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Skiing: tips and tricks for the best start

Skiing is a sport that allows you to achieve freedom, get on the mountain and come down at full speed. The cold wind and the mountain sun will make you live a unique emotion. In skiing there are different types of disciplines. Here are some tips to get you started and have the most fun on the slopes! 

The history of skiing

Skiing is probably the oldest form of locomotion, invented even before the wheel. According to some studies and fossil findings, the first ski-like instruments date back to 2500 BC. The invention can be attributed to the Lapps but also in the IV century B.C. some populations of Asia Minor used wooden boots to move quickly on the snow. Alpine skiing, as it is understood today, took its first steps in the mid-1800s when the first downhill techniques were invented, including Telemark skiing or “free heel skiing”. After World War II, skiing became a popular sport, and more and more people had the opportunity to practice this sport. With the years, skiing techniques and also the materials used in the composition of skis have changed considerably compared to the past, making them more comfortable and with a greater prevention of injuries. Today there are skis for all needs, the shapes have changed and the sidecuts (“carving”) have taken over, all this has allowed to shorten the ski and to change the stiffness and characteristics in order to obtain one that can be used by both the beginner and the more experienced skier. There are many disciplines in skiing, here are just a few.

Skiing disciplines
  • Downhill

    It’s the fastest discipline and its distances are the longest among the alpine ski trials. It is a fusion of speed, technique and courage.

  • Slalom and giant slalom

    Slalom courses are shorter, with a greater number of gates placed close together. The giant slalom, as the name implies, takes place on a longer course than the slalom and the gates are further apart, thus offering the possibility to follow trajectories with wider curves. Giant slalom is a mix of precision, sense of rhythm and power.

  • Super G

    In this discipline the difference in height is less than in the downhill, but the course is prepared in the same way. Unlike the downhill, athletes are not allowed to test the course before the official race.

  • Jumping

    In this specialty, skiers ski down a slope positioned on a ramp, the trampoline, and then take off trying to land as far as possible. Judges evaluate the athlete’s performance based on both the length of the jump and the jumper’s flying style. Skis used are long and wide.

  • Cross-country skiing

    This sport is usually practiced on flat or undulating terrain. It is the ultimate test of endurance among winter sports.

  • Combined

    This is a sport in its own right. Competitors on the same day must complete a downhill run and then a slalom run. The objective is to reward skiers who can be fast in the downhill and at the same time can compete in the slalom thanks to their technique.

  • Freestyle

    It consists in creating figures in the air, sliding on metal bars or jumping on dunes of different heights. Freestyle skiing allows you to give space to your creativity and imagination.

Once you know the different disciplines of skiing, we can move on to some useful tips to learn the best.

Tips

Here’s a list to help you have the most fun on the ski slopes:

  • Ski Lesson

    If moving on the snow is a completely new situation for you, the advice we give you to approach alpine skiing is to rely on a ski instructor who will be able to help you by accompanying you slowly to approach the first slopes. The ski instructor will not only teach you the technique but will also help you by explaining the safety rules and the behaviours to adopt on the slope, from dealing with a descent to how to correctly and safely take a lift. In addition, the ski instructor can also act as a tour guide, helping you discover the best places in the mountains and directing you to refuges where you can relax and enjoy the view. Many people when it comes to skiing get stuck with this question “Can I still learn to ski at my age?”, the answer is “Yes, of course”. Anyone with good determination and willpower is capable of learning to ski, don’t let a demographic reason stop you!

  • Prepare in the best way possible

    Clothing and athletic preparation are essential to be able to learn in the best way possible while protecting yourself from the cold, snow and wind. Our advice is to dress in layers: a breathable inner layer consisting of thermal jersey and tights, a middle layer consisting of a fleece or a light jacket and finally, an outer layer consisting of a jacket and ski pants windproof and water-repellent so as not to suffer the cold. As far as athletic preparation is concerned, our advice is to arrive early and start warming up your muscles. Moreover, during the wait you can start to get familiar with the ski equipment: put on your boots and walk with them. Don’t worry if you look clumsy at first, just get familiar and comfortable on the snow with your boots.

  • First steps in the snow

    Once you are familiar and feel confident you can put on your skis and, with the help of the instructor, you can start to perform the first movements on the snow such as walking on skis, do the “ladder”, “snowplow” and much more. Gliding and braking on the snow are the first two fundamental technical gestures for learning to ski. Regarding the first one, our advice is to start sliding on the snow with skis on a very slight slope. All this should be accompanied by exercises that will allow the body to make these movements automatic and have awareness of the technical gesture. Once you have learned to glide you must also learn to brake with your skis, in this way you will acquire greater confidence by controlling your speed and stopping independently along the slopes. Usually, the first braking technique that is taught to beginners is the “snowplow”, that is, stopping by spreading the tails of the skis and keeping the tips close together. Once you have learned this, the instructor will teach you increasingly advanced braking techniques.

Once you have completed this course you will be able to enjoy yourself on the ski slopes in total safety. Many people, however, may be blocked by a very important question: “How long does it take to learn to ski?” It is difficult to give an exact time frame for learning as it depends on a number of factors such as motivation and fitness. Our advice is to book lessons with a ski instructor and try, depending on one’s possibilities, to do a good number of lessons in a short period of time. If the skier will do this, we can assume a period of 1 or 2 days to learn the skiing technique and after 5 or 6 days he will be able to face the blue slopes, that is those of easy level, alone and in total safety.

Along with technical preparation, also nutrition plays an important role. Peter Fill shares with us one of his secret ingredients: “Always being careful to have a very balanced diet. The better you eat the better your physical well-being and athlete performance will be”.

Now that you know all the tricks of skiing you just have to go to the mountains and have fun!

 

“I think the most important thing in skiing is you have to be having fun. If you’re having fun, then everything else will come easy to you.”

(Lindsey Vonn)

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