Aspen Logo

Ski Pro Tips For Skiing At Every Level

We tapped the best ski Pros in the business to give you a leg up on the slopes.

Ski pro offers tips at Aspen Highlands

By Catherine Lutz
Published December 2022

Beginners to a sport benefit from teaching, but you don’t have to be a beginner to learn something new. In skiing, learning at every level opens opportunities and the freedom and joy that comes with progression.

“As you develop as a skier, you’ll see things on the trail map that you didn’t even know were there, and the mountain will get that much bigger,” says Audra Schmidt, a ski Pro and lead trainer at Aspen Snowmass. “It’s like a video game—with each level it unlocks different aspects of the mountain.”

Schmidt and Darnell Rose, a ski and snowboard Pro based on Aspen Mountain, offer tips for skiing at every level.

Beginner skiers at Aspen Snowmass

Beginner skiers at Aspen Snowmass

Green Level

Adjust Expectations

When you’re just starting out, it’s normal for ski boots to feel alien, if not uncomfortable at times. Plan to adjust your boots multiple times a day when you’re first learning to figure out what’s comfortable and what you need for support. Don’t put up with any pain—if something doesn’t feel right, adjust the boots or have someone adjust them for you.

Baby Steps

The first day is about learning to walk and getting comfortable sliding on skis, which is the hardest part as far as energy and exertion goes. Once you’ve learned the basics, expect the second time you get on skis to be that much easier because of the work you put in the first day.

Just Breathe

You’re nervous and self-conscious, and everything feels weird. The most important thing for learning is to breathe and relax—a tense, stiff body won’t work well in skiing. And have fun!

Body Position

A proper body position is key before you start moving. Begin in an athletic stance: hips over feet, knees slightly bent, shoulders and head over hips. This puts you in a strong and flexible position to move forward and turn. And always, always look where you’re going.


Skiing is all about your body telling the skis what to do through movements. So, it’s important to focus on what your body is doing, and how that affects the skis. Begin by focusing on one movement at a time—if you think of too many things at once, your body will stiffen.

Pole Position

Ditch the poles when learning how to ski. Besides having less to think about when loading and unloading the lift, going pole-less lets you focus on your legs—particularly knees, ankles, and feet—which is where all the action is.


The turn is the fundamental move in skiing, and today’s skis are specifically designed to turn. You’ll likely start out with a wedge turn. With shins pressed against the front of your boots and while moving slowly, push the backs of your skis out into a V shape. Push them out wide and you’ll stop completely, so keep some momentum, then put more weight on your left foot and turn it slightly inward, pushing the left ski outward to turn to the right. Do the opposite for a left turn. Keep turning to slow down and eventually stop.

Ski instructor leads a group down a blue run at Aspen Mountain

Ski instructor leads a group down a blue run at Aspen Mountain

Blue Level

Make a Plan

When you’re ready to move on to the next level, make sure you’ve mastered the skills in your current level, and know what you need to do to get there. For example, get comfortable standing on your edges before moving to a steeper slope—a wedge won’t work there. And, make sure you know how to link your turns well on flatter terrain before getting to steeper terrain.

Remember the Ankles

Although your knees mostly drive a turn, your ankles also play an important part: They have to flex, too. So, relax the ankles and feel them flex throughout the turn, helping drive the skis around.

Hugging Hands

While legs do all the steering, your arms and hands help you stay on course. Keep your hands out in front of you where you can see them in your peripheral vision—like they’re on a large steering wheel or you’re about to give someone a hug. Pair this with relaxed shoulders and your body will stay in the proper position: hips and shoulders over ankles, shins pressuring the front of the boot. If your hands drop to your sides, it tends to push you into the backseat, from which it’s very difficult to make smooth turns and control your speed.

Capital C

To achieve smooth, round, in-control turns, imagine drawing a capital “C”. Using proper balance and flex, pressure the outside ski around until you’ve carved that letter, feeling yourself slow down between the middle and end of the turn as it curves up.

Tip It

When making turns on a steeper slope, tip the skis on edge first, using your knees to start the tip. This movement will engage the edge and make the skis carve—and your job becomes staying balanced over the skis as they turn.

Skid Steer

Graduating from groomed to ungroomed terrain? Learn how to sideslip or skid to control your speed when you don’t have the space or ability to turn. You’ll use skidding a lot in moguls, as well as trees or other tight terrain.

Double Trouble

One of the hardest conditions to master is the double fall line, which is when the slope angles both downhill and side to side (meaning if it were smooth, a ball would roll down the run diagonally). Look ahead, and feel the way the hill is pulling you—a double fall line will take more effort to turn one direction and feel almost like a free fall turning the other direction. Once you learn to anticipate getting pulled down and sideways, you can adjust your body movements accordingly.

Feel It, Believe It

Progression requires awareness, and in skiing, that means hyper-awareness of everything your body is doing to affect your skiing. For example, you need to be able to feel the difference between a carved turn and a skidded turn—as well as why it’s happening—whether you want to correct the move or improve it. If you feel what your body and the skis are doing, that’s the first step to getting better.

Skiers enjoy powder and bumps at Aspen Highlands

Skiers enjoy powder and bumps at Aspen Highlands

Black Level

Look Before You Leap

While it’s important at every level to look ahead, advanced skiing—in ungroomed terrain, often with obstacles—absolutely requires it. It’s important to be proactive rather than reactive: know what you’re doing for the next two or three turns, and look toward where you want to end up.

Steady Does It

When you’re pushing your comfort zone, it’s common to freeze up, feel stiff, and as a consequence lean back—perhaps the worst position to be in on steep or challenging terrain. Take a moment to get back into a stable position: standing on your edges if it’s a steep slope, balancing over the downhill ski, with your upper body facing downhill. Allow your hips to go down the fall line—and stay there—and complete every turn for speed control.

Commitment Rules

As Pro Darnell Rose likes to tell his clients, the key to skiing challenging terrain is to commit yourself: to finishing the turn, to a proactive body position, to awareness of and confidence in your actions.

Carve It Out

Want to achieve that Mikaela Shiffrin freeze-frame, with skis totally on edge, carving beautiful turns as your upper body is still? For high-speed groomed carving, think about tipping your boots as if to pour liquid out of them. Think about how you’d engage your edges and achieve the right momentum to do that, all the while keeping your body over the skis.

Powder Hound

When the snow is deep, every body movement is more subtle. Instead of the sometimes-intense pressure of a carved turn, think about lifting your knees and then tipping them both down the hill. (You ski more on both skis in powder than on other types of terrain.) Stay over the skis—although with your weight a bit further back than usual—and don’t twist them. Instead, think of the skis deflecting the snow from turn to turn.

Mogul Mania

Navigating a mogul field necessitates finding your balance again after each turn. Aim for the top of the bumps (imagine the flat of a golfing green), following the bank of each bump and avoiding the troughs as much as possible. Skid as much as necessary. This should be the smoothest line.

Skier tackles a double-black diamond run at Aspen Mountain

Skier tackles a double-black diamond run at Aspen Mountain

Double-Black Level

Plan, Plan, Plan

You can ski just about everything on the resort with confidence, and now you’re ready to test yourself in extreme terrain, funky snow with poor visibility, or possibly out of bounds. Make a plan. Study the weather and/or avalanche forecast, especially if heading into the backcountry. Ski with a partner, communicating what you want to do. Decide how you’re going to tackle the challenge—and reflect on how it went afterward. Taking your skiing to the next level doesn’t just happen—it’s a deliberate execution of a plan, and a study on what went right and wrong.

Modesty is the Best Policy

Whether it’s Highland Bowl or a backcountry run, check your ego before you go out the door. The mountain is the master, and the more you adapt to its conditions and demands, the better and safer run you’ll have. Bring snacks and water if you’re hiking for turns. Be hyperaware of snow conditions, and feel those first few turns out before letting the skis run—always being ready to change course if necessary.


When you’ve achieved control over how your body moves the skis in all kinds of terrain, play with it. See what happens when you move in exaggerated or unique ways. Always try something new on familiar terrain first. It’s that creative expression that’s part of the joy of skiing—and it continues to lead to new skills.

You Might Also Like