Is Skiing Hard?
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Is Skiing Hard?

The main attributes needed for skiing are good balance, good spatial awareness and good coordination. The most difficult thing about learning to ski is keeping your balance as you turn – pointing your skis downhill and holding on for dear life is easy, though this is not advised, and your day on the slopes won’t last very long if this is your plan.

I think one of the reasons skiing is considered easier to learn initially than snowboarding is because of the freedom of having your feet free to move independently, as opposed to snowboarding where your feet are strapped to a board. This gives you a final lifeline of readjusting your feet, to save yourself from falling in case you do lose your balance at any point. Keeping your balance while you ski is often the first thing taught when you begin lessons. If good balance, good coordination, and good spatial awareness aren't exactly your forte, don’t worry, they can certainly be developed and improved. In the winter sports world, the classic phrase 'skiing is easy to learn hard to master, while snowboarding is hard to learn and easy to master’ is partly true in relation to the two sports, but by no means does this imply that skiing is easy, or that most people don’t need lessons! Having worked in various ski rental shops around the world for a few years, I have been asked the question "Is skiing hard?", many times each day from prospective skiers, often with the implication of "will I need to spend money on lessons or not?" The answer to this question is dependent upon quite a few different factors including your natural aptitude for sports, what sports you have tried before or are already good at, and your patience to learn.

Similar sports to skiing

As mentioned above, there are certain sports which if you are good at, will be a massive boost when it comes to learning to ski. Examples of these sports are fairly intuitive such as ice/ roller skating, surfing or skate boarding, alongside other sports involving balance and learning to shift your body weight. Even cycling will probably give you the balance to put you in a good position to learn to ski.

Different types of ski slopes

If you look at a map for any ski resort around the world, you will notice a variety of colourful lines going from the top of the mountain to the bottom. These lines represent different ski slopes or "pistes’ for this resort which are prepared (normally each night) for you to ski on. The different colours show the relative difficulty of each slope in terms of steepness, narrowness and other factors. You will notice more often than not, that most of the pistes near the foot of the mountain are green, while as you get near to the top of the mountain, the pistes are generally red or black, with some blue runs scattered around the mountain as well. The green pistes are the beginner slopes and therefore the easiest, the next level up being the blue pistes for intermediates which are more difficult, the red pistes for advanced skiers are a bit more difficult again, and finally the black pistes are the most difficult slopes around, and should only be attempted by expert or very experienced skiers! Small piece of advice: even if a piste doesn’t look too difficult at the start despite being labelled as a back piste, there is usually a good reason for it being labelled as expert, and this reason may be waiting just around the corner, out of sight of the start, where you are stood. A black piste may be labelled as such because of a short, particularly difficult stretch of the piste towards the end. I speak from experience, in my early days of learning to ski!

Fitness and exercise

You would be forgiven for thinking that skiing is just sliding down a mountain on two pieces of wood/plastic/metal, and therefore can’t be too strenuous or require too much effort. While this may be true if you would prefer to do one or two runs in the morning, then sit and drink coffee for the rest of the day, for those of you who plan to complete a full day of skiing, you will be surprised at how tired you find yourself in the evenings, with muscles in your legs and in your core that you didn’t even know existed! Skiing is very good for your fitness levels, and woo develop the muscles in your legs without you even realising! As with anything, you can’t get good at something without practise, and this is most definitely the case for skiing. Falling is a part of learning to ski and will happen for everyone from time to time. Even for people who have been skiing for many years, a fall is inevitable any time you try something new! The slower you go when you are learning, the safer you will be.