One of the best things about skiing is that you can choose which of the many different styles and methods most appeals to you. Generally when people think of skiing they think of snow, but in fact you can skin on water, sand or grass. You can ski on hills or across flat terrain, and you can use either one ski or two. So let’s look at some of the diverse styles of skiing you might like to try.
There are two main types of snow skiing – alpine and Nordic. Alpine is downhill skiing, and Nordic is cross-country. The equipment and techniques used for the two disciplines are quite different. If you want to do both, you can, and many skiers enjoy both styles of skiing at different times of the year.
Although there are a number of differences, the main one is that Nordic ski boots are only attached to the ski at the toe end. The heel can be lifted from the ski, allowing the skier to use a striding motion. If you’re alpine skiing, your ski boots must be attached firmly to the ski at both the toe and heel, to allow maximum control at high speeds or during turns.
The equipment is different, particularly the ski boots and skis. Nordic skiers use flexible, low cut ski boots, which are quite different to the high, rigid boots that are appropriate for alpine skiing. Also, Nordic skis are thinner and longer, so that they glide easily over the snow.
When it comes to alpine skiing, there are plenty of disciplines to choose from. You can choose different skiing styles, such as mogul, powder, off and on piste, or there are specific skills such as free-style, speed skiing, telemark and ski jumping.
Powder skiing is often described as the ultimate experience by skiing enthusiasts. Snow that is light and dry is known as powder snow. Cutting through light, pristine powder is an amazing experience, and skiers will often go to extreme lengths if it means they can ski in powder. The techniques of power skiing are quite different to those used on groomed trails. Turns need to be more gradual, and the skier’s weight has to be kept further back on the skis. When powder skiing is done well it’s beautiful to watch the technical finesse required, and it’s often described as feeling like you’re floating on clouds.
If you’ve seen a ski run with lots of bumps, then you’ve seen moguls. These moguls form on a ski hill because so many skiers follow the same paths down the slope. On a busy hill, it’s possible for the hill to become covered in moguls, and skiing them well requires very specific techniques. Control is of high importance when skiing through moguls. Looking down at a hill full of moguls can be scary, but if you take them at a slight angle and use your downward pole as a pivot point, you’ll be okay. You need to pivot around the pole and use the spring action of your knees to ski over the mogul at the same time. It’s important to start at beginner levels with moguls, but a good preparation will prepare you for the excitement and fun of speed mogul skiing. Rhythm is the key, so it’s important to get into a rhythm with your turns to help you stay in control.
If you’re getting bored with the groomed trails of your favorite ski resort, then why not try some backcountry skiing? This can be a great way to see the outdoors in a way that most people never experience. It can be challenging, which also means that it can be dangerous. Most ski resorts give you access to ski patrols and other rescue services, but in the backcountry you’re on your own. Shelter might be miles away if a storm blows in. If you’re a strong skier and are well prepared, though, you may well find the challenge of backcountry skiing irresistible, and enjoy it without any mishaps.