Beginner skiers and riders can benefit from lessons and tips, but riders at every level can always learn something new to progress to the next level. We caught up with ski school coordinator Kevin Jordan for his tips for skiers of every level so you can start skiing double-black diamonds with confidence.

Beginner Skiers

It is key to stay comfortable while out on the slopes. The most common reason a beginner skier and snowboarder has to stop for the day is discomfort.
Aspen Snowmass ski pro teaching a beginner how to ski in snowmass Colorado.
Aspen Snowmass ski pro teaching a beginner how to ski in snowmass Colorado.

With that in mind, wear one pair of socks. When trying on boots, note that they should fit like a “firm” handshake. Lastly, make sure you’ve got the right gear to stay warm. Layering is a good way to make sure you can stay warm, then cool off if you get too hot later in the day.

What about ski poles? For kids we typically don’t use them. Why? Because we are trying to train their feet how to do things. When we give them poles, they try to ski with their hands/arms. Sometimes this happens with adults too.

Intermediate Skiers

Intermediate Ski Tips
Intermediate Ski Tips

Want to move beyond the wedge? Try a little more speed or slightly steeper terrain. It’s all about flattening the edge of the inside ski. You need to stand more on the outside ski to do this.

Now that you have poles, learn to plant them at the right time: Think touch and then turn.

If you feel like you’re plateauing, challenge yourself with more interesting runs. Play with shorter and larger turns. Play with how long you can ski without taking a break. Is it for quarter of the run? Then half the run without stopping? How about, finally, top to bottom?

Expert Skiers

Tree skiing on a powder day at Aspen Mountain.
Tree skiing on a powder day at Aspen Mountain.

When It Comes to Tree Skiing

Tree skiing offers a lot of appeal for expert skiers, but requires a great deal of care and attention.

Consider practicing short turns or moguls before heading into the trees. This will help teach timing of turns in narrower spaces.

Also, ski the spaces and not the trees. Look where you want to go (spaces) and not at the trees. This will help you respond and navigate your line better.

Lastly, remove pole straps. If a ski pole gets stuck in a tree branch, you will be glad it isn’t attached to your wrist.
Skiing the steeps
Skiing the steeps

When It Comes to Steep Skiing

The hardest part is to commit to going downhill. Release your downhill/outside ski and make a turn. Aim for short turns. Continue to plant your pole and then go. No “shopping” for a turn.

If you are in a narrow chute, make sure you know how to do a hop turn (jumping and turning 180 degrees in the air). Also, practice a kick turn. Stand on your uphill ski, pick up your downhill ski, place the tail in the ground and let it drop to the other side so it is facing 180 degrees to the uphill ski. Stand on the downhill ski, this lightens the weight on the uphill ski so you can turn it and place it next to the other ski.

Lastly, learn to master the self-arrest. When the snow is harder, self-arrest means being able to stop yourself from a fall. If this happens, get your feet below your head. Roll on your stomach and slowly put your toes into the snow. Think “cat on the drapes.”
Powder Skiing Tips
Powder Skiing Tips

When It Comes to Skiing Powder

Most people think they have to lean back in the powder. Instead, think centered. Be centered in your boot and on your skis.

Getting up in the powder can be a challenge. You may need to roll around to compact the snow. Take your poles and put them into an “X.” Place them uphill of you and use them to help propel you back up.

If you fall in the powder and a ski comes off, use your other ski as a “broom” and “sweep” the snow looking for the other ski. Since your ski has more surface area than your ski poles, you will find your ski sooner. Sometimes the ski that came off might be downhill of you.
Putting a ski back on in the powder is not easy. Place the tail of the ski in the snow so the ski is 45 degrees out of the snow. This keeps the binding out of the snow. Place your downhill ski on first, and then your uphill ski. Kick off the snow and then “click in” to your binding.
Aspen Snowmass ski pro teaching a mogul  clinic on Aspen Mountain.
Aspen Snowmass ski pro teaching a mogul  clinic on Aspen Mountain.

When it comes to skiing moguls

Practice making shorter turns before you go into moguls.

Many people start to absorb the impact of each mogul, and get smaller and smaller in their posture. Don’t forget to extend your legs towards the next bump after you have absorbed (or flexed) over a mogul.

Start slow and let the speed build. Continue to plant your poles to assist in timing and rhythm.
Ready, set, ski! If you’re looking for additional tips or instruction on how to break into your next level of skiing, take a look at all the clinics and lessons available through Aspen Snowmass ski school.

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