What is Skiing
Skiing is a recreational activity as well as a competitive sport. The skier attaches long skis, also called runners to specially designed boots and uses them to travel on top of snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and the International Ski Federation.
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Skiing is a recreational activity as well as a competitive sport. The skier attaches long skis, also called runners to specially designed boots and uses them to travel on top of snow. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and the International Ski Federation. The sport has grown so popular over the decades that most people have a good understanding of what Skiing is all about. Snowboarding is a similar snow-sport which uses one wide board instead of the two thinner boards that skiers use. Skiers use both skis and poles to coordinate their movements and control their speed and direction. Balance, weight, and edge control are the key skills needed in Skiing.
Types of Skiing
Also called downhill skiing, alpine skiing typically takes place at a ski resort or dry slope. It originated in the European Alps, and is characterized by fixed-heel bindings that attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot. Competitive classes include: slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, Downhill, and disabled skiing.
Cross-country or backcountry skiing is the oldest form of skiing and was developed in Scandinavia as a way of traveling over snow. It uses free-heel bindings that attach at the toes of the skier's boots but not at the heels. Various specialties of competitive or recreational skiing developed from this basic style.
Learning to Ski
The first thing a skier needs to know when getting started is how to stop. A beginner may well career out of control and become a risk to himself and other skiers if he cannot stop his random descent. Skiing equipment is designed to let you fall. Your ski-bindings (which connect your boots to you skis) should release when you fall, allowing you to crash into the snow without entangling your legs and damaging them. If ski bindings are set incorrectly, however, they will either not eject you (if too tight), which is dangerous, or frequently eject you unnecessarily, making you fall when you should not (if too loose). At all levels of skiing, a rapid halt can be not just limb saving but life saving. If all else fails throw yourself on the ground. Its only snow after all and as a beginner you need practice in falling down. It will probably happen a lot and it's good to see that it doesn't really hurt if done correctly. Even really good skiers may need do this as, once they're going at pace, it is the best way to bring an end to danger closing in at speed.
Snowplough (also known as the wedge in the US) is the first skiing technique a beginner should learn. It allows a novice skier to descend and navigate the ski slope in a measured and controlled way. The snowplough is designed to go slowly so that beginners do not zoom out of control. Despite being a technique used primarily by beginners, the snowplough can be used by very experienced skiers in particular situations - under extremely poor visibility for example.
Here is a quick guide to the snowplough. Assume the basic snowplough position. Once assumed, this position is not altered until the end of your run. The position is something like this, but its best to get an instructor to help so that he ensures you don't learn a wrong position. Point your skis inwards so that they meet at the tips in a V shape, toes in heels out. Incline your knees in towards each other by gentling bending your legs and the outside edges of your skis will naturally dig into the snow. Arms should be relaxed in front of you, holding your poles with the tips pointing outwards, this helps to keep you upper body relaxed. You should be pointing diagonally down a gentle run, facing the far side and thus giving yourself plenty of time to turn.
Now begin your descent by planting your poles in behind you and pushing off gently.Control the speed of your descent in snowplough by digging the inside edges of your skis in and widening the vee. Speed up again by relaxing the pressure through your legs but never allow the skis to become parallel, i.e. maintain the snowplough position at all times.
Next comes turning. In snowplough the idea is to zigzag down the ski slope in slow, meandering turns that are initiated at either side of the slope. To turn put your weight through the upper most leg (the leg that is up slope). This causes it to dig in and forces you to turn away from the leg, i.e. down the slope. Keep that weight going through the leg and hang onto the turn until you have come right round and are pointing diagonally to the other side of the slope. You will have completed an almost 180 degree turn. As you push through your skis you will naturally bend your legs so, as you come out of the snowplough, turn and relax and then straighten them - they need a rest before the next turn! At first give yourself plenty of time to turn before you reach the edge of the slope. As you become more experienced you will know when to initiate your turn and make the most out of each diagonal crossing.
The next thing to learn is Stem Turns and Traversing. As you get more confident in snowplough you can begin to relax the stance a little by bringing your skis parallel as you move across the slope between turns. Moving across the slope in this way is known as traversing and this represents one step up from basic snowplough. If you start going too fast, you can always drop your knees in and force your heels out to adopt a snowplough position again. The other factor that affects your speed is the angle at which you traverse - a steeper angle obviously means a faster descent.
Finally, parallel turns are the apex of skiing technique. With this skill in your skiing arsenal, you will eventually be able to handle the hardest of slopes - the infamous black runs. The idea of parallel turning is to allow a skier to perform rapid side-to-side turns in quick succession while travelling at high speed. In parallel skiing the skier is usually facing pretty much straight down the slope and changes the angle only to slow slightly and to navigate around objects such as trees, bumps in the slopes (known as moguls) and other skiers.