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It takes 10000 hours to master something is the common saying, but is this true for skiing?
A total beginner should take 3 or 4 days, with lessons, to be good enough to get down the easiest slopes on the mountain solo. This will vary depending on your age, fitness, and the snow conditions. To be a great skier will take years!
As someone who started skiing as an adult, this is a question I can relate to. Whether your goal is to ski alongside your more experienced friends or just make it down the slope to the mountain bar. You are right to be wondering how long this will take to achieve.
Read on to learn more about what it is to be a good skier, how learning time may differ between individuals, and how you can help yourself improve.
What Does Good Skiing Mean?
It’s difficult to define what it means to be a good skier, but for most people, it would involve skiing a variety of slope levels with controlled linked turns and good technique. The timescale varies between individuals, but with lessons, the average person should achieve this description on the easiest slopes after 10-30 days on the mountain.
To be a great skier, it’ll take you a lot longer. Skiing any terrain, in all conditions, with the perfect technique will take years and a love for the sport.
As with any sport, the time it takes to pick up skiing will vary from person to person. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others; focus on monitoring your progress throughout the vacation. Repeating certain ski slopes can give you a clear idea of how well you’re progressing—recognizing when you get from top to bottom without any fumbles or falls, where you previously may have struggled, will help with your confidence.
These Affect How Long It Takes To Learn To Ski
Several factors may affect how long it takes you to pick up skiing. Take some time to read through and recognize what may make an impact on you; some of them may even be out of your control!
Generally, the fitter you are, the easier you should find skiing. This isn’t to say that unfit people can’t ski, but they may find it more tiring to ski for a whole day and won’t be able to recover from falls as easily as a physically fit person.
2. Experience in other sports
Activities like dancing, rollerblading, and skateboarding, incorporate balance and control over the body much like when skiing. Having a background in one of these sports can make picking up skiing quicker and easier.
Skiing is for anyone of any age, but as you’d imagine, it may become more difficult with age. Kids seem to just bounce straight up after a fall, whereas adults may struggle slightly more.
Additionally, if you’ve ever watched a kid ski, you might think they don’t know what the word ‘fear’ is. This carefree attitude makes it easier for children to pick up skiing and will make them learn new skills faster.
When it comes to children’s lack of fear, adults will differ significantly in their attitude to risk. A more relaxed attitude will allow some people to just go for it, and learning can progress quicker.
5. Snow and weather conditions
The type of snow you’re skiing on as a beginner can significantly affect how quickly you can progress. Solid icy runs are tricky to learn on and could be off-putting for your first time.
Also, if it happens to be particularly snowy or windy, the lack of visibility can make skiing intimidating even for the advanced skier. Even if some of your senses are compromised, don’t let this affect your skiing, keep focusing on your technique, and it shouldn’t matter what’s happening around you.
Tips for Making Progress as a New Skier
1. Set milestones
A great way to monitor your progress is using milestones. There’s no set schedule as to how long it’ll take to reach these milestones, so use these as a rough guide and go at your own pace.
2. Learn to stop safely
Probably one of the most important milestones and something you’ll be taught first in a ski lesson. You’ll start out using the pizza position, where you make a triangle with your skis by pointing your toes slightly inwards. There’s no way of progressing without the ability to stop on skis. With time you can then learn skidded parallel stops.
3. Speed control
Knowing how to stop will also teach you to control your speed which is just as important. You’ll be able to adjust your speed and control using the same pizza position.
When you’re trying out your first turns, it may seem nerve-racking, but with the proper technique, there’s less chance of falling. Correctly positioning your body and remaining controlled is the key here. Once you can do one turn, you’ll be ready to start linking turns and snaking down the mountain.
5. Ski lifts
The art of the chairlift! You’ll probably want to avoid making it into a funny video compilation of people falling when dismounting a chairlift and here’s how. Only go on a chairlift once you feel you’ve found your balance and control on skis. There should be magic carpet lifts and drag lifts on the beginner slopes so by the time you make it onto a chairlift you should be ready.
Most people will hit all of these milestones within 3 or 4 days of lessons, the odd few may even manage it all in a day!
6. Get lessons
Want to get good at skiing as fast as possible? Get a lesson. It is the quickest way to progress and ensures that you’ll be skiing correctly and safely from day one. There are a few types of ski lessons to choose from, group lessons, private group lessons, and 1-to-1s.
By far, the most beneficial to your learning will be 1-to-1 lessons, but these aren’t accessible to all, and group lessons should still feature personalized feedback from your instructor.
If you’re skiing for a week, then starting with three lessons at the beginning should set the foundations. Many will have ticked off the above milestones and feel confident enough after these three days to go it alone!
If you want to make the most of your vacation, perhaps get a lesson or two at your local indoor ski slope or dry slope before you go. This will introduce you to the equipment and allow you to get used to the feeling of being on skis. This should take the pressure off when you’re on vacation and give you more time to have fun on the mountain.
7. Ski fit
Do what you can to prepare; while skiing doesn’t require being super fit, a good baseline fitness will help. Focusing on strengthening the muscle groups used when skiing will allow you to ski for longer and avoid injury.
Dynamic exercises like lunges and broad jumps are great for building up overall ski fitness. Ab-focused core exercises will also help build control and balance over your body.
Learning to ski well will take time and commitment, but anyone is capable. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, as everyone’s learning process will be different; rushing will only lead to injury and a lack of enjoyment.
Get yourself a lesson or two, and you’re sure to be zooming down the mountain (with great technique) in no time!