of the basic steps to this maneuver, remember that there is no real substitution for trying it out on the snow.
First things first, if you don’t even know what a hockey stop is, check out the video below to get a better idea of what you are trying to learn.
Another thing to remember before we dive into the details is that a hockey stop requires quite a bit more speed to perform than basic snowplow stops and turn stops. That’s another reason it’s more of an intermediate skill than a beginner skill.
Once you feel comfortable with the basics, you can follow the steps below to hockey stop on skis:
- Find a decently pitched slope to practice on, so you can get enough speed to perform a hockey stop. A blue run is usually steep enough, but you can attempt on a steep green as well.
- Point your skis downhill until your start to build speed. You can make a few turns to get comfortable, but you’ll want to have a decent amount of speed before making the stopping attempt.
- Make a very exaggerated parallel turn. Keep your knees and skis close together as they cross the fall line of your turn and move across the slope.
- Dig both of your uphill ski edges into the snow while also pushing down through the heels of your feet and your hips. You’ll need to dig in and push quite a bit more than when you are just doing parallel turns.
- This motion should bring you to a fast and abrupt stop using just the edges of your skis. The faster you turn your skis and dig in, the quicker you will come to a stop.
- Once you have made one hockey stop attempt, get some momentum and try again. Play around with different speeds and aggressive final turns until you feel like you have a good hang of it.
*Tips: The force required to actually stop yourself during a hockey stop might surprise you at first. Don’t be afraid to really dig your edges in. That’s the key to making it all happen. If you are too timid, you will just scrape along the snow and won’t really come to a stop.
Hockey stops are more difficult in packed snow and icy conditions. Stopping, in general, is more challenging when the snow isn’t soft, but that’s precisely why it’s good to learn how to hockey stop – because it gives you quicker stopping power and more control when you need fast.
When to Use a Hockey Stop
There are certain situations on the mountain when a hockey stop can be very useful. Knowing how to hockey stop is the first step, but knowing when to hockey stop will let you put your new skills into good use.
Here are some of the situations when you might want to hockey stop on skis:
When you need to stop quickly
The main advantage of a hockey stop is that it quickly brings you to a halt. That can come in useful when you are at the end of a steep run, trying to get back in the lift line, or need to avoid an obstacle that is quickly coming your way.
When you don’t have room to come to a slow stop
A hockey stop also comes in useful when you don’t have enough room to stop in any other way. This might be when you are on a really steep run that doesn’t have much of a runway or when you are approaching the lift line and running out of room to slow down.
When you want to spray snow on your friends
When you get good at making hockey stops, you can blast a spray of snow into the air. This looks pretty sweet, but it’s also a way to play a fun trick on your friends. Just be careful to hockey stop far enough away from them to not run into them and get hurt.
While you might be able to learn how to hockey stop by simply reading this post or watching videos, chances are you’ll actually need a little more help to learn the proper technique. I highly recommend taking a ski lesson to understand how to do it properly from a qualified instructor.
The hockey stop comes in useful in all sorts of on-snow situations. The reasons I mentioned above are only a few of the most common ones. Once you learn how to hockey stop, you might find that it’s your new favorite way to stop.
Keeping your skis tuned up and in good shape will help you hockey stop better. Sharp edges are a critical aspect of making this happen, and the sharper your edges are, the better stopping ability you will have.
Remember always to be safe when learning any new skiing skill. But also remember to push yourself a bit, so you improve and become a better skier!