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How to Learn to Ski

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Published on Mar 8, 2011

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Strapping fiberglass slabs on your feet to propel yourself down a mountain might seem insane, but once you learn how to ski, it’s addictive.

Step 1: Dress to ski
Before you head to the slopes, make sure you're dressed properly. Wear several layers of warm clothes, thick socks, waterproof pants, a hat or headband, ski gloves or mittens, and a ski jacket.

Tip
Wear protective sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the glare of both the sun and the snow.

Step 2: Get equipped
Buy or rent ski equipment: skis, poles, and boots with bindings. Have a professional ski tuner select the right length and type of ski for you, and have them adjust the bindings--which keep your ski boots attached to your skis--for your weight and beginner status.

Tip
In general, beginners should rent ski equipment, as your needs will change as you improve. Eventually, once you’re skiing a lot and know what you want, you can buy.

Step 3: Start out slowly
Begin on a flat surface. Get the feel of the skis by slowly walking around, knees slightly bent. Slide one ski ahead of the other, avoiding the temptation to lean backwards.

Step 4: Head to the bunny slope
Once you feel comfortable in your skis, head to the smallest hill, or 'bunny slope.' Here you’ll probably find a 'rope tow' to hold onto--or a conveyor belt called a 'magic carpet' to stand on--that will get you to the top of the hill. Keep your skis straight as you’re heading up!

Tip
Consider taking lessons; it’s the best way to learn.

Step 5: Position yourself
When you reach the top of the bunny hill, position your skis so they are facing across the slope of the hill, not down it. You don’t want your skis taking off before you’re ready!

Step 6: Form the snowplow
Practice the snowplow, or wedge, position. With your legs slightly bent and your weight on the balls of your feet, bring the tips of your skis together and the tails of your skis apart--like an upside down 'V.'

Step 7: Begin to move downhill
Gently point your skis down the hill. Keeping them in the wedge position will prevent you from picking up too much speed. Let yourself slowly glide down the hill, widening the angle of your wedge if you need to slow down.

Tip
If you fall--and you will!--get up with your skis facing across the slope.

Step 8: Practice turning
Once you’re comfortable snowplowing, you’re ready to start turning. Simply shift your weight onto the ski opposite the direction you want to turn. For example, to turn right, shift your weight onto your left ski. Stay in your wedge!

Step 9: Keep turning
To avoid coming to a stop, turn in one direction, then the other. Proceed down the hill in this lazy zigzag fashion.

Step 10: Slow down and stop
Now practice slowing down and stopping. To slow down, bend your knees and shift your weight forward, widening your wedge. To stop, initiate a turn and follow through until your skis are perpendicular to the direction of the slope. You will naturally come to a stop.

Tip
If you ever feel out of control, it is always better to squat down and fall on your side than to run into another person or object.

Step 11: Practice
Continue gliding, turning, slowing, and stopping in the snowplow position. Before you know it, you’ll be bidding the bunny slope goodbye forever!

Did You Know?
In 1970, Yuichiro Miura of Japan became the first person to ski on Mt. Everest, and in 2003, when he was 70, became the oldest person to reach its summit.

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