Tips + Trends

Before You Hit the Winter Slopes, Master These Skiing Tips for Beginners

Before you hit the slopes, get the skinny on skiing with our beginner’s tips. (Photo: Alamy)

Skiing for the first time can be a frightening experience, especially if you don’t have any prior knowledge of trail types, what to pack for a ski trip, or even where the better slopes are for a beginner. Read below for extra tips that will help you become an expert skier.

Types of Ski Trails: What a Beginner Should Know

Ski slope codes change by country. In North America, a green circle means a “bunny slope”, or an easier slope tailored for beginners. A blue square indicates that the slope is for intermediate skiers, whereas the black diamonds and double black diamonds are for expert skiers and should be avoided by beginners until they’ve mastered blue square slopes.

If you’re skiing abroad, make sure you become familiar with the foreign ski slope symbols and types of trails. If you’re still a beginner, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation skiing down a slope geared towards expert skier. Taking slope types one by one is the best way to become comfortable with skiing.

How to Ski: The Basics

The first thing a beginner skier should remember is that keeping control is key. The best way to accomplish this is by pointing your skis tips towards one another in a “V” or “pizza slice” shape, all the while going down and crossing the hill lengthwise in an “S” formation. This will help keep you in control of speed and direction and avoid any accidents. While you’re skiing, it’s important that you remember to watch for others as you make your way down the hill.

ski tips
In uncharted (to you) territory? Always read the signs. (Photo: Alamy)

The skiers and snowboarders in front of you have the right of way, so it’s imperative that you watch for any sudden stoppers who are taking a quick break or people who lose their balance and fall. As you become a more seasoned skier, the movements will become more natural and skiing will soon be one of your favorite sports.

Where to Ski: A Novice’s Guide

Before you book a vacation in a region known for Black Diamond slopes, consider destinations that offer plenty of gentle runs for beginners, as well as top-notch instruction. Telluride, Colorado is a haven for beginners, with some of the nation’s best instructors and plenty of easy trails, including one that tranquilly winds 1800 vertical feet through a stretch of trees.

If you’re heading to Aspen, you’re in luck. Beginners can test their skills at Buttermilk mountain, one of four ski areas in Aspen resort. Tiny class sizes, excellent instructors, and long and easy trails make this a respite for novice skiers.

If you’d like to take your first few runs — or heck, all of your runs — nice and slow, check out Whistler Blackcomb in Vancouver. The ski resort designates a number of beginners areas, with specially monitored slow skiing zones, which are areas where its mandated to ski at a slower pace. The resorts wide open slopes are easily accessible to skiers of all levels and make for a great starting point for beginners.