The Simple Golden Rules of Skiing for beginners and intermediatesOct 23, 2023
Written by Level 4 Alpine Ski Instructor, George Treble
Sometimes skiing and ski technique may seem complicated to beginner and intermediates – but it doesn’t have to be. If you (or any of your friends or family) are learning to ski, I’d like to offer you some simple tips which are the key to confidence and control as you progress from beginner to black runs.
The main problem for many adults as they learn to ski is getting confused, overwhelmed and nervous – trying to think about ankles, knees, clumpy boots, left ski, right ski, arms, poles and the bizarre new sensation of sliding around on weird leg extension planks is understandably a bit intimidating.
Add in the moving traffic of other wobbly people on the slopes with the potential to pick up an injury and there’s no wonder beginner and intermediate adults find the process of learning to ski quite challenging.
When you add in inconsistent instructions from friends, family or, heaven forbid, your partner, then the whole thing can become a bit of a frustrating mess.
The good news is that with the right instruction, it’s actually surprisingly simple. I have spent the past 10 years working as a ski instructor in New Zealand, Japan and here in the French Alps and I have helped people of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes learn to ski, from 4 year old naturals to 75 year old first timers.
During that time I have refined the information, insights and phrases which learners need to understand in order to build good technique on skis.
We can start with the TWO GOLDEN RULES of ski technique. If you can apply these two golden rules, they will unlock control and confidence on almost all ski resort terrain. However, if you disobey these rules, you’ll make some of the many common mistakes which block people from progressing and stop you from having more fun in the mountains.
The First Golden Rule is TO BALANCE ON THE OUTER SKI WHILST TURNING. So if you’re turning left, balance on your right leg. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also not intuitive. In fact, your natural movement will be to lean inwards when turning, as you would do in pretty much all other sporting scenarios. But if you lean into the turn, not only do you end up struggling to make parallel turns because the inner ski is getting stuck in the wrong position, but you will also end up having pretty crappy brakes.
In fact, disobeying golden rule number one is the single biggest source of problems which people spend a lot of money on ski lessons trying to rectify. It is easier for me to explain all this with the help of video examples to please feel free to check out my tutorial video which explains this simple golden rule in more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFNQBb2ykSQ&ab_channel=AvoriazAlpineSkiSchool
The second golden rule is equally simple, yet equally NOT intuitive; balance your body weight perpendicular to your skis – DON’T LEAN BACK.
When you stand on these slippery leg planks and start sliding down a hill – your skis will run away from you and your body will end up left behind, leaning back. The result? You have to spend more energy to have less control. Again, this is far easier for me to explain in the video so head to https://www.alpinetutorials.com/learntoski where you can access the video tutorial for Golden Rule Number 2.
If you can understand and obey the two simple Golden Rules of skiing, your progression from beginner to black runs will be a much quicker, smoother and more fun process. It almost feels like, as a ski instructor, I’m giving too much away and forfeiting potential future bookings. But I’m also a keen maker of videos, and I know that I can help people to understand the key concepts of skiing before they even get to the snow. I spend so much time repeating the same things when teaching people to ski, so I’ve decided to answer all the common questions in tutorial videos instead.
As well as the two golden rules, I’ve made tutorial videos which explain all the important insights (without any of the fluff) which help adults progress from beginner to black runs:
- Ski resort safety
- Gear & clothing
- Ski fitness & flexibility
- Week 1 beginner basics
- Mastering parallel turns
- Breaking out of the intermediate plateau
- Steeper slopes
- Firm & icy snow conditions
- Quick turns
- Off Piste & powder
You can check them out on my website: https://www.alpinetutorials.com/learntoski where the tutorials are organised into a sequence and set up as pretty much the perfect way for beginner and intermediate skiers to prepare for a ski trip.
I hope that’s helpful to you, or to any of your friends and family. Watch this space for more tips and maybe I’ll see you on the slopes sometime – I teach in a bright green jacket for the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School and my name’s George. Cheers!