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HOW TO SKI
Skiinghas been a winter pastime for decades. For many, it is the most difficult thing they will ever do, and somepeople don’t even go back to the slopes after their first formal ski lesson. Skiing is an activity of pure skill,and it can take many years to master. I cannot guarantee that you will ever be the next Bode Miller or TannerHall, but by following a few simple steps, you should be able to have asuccessful day at the slopes.
Even before you get your butt nearthe seat of a chairlift, you need to get some equipment. The basics needed to start skiing areskis, boots, and bindings. Poles, whichhelp you turn and balance are not needed, but strongly recommended. Now come the accessories: If you want to be the hottest thing onthe mountain, there is tons of outerwear out there to meet any style. Just find something warm and you willbe fine. Also, goggles are a must;when flying down a mountain with considerable amounts of speed, your eyes tendto water and sting, and nobody likes stingy eyes. Another device that I strongly recommend is a helmet. Needless to say, they are veryimportant, especially for beginners.
Going back to the essential items,boots and bindings are the two most important investments in your skiequipment. When searching for agood boot, it is very important to make sure what you get fits correctly. A wrongly fitted boot can cause severepain, and even hinder your skiing ability. The best way to find a boot that will make you happy is togo to a local ski shop. There youwill meet a usually very helpful man called the boot fitter. His main responsibility is to make surethat your boots are set up right. Ski boots come in all different shapes, sizes, and flex patterns, sofinding a pair that is perfect for you is sometimes very difficult.
After you find a pair of boots thatsuits your feet, it is time to check out the bindings. Bindings are what hold your boots tothe ski, so obviously they are quite important. Bindings are distinguished by something called “DIN”. The “DIN” of a binding is expressed asa range of numbers, whose values show how easy your boots will release from thebindings in case of an accident. When you fall while skiing, the bindings are designed to release yourboots, which protects you from such injuries as a torn ACL. When a ski shop technician adjusts yourbindings to release when they are supposed to, he calculates the number you needby plugging your weight, height, and other factors into a chart. From there he is able to adjust thebindings to a correct number which for most people is somewhere between 4 and10.
Once you have your bindings andboots, it is time to look at skis. Depending on what kind of skiing you want to do, there are manydifferent types of skis that all have different shapes and other designfeatures. The most common type ofski for beginners is a racing ski. Race skis are great for beginners because they are very versatile, andthey can handle a lot of abuse. Other types of skis include twin tips, which have a raised tip on thefront and the back of the ski, unlike race skis, which only have a tip on thefront. Having twin tipped skis isessential if you want to do tricks in a terrain park, which is a slope withjumps and other features on it. The main purpose of a twin tipped ski is to allow the skier to skibackwards, which is necessary for many tricks. Another type of ski is a powder ski. Traditionally, powder skis are designedmuch the same way as twin tips, but are considerably wider, which allows themto float through powdery snow with ease.
Once you pick out a pair of skisthat look nice and have the correct shape you are looking for, it is time toget the correct size. Skis aremanufactured in many sizes, just like shoes, to accommodate people of almostany size. Most people prefer a skithat is at about eye-level with you, so pick a length somewhere around there.
After you have selected your skis,boots, and bindings, and the shop technician has properly mounted you bindingson the skis, it is time to hit the slopes! Once you are ready to head up the slope, place both yourskis on the ground so the bindings are facing up. Next, step toe-first into the binding, and then lay yourheel down until you hear a distinctive “Click” noise, which means that you areproperly connected to your skis.
The best place to start skiing ison an area with a very little slope. Most ski resorts have a slope called the “Bunny Hill” which is a smallarea that has almost no slope to it. Once you are at the top of the bunny hill, get ready to do the“Wedge”. The wedge, also commonlyreferred to as the pizza or plow, is a stance in which the front tips of yourskis are angled towards each other, which many people think resembles a sliceof pizza. This stance is veryimportant to learn, because it gives you very good control of your skis. The wedge is used to turn, but moreimportantly, to stop.
As you begin to head downhill, yourspeed will increase, which scares most people. The most important thing to remember is that you havecomplete control of your skis. Inorder to stop or slow down, all you need to do is make the ski wedge bigger byangling your tips closer together, which creates more friction on the snow,slowing your speed. To turn, usethe same method as stopping, but swivel your hips in the direction you want toturn.
Once you have conquered the bunnyhill and are comfortable with your turning and stopping abilities, it is timeto tackle the big slopes. Everyslope has a different level of difficulty, marked by a symbol on signs at thetop of each slope, and on trail maps. The easiest slopes are designated with a green circle, the moredifficult slopes are marked with a blue square, and the expert slopes aremarked with black diamonds. Onceyou have successfully boarded the chairlift and reached the top of the hill,which can be a tough process all by itself, choose a “green circle” slope. Begin to make you way down the hill,and just remember to take it slow and steady. Don’t be intimidated by other skiers around you, and don’tget upset if you fall. Everyonewho has ever skied has fallen several times, and you just have to learn to dealwith it.
After you feel comfortable skiingdown the big hill, it is time to learn another skiing technique called parallelor “french-fry”. This is whereinstead of angling your ski tips towards each other, you keep them parallel toone another. This stance providesmore balance, and allows you to get more speed, and to turn sharper and faster.
To begin skiing parallel, it isvery important that you are comfortable with speed. Once you are, just make your way down the slope with yourskis spaced about a shoulder’s width apart. It is very important to be able to turn while skiingparallel because that is the only way you can slow down. When you get speed, just lean to oneside and pivot your hips to turn. Then just continue to weave your way downhill. This should regulate your speed enough to make it to thebottom safely. Congratulations! You justlearned how to ski. Just likeanything else, skiing requires a lot of practice to become experienced. For your first few ski trips, skiingmay feel awkward and scary, but this stage passes with practice. Once you get comfortable skiing, I canguarantee you will be hooked for life.
For expert skiers like me, skiingis much more than a sport; It is a lifestyle all its own. For many peopleskiing is an escape from the stresses of everyday life, and I know that skiinghas changed my life more than almost anything else. It keeps me healthy, and I have made many friends whileskiing. It can be enjoyed bypeople of almost any age, and everyone who has overcome the pains of firstlearning how to ski makes it a very large part of their lives.EndFragment