If you’re just starting out skiing, then you probably have a lot of questions and a lot of skills you’re trying to master. When you see those seasoned pros gracefully winding down the mountainside, that is parallel skiing.
If you’re trying to learn how to get like them, then we have you covered. This guide will cover just how to parallel ski for beginners so you get started off on the right foot and excel quicker.
1. Start out on simpler slopes
This is pretty logical anyway. As is the case with just about any ski technique, you’ll want to start out on smaller gradients until you’ve mastered it (or at least feel comfortable enough to move on to steeper slopes). If you’ve already got wedge turns down, then you can progress into parallel turns.
Go back to the days when you were practicing the pizza and wedge positions. That is a great way to transfer into a parallel position. Simply place your attention on finishing the turn. Once you move the wedge into the fall line, let the skis move into a parallel position around the finish.
All you have to do is keep them parallel across the slope. If you are going too fast for your own comfort, simply slide into a wedge. As you start to become more comfortable with traveling at higher speeds, this is a good method to practice.
2. Focus on your boots
When you’re a newbie to skiing, it can be overwhelming trying to be aware of and control every part of your body. The good news is, that’s kind of unnecessary! All you have to do to learn how to parallel ski is focus on what’s inside your boots. Your shins, toes – everything inside your ski boots – is going to affect everything else.
Although it may feel natural or even more safe to bend at the knees, you must focus on flexing your ankles instead. While you can bend your knees, most people have the tendency to place your weight on the heels instead of the balls of the feet. This can make it easier to crash and harder to control your skis.
3. Keep your shins on your boots
The sides of your shins should be quite comfy in your boots. The amount of pressure on your shins will depend on how much control you want, as it is essentially leading the way. The more pressure you have against the boot, the more control you have. You can expect your shins to hurt a bit when you’re first starting out, but not to worry – this will go away soon enough and you’ll become immune to it. If you continue to have shin pain, go with ski socks that have shin padding.
4. Tighten up the wedge
If you want to start parallel skiing, learn of to tighten up the wedge. When you’re going into a turn, try to make a smaller V. While it does seem counterintuitive and may invoke a bit of fear, there’s no need to worry! When you’re going into a snow plow, simply place more weight on one foot. This foot will lead the turn while the other simply slides along next to it.
It’s the exact same method with a parallel turn.
5. Figure out the role of your skis
So, now that you know to place more weight on one ski than the other, which is working and which is passive? You’ll start out by pushing your shin against your boot of the working ski. During the parallel turn, the passive ski slides parallel to the other the entire turn.
We understand it can be a bit daunting learning parallel skiing, as it does mean you’ll be spending more time going straight down the slope. As you’re finishing your turn, simply switch to the other ski. Your passive ski is now the working one.
6. Take out the fall line
When you’re turning into the fall line and head down the slope, you’re going to go even faster. To avoid speeding out of control right down the mountain, you must pay attention to your turn shape. Try to avoid sharp “Z” turns and opt for smooth “S” turns instead. To do this, try to gently push your shin into the boot instead of making sudden moves.
7. Link your turns
This consists of switching over the roles of your skis at the end of your turn, as we mentioned a few steps up. As you’re finishing up, the lower ski is working while the upper is passive. To link, you simply switch these while focusing inside your boots as we explained previously.
If you want to get better, there’s no substitute from getting up the mountain and driving downhill and practicing. However, there are other ways to help yourself. You can get on a flat area, standing with your feet hip width apart. Start to move your shins against your boots just a bit on the left, then on the right.
You’ll feel your skis start to push into the snow instead of them sliding around. Here, you can notice one of your big toes and one of your pinky toes pushing into the boots. Once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to a slight gradient, placing importance on the big toe pushing into your boot on the working ski and the passive with the pinky toe.
9. Switch at the same time
We’ve now covered switching off roles quite a few times now, but it’s crucial to remember that this must be done simultaneously. This is a controlled movement that may take a few times to get comfortable with.
Now that you’ve read through our entire guide, do you have a solid idea of how to do a parallel turn for beginners? We know it may sound like a process, and it is – but you’ll pick it up quickly, we know it! It just takes a bit of practice, but it’s just like riding a bike. Once you have it down, you’ll likely never have to re-learn it again. Thanks for staying tuned with us, and we’ll see you again shortly. Be sure to get in ski shape, it will help you control your skis even more.