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Skiing Tips for Beginners from (former) Beginners

OK, so skiing is intimidating. The gear is expensive and technical, getting to the mountain if you don’t live nearby is a whole thing and if you didn’t learn how to ski as a kid, the prospect of sliding down a huge hill of snow with nothing but a couple of skinny poles and skis to keep you up is…scary, to say the least.

But here’s the truth: skiing is hella fun! I didn’t know how to ski until my 30s and now it’s my favorite way to spend time on the mountain in the winter. When I started out, I struggled to find relatable tips, especially since most people I knew either didn't ski or had skied for years.

Interested in learning how to ski but not sure where to start? This post is for you! We picked tips based on our actual experience learning how to ski over a few years.

This post is not intended to provide technical ski instruction or safety advice and Headlamp is not a professional ski organization.

Our Beginner Ski Tips (aka All the Stuff We Wish We Knew Before We Started Skiing)

Learn on a smaller, less touristy ski mountain. Avoid the “epic” big resorts if you can. They tend to be crowded and more expensive. On a smaller mountain, you’ll spend more time skiing and less time waiting in line for lifts.

Take a class. Skiing is a technical sport and can lead to injuries, so it’s worth learning the basic technique and safety before you get started. Your knees will thank you! After you've taken an intro class, you can turn to more cost-effective resources like YouTube or ski blogs to build your skillset. But we recommend starting with a class first to build your foundation. The first few times I went skiing, I tried to learn from my friends, but most of them had no experience teaching beginners. It wasn't until I took a class that I learned specific skills and techniques to help me navigate the mountain on my own. For your first time, consider taking a group class so you can meet other skiers at your level.

(Need help finding a program or class that works for you? Reach out to us!)

Embrace progression, not performance or speed. Skiing is hard and it takes time to build the right form. For your first few times, focus on making your turns, falling, looking ahead (not down) and getting comfortable with your confidence, speed and gear. Try to repeat runs, even if they start to feel easy. The repetition will build your confidence and skill!

Be mindful of others on the mountain. People ahead of you have the right of way. Make sure to get into the habit of looking uphill before you head down. As you are approaching others, make sure you feel in control of your speed.

As a beginner, it's easy to feel self-conscious on the mountain, especially as others swoop by you. Just remember that learning something new takes time, bravery and patience, especially as an adult.

Don’t have a car? Check to see if there are bus tours to ski resorts in your area. In the Bay Area, there are companies that offer shuttle service from San Francisco to ski resorts in Tahoe.

Rent or Borrow Gear. Yes, skiing is expensive. But there are a few ways you can cut down your costs. Before you buy anything, see if you can borrow or rent ski gear. Most mountain towns will have gear rentals and many resorts will offer packages that include equipment rental with a class. You can also join local ski-related Facebook groups to see if anyone is willing to lend their gear (although for safety equipment, like helmets and boots, we recommend renting from a professional ski shop).

Hydrate, bring snacks and take breaks. As a beginner, skiing can definitely feel like a workout. Don’t push yourself beyond your limit!

Skiing is supposed to be fun! Take plenty of goofy pictures and plan to do something celebrate after! Getting out to the mountain is a huge accomplishment.

Got more questions? Want to share your own tips or stories? Reach out to us!

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