Learn To Ski in A Day: A Comprehensive Guide

by Robert Stanley | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

The question all novice skiers ask themselves: Is it possible to learn how to ski in a day? The short answer is yes! Now, don't expect to be hitting the black diamond slopes on your first day, but you can definitely learn how to ski down green slopes without wiping out.

All beginners have to start somewhere and the easiest thing for the first master is learning to simply stand up without falling over takes about an hour. The next and most exciting part is skiing down a slope and making turns will take a day or two depending on how confident you are on your skis. Add a week or two to improve your turns and you'll be off exploring more challenging parts of the mountain.

Newbie Skiers

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Keep in mind, that a large part of skiing is building up your confidence, muscles, and technical abilities. It can take years to develop the skillset for jumping, off-piste terrain, or hitting up the moguls, but that's half the fun of skiing! None of us are perfect and we're all constantly learning to polish our technical abilities.

Yes, you can learn to ski in a day

A lot of people seem to think that skiing is a breeze. Maybe they're thinking about how it looks on TV in the winter Olympics, or maybe they've seen someone do it before and don't know it might have been a fluke. Regardless, there's more to skiing than you might think. To keep your balance on skis and stay upright, you need coordination between your upper and lower body, as well as control over both legs at the same time- something not everyone can handle from their first try!

Main Factors That Impact Your Learning

Ski learning is a matter of days if you are young, a quick learner, and have a high level of agility. Not everyone has natural athletic abilities, but don't be put off by this! It may take a week or two to learn the basics of skiing, but it's much like riding a bike - once you learn how to do it, you never forget!


One of the best things about skiing is that you can learn how to ski at any age. Little ones as young as 3 will sweep past you with their parents in close tow and skiers in their golden years taking in the magnificent views from the top of the mountain. However, skiing takes a lot of energy, so it's harder on the body the older you get.

Physical Fitness & Strength

You can ski even if you aren't in shape, but the more fit you are, the faster you will pick it up. Interestingly enough, young skiers tend to learn how to ski much faster as they're not as scared of getting hurt as older learners. The key to learning how to ski is confidence and courage!


Photo by Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Having a good sense of balance will always help in any sport, but especially so with skiing. You can improve your sense of balance by:

  • Strengthening the muscles in your lower body by walking, biking, and climbing up and downstairs.
  • Practicing yoga strengthens and stretches your muscles and improves your overall posture.
  • Do squats to make your leg and pelvis muscles stronger.

Your Learning Timeline at a Glance

The time it takes is determined by the criteria above. However, here's what the average first-time skier may expect from their first few days to weeks on the slopes.

First Few Hours

When starting out any new hobby, the first few hours are always the hardest. With skiing, you'll be learning how to put on your ski boots and walk about with them. Moreover, you will learn to insert your ski boot into your skis and how to walk on your skis, slide down a modest slope, and stop.

Similarly, you'll get used to the sensation of your skis gliding across the snow after a few more runs. You can start practicing the well-known snowplow or pizza stop when you're ready. Moreover, you can start using your first ski lift, generally the magic carpet, once you're acquainted with the fundamental snowplow posture to slow and eventually come to a halt.

All beginners will learn how to jump on and off a magic carpet - trust me, you don't want to tire yourself out on the first day by walking to the top of a slope with your skis. You might stumble the first few times as you hop off the magic carpet, but you'll quickly get the hang of it!

Throughout the morning, you'll build up your confidence and gradually get the hang of skiing down the learner's slope and come to a complete halt.

Photo by Marco licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Day 1

How are your legs today? Don't be surprised if you have trouble standing up the following day! If you're still able to hit the slopes, you'll find yourself transitioning from the magic carpet to your first green slope via the chairlift. On day 1, you'll learn to:

On the first day, you may also begin to learn how to make your first snowplow turns. By putting more weight on one foot than the other, you will learn how to go to the left or right of the slope. In a ski lesson, you'll be in a duck line behind your teacher, and he'll be explaining how to transfer your weight to force you to change direction.

Day 2-4

By now you will have developed a solid snowplowing technique. Your snowplow will spin to the left and right and become tighter and more wedged, with your skis closer together. You will now learn zig-zagging down the green slopes by combining your turns.

This next stage of learning to ski is all about building up your confidence. Everything that you learned on your first day will act as muscle memory while you commit to each turn. Your legs might feel like jelly, so make sure to take breaks between runs and never push yourself more than you feel comfortable with. That's how most accidents occur!

Even the most confident novice skiers will fall over, so an important thing to learn is how to fall over without hurting yourself. You don't want to be that person that gets injured on the first few days of a ski trip.

You will also learn the basics of edge control by tilting the edge of your skis to glide downhill before flatting back up to come to a stop. This is a parallel slide that will take a few runs to get the hang of, but it'll become the foundational technique when you reach an intermediate ski level.

Day 5-10

Now you're confident about your skills and it's time to learn to do a parallel turn. Most skiers will find that they'll have a preferred side when it comes to executing parallel turns. Working on your weaker side is where you'll want to focus for the next few days. But focusing on just one thing is boring, so you can also work on doing your first hockey stop and learn to dig in with the edges for a quicker finish.

Day 10-20+

You can now confidently parallel ski and come to a complete halt. Similarly, you can watch ahead and plan your maneuvers to prevent collisions with others. Your turns will become more fluid, and you will learn to lean more into them. You will now understand parallel ski and hockey stop and not be afraid of fast skiers surrounding you, and you can turn quickly. You've learned so much over the past few weeks that the best thing to do next is to concentrate on developing your technique. Make that carved turn that much smoother. Learn how to spray your friends with snow as you come to a halt. Gather up the courage and hit up the snowpark.

Day 20+

During this phase, you will practice tighter parallel turns and intermediate maneuvers. You've gone a long way, but you soon realize how much more to learn.  So what's next? This next phase will depend on what draws you the most. If you're after adventure, perhaps off-piste skiing (with a professional guide) is on your list. Maybe you want to learn how to jump and do tricks in the ski park.

3 Tips For First Time Skiers

1. Get the Right Equipment.

The list of equipment needed to go skiing is a long one. Gloves, goggles, boots, skis, and poles are the basics. Depending on your skill level you might also need ski clothes that will keep you warm and dry while outside in various weather conditions or carrying them up the mountain.

You can hire most of this from ski shops, so no need to buy everything before your first ski trip.

You will also need some sort of protection for your head: either a helmet or hat with ear protectors depending if you're skiing downhill or cross country. Finally, don't forget sunscreen & ski insurance.

Ski in A Day
Photo by gbsngrhm licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

2. No one Regrets Learning to Ski

At the end of the day, it's completely up to the individual when it comes to learning how to ski. Of course, factors such as your level of fitness, sense of balance, and who your teacher is all come into play. If you're thinking about whether to learn how to ski or not, just do it!

It's a truly rewarding snowsport that you can do throughout your life. No one ever regrets learning to ski, and it is only a matter of effort and time you put into it. The more you ski, the easier it becomes, so what are you waiting for? We'll see you on the slopes!

3. Patience & Practice

Some people learn to ski in a day. But for those of us who are not so naturally gifted on skis, it can take many days and even weeks before we feel confident enough to venture out into the mountains alone. The good news is that you don’t have to be born with an innate skiing ability; anyone can learn! It just takes some patience and confidence to start.

Taking the First Steps

The first step to skiing is getting the basic skills down. From there, you can work on building your stamina and endurance for longer periods of time out on the snow - all while taking in some spectacular views.