List of Skiing Skills

List of Skiing Skills

The sport of skiing is an intense and exciting one, and it requires a number of unique skills that take time to learn and execute properly. Learning these skills will help keep you safe on the fast-moving ski slopes and make your time skiing more exhilarating. The list below will help you see what kinds of skills are needed to become a good skier.

List of Skiing Skills

Below is a list of the most important skills needed for skiing, listed in order of importance:

  • Stance
  • Balance
  • Walking Uphill
  • Skiing a Wedge
  • Weight Distribution
  • Turning
  • Stability
  • Pole Planting
  • Speed Control
  • Body Separation
  • Carving
  • Jumping
  • Hockey Stop


The first and most important skill to learn when skiing is a proper stance, which will help you maintain balance and control. You should stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, tilting your shins forward with flexed ankles. Push your shoulders slightly forward, with your weight centered over your feet. Hold your arms out to the side and in front of you, with your poles pointing outward rather than down. Keep your eyes looking forward and your core engaged, and point your feet in the direction you want to go.



The next skill a skier must master is learning to balance while gliding on their skis. Developing a natural sense of balance while on skis will help you as you learn more advanced skills. First, on flat land, push off with both poles and flex your ankles. Keep your weight centered over your feet and your shins tilted forward. Once you feel comfortable gliding on flat land, move up to a gentle slope and practice gliding there.

Walking Uphill

You need to know how to walk uphill on skis to get around a ski slope. The two main techniques for walking uphill are the side step and the herringbone step. The side step, done with skis parallel, is useful for approaching ski lifts. The herringbone, with skis pointed outward (like herring bones), is better for covering longer distances.


Skiing a Wedge

Also known as a triangle or pizza, a wedge is the most basic way of skiing downhill. On flat land, practice placing your skis with the tips together and tails apart so they form a wedge. Then move up to a gentle slope, using the angled skis to control your speed and direction. Make the wedge wider to slow down and narrower to speed up.

Weight Distribution

Learning proper weight distribution while on skis will help you make sharper turns, have better balance, and be a faster and safer skier. Keep your weight centered over your feet. As you learn to turn, move your weight to the inside of the turn, putting most of it on the inner ski. Gravity pulls you to the outside, so this may feel strange at first. Also, the ski with more weight has more traction, so weighting the inner ski will help you make a tighter turn and avoid losing control. Focusing on weight distribution is an easy way to quickly clean up your skiing form.



Turning is essential for safely navigating down a ski slope. After you have mastered gliding and skiing a wedge, you can try wedge turns. With skis in a wedge, turn both ankles in the direction you want to go, putting most of your weight on the inner ski. As this becomes more comfortable, build up to approaching turns with skis parallel and linking multiple turns together. As with other skills, develop your turning technique on a gentle slope first.


Stability, like balance, is a key factor in skiing. Remaining in a steady position on your skis and focusing on your breathing eliminates excessive movement that can compromise your balance or your ability to turn. Stability begins within the core muscles, as a solid core helps the entire body remain in position. To maintain a strong core, you should squeeze your core muscles tightly when making a hard turn so that you do not lose balance.


Pole Planting

Using your poles can be very beneficial while skiing, most importantly to help pick up speed. It is important to hold your poles high enough so that they do not hit the ground while you are moving quickly. Poles can also be used to help slow your momentum down when at slower speeds, so make sure you have them ready.

Speed Control

Maintaining and altering your speed on the course is important to maintain control of your skiing. One can increase their speed by leaning forward and tucking in their arms. Alternatively, one can reduce speed by leaning backwards, carving through long turns back and forth, or using ski poles to slow their progress as they come to a stop. When slowing down, skiers should avoid grabbing objects or planting their poles in the ground to attempt a stop if they are traveling at high speeds. Otherwise, they might break their poles or get injured.


Body Separation

Achieving separation between your upper and lower body is crucial for proper skiing form. Your upper body should be relatively still while your lower body is constantly moving and working. Initiate turns by twisting your hips, but keep your torso and shoulders pointing straight down the slope.


Carving is an advanced turning technique that curves your skis against their camber, tightening the radius of the turn. This skill is essential for progressing to intermediate slopes and will make your descents faster and more graceful. To carve, lean your body to the inside of the turn and use your ankles to incline your skis, so they are standing up on their inside edges. Because of the parabolic shape of skis, the tips and tails will contact the snow while the middle of the ski remains slightly elevated. This compresses your ski into a smaller arc, making for tighter, faster turns with higher G-forces.



Jumping is a highly-advanced skiing skill and is not often used in recreational skiing or standard competitions. Mostly used in mogul or freestyle skiing, jumping is the skill of navigating over obstacles such as tree branches, hills, or rocks by lifting yourself into the air. In order to jump effectively, you need to be able to anticipate the obstacles ahead of you, accurately judge your distance from them, and execute a jump by using your leg power to gather enough force to vault over the obstacle. Leg strength and proper timing are the most vital aspects of jumping and will help you perfect your jumps. In competitive skiing, where obstacles are artificial, these skills are even more important.

Hockey Stop

A hockey stop is a faster and more advanced stopping technique than a basic wedge stop. To do a hockey stop, quickly shift all your weight to your inside ski. Allow the skis to turn but keep your body facing downhill. Once the skis have turned so that they are perpendicular to the slope, lean up the slope and use the skis’ inner edges to dig into the snow.



What are the basic skills in skiing?

The basic skills in skiing are weight distribution, turning, core stability, range of movement, and pole technique. Weight distribution will help you stay upright and balanced, and turning is key to navigating any run. Core stability and range of movement are related in that they reinforce muscle motions that are combined for good form. Creating independence between your upper and lower body is also important. Pole technique is needed for acceleration, balance, and stopping.

How do I become a better skier?

The best way to quickly become a better skier is to improve your stance and focus on your balance. A proper stance will make you faster and more confident. As you work on balance, use your outside ski to carve and proper pole planting to help yourself get into a rhythm, which is essential for achieving good speed and improved form. Also, always ask for help. Tips from friends or professional lessons can go a long way toward fixing hidden problems in your form.

What is the hardest skiing skill to master?

The hardest skiing skills to learn and master are those related to more dangerous terrain, such as jumping, carving, and balance. At advanced levels of skiing, athletes typically begin to learn how to traverse more difficult terrain, including courses that have moguls, bumps, and large obstacles such as trees. Learning how to navigate these terrains and obstacles by jumping or evading while still maintaining proper balance is the hardest skill to master in skiing.