How to STOP On Skis: Best 3 Methods You Need to Know

by Simon Naylor | Updated: July 21st, 2023 |  How to Ski

Heading out for a ski trip and wondering how to avoid uncontrollably hurtling down the mountain? No worries, I've got your back! Learning to stop is crucial, and I'm going to break it down for you. Below are the three main stopping methods, arranged by effectiveness and difficulty:

  1. Snowplough or Pizza Stop
  2. Wedged Turn Stop
  3. Parallel or Hockey Stop

What is the Snowplough or Pizza Stop?

The most famous of stops, the snowplough (also known as the pizza stop), is a technique that every new skier should learn. It's the best method for stopping on the slope if you're new to skiing. By forming a triangle (or pizza slice) shape with your skis, you create friction against the snow, slowing your momentum.


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How Do You Perform a Snowplough Stop?

In my experience, the easiest way to try the snowplough for the first time is on the flat part of a beginner's slope. Hold out your poles and get a friend to pull you forward. As you start to slide, practice your snowplough as explained below:

  1. Push the backs of the skis out to make a pizza shape, creating resistance and slowing down.
  2. Gently push out the back of the skis further until you come to a complete stop.
  3. To enhance your plough, gently push into the inside edge of each ski to increase friction and slow down faster.

What Are Some Important Snowplough Tips?

  • Avoid using ski poles to stop.
  • Keep your upper body relaxed and gently go into the plough until you build confidence.
  • Practice on beginner slopes before moving to steeper terrain.

What is the Wedged Turn Stop?

Another way for new skiers to stop is by performing a snowplough turn. By turning to the side, you stop faster and can avoid obstacles directly in front of you. Follow the same instructions as for the regular snowplough, but this time, apply more pressure on one leg than the other.

How Do You Stop Using a Snowplough Turn?

  1. Start to slide and then go into a snowplough.
  2. Apply more weight to one ski and turn it to the side.
  3. Push into your right ski to go left or your left ski to go right.
  4. Your goal is to stop with your skis facing the side of the mountain.
  5. As you come to a stop, keep more weight on the inner edge of your skis to avoid sliding down the slope.

What Are Some Snowplough Turn Tips?

  • You'll likely find one direction easier than the other.
  • Keep your torso relaxed and turn your foot gently.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

What is the Parallel or Hockey Stop?

For more advanced skiers who can parallel turn, the parallel stop is the fastest and most effective way to avoid obstacles or collisions at higher speeds. This method is recommended for skiers who are ready to progress beyond the snowplough and are comfortable turning at speed.

How Do You Stop Using a Parallel Stop?

  1. Gently stand up just before initiating the stop to loosen the ski's contact with the snow.
  2. Begin a parallel turn, placing more weight (and more quickly) on the outside or downhill ski.
  3. Turn your feet and legs parallel while starting to bend your knees and dig into the snow with the inner edge of both skis, pushing through your heel.
  4. The more you dig into the snow, the quicker your stop.
  5. Release the angle of your skis and flatten them on the snow
  6. to avoid falling backward. 6. Repeat – the more you practice, the more you'll develop muscle memory.
  7. If you're interested in learning more about the hockey stop, I wrote an entire article explaining how to execute one, along with everything else you need to know. It's called: How to Hockey Stop On Skis Like a Pro.
person skiing on ice field

How Do the Stopping Methods Compare in Difficulty and Effectiveness?

Snowplough or PizzaEasyModerate
Wedged TurnModerateModerate
Parallel or HockeyDifficultMost Effective

Why Is Stopping the First Skill You Should Learn?

Without knowing how to stop, you can quickly become a runaway train. Mastering the snowplough should be your top priority, as you won't be able to progress much further without endangering yourself or others on the slope. It may be tricky at first, so be prepared for a few falls. But it won't take long before you're snowploughing like a champ and progressing towards the wedged turn stop.

The hockey stop can wait a bit, as you need to get better at turning your wedged turns into more parallel turns before attempting to hockey stop. However, if you've got some experience doing it on skates, you'll pick it up much faster.

Why Shouldn't You Use Your Poles to Stop?

Many new skiers often try to use their poles to stop themselves, which is a mistake. Poles can easily become bent, and you can hurt yourself quite easily if you rely solely on your poles for stopping. Poles are great for stability and pushing off on your skis, but if you're going over 1-2 mph, planting your pole in the snow to stop yourself isn't a good idea. Snowplough first, then plant your poles second for extra stability.

What Is the Bonus "Ride Out the Turn" Method?

If you're going too fast to snowplough and need to stop but haven't yet mastered the other methods, you can deploy the "ride out the turn" method. It's simple but useful for new skiers who are losing control or need to avoid an obstacle.

  1. Place more weight on one ski and initiate a turn.
  2. Instead of linking the turn, keep skiing and ride across and uphill to slow yourself to a stop.
  3. The uphill gradient will slow you down faster than a snowplough on the downhill.
  4. Turn into the hill and use the uphill to dissipate your momentum.
  5. Aim for a parallel stance and stop completely by putting weight on your inner edges to prevent sliding sideways.

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid While Learning to Stop?

In my experience, beginners often make some common mistakes while learning to stop on skis. Being aware of these pitfalls can help you avoid them and become a more skilled skier.

  1. Leaning back: Make sure you maintain a balanced and slightly forward-leaning stance. Leaning back can cause you to lose control and make it harder to stop.
  2. Stiffening up: Try to stay relaxed and maintain flexibility in your knees and ankles. This will make it easier for you to control your skis and stop effectively.
  3. Looking down: Keep your head up and look where you want to go, not at your skis. This helps you maintain balance and better control your movements.

How Can You Build Confidence on the Slopes?

Gaining confidence on the slopes is essential for skiing success. Here are some tips to help you feel more at ease and in control while skiing:

  1. Take lessons: A qualified instructor can teach you proper techniques and give you valuable feedback to help you improve.
  2. Start small: Begin on gentle slopes and gradually progress to steeper terrain as your skills and confidence increase.
  3. Practice: The more time you spend on the slopes, the more comfortable and confident you'll become.
  4. Ski with friends or a group: Skiing with others can provide encouragement, support, and motivation.
  5. Learn to fall: Knowing how to fall safely can help you avoid injury and feel more at ease on the slopes.

What Are Some Effective Drills to Improve Your Stopping Techniques?

Practicing specific drills can help you refine your stopping skills and make you a more proficient skier. Here are a few exercises to try:

  1. One-ski stopping: Practice stopping with just one ski on. This drill helps you focus on applying pressure to the inside edge and improves your overall stopping technique.
  2. Gradual progression: Start by making small snowplough stops and gradually increase the angle of your skis and the pressure applied to the inside edges. This helps you gain a better understanding of how to control your speed effectively.
  3. Traversing: Practice traversing across the slope and stopping at different points. This exercise helps you become more comfortable with stopping in various situations and positions on the mountain.

Final Thoughts

There you have it; you now understand all the key ways to stop on the mountain. You're prepared and ready to go. Safe skiing, and enjoy the ride.

It only gets more fun from here.