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As the ski season winds down, many of us are looking to “up our game” in terms of the terrain we can ski or ride. Spring is the perfect time for a beginner skier to take that next step toward riding harder terrain. But how do we know if they or we are ready?

Frankly, it can be scary moving from the bunny hill to steep blue and black diamond runs. Whether you have a child that wants to go on harder terrain, or you are a beginner skier looking to explore more of the mountain this spring, these skills will help you tackle harder runs!

Find a beginner run that has a short steep section and practice these skills.

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4 Things Every Beginner Skier Should Master Before Moving On To Harder Terrain

PHOTO: Arapahoe Basin

1 & 2. Sidestep and Herringbone

What is it? The side-step and herringbone movement can be practiced anywhere, on flats or steeper runs.

For side-step, position the skis side-by-side across the hill. Engage your edges so you are not moving and practice stepping uphill.

Herringbone is a tad more difficult and is traditionally a nordic skiing skill. With your skis in a “V” position (inverted wedge), use your inside edges to move yourself forward as you step first from one ski to the next.

These skills work on a skier’s ability to coordinate foot-to-foot awareness, use their edges to both grip the snow and release it, and practice both sequential movement and simultaneous movement on their skis. Both skills can also be used to move yourself out of terrain that becomes too challenging.

3. Sideslip

A hugely underestimated skill, the sideslip is a significant skill for descending steep terrain and moving toward making controlled, parallel turns.

What is it? With your skis parallel across the hill (or across the fall line) release your edges slightly by rolling your knees down the hill and allowing your skis to slide together down the slope. Come to a stop by reengaging the edges. Practice on both sides. This movement is very similar to a hockey stop.

This is a great skill to practice on blue runs that have shorter steep sections, as it is hard to do on flat terrain. However, once you have it mastered, it can be used on a variety of runs, both to control speed, descend steep sections that are challenging to your ability, or even on super steep and narrow terrain such as chutes and trees.

4. Hockey Stop

What is it? With your skis parallel to each other, turn across the hill and come to a quick stop by engaging the edges simultaneously.

The hockey stop is a skill necessary for coming to a sudden stop on steep terrain, where a wedge would be difficult to control your speed.

Practicing the hockey stop on both sides is a great way to transition a beginner skier from making wedge turns to parallel turns or shorter and quicker turns, needed on narrow and steep runs.

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  • drdeanster

    Demonstrator in #1 has horrible technique in the video. The opposite of what my ski coach, former world champion freestyle and mogul skier “Bad Bob” Salerno taught me. Hands poorly positioned but most importantly head not constantly looking down the fall line. His motto is it’s not practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect. Meaning even in simple drills like the sidestep, perfect attention must be paid to every detail so it becomes completely ingrained and second nature. Got a bit annoying when he’d chide me on my body positioning when we were merely stopping at the side of a trail or mogul run to discuss technique and what he wanted me to focus on, until his message kicked in and my stance even at a complete stop was perfect and he no longer needed to admonish me. #4 had some of the same issues. When you demonstrate a skiing technique, do it perfectly and explain to beginners why your hands are where they are, why your head is looking in a certain direction. Sounds childish but these details are what are absolutely required when skiing a challenging mogul run or tackling truly expert slopes. As he told me when we first started working together, those details can be the difference between avoiding a serious injury skiing the bumps, or life and death in expert only terrain. (Google Bob Salerno and LAvirtualsnow, the man is the best in the business.)