If you are new to the sport of skiing, there are going to be a few things you’ll notice when you first get on the mountain. Initially, you’ll feel the rush of fun and excitement as you get your ski gear on and head up the chairlift to begin your day.
Once you get out on the slopes, you’ll experience the absolute thrill of pointing your skis downhill and going for it. Though that will start out as fun, you’ll quickly ask yourself an incredibly important question: how do I slow down? The answer is much simpler than you might think.
Why Slowing Down is Important
Every beginner skier needs to learn how to slow down. Not just for their own safety, but for the safety of other skiers. Getting your skis on and pointing them downhill is the easy part for most skiers. Learning how to stay in control is a more difficult task that requires skill and experience to do correctly.
By learning how to slow down, you enable yourself to react and adapt to any on-snow situation that might come your way. Skiing is inherently a dangerous activity that requires you to be alert and pay attention, not only to yourself, but to everyone else on the mountain. The ability to slow down is a major necessity, and is one of the first skills you need to learn.
On a basic level, you need to know how to slow down so you can stop skiing when it’s time to take a break or enter the lift line. That can be difficult for skiers who are just starting out, but it’s important to focus on the simple elements of speed control before you learn the other aspects of the sport. By learning basic skiing skills first, you will create a great foundation to expand upon when you become more experienced.
How to Slow Down While Skiing
There are several different ways to slow down while skiing. While each is different, they are all effective ways to control your speed while out on the snow. You will want to go faster as your skills improve. Just always remember that it’s really important to ski in control and learn how to slow down, even when you’re an experienced skier.
Snowplow/Pizza Wedge Method
One of the easiest ways to slow down while skiing is through the snow plow or pizza wedge method. This is a beginner ski technique that all newbies should learn. If you’ve ever taken a ski lesson before, I’m sure they taught you this technique. However, if you haven’t been out on the snow, it’s important to understand.
To slow down with this method, you need to make a wedge shape with your skis. That is where it gets its name. By creating a wedge or triangle shape with your skis, you create friction and force that allows the inside edges of your skis to slow you down.
When you’re first learning how to snow plow, you should practice on a gentle slope so you don’t move too quickly. Start by keeping your skis parallel in a way that enables you to build up a little bit of speed. As you begin to ski, slowly start to create the pizza wedge shape by bringing your ski tips close together in front of you.
When you do that, you’ll notice the inside edge of your skis begin to dig into the snow. The more force you turn inward as your knees turn together, the better you will slow down. The bigger the wedge shape you make, the more edge you will use and the more it will slow you down.
Another method to slowing down once you’ve mastered the pizza wedge technique is to traverse sideways down a slope. As you develop a more advanced skiing technique, you will naturally transition away from the pizza wedge and begin to use your turns to slow you down. Traversing is a natural step between the wedge and parallel turns, which we will look at next.
Traversing involves going from one side of the ski run to another to control your speed. You can choose between different slope angles if you so wish. Start at the beginning of the run and choose a point towards the other side. The farther downhill that point is, the more speed you’ll pick up. As such, start with a point that’s not too far from where you currently are.
Next, simply start skiing towards the point you chose. You can still utilize the pizza wedge technique as you traverse if you need. Once you get to the other side of the slope, pick another point and continue traversing down the hill. This is an easy technique to help you navigate steeper slopes while controlling your speed.
As you become more comfortable on your skis, you will naturally begin to utilize your turns to slow you down and keep you in control. This is a more advanced technique that’s used by most skiers. Each time you make a turn, you’ll be able to control your speed.
Parallel turning involves keeping your skis close together and in line with one another as you work your way down a slope. That’s the classic skiing form that you might be familiar with. If you want to ski faster, you can simply make fewer parallel turns. If you want to go slower, you can make more.
For some more tips on parallel turning, check out this video.
Putting It All Together
It takes some work to get up to parallel skiing. However, if you follow all of the above methods in the correct order, you’ll be able to reach your goal faster than you might think.
Once you feel comfortable with your pizza wedge, you can start to traverse and make turns. You can incorporate the wedge into your turning to stay under control before you start learning how to make parallel turns. Once your traversing turns are on point, you can begin to parallel ski and feel what it’s like to have ultimate control over your skis.
Remember to first take things slow. It’s easy to get out of control when you’re just starting out because that can cause you to crash or get hurt. Learning how to slow down is one of the most important ski techniques that you can learn and you need to spend the time and effort necessary to do it right if you want to become a better skier.
What level of skier are you and how did you learn to slow down while skiing? Let us know in the comments below!