Alpine skiing for beginners

Content

1. Curriculum
2. How to choose a ski school
3. How many days?
4. Tips
5. The perfect turn
6. Pistes
7. Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders

1. Curriculum

The Austrian Ski School Association (ÖSSV) is the umbrella organisation of all regional Austrian ski instructors’ associations (Vorarlberg, Tirol, Salzburg, Snowsports Acadamy (Vienna), etc). All ski schools in Austria are member of one of the ski instructor associations and follow the same curriculum.

For beginners the curriculum is:
  • Introduction
  • Schuss
  • Snowplough
  • Snowplough turns
  • Alpine skiing posture
  • Edging & Sliding
  • Snowplough steering

There are differences between the several associations. It is like with dancing schools: some begin the quickstep with the left foot, others with the right. But the basic principles are the same everywhere.

2. How to choose a ski school

Pick two items out of these three: quality, time, money.
  • Learn to ski well in a short amount of time: take private lessons (high price).
  • Learn to ski well for a low price: take 5 or 6 days lessons at a cheap school (big groups).
  • If you want to take just 2 or 3 days of lessons for a low price: you aren't going to learn much...

Check the internet for reviews: Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google, etc. Also check the maximum size of the group you will join. The perfect size is 6 to 8 people. In high season it happens that there are groups of 18 persons!

3. How many days?

You need approximately five days for the above mentioned curriculum. Some people will be a little slower, some people a little faster. On the third or fourth day you start to learn Snowplough Steering. On the fourth or fifth day you exercise on a slope that is as steep as the blue slopes in the ski area.

Children till 14 years old learn very quickly. The youngest (three years) learn to break within 1½ day and learn to make curves within one day. So after three days (at the most) the ski teacher can take them to the blue slopes: they learn by doing/playing the rest of the days.

If you are a parent and want to ski with your children: start taking lessons a few years earlier. Otherwise your children will be too fast for you very quickly! 😂

4. Tips

We think the following tips are usefull for all beginners:
  • For the smaller children: consider to let them wear diaper pants. In case of a "pee accident" the consequences won't be so great.
  • Taking a few lessons every year in an indoor ski hall in your home country is a perfect preparation for as well beginners as more advanced skiers. It helps your technique and prevents muscle pain.
  • Rent cheap skis, poles and helmet. You won't notice the difference.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Wear multiple layers of merino wool shirts. Merino wool doesn't stink very quickly and also isolates when it is wet.
  • Ask advice which ski pass you should buy!
  • Return the ski pass at the end of your holiday. Most of the time there is a refund ("pfand").
  • Always wear gloves when carrying your skis. The edges are very sharp.
  • How to hold your ski poles video
  • Standing up after a crash video
  • Schuss video
  • Snowplough video
  • Snowplough turns video
  • The Alpine skiing posture is as follows:
    1. Skis are parallel (hip wide, 10 cm).
    2. Put 90% of your weight on your downhill ski.
    3. Bring the skis on their edges, knees to the mountain.
    4. Ankles, knees and hips are slightly bent.
    5. Advance your uphill ski, -hip, -shoulder and -arm (Open to the valley. Shoulders, hips and hands are parallel to the ski tips).
    6. Lean your upper body slightly forward-downhill.
    7. Head to the valley, over your downhill ski. (Vomit in the valley, shit on the mountain.)
    8. Bring your slightly bend arms in front of your body (pretend to hug the ski teacher).
  • The position of your arms is very important. It helps with being "movement ready", putting pressure on your ski tips, preventing rotation and is necessary for a correct pole positioning.
  • Alpine skiing posture video
  • Edging & sliding video
  • Don't go faster with your body then you can think with your mind.
  • Make a video of your ski partner with your mobile phone and evaluate together.

5. The perfect turn

Remember:
  • All motion should be fluid.
  • We can't do a lot in the fall line.
    But in preparation of the curve we can make sure that our posture is correct.
    After the fall line we can make sure that we are standing on our lower ski and take the time to steer out.
  • Saying in your head what you should do helps to pace the curve.
  • Take your time, speed is not important.

6. Pistes

A piste is a marked ski run down a mountain for snow skiing, snowboarding, or other mountain sports. In Europe, pistes are classified by a color-coded system. The actual color system differs in parts for each country. In all countries blue (easy), red (intermediate) and black (expert) are used. Shapes are not always used, sometimes all ratings are circles.
The ratings are:
  • Green: Learning or Beginner slopes (Spain, France, Scandinavia, UK, Poland).
    These are usually not marked trails, but tend to be large, open, gently sloping areas at the base of the ski area. Sometimes marked as a Green circle.
  • Blue: Easy slopes.
    Similar to the North American Green Circle. These are almost always groomed. The slope gradient shall not exceed 25% except for short wide sections with a higher gradient. Sometimes marked as a Blue square.
  • Red: Intermediate slopes.
    Similar to the North American Blue Square. Steeper, or narrower than a blue slope. These are usually groomed, unless the narrowness of the trail prohibits it. The slope gradient shall not exceed 40%, except for short wide sections with a higher gradient. Sometimes marked as a red rectangle.
  • Black: Expert slopes.
    Equivalent to the North American Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond. Steep, may or may not be groomed, or may be groomed for moguls. In Austria, Italy and Switzerland black pistes are nearly always groomed, as non-groomed pistes are marked as skiroutes. In France, some black pistes are groomed, but most are not. Black can be a very wide classification, ranging from a slope marginally more difficult than a Red to very steep avalanche chutes. France tends to have a higher limit between red and black. Sometimes marked as a black diamond.
  • Double or triple black diamond: Extremely difficult slopes (Scandinavia).
  • Orange: Extremely difficult slopes (Austria, Switzerland).
  • Yellow, orange square, red diamond: Ungroomed and often unpatrolled skiroute.
    In Austria, ski routes are usually marked with orange squares. It is also common to mark those pistes with a red diamond or a red diamond with black edges (the latter being more difficult).

Alpine slope classification in Europe is less rigidly tied to slope angle than in North America. A lower angle slope may be classified as more difficult than a steeper slope if, for instance, it is narrower and/or requires better skiing ability.
(Source: Wikipedia - Piste)

7. Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders

In Austria it is a felony to ski away from an accident (you are a witness) or someone that needs help! FIS has published rules for the conduct of skiers and snowboarders.

1. Respect for others

A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others.

2. Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding

A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.

3. Choice of route

A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead.

4. Overtaking

A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement.

5. Entering, starting and moving upwards

A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes that he can do so without endangering himself or others.

6. Stopping on the slope

Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the slope in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move and clear of the slope as soon as possible.

7. Climbing and descending on foot

A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slope.

8. Respect for signs and markings

A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings.

9. Assistance

At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty bound to assist.

10. Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident.