Is Skiing Hard or Easy? (Here’s The Truth)

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

The process of learning to ski is subjective, and there is no way to tell if one will find it a struggle or find it a cinch to get going. There are several boxes one can tick or cross, to give a better idea of how an individual is going to fare in the early stages.

The argument about the difficulty when it comes to sport is a challenge, and with the number of variables, combined with innate abilities like balance and the understanding of speed generation makes it difficult to differentiate. Still, there are a few elements that allow us to make a more definite analysis, which we do in the following discourse on how hard the sport actually is. Read on to find out just how difficult it all is.

ski school

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Ski Snowboard Cross Big Final
Photo by Vegar Samestad Hansen under CC BY 2.0

Background Check

There are three essential elements to look at, to see how hard skiing is going to be for an individual.

1. Boarding History

Anyone with experience in riding a board or participating in a board sport will have a massive advantage. This experience will result in a better understanding of balance better than most.

Skateboarding, surfing, kiteboarding, skimboarding, and wakeboarding are all going to leave excellent skills behind that will help along the way to becoming a competent skier.

2. Snow Experience

It may seem trifling, but people who do not grow up experiencing snow and all its different characteristics sometimes battle with learning to ski. There are learner skiers who can recognize the different types of snow.

They can differentiate between powder and ice before the get-go and will be at a distinct advantage when it comes to the early days of the learning cycle.

3. Level of Fitness

Only fools believe that skiing comprises relaxing on a ski lift going up the slopes, before cruising with gravity on the way down. Many muscles get used when screaming down a hill with fresh powder, and unfit people are going to struggle on the slopes.

The most important muscles used are the leg muscles, so for those that do not run or cycle or do some cardio, they are going to be in pain after day one, and this will most definitely flatten the learning curve somewhat.

Learning To Ski: The Cheat Sheets

There are several ways to make it more comfortable before arrival at the slopes. They might seem like common sense on paper, but if they were then more people would put them into practice and not suffer as they do the first time around.

1. Get The Correct Beginner's Equipment

Skiing novices must treat themselves as novices. Get some forgiving beginner skis, and make sure there is all the necessary gear needed, including goggles and a helmet. Make sure that there is enough warm clothing, and that everything fits snugly.

There's nothing worse than ski gear that's too tight, or even worse, too loose. No one wants to take in snow, and no one wants to chafe with loose-fitting clothing. There's always plenty of time to find the best-fitting equipment.

2. Go Straight To A Ski School

Even with some board sports and fitness experiences, there's nothing better than a few lessons from a ski school. The best thing that they do is they get to make sure that newbies do not learn any bad habits because those are the things that can scupper skills further down the line.

There are a few simple tips and rules that will hold a beginner in good stead, and a message from a professional ski instructor is most likely going to stick.

3. Work On Core Muscles

The most important muscles for skiing are the core muscles. They help to maintain balance, and they help to keep a healthy back. Both are quintessential aspects of skiing. Going into skiing with a strong core puts one ahead of anyone else learning to ski for the first time.

Fatigue is one of the negative aspects of learning to ski because there are so many muscles used, and some of them do not typically get activated. A strong core will take care of all of this.

4. Don't Panic

While 'don't panic' might be the phrase on the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, it is also the most important mantra to have in your head while learning how to ski.

Quite frankly, it can get a bit scary at times, and when one starts going and starts sliding down a hill, it is really easy to start going quite fast quite quickly.

Panicking can make this so much worse, so the best advice ever is not to panic. Just run with it and go with the flow, and skiing will reveal itself as not that hard. It's more about harnessing different elements, like gravity and friction, and making them work for you.

5. Get Fit

It doesn't seem like a big deal, but the worst decision to make is to get to the slopes intent on a mission of learning to ski, at a deep level of unfitness. Skiing doesn't miraculously make someone fit. An unfit beginner will be sore and will run the risk of serious injury.

Embarking on a learning program while properly unfit, then skiing is going to be very hard. Difficult to learn, and challenging to upskill and get going with friends.

It will be infinitely harder to learn, and the sport will be unbearably tricky, leading to despair. Instead, go in with a base level of fitness, and a base level of looseness and stretching, and it will turn the sport from a hard one to an easy one.

6. Carry a Backpack

The one certainty about going skiing is that there is a guarantee that the weather will change every day. Sometimes it is going to be bluebird sky and sunshine and other times it is going to be dumping snow, windy and cold.

The best advice about the climate is to carry a backpack on the slopes. It will help when things get a bit dank.

Carry some spare ultra-thin clothes and maybe something to drink. Perhaps even pack a day lunch and save a king's ransom from the restaurants on the slopes, and maybe stop off and grab a beer or a quick Jager along the way.

Put a map of the resort in the bag, along with phones, and make sure that it does not sit low down. If there is an emergency stop and end up needing to sit down abruptly. Nothing worse than squashed sandwiches except maybe a squashed phone.

7. Learn with A Buddy

ski with friends

The best way to quickly accelerate learning processes when it comes to skiing is to go skiing with a buddy. That person needs to be a peer so that there are fun times together. Learn together, and if with a mate and things go wrong, then at least there is a backup. Backup to dig someone out of a hole, or to drag someone across some powder.

On top of this, if there is mutual laughter among the wiping-out, at least there's still fun. There will be no acknowledgment of how hard it has been to get to grips with the very basics and not fixating on mistakes results in a quicker learning curve.

The other good thing about learning with a friend is comparing notes, figuring out together how some of the equipment works, and making better decisions on slopes, routes, and degrees of difficulty. When it comes to describing how hard it is to learn to ski, remember that the best skier out there is the one having the most fun.