Although skiing at high speeds is a ton of fun, you need to know how to stop if you want to avoid hurting yourself or others out in the snow. This is an essential skill that every skier needs in their bag and something to learn early on.
I’ve been skiing for decades, and I learned how to stop correctly when I was a kid. I have a lot of experience helping other skiers learn the basics of the sport, and I know the techniques and tricks that make you slow down and stop.
In this post, I’ll show you how to stop on skis. There are a few different methods to stopping, and I’ll run through each of them in the sections below. I want to make sure you know how to stay safe when you ski, and learning how to stop is a critical part of this.
Let’s get started and then stop.
Skiing is a dangerous sport. And the faster you go, the more dangerous it can get. Learning how to stay under control at all times is critical for every skier. Your safety and the safety of other skiers on the mountain depend on this.
And what is one of the most important aspects of staying in control? Knowing how to stop.
You always need to be able to slow down and stop to avoid any obstacle that comes your way or even just back into the lift line after a long run.
I’ve seen way too many beginner skiers get hurt because they tried a challenging run when they weren’t ready. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to practice your stopping abilities, so you can trust in those abilities when you really need them.
Knowing how to stop correctly is necessary, but so is not getting in too far over your head in a situation that puts you in danger. It’s just not worth the risk, even if it might be a solid dose of adrenalin.
Ok, that’s my safety warning for the day. Now let’s dig into the details.
How to Stop on Skis
There are a few different ways to stop on skis. I’ll show you all of the most common stopping styles below. These methods follow a natural progression of ability levels, and that’s important to keep in mind as you learn.
You need to know the basic ways before moving on to the more complicated ones.
Method 1: The Snowplow Stop
The snowplow stop is the most basic way to stop on skis and one of the first skills that every new skier needs to know how to do. It’s a pretty simple way to stop but also requires that you don’t have too much speed to start with.
The snowplow or pizza wedge or whatever you want to call it is a way to slow down on your skis, and eventually, it will cause you to stop. You use the inner edges of both skis to create enough friction in the snow to slow you down.
To do a snowplow stop, follow these steps:
- First, make sure that you are on a very easy ski slope. If you don’t know how to stop yet, you don’t want to be on anything steep because you will quickly get out of control and might end up hurting yourself or someone else.
- Point your skis slightly downhill to gain a little momentum and start moving. Again, don’t get too much speed until you start to get the hang of things and know how to stop completely.
- As you start to move, point the tips of your skis towards one another to make the snowplow shape. This will begin to slow you down, and the wider the wedge you make, the more effective it will be.
- Increase the size of the snowplow and put more energy into the inside edges of your skis until you come to a stop.
- Straighten your skis or close the snowplow shape a bit to start moving again.
- Make the snowplow shape again until you come to another stop.
*Tip: When learning this for the first time, spend a lot of time making multiple stops. You’ll want to make the large snowplow shape, come to a stop, straighten your skis, and do it all over again. Do this until you feel very comfortable with stopping.
You can also use your ski poles to help you come to a complete stop during a snowplow stop. You just don’t want to rely on this too heavily because it’s not part of the technique for more advanced stopping methods.
Method 2: Turn Stops
Once you have the snowplow stop mastered, you can move on to learning how to stop by using your turns. This will come naturally once you start learning how to turn and is more effective than a snowplow turn when you are going faster.
The whole point of turning is to slow you down and help you stay in control. But you can also use a turn to stop completely by putting gravity and the friction of your ski edges into action.
To stop on skis using turns, follow these steps:
- Again, start on a gentle slope while learning this technique, so you don’t pick up speed and get out of control.
- Point your skis downhill to get a bit of momentum and start moving. You don’t want to be going too fast, just fast enough to allow you to turn.
- Make a few gentle turns as you usually would when heading down the slope. After making a few of these, you’ll want to really dig into your edges to make an exaggerated turn and initiate the stopping process.
- When you are ready to stop, you’ll make one final turn, but instead of shifting your weight to turn in the other direction, you want to dig your uphill edges in to stop your skis.
- Dig your edges in as you make this final turn and point your skis slightly uphill. This will slow you down and eventually bring you to a complete stop.
- Point your skis downhill again, make a few turns, and try to stop again using your turns. Do this until you feel entirely comfortable with this stopping method.
*Tip: You want to be skilled enough not to use the snowplow when learning this stopping method. If you find yourself using the wedge to stop, focus on keeping your skis straight after the turn and pointing them more uphill rather than into a snowplow.
Method 3: The Hockey Stop
The hockey stop is an advanced method for stopping on skis. It’s highly effective and a lot of fun. This method will help you stop quickly and can be used in all sorts of situations. But it takes quite a bit of skill to master.
The hockey stop gets its name from the sport of ice hockey. If you watch this sport, you’ll see how quickly hockey players can stop, even when they are going really fast. It’s a similar sort of technique involved with hockey stopping on skis.
To hockey stop on skis, follow these steps:
- You’ll need more speed to perform a hockey stop than you will with the other two methods mentioned above. So you might want to be on a steeper slope, but still make sure it’s within your ability levels.
- Point your skis downhill to generate speed. When first learning the hockey stop, don’t go super fast but gain enough momentum to make a few parallel turns with ease.
- Now make a very exaggerated parallel turn, keeping your skis and knees very close to one another as they turn parallel to the downhill slope.
- Dig your uphill edges in really hard and push down through your heels and hips. This will bring you to a quick stop using just your edges.
- The harder and faster you make the final turn and dig your edges in, the quicker you will come to a stop. You can play around with this until you learn how to stop on a dime.
- Pick up speed again and make a few more turns before attempting another hockey stop. Repeat until you get the hang of it.
*Tips: The hockey stop can take a while to get the hang of, but it’s the fastest way to stop when you need to act quickly. You can start slow to get a feel for it, but then push yourself to attempt it at higher speeds.
The more weight you put into your heels and uphill edges, the faster you will come to a stop. You really need to dig in to get a quick stop, and this will teach you how effective your edges can be in slowing you down and eventually stopping.
Most people have one side that is better at making a hockey stop than the other. I always make my hockey stops turning over my left shoulder, but you might prefer the opposite way. Either will work, so just do whatever comes more naturally.
Useful Tips & Suggestions
Most skiers learn the snowplow stop quickly, but turn stops and hockey stops can take a lot longer to master. Don’t get frustrated if you struggle with one of these. Take your time, and the skills will eventually develop.
When learning a new technique, take one run where you just focus on that particular stopping method. Make a few turns and then stop. Start skiing downhill again and then stop again. Repetition can be your friend when learning these skills.
Taking a ski lesson can help you learn how to stop much more effectively than reading or watching videos. There is no better way to learn than to get out in the snow, and a good ski instructor will help you dial in your technique until it’s perfect.
Don’t push your luck and attempt a run beyond your ability level before learning how to stop. Even if you feel confident, it’s not worth risking getting injured. Take your time and work your way up – don’t rush into it.
The three primary ways to stop on skis are a snowplow stop, turn stop, and hockey stop. All three of these have their place on the mountain, and it’s essential to know how to do all of them, so take the time to learn them correctly.
If you want to become an excellent skier, you need to become really good at stopping. Practice makes perfect, so get out there and get after it!