Proper Balance is Everything
The most important element in learning how to ski is maintaining the proper stance. Stand directly over your feet with your weight equally distributed from heel to toe. There should be a small amount of forward pressure so that you are resting comfortably on the balls of your feet and your shins are pressing lightly against the tongues of your boots.
There should be a slight amount of flex in your ankles, knees and hips. Your back should be slightly rounded, and you should hold your hands in front of you like you're riding a bicycle with your elbows at your side.
The most important part of the stance is to look forward and not down at your skis. Looking up serves a number of functions. First, you'll need to be able to see other skiers ahead of you. Second, looking up will help you to stand tall and keep you from sitting on the backs of your skis. And finally, it will help you enjoy the scenery.
Directly to Parallel
In the early days of skiing, your instructor would take you through a series of turns. First the snowplow, then the stem christie and, some years later, the parallel turn. Today, most students are taught to turn with their skis parallel on their first day of ski school.
To make effective parallel turns, stand directly on top of your skis with your weight pressed against the boot tongues. Imagine that your legs are the axles on a car. As you initiate a turn, both legs, or axles, turn together at the same rate. The tighter you wish to turn, the more you'll turn your legs.
The Anatomy of a Turn
In order to turn and stop, it's important to understand what makes up a good turn. Turns are divided into three parts: the beginning, middle and end. The beginning portion of the turn is where you begin turning in the new direction. Your entire body should be leaning downhill in the direction of the new turn. The middle of the turn is the shaping part of the turn. It's here where you determine whether you're going to be making a lazy, wide turn or a tight radius turn. The ending portion of the turn is where you control your speed, finish the turn and get ready for the next turn. All three parts are as important as the other.
Controlling Your Speed
Speed on skis is controlled during the final part of the turn. If you feel like you're picking up too much speed, turn the skis uphill slightly until you feel yourself slow down. Take care not to slow down so much that you lose all of the momentum you'll need to initiate the new turn in the other direction.
Get Profession Instruction
The moves described above come from the basic teaching curriculum of the Professional Ski Instructors of America. The next time you head up to the mountains for a day in the snow, stop by the ski school and hire a professional ski instructor to help you properly learn the sport of skiing. They'll keep you safe and in control so that you can enjoy your day on the slopes.