How to Parallel Ski for Beginners

Parallel skiing is beautiful to watch. Seeing a skier gracefully carve down a steep slope in an ever-moving flow highlights the beauty of the sport and shows the skill required to spend many years out on the mountain. Familiarity with tough terrain enables a skier to handle a range of different conditions and helps develop new abilities.

It is not easy to perfect parallel skiing. The ability takes time to develop, even if it can be picked up quite easily, but it’s absolutely worth it. Many people may instinctively stick to the pizza wedge formation. However, it’s important to keep your skis tight and together. The following guide gives a few key tips on how to make that happen.

Start Slowly

As with any new skill, you need to walk before you can run. It might take a while to learn how to parallel ski. Just know it won’t be easy right off the bat and never get too into your own head.
If you attempt to parallel ski before you’re ready, or if you try it on an extremely difficult run, you’re likely to get frustrated and give up. No matter what happens, stay focused on your goal.

When starting out, you want to learn how to parallel ski on a nice, gentle slope. Find a wide-open green run that has good snow and barely any other skiers. When learning to ski, everything feels intimidating. That’s natural. Take some deep breaths and remember that every attempt will help you become a better skier.

Don’t be disappointed if you struggle at first. You will make improvements over time and become a better skier because of it. It always pays off to take a ski lesson with a good instructor. Hands-on teaching is always the best way to learn.

Start in Your Boots, Then in Your Body

When I was little, I remember one of my instructors would always say, “start in your boots!” to emphasize that most of your control comes from how you move your boots. Shifting your feet, shins, and knees directly transfers energy to your skis and gives you more power.

There are other parts of your body involved in skiing as well. However, when you’re just starting out it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too much information. Focusing on just your boots first will keep your eyes on the goal and cut down on distractions.

The first step in learning how to parallel ski is keeping your shins fully pressed into the front of your boots. That will keep your knees slightly bent without sticking your butt out backward, which is the base of good skiing form. Though this may cause some shin discomfort at first, it is the proper technique.

As you shift your weight during your first parallel turns, you’ll feel pressure on your shins. That will then increase or decrease depending on which leg is leading the turn. Always keep your shins against your boots and your parallel turns will soon start to develop.

Lay Off Of the Pizza

Another big step to developing proper parallel skiing technique is getting out of the habit of using the pizza wedge to turn and stop. While the wedge is a good basic technique to learn at first, the sooner you stop using it, the better at skiing you will become.

At first, focus on making that wedge smaller and smaller when you turn. As you do this, it will naturally bring your legs and skis closer together. With practice, you will begin that your legs naturally want to come together when turning. You might be hesitant to stop using the wedge at first, but the more comfortable you get, the more you’ll realize parallel skiing offers far better control when turning and stopping than the old pizza wedge.

Connect Your Turns and Go For It

The next step to improve your parallel skiing is to begin to connect your turns and really sink into the fall line. When parallel skiing, you want to go for a nice S shape with all of your turns. The more turns you can complete in a row, the more natural this S pattern will become. If you focus on picking out your turns a few at a time, you will naturally start to create this S shape and keep your skis parallel while doing so.

The fall line is the point where your first initiate your turn and when your skis point nearly straight downhill. This can be a scary moment for beginners, and you might instinctively try to go back into the wedge to slow yourself down. You need to focus on working through this fear and conquering that fall line with your legs held tightly together. The parallel turning motion will slow down your body and keep you in control.

Final Thoughts

Once you start to string a number of turns together and are no longer using the pizza wedge, you’re officially parallel skiing! You might not be able to keep it up for a long time when you first begin, but the more you practice, the better you will get. Parallel skiing is a very important part of becoming a better skier and it pays off to learn.

Do you have any tips for beginners to improve their parallel skiing? Let us know in the comments below!

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