If you’ve recently gained an interest in skiing, you’re probably wondering, “how long does it take to learn to ski?” You may even wonder if you can learn to ski, yourself!
The simple answer is yes! Millions of people ski every year, and you can learn, too. As for how long it takes to learn, that depends on several factors that we’ll discuss throughout this article.
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Factors That Determine The Rate at Which You Learn
As long as you can move well, you can learn how to ski no matter what age you are. There’s no such thing as an optimal age for skiing. Though, age can be a factor in how easy you find it and how long it takes to learn to ski.
Younger people tend to learn faster because they have higher mobility. They can get excited enough about learning to Ski that they’re unburdened by the fear of getting injured or failure.
Older people, on the other hand, nurse these concerns but on the flip side, they can stay focused and learn technical skills needed to advance quickly.
Previous athletic experience in any sport that involves high mobility can give you leverage because your fitness level is already high. An athlete’s body has been drilled to possess attributes like balance skills, motor skills, agility, strength, and quick reflexes all of which are integral to skiing.
Fear and Confidence
Overconfidence will most likely get you injured, 35% of which are knee injuries. Fear will have you learning for ages and ironically could also get you injured, as well. Having just the right amount of confidence will help for things that improve your skiing like not being too timid on the slopes and leaning into a turn.
Availability and Determination
The more determined you are about skiing, the more you’ll make yourself available for ski lessons and practices. The more determined you are, the more focused you are to overcome any challenges you face out there in the snow. Quitting after failing won’t be an option.
As mentioned earlier, skiing is an outdoor winter sport and this means it could be pretty demanding physically for people with preexisting medical conditions. For instance, people with conditions that make them easily susceptible to a very cold environment (like the slopes) will have to spend less time in the snow learning how to ski.
How Long Does it Take to Learn to Ski?
Considering all the factors mentioned above, the average person would spend about 10 weeks to attain what we can refer to as an advanced level. Here’s an overview of what to expect from your learning curve, and as you cruise through the three levels of skiing: beginner level, intermediate level, and advanced level.
As a beginner, you’ve probably never handled a pair of skis before. If you didn’t opt for private lessons, regular lessons will have you start in a small group alongside other beginner skiers on the ski school corral. Training rounds usually take a few hours, so you’ll get to practice at your pace during your free time. Though, some ski schools run all-day courses and take breaks at intervals.
To get you started, check out this beginner’s ski guide video.
- First, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with ski lingo. You don’t want to have that confused look on your face when your peers make references to things like names of different bits of gear, common types of lifts, and the techniques you’ll be learning.
- You now get to move around on flat terrain but before that, you’ll need to learn to tighten your boots, attach your skis and take them off.
- Learning to control your speed should be next on your agenda. It’s the perfect time to practice the snow plough technique (also known as The Pizza Position). By putting the front ends of your skies together and the back ends far apart, you could slow down or halt your movement.
- Once you’ve gotten a handle on slowing down and stopping, you begin to practice turning.
- Now that you can turn, slow down, and stop, the next agenda on your learning process is to take lifts and work on linking turns on blue or gentle green slopes. You’ll be downhill skiing on an S-shaped path.
- By the end of your first week, drag lifts, chairlifts, and going on gentle blue slopes should be under your belt already. You should also be working on putting the side of your ski together after a turn. This prepares you for learning parallel skiing.
You’ll be at the Intermediate Level once you’ve spent 2-3 weeks practicing the basic skills that would prepare you for more complicated techniques on steeper terrains.
- At this stage, you should be working on perfecting parallel skiing which means you can now afford to ease up on the snow plough technique while turning. Linking parallel turns on wide runs shows you’re processing just fine. Though you might still need to be cautious on narrow sections.
The more you continue to practice the more your confidence grows. Hence, the sooner you’ll be able to take on red slopes and try several ski areas – like going to try small rollers and boxes at a snow park.
- By now you should have gained enough experience to notice and think about how to fix any unusual mistakes you might make.
- Beware of getting stuck at the intermediate plateau. This is when you’re having so much fun using blues and easy reds to navigate the mountains that you don’t bother to progress.
To progress as an intermediate skier to advanced terrains you’ll need to improve your technique.
It’s the 10th week! You should be confident on all types of slopes, even the steepest black slopes. Note that you might get to this stage earlier or later than 10 weeks, depending on your skill and practice.
- You should be making a smooth, linked turn with your impeccable parallel skiing.
- You should now practice making short turns. With sharp turns you can avoid obstacles better and even tackle narrow sections that would normally restrict making wide, sweeping turns.
- You’ve improved so much at this point that you may be able to pull off fancy techniques like spinning in the air and holding your skis or skiing off piste or moguls (slope-covered in bumps).
If you keep at it, you’ll be able to ski with incredible technique anywhere, irrespective of what the weather and snow conditions are like.
Tips to Get You Started as a First Time Skier
Register at The Right Ski Resort: Shop around for a ski resort with easy-to-access beginner ski areas that extend reduced rates or free lift passes.
Get Ready by Getting in Shape
Your goal is not to hit the gym 7 times a week but as a first-time skier, you’ll need to warm up those sleeping muscles. Moderate exercises will get you fit for skiing and will ensure you get the best out of your ski learning experience.
Dress Appropriately For Skiing
If you adorn yourself with the proper ski clothing, you’ll have a warm and comfortable experience no matter how bad the weather gets.
Choosing a Good Ski Shop
Two important things to keep in mind are the location and quality of equipment of the rental ski shop. It’s in your best interest to choose a ski shop close to the slopes or gondola. This way you’d conserve more time and energy to channel into the actual riding. If having used it you decide to buy it, some ski shops do have sell options.
Learn Ski Jargons
Brush up on basic ski terminologies before going for lessons. By not finding terms like nursery slopes, bunny hill, or apres ski strange, you’ll get right with the program quickly.
How long does it take to learn to ski? The answer to that could be considerably longer or shorter depending on the actual ski school programs you undergo, and if you’re looking for a more personalized approach, it’s not advisable to rely on your friends and family. Private lessons from a professional ski instructor are the way to go.
Ski Equipment You’ll Need
Skis are the two planks with which you glide on snow. The pair is the same and can be used interchangeably on both legs. The edges are designed to be sharp to help grip the snow. At the middle is a rigid binding feature that enables you to connect your ski boot to the ski.
Ski boots might feel weird to walk in at first but they’ll transform your skiing experience for the better. The way you wear your boots properly is to make sure they’re well-fastened to the skis. Proper connection is accompanied by a click sound when you drive in your heel.
Ski Poles might not be necessary for your first lesson, but you’ll eventually need to have your own pair of poles if you’re serious about skiing. Poles are useful in that they help you with balancing, propelling yourself along flat terrain, and for gripping the slippery snow.
The need for helmets used to be seriously debated but now it’s even mandated by many resorts – especially for children.
As a beginner, forget about how cool those daredevil professionals are with their cool balaclava (ski mask) look and just wear a helmet. It’ll protect your head effectively from the cold and any falls. Protecting your head is especially important because head injuries are the leading cause of death for skiers.
Ski Accessories to Wear
- Socks: It goes without saying that you’ll need a pair of long socks; just before knee level is fine. They’ll keep your feet warm and dry.
- Thermals: These will keep you warm, dry, and comfy through changing temperatures. Examples of thermals are thin layer clothing like leggings and long-sleeved tops.
- Gloves and a Hat: Beanie hats are a great option to keep your head warm when you have to remove your helmet. Gloves will keep your hands from freezing off. The gloves should be waterproof and preferably made out of leather or Goretex to increase friction.
- Footwear: A pair of Goretex and leather boots for walking around the resort while keeping your feet dry and comfy are an essential.
- Sunglasses and Goggles: Depending on the weather, you’ll need goggles for low visibility days and sunglasses for bright sunny days. Apart from keeping half of your face protected, goggles help focus against wind resistance at high speeds. Though, you’ll need to know how to prevent them from fogging.
How Expensive is it to Ski?
Skiing is more expensive than trying to start some other hobby. Just considering the sheer amount of gear that’s needed will set your pocket back a few bucks. Expenses on protective clothing, rentals, and paying for the slope rack up pretty fast.
Plus, paying for lessons that come highly recommended, will shoot up your budget. The amount you spend depends on the form of training you opt for. Group sessions at ski schools cost less than private lessons. Also, hiring a private ski instructor to teach lessons on blue slopes will charge you less but more for lessons for off-piste and heli-skiing.
An overview of what’s been discussed here should be enough to provide you with useful information you need to give an educated answer to the question, “how long does it take to learn to ski?” Remember the 10-week timeline mentioned earlier is an average assessment putting all the factors that could affect the rate you learn into consideration.
Moreover, if you’re fit and determined you could attain the advanced level much faster. Skiing is a fantastic winter sport and you won’t know what you’re missing out on until you give it a try.