My Ski Lessons

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Learn How to Ski

Welcome to Our Ski Training

Learn to ski like a pro on the beautiful mountain slopes!
skier in mid-jump
Photograph of a skier in mid-jump, with a mountain range in the background. Taken by Sebastian Staines on Unsplash.

Why Take Up Skiing?

Not only is skiing one of the top snowsports, it’s also a lot of fun! Skiing is a sport that gets you outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. Skiing is great exercise for everyone, from beginners who want to get in shape to seasoned pros. If you’ve been thinking about learning to ski, now is the time.

Maybe you want to learn to ski for that upcoming winter vacation, and have an epic ski trip. Or perhaps you want to become a regular on the ski hill. Or maybe you dream of competing in the Olympics. Whatever your goals, your certified My Ski Lessons instructor can help you reach them.

In addition to finding a great instructor, you can always learn a bit on your own! This page will help you do just that.

We’re going to cover a lot of great information to help get you started! Including:

Different types of skiing – which is right for you?

What should you wear?

What equipment do you need?

What are some basic moves, like stopping, turning, and climbing?

How do you use a tow rope or a chair lift?

How can you prepare at home?

Types of Skiing

Before you can dive into the exciting world of skiing, you’re going to have a fundamental question to ask yourself. What kind of skiing do you want to do?

When you think of the word “skiing”, different images may come to mind. Perhaps you envision a peaceful ski through the woods, stopping to look at nature and enjoy the quiet of the outdoors.

Or maybe you picture yourself tearing down a mountainside, snow clouds forming behind you as you reach incredible speeds!

Well, those are two very different sports – even if they use similar equipment! Here’s what you need to know.

Alpine Skiing

skier skiing down a steep hill
Photograph of a skier skiing down a steep hill, taken by Nicolai Berntsen on Unsplash.

The word “Alpine” means “relating to high mountains”. That clue should tell you where this is going. In a word: downhill!

When you think of skiers racing in the Olympics, what you’re picturing is alpine skiing. Alpine skiing has one goal: speed. For that reason, the gear is designed to do everything possible to help you go quickly.

Alpine skiing can be thrilling and exciting, but if this is the kind of skiing you’d like to learn, it’s very important to start with a good ski instructor who can help you practice safely and make the most of your time on the slopes.

In terms of terrain, alpine skiing requires a hill. Most ski resorts are centered around alpine skiing, so if you love ski resorts, this could be the style for you!

Nordic Skiing

someone skiing through a forest trail
Photograph of someone skiing through a forest trail, courtesy of Phillip Belena on Unsplash.

A second type of skiing is nordic skiing, which is essentially the opposite of alpine skiing. While alpine skiing takes place on steep hills, nordic skiing is far more… well, horizontal.

Nordic skiing is also called cross-country skiing, which should illuminate something about it. It’s designed to go over hill and dale, across much flatter terrain. Unlike alpine skiing, which is focused on speed, nordic skiing is a great type of skiing for going the distance. Experienced skiers can cover a huge distance in a day, and nordic skiing has been used as a serious means of transportation.

The main difference in equipment is that nordic ski boots aren’t fully attached to the ski – they’re only attached at the toe. This allows for greater mobility, especially when going uphill! Alpine skis are notoriously bad at going uphill, which is one reason ski lifts are so necessary. Nordic skis, on the other hand, are designed to be versatile.

With alpine skiing, your momentum comes from the sheer force of gravity. With nordic skiing, on the other hand, your speed is entirely determined by your own power.

While nordic skiing may seem less exciting to some, it has definite advantages. For one thing, you can go at your own pace, and you can always stop to admire the view. It can be calming, peaceful, and it’s easier to learn. Also, you can enjoy a conversation with a friend, exploring nature and the beautiful outdoors!

Also, you don’t need a good ski hill! If you’re living in a place that’s flat, like the prairies or the plains, nordic skiing might be the exact right kind of skiing for you!

Freestyle Skiing

someone doing a ski trick
Photograph of someone doing a ski trick, courtesy of Matthieu Pétiard on Unsplash.

Okay, we’ve covered skiing for speed and skiing for distance. But what about skiing for style?

While all forms of skiing are cool (thanks to the snow), freestyle skiing might be the trendiest. Freestyle skiing is closer to alpine skiing than it is to nordic skiing – after all, it involves hills, competition, and lots of speed. Where it differs, though, is that it’s not about racing. It’s about stunts!

If you ever see anyone flying off a ramp, doing a flip in the air, and landing with perfect form – that’s freestyle skiing. Think of it as the brother of snowboarding, or the wintry cousin of skateboarding. 

The combination of artistry, daring, and flair keep freestyle skiing a huge hit with audiences at events. But, just like with alpine skiing, it’s important to start with a good coach!

What Ski Gear Do You Need?

First Things First: What Do You Wear?

  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece top
  • Ski socks
  • Ski jacket and pants
  • Ski gloves or mittens
  • Ski goggles
  • Ski helmet
  • Ski boots
  • Sunscreen



It’s important that you come to the ski hill dressed for the winter weather. You will want a light, breathable underlayer like thermal underwear as your base layers. This layer helps keep you warm and absorbs sweat.

Then, you will want a warm layer over top of your thermal underwear. This might be fleece or wool, and shouldn’t restrict your movement at all. A light, flexible pair of pants is a good option to go over top of your thermal underwear. Your pants don’t need to be quite as warm as your upper layers, as ski pants will do a lot of work to keep you warm.

It’s important you don’t forget ski socks, as they are an easy item to overlook. You want warm, thick socks that help fill in your ski boots. Wool is a good option. This will make your boots fit better which gives you more control.


Next, you’ll want a ski jacket and ski pants. These are waterproof, insulated garments which will keep you from getting wet and getting cold. With the right ski jacket and pants, you will find that you feel comfortable all day on the hill.

You will also want flexible, waterproof ski gloves. It’s important to have warm gloves, as your hands will be the first part of your body to get cold, so you’ll definitely want to keep your hands dry.

Ski goggles are also really important. They protect your eyes from sun damage, as there can be a lot of glare coming off of the snow and this can damage your eyes. They will also help you see, especially if it’s either very sunny or snowing.


A ski helmet is an essential piece of ski equipment for everyone, even experienced skiers. Helmets help keep your head warm, but more importantly, they protect your head from fractures and concussions. It’s important that you get a well-fitting, good quality helmet to keep you safe.

Finally, you’ll need ski boots. There are different kinds of ski boots available. You’ll want ski boots that are adjustable and fit snugly, but are easy to take on and off.

And let’s not forget… skis!

There are a lot of different skis available on the market, each with specific uses. Skis vary according to use, terrain, and experience level. So how do you know which skis are right for you?

Types of Skis

Now, let’s go over the different varieties of skis!

Race Skis

Race skis are heavier, narrow skis that are made to be used on snow that is more packed, like the snow in a race course. These skis are good for speed and precision, allowing sharper turns and more control. Race skis might be good for you depending on the course you are skiing, but it’s more likely that there is a better option for you, especially if you’re a beginner.

Backcountry Skis

These skis are designed for snow that is less packed or groomed. They help you stay on top of the snow and are versatile, allowing you to go both uphill and down. They will often be used in Alpine skiing. You will be unlikely to use these skis at a resort or a ski hill near a city.

Carving Skis

Carving skis are good for packed and groomed snow, and are excellent for turning. If you spend most of your time skiing on a well-worn or groomed run, these could be a good option. Carving skis perform less well on fresh snow, so keep that in mind when you are making your decision.

Park Skis

Park skis are meant for doing tricks like jumps, and are made to withstand use on boxes and rails in the ski area. As a beginner, you probably won’t need park skis, but if you want to eventually become good enough to do tricks, you’ll want to look for these in the future.

Cross Country Skis

These skis are made so that they move well over flat ground. Some ski resorts offer cross country ski lessons, in which case you will want to consider these skis. But for downhill skiing, you will want a different type of ski.

Powder Skis

Powder skis are designed to not sink into fresh snow and powder. They are quite a bit wider than most skis, which can make them somewhat cumbersome for an inexperienced skier. Their width helps them to move over soft snow and give the skier stability.

All-Mountain Skis

All-mountain skis combine the best aspects of all the ski types together into one ski. They are made to be versatile and perform well under many different conditions. All-mountain skis are designed to be able to handle the various conditions a skier might face as they move down a mountain.

Should You Buy or Rent?

Most resorts and ski hills will have rental equipment available to you in the ski shop. Your knowledgeable ski instructor can help you decide which skis are right for you and whether you should rent or buy. Many beginners find it best to rent when they’re starting out. That gives them the opportunity to try out different equipment and find what works for them. Whether you rent or buy, consulting a ski expert will help make sure you get what you need.

What Should You Practice?

kiers on the snow hill

Now that you’ve decided what kind of skiing style inspires you, and you’ve gotten all your gear, you’re ready to start practicing!

Ideally, you’ll have found a qualified ski instructor who will be able to guide you to a safe and fun skiing experience, giving you lots of ski tips along the way. However, if you need a little extra help, if you’re learning on your own, or you just like to be prepared for the lesson ahead – here’s a list of some of the things your first practices should focus on!

Home Preparations

sneakers, dumbbells, and a jump rope
Photograph of sneakers, dumbbells, and a jump rope. Courtesy of Alexandra Tran on Unsplash.

Here’s some good news – practice doesn’t have to start on the bunny hill! Before you even head to your first ski hill, there are a lot of good things you can do from home to prepare for learning to ski.

Whenever you train your body to take up a new sport, it’s normal for you to feel some soreness and stiffness. Why? Simply because new sports involve using your body in a way that it’s not used to yet. The same is true for skiing.

However, you don’t want to spend your first time skiing feeling sore and stiff. So what can you do?

It all starts with exercise. By doing a little bit of targeted working out, you can make sure your muscles are ready to go when you’re heading down your first ski hill.

Here are a few exercises that can help strengthen the right muscles and make you that much more prepared for taking up skiing!

Essentially, you want to do anything that helps add strength and coordination to your core and your legs.

  1. Lunges
  2. Jumping jacks
  3. Box jumps
  4. Wall sits
  5. Jogging
  6. Squats

And don’t forget to stretch and hydrate!

Point A to Point B - Practicing Movement

skier skiing down a slope with mountains and trees in the background
Photograph of a skier skiing down a slope with mountains and trees in the background. Courtesy of Ben Koorengevel on Unsplash.

No matter what kind of skiing you’re interested in learning – whether it’s alpine, freestyle, or nordic, as a beginner you want to start on a flat surface. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tackle the slopes in no time! But first, you have to master the basics of movement, and get your body used to using skis.

Stabilize yourself with your ski poles. At first, you may feel a little unsteady, but don’t worry; you’ll be gliding like a natural in no time. Go slowly, and keep your skis parallel in front of you. This will help keep you going in a straight line.

When you’ve got the hang of moving around, and your skis are feeling less awkward, it’s time to try climbing a hill!

Climbing hills will require a different type of motion than moving on a flat or downward plane. That’s because skis have almost no traction, so with every step you take up a hill, you’re just going to slide back down again.

Instead, there are two main ways you can ascend a hill while wearing skis.

The first one is to stand beside the slope, with your skis facing parallel to the edge of the hill. Then, you can take short steps sideways up the hill, digging the sides of your skis into the slope with every step. Think of it as being a little bit like a crab-walk.

The second way to ascend a hill, and certainly the most common among pros, is to start by facing the hill. Then, instead of keeping your skis parallel, you want to turn your toes outward and your heels inward, creating a V shape with your skis.

Staying in this V shape, make sure the backs of your skis don’t cross – otherwise you’ll trip!

Now, you should be able to take steps up the hill, always keeping your skis in a V alignment.

While it’s great to practice successful movements, it’s important to prepare for mistakes. That means it’s good to know a little bit about falling, and how to get back up!

To start with, don’t be discouraged if you fall. Skiers from every skill level sometimes slip up. But if you should find yourself in the snow, it’s good to know how to get back on your feet.

The easiest method for getting back up after a fall is to position yourself so that you’re leaning on your side, with your skis lined up on your other side, close together and parallel with one another. This way you’ll be able to push yourself slowly up until you’re back on your feet.

Another method for getting up is to simply unbuckle one of your boots, and use that foot to stand up and stabilize yourself. Then you can put that ski back on and be ready for more skiing!

Okay, But How Do You Turn?

As you might expect, turning is an integral part of skiing. Whether you’re dodging gates on a fast slalom or just changing directions on a leisurely nordic adventure, turning is going to come in handy.

In fact, turning isn’t just used in skiing as a way to steer; it’s also a crucial method of slowing down. For skiers, turning is the brake pedal.

While turning may seem simple, considering how much you’re going to rely on it, it’s very important to develop good form early on. By learning and practicing good turning technique, you can avoid injury, improve performance, and have more fun!

Here are the two types of movement that will always be involved in your turns:


If you need to slow down in a hurry, or make a sudden change in direction, you’ll use this one more. Twisting is steering by – you guessed it – twisting your body so that your skis are forced in a new direction.


A good way to think of tipping is to think of it as leaning to one side of your skis. Keep your weight in the middle, as you normally would, but let one edge of your skis dig into the slope more than the other. This will cause a more gradual, even turn. While tipping isn’t a great method for sudden stops, it’s a good way to make steady turns.

As you practice turning, you’ll soon discover that whenever you turn, you’re going to end up using a little bit of each method. All turns involve a little tipping and a little twisting. The effect of the turn depends on which of these two methods you use more.

Snow Plow Turns

When you start practicing with your ski instructor, they’ll most likely start you off learning to turn using Snow Plow Turns. These are safe, gentle turns that will help guide you down your first slopes.

Remember that V shape you learned when ascending hills? The Snow Plow Turn is kind of the opposite of that. Instead of a V shape, you’ll be making a slight A shape, with your toes facing toward each other and your heels facing apart.

Gently, you’ll want to lean on your left ski to turn right, or your right ski to turn left. These first turns may feel awkward at first, but they’ll get easier as you go. 

Once you get the hang of Snow Plow Turning, you can ask your ski instructor about practicing more advanced methods – like stem turns, carved turns, and parallel turns!

Help! How Do I Stop?

Good question!

While skiing is an exciting sport that helps you enjoy the outdoors, get great exercise, and make new memories – at some point, you want to know how to stop. Sure, there may be moments when you’re having the best ski of your life when you wish you could just keep skiing forever, but trust me – a life of not being able to stop skiing is a lonely journey that only ends with the heat death of the universe.

So, when you’re heading down a slope and you want to come to a stop, here’s what you can do:

Remember the Snow Plow Turn? There’s also something called a Snow Plow Stop. Once again, you’re going to want to put your skis in an A shape – toes pointed inward, heels pointed outward. This will cause friction against the snow, which will allow you to gently slow and come to a complete stop!

How to Ride a Chair Lift

As we mentioned earlier, alpine skis aren’t great at ascending hills. Even if they were as good at ascension as nordic skis, a ski hill can be a long distance, and a tiring climb!

For those reasons, ski resorts feature chair lifts – a convenient way to get to the top of the mountain for your next big run.

Riding a chair lift for the first time may seem intimidating, but it’s quite simple. Just make sure to always be conscientious and you’ll be enjoying the view without worrying! Oh, and don’t forget your lift ticket!

To start with, you want to find the “Wait Here” area at the base of the chair lift. As the name would suggest, you want to wait there and face the direction that the chair will be traveling.

If you’re not feeling ready for the approaching chair, it is completely fine to let it pass you by and wait for the next one.

When the chair approaches, face your body away from it, but look back over your shoulder so you can watch its approach. You want to hold both ski poles in one hand. When the chair gets to you, sit back in it.

You may see a metal bar above you that can be pulled down to secure you in place. If you can’t reach it, or if there is no bar, don’t worry – just make sure you sit back and don’t squirm around or rock the chair.

If you accidentally drop something, don’t try to catch it. You can pick it up later.

Eventually, you’ll reach the top. There may be a sign first telling you to lift the bar back above your head, which you should obey. When you get to the top, keep your skis facing forward, tilted slightly up at the toe. When it’s time, put your skis on the ground and push off from the chair. Move out of the way so the next chair can dismount!

How to Use a Tow Rope

Depending on where you’re learning to ski, you may find that there isn’t a chair lift for you to use – instead, there may be something called a tow rope. This can sometimes be a challenge for beginner skiers.

A tow rope works on the same principle as a chairlift, except, instead of a cord that pulls chairs up the hill, it’s just the cord itself. No chair. That means you’re going to have to grab it and hold on tight!

While tow ropes are ostensibly simpler than chair lifts, they can provide their own challenges. Paying attention to these tips will help you have a better experience!

First of all, how do you get on a tow rope?

Technically, it’s as easy as just holding on to the rope. But you can make it even easier if you approach the rope with a little bit of momentum. Ski up to the rope in the same direction it’s traveling, as close to parallel as possible – then hold on.

Once you’re being pulled by the rope, the most important thing is to make sure your skis are always pointing in the same direction as the rope. If not, you’ll find yourself weaving left or right, being pulled off the rope or even falling! So make sure you’re traveling in a straight line by aiming your skis in the same direction the rope is trying to take you.

When you get to the end of the tow rope, it’s good to give yourself a little slingshot forward. Leaving the tow rope with a bit of momentum will help you get out of the way of the people behind you.

The Next Step - Trying it For Yourself!

someone skiing in fresh snow
Photograph of someone skiing in fresh snow with a mountaintop behind them. Courtesy of Cyprien Delaporte on Unsplash.

After all those skiing tips, it’s time to start getting some real life experience with some beginner ski lessons! Finding the right professional ski instructors is the perfect place to start – either group lessons or private lessons! They’ll be able to steer you away from common mistakes and onto your first ski slopes adventure.

Remember on your first day that with a little practice and a love of the sport, you’re going to be improving in no time.

We hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide to skiing!

Contact Us

We strive to bring our services to as many ski and snowboard resorts as possible, but please note that we may not be available at every location. Feel free to reach out to us to discover our current offerings and find out if we’re available at your favorite resort!