For beginners, you can get the most out of your skiing lessons by keeping yourself informed of the different types of snow skiing you can learn. Indeed, you will find it useful to know all about the subject. Read up so that you can choose which kind of skiing to try first. You can ask your ski instructor to give you all the details about a certain skiing discipline.
For those already in the know, it would also help to have a review of the many ways you can ski so that you can look at what you still have to learn or improve with regards to your skiing abilities.
Here are the different types of skiing you should know about:
– Alpine Skiing
– Backcountry Skiing
– Cross-Country Skiing
– Extreme Skiing
– Freestyle Skiing
– New School Skiing
– Ski Jumping
– Ski Mountaineering
– Ski Touring
– Snow Kiting
– Speed Skiing
– Telemark Skiing
These disciplines all have their special part in making skiing a fascinating and exciting sport. You will find that as you master the art of one kind of skiing, you then look at what you still have to learn. The challenges of skiing are plenty and you can be sure that the sport will keep you busy.
But, before you go to and read about the different types of skiing, have a look at the different types of snow, so that you know what type of skiing will best suit the snow you have available.
– Corn Snow: This snow is granular and wet, and as the day wears on, it melts all the more and will result in a heavy and sloppy texture. This kind of snow is usually found during the spring season.
– Crud: This is the kind of snow that is piled upon other snow, has a packed and uneven texture. Really, this snow is powder that others have already skied on.
– Crust: This snow results when soft snow hardens at the top, thus producing a frozen crust. This may be caused by the melting and rehardening of the upper layer of snow. Basically, it happens when freezing rain and direct sunlight exists.
– Loose granular: As the name suggests, this is made up of snow pellets that is loose and small. This is usually a result of grooming icy or wet snow.
– Powder: This is, for most ski enthusiasts, the best kind of snow for skiing. The texture is light and soft and comes about due to freshly fallen snow.
– Slush: This comes about when the snow becomes wet and heavy because it is starting to melt. It is very difficult to ski in slush.
– Wet Granular: Snow that is common during spring time. This is very wet, wet enough to form a snowball.
Race downhill and feel the exhilarating cold wind on your face and the rush that only moving in speed can bring. Alpine racing can give you just that. In a nutshell, it really is all about skiing downhill. The European Alps has long since seen a lot of Alpine skiers. For more than 150 years now, this was a popular sport enjoyed by ski enthusiasts.
Alpine skiing came to be when ski elevators were invented. It was because of this that skiers were able to climb on top of a steep hill or elevation and woosh down the slope. Since then, people started to adapt the gear and techniques they once used for cross country skiing so that they can get as much enjoyment out of Alpine Skiing. The skiers also developed new techniques for turning and for using their poles so that they can conquer the challenge of the almost vertical terrain.
Alpine skiing can be a challenge since it will require the best of your coordination, as well as your ability to race downhill. This kind of skiing is only possible with mountain slopes, lots of snow and a great ski lift infrastructure.
What makes alpine skiing difficult is that you have to learn how to control the speed of your descent, as well as where you are heading. It is quite difficult to do this. For beginners, what one can do is to make a turn and then stop by pointing your skis inward. This technique is what is known as the snowplough. For those who are much more experienced, one can do the carve turn, which is done by rolling the knees while ensuring that the hips and upper body stay pointed down the hill.
The allure of Alpine Skiing is that the racers can get to speeds of over 130 kilometers per hour. Imagine the excitement of swooping down a 1,100 downhill trail in that speed!
As you become more experienced and more confident in Alpine Skiing, you will find yourself looking for steeper slopes. The steeper, the better. There are a lot of sheer drops in most of the major ski resorts.
This skiing discipline became officially part of the Olympic games in 1936. Races include the slalom (180 meter trails for men and 140 meter trails for women) and the downhill (1,100 meters for men and 800 meters for women). During the downhill competition, the skiers have to pass a certain gate. Those who are not able to pass the gate at the first run will have to climb up the slope in order to pass that gate, or else they are disqualified.
When there aren’t any of the ski infrastructures, such as a steep slope and ski lift, your option is the sport of backcountry skiing. With this type of skiing, you get down to the basics – what you can do and what nature has to offer. Because of this, backcountry skiing is best done by those who have more expertise and experience as you may have to ski in various snow conditions. We have to warn you of this, since this type of skiing will really call on what you know about the sport. You need to be the type who’s a good navigator, has a reasonably fit body and is self-reliant. You should also have sufficient knowledge in keeping warm in extremely cold weather. This is because the possibilities of getting caught in an accident or of getting lost increase with every step you take away from the safe enclave of the ski resort. Consider this before you even venture off-piste.
That said, backcountry skiing will be an experience you will want to have over and over again. Indeed, it will not only relax you, it will give you a greater appreciation of skiing. You not only get to enjoy the view and the terrain, but also the feeling of greater privacy. Just imagine the sight of fresh fallen snow framed by mountains fringed with green. Also, unlike skiing through marked-off pistes, backcountry skiing will help you eliminate the hassle of having to jostle for space along with the crowd. Now how’s that for an attraction, nature coupled with solitude? Not bad, eh?
This, and the need to find powdery snow, is what pushes ski enthusiasts to go backcountry skiing. Usually, you will be the first one to ski on that snow. Yes, skiing without competition – being able to chart your own trail! That is the beauty of backcountry skiing.
Backcountry skiing is also known as off-piste skiing and ski touring, although the range is quite different. When doing some backcountry skiing, you may need to make more than one day trip or you may have to stay in one of the mountain huts provided.
When doing backcountry skiing, you should be equipped with the necessary equipment to keep you safe and prevent injury. There are ski equipment that are specially designed for the purpose of backcountry skiing. The necessity of having the right equipment cannot be overemphasized. Ill-fitting equipment can spell disaster when you go off to a backcountry skiing stint. Also, be prepared for the possibility of avalanches.
Cross-country skiing is a popular discipline in the world of skiing. In fact, it is the oldest form of skiing. Its other names include “skate skiing” and “Nordic skiing”. Enthusiasts of all ages and physical fitness levels have enjoyed this type of skiing for so many generations now. And this will be enjoyed by a lot more in the years to come.
This type of skiing is, simply put, walking or running, except this time, you have your skis on. For cross-country skiing, the skis you will use are narrow and long. The tips of the skis’ front are slightly curved up. You also lace up your ski boots the same way you lace up your running shoes. As for the ski poles, the ones you will use here are quite long, often taller than or quite as tall as your height. These poles will be quite useful for pushing you off and for you to increase your speed.
Cross-country skiing is officially included as a winter sport in the Winter Olympics. This, in fact, is a traditional event. This type of skiing calls for strength and endurance. It requires the use of all of your major muscle groups, but the good news is that because of its heavy physical requirements, it is able to get rid of quite a lot of calories for every hour you indulge in it.
With the introduction of ski lifts, cross-country skiing lost some of its popularity, as people discovered the thrill of Alpine skiing. However, cross-country skiing eventually found its way up the popularity chart. It has long since been an official part of the Olympic events. Many an avid skier has competed for the gold in this discipline. There are quite a number of ski races that use this discipline – they range from the short 1-kilometer ski run and the 50 kilometer run, which is the longest. There are individual competitions as well as group competitions (such as the 4x1k cross-country skiing relay).
Cross-country skiing is about skiing in trails that differ in length and difficulty. Some skiers even go out and stay out for more than a day. They usually come equipped with camping equipments such as tents and rations. For the others who are more safety conscious, the trip would not be that far away from the well-maintained trails of the ski resorts.
As for your skis, you should also make sure that they are properly waxed, as speed is of the essence in this type of skiing.
For extreme skiing, the motto is, “The steeper, the more dangerous, the better.”
Extreme skiing is a version of downhill skiing, but the requirements are definitely not for the faint of heart. These usually are done on enormous drop-off cliffs (with slopes of around 45 to 60 degrees), with flips, turnovers and spins are pretty much the norm. Mix these with natural obstacles, fancy maneuvers and the fresh yet ungroomed snow, and you have one thrilling ride.
Extreme skiing enthusiasts will risk limb and even life just to be able to indulge in the luxury of whooping down a sheer, snowy cliff and earn the right to proudly say to others, “I did this. And man, it was awesome!”
Some forms of extreme skiing include skiing out of bounds and heli-skiing. There are even some foolhardy souls that do cross-country skiing with a working chainsaw. The thrill they get from the danger is what drives them to take such enormous risks. The challenge of being able to negotiate a difficult turn also adds to the attraction.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains is, according to some sources, the place where extreme skiing had its beginnings. The White Mountains’ deep snow and rough terrain provided such an exciting experience that many skiers were enthralled by the idea.
During the 1970s, the words “Extreme Skiing” was coined by the French to describe this exciting type of skiing. Indeed “Le Ski Extreme” was popularized by daredevils who are widely acclaimed in the history of this type of skiing. Sylvain Saudan, a Swiss national, thought up the skiing style called the “Windshield Wiper”. What made the move even more popular is the fact that Saudan used this maneuver to ski on slopes that were exceptionally hard to negotiate. Other names include Bill Briggs (who swooped down the precipitous Grand Teton), Anselme Baud and Patrick Valencant. Another name renowned in the world of extreme skiing is Glen Plake, who, with his distinctive Mohawk added more pizzazz to the sport.
One must note, however, that the French kind of extreme skiing is different from the one being referred to in American English terms. “Le Ski Extreme” is more on skiing on steep slopes, while Extreme Skiing as understood in American English is more on dangerous and daring stunts one can do while skiing.
Currently, extreme skiing (the French kind) has its own following and even its very own World Championship.
A word of warning – DO NOT try anything if you are not sure you have what it takes to do the stunts. Even some of the experts have died because of one wrong turn or one unlucky move. The ability to control your movements absolutely is of utmost importance, for the sake of your safety. Another consideration would be your physical condition. It is recommended that you are in tip top shape for this skiing discipline.
In addition, the need for the finest protective gear cannot be overemphasized. You should come equipped with back protection, boot bags, a ski helmet and excellent ski boots.
Flying with skis.
This is the basic concept of freestyle skiing. People who do freestyle skiing try their best to be on the air for the longest time and during that time, they try to do as much stunts or tricks as they can.
The rush of adrenalin you get from doing the stunts as you are whizzing through the air is fair exchange for all the efforts you will have to exert in order to indulge in this skiing disciple. Not only should you know how to ski, you should also know how to do stunts such as 180 to 360-degree spins, off-axis fronts and back flips. Other tricks include the backwards landing switch, helicopters, extensions and grabs.
Freestyle skiing started around the 1930s, and took inception in Norway, where the skiers tried doing stunts while completing their cross-country and alpine training. The enthusiasts who made this discipline more popular include Seth Morison, Trevor Peterson, Kristen Ulmer and Wendy Fisher. These are known to zip down slopes that have an incline of some 50 degrees.
Freestyle skiing events are as follows:
1. Aerials: This is simple an awesome sight. Imagine skiers doing flips with as many as four twists, a variety of aerial stunts as well as a well-executed landing. It is sure to elicit a wow! A word of warning, though. Do not try this at home!
2. Acro: With this, skiers are made to perform a routine as they ski down the trail. The routine is comprised of acrobatic moves such as somersaults and spins.
3. Big Air: This is a further development to the aerials. Adding to the excitement is the fact that the two forms of aerials – the inverted and the uprights – are required in this event. Jumps and maneuvers include misty flips, quarter pipes, twists and spins, table tops, floaters and rodeos. This is so fascinating to watch.
4. Moguls: In a nutshell, this is about speed and style. On a steep trail, skiers are judged according to the speed and grace by which they negotiate the slope, as well as two upright jumps (basically inverted jumps and off axis jumps). The moguls are actually bumps that the skiers have to deal with. The mogul is the first event in freestyle skiing that is awarded an Olympic medal. Skiers’ scores are based on how they performed their takeoffs, jumps and landings.
5. Dual moguls: this is the moguls times two. Two skiers go head to head as they simultaneously compete on parallel mogul courses.
Other freestyling events and forms also make use of the skercross, halfpipe and slopestyle, which are primarily maneuvers used in snowboarding.
Heliskiing is all about finding the best snow conditions so that one can have the ultimate experience in alpine skiing. As the name suggests, it makes use of a helicopter to get the necessary altitude to ski off-piste. That way, the avid skier can forget about waiting in line at the ski lift and just search for a suitable place by which he can ski. That means that the skier can have the stating point of his choice instead of having to start at the usual area that is outlined by the ski lifts. With heliskiing, you can ski in spots that were once inaccessible. Thus, you can have the freshest snow – the deepest powder that is so pristine there is no single track you can see.
Heliskiing is another version of extreme skiing, although it is more about getting the perfect kind of snow and not about the steepness of the slope. If you are in luck, you can have both. And what a thrill this can be! That is why heliskiing is pursued with passion by avid skiers (and even snowboarders), since you have the freedom to choose your trail and the power to have it all by yourself. You can have as many runs down a specific spot without having to make the dreary trip by ski lift up the slope.
The ski enthusiast, Hans Gmoser was the one who had the grand idea of providing this service in Canada, at the Bugaboo Range located in British Columbia. It wasn’t long for the people in the US, Europe, New Zealand and other parts of Canada to catch on and pursue this type of skiing with a passion.
Of course, this pastime is considerably expensive. It also requires that your skiing skills and physical fitness are up to par with the challenge of skiing in an unmarked trail, with unexpected obstacles cropping up all the time. This means that you have to have experience in dodging unexpected obstacles and you have to have absolute control over your movements. Thus, heliskiing is definitely not for beginners.
There are risks to heliskiing. As an extreme sport, you will be exposing yourself to the danger of avalanche plus the risk of hitting obstacles such as a large rock or a tree.
Usually, helicopters that are used in heliskiing come equipped with a storage area where you can stow away your equipment, such as your skis. As for how you can avail of this sport, you can contact private companies that offer this service. When booking in the United States, check to see if the company has a membership with the US Heli Ski Association. That way, you are assured of quality and dependable service.
New school skiing makes the best out of the “free” in freestyle skiing. It does away with the conventional ideas about the need for aerials and moguls. It is mostly about doing a variety of tricks and stunts while careening down a slope. New School skiing started out as some skiers’ response to all the rules and regulations that restricted freestyle skiers from doing what they wanted. Back then, the Federation International of Skiing (FIS) had set rules and boundaries to freestyle skiing as a sport. It declared that the competitor should not perform tricks during mogul runs and only allowed a limited number of flips in aerial competitions. Some skiers were unhappy with these regulations and wanted more avenues where they can show their creativity and freedom. Thus, one can say that the new school movement in skiing was a breakaway group of freestyle skiers who did not want to abide by FIS regulations. The first new school skiers discovered that they can do a lot more stunts and tricks if they use the terrain parks previously dedicated to the snowboarders. During that time, the ski resorts’ snowboard-only terrains were equipped with all kinds of devices for stunts – halfpipes, rails, jumps, fun moxes and hips.
The skis used for new school skiing is called the twin-tip skis. They are turned up not just at the front but also at the back so that you can ski forward and backwards. The terrain used for new school skiing includes step up jumps (jumps where there are higher landings than takeoffs), stepdown jumps (jumps where there are lower landings than takeoffs), gaps (a big gap exists between the take off point and the landing) and other devices such as boxes, rails, walls and jibs. In addition, new school skiing makes use of hip jumps (where the landing is on the take off side), tabletop jumps (which is a trapezoid shape device that allows you to take up at the starting point, soar through the air and then land on a downward slope), and the spine, where the landing is on both sides of the take off. Again, it must be emphasized that this skiing discipline can only be indulged in by the more expert skiers. The risk of injury by making all those jumps and aerial maneuvers is, of course, substantial, when compared to skiing on a normal slope. Proper equipment should also be used. Aside from the twin-tip skis, you should have all the equipment that will ensure you safety even as you have, we dare say, the greatest fun of your life.
Ski jumping involves performing jumps during a sporting event. The usual criteria for winning would be the distance covered and points earned during the jump. This is not exclusively for snow skiing, as you can also use water skiing to indulge in this type of skiing. So, this is a combination of style, grace and one’s ability to propel himself as far as he can in the air. Of course, the landing is also an important aspect in ski jumping, as the skier has to make sure that he executes an upright landing.
Ski jumping features a take-off ramp. The skier goes down the hill, accumulating speed at the descent. He then uses the take-off ramp to thrust his body onto the air.
As for equipment, skis for ski jumping are generally long and wide. They do not have solid binders that are used for other types of skiing. This time, the skis are only attached to the skier’s toes to allow for lightness and increased ability to drive oneself through the air.
The Norwegian who is renowned as the father of ski jumping started this skiing discipline in the 1860’s. As viewers watched astounded, he was able to soar through the air by jumping over a rock. He jumped a height of 30 meters without using any ski poles. This feat became the record to beat for almost three decades.
Another figure that is prominent in the world of ski jumping is Thulin Thams. During the first winter Olympics, he won a gold medal because of his new technique. Dubbed the Kongsberger, this technique enabled Thams to jump for over 100 meters. Eventually, ski jumpers developed a technique of maintaining the shape of a V while soaring through the air. This same technique won for Andreas Goldberger, an Austrian, the record of become the first person to soar up to 200 meters. He performed this feat in 1994.
For the Olympic event of Ski Jumping, the boots are the kind that is low cut at the front. This will enable the skier to lean forward, for as much as he possibly could. The ski is strictly based on how tall the skier is. The proportion would be that the ski length should not exceed 146% of the skier’s height, with the binding ensuring that at most 57% of the ski is used as the front section. There is a cord that connects the ski to the boots, this makes sure that there is minimum wobbling as the skier flies through the air.