man ice skiing on hill

How To Parallel Ski: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide

If you’ve mastered beginner skiing tips, you might want to try your hand at parallel skiing.

Why wouldn’t you?

It looks so cool! 

What, exactly, is parallel skiing?

This is when you make turns while having your skis parallel to each other. When you see skiers gliding across the snow in “S” shapes, that’s parallel skiing. 

If you’ve watched parallel skiing on TV or in real life when skiers at your favorite resort were showing off, you were probably keen to learn how to do it.

Before you try it, though, you need to ensure that you can do a variety of snowplough turns and that you have experience with skiing on longer descents. Once you’re sorted with that, you can progress to parallel skiing.  

Ready? Here’s How To Parallel Ski For Beginners 

 

Here are some easy steps to help you learn how to parallel ski. 

Start By Visualizing The Turns

START BY VISUALIZING THE TURNS

It really helps to picture the turns in the snow ahead of you before you even attempt them. They should look like gentle “S” shapes that are connected to each other.

By keeping this in your mind it will help you to navigate your way forward. If making “S” shapes feels like too much, start by making “C” shapes, and avoid making “Z” shapes if you’re a beginner because these can be too fast and sharp.  

Narrow The Wedge

The wedge refers to the shape that your skis form when you stand in them. The wedge shape is basically wider at the top of the skis and narrower at the bottom.

This is a common position for beginners. By making this wedge shape smaller, it will help you to get into the parallel skiing position.

So, take a few regular ski passes on an easy slope and while you ski, try to make your skis have less of a wedge shape. When you can do that, you can try making your skis even more parallel to each other.

Parallel Skiing Drill To Try

Here’s a useful skiing drill you can try to make it easier for you to ensure your skis are parallel to each other at the end of a turn (via Rei). 

  • When you make a wedge turn, lift the tail of your inside/uphill ski and tap it on the snow a few times. 
  • When you turn in the other direction, you want to lift and tap what is now the inside/uphill ski. 
  • This ensures the amount of weight you’re putting on the inside/uphill ski will be lighter, enabling you to move it in line with the other ski. 
  • Once you’re used to lifting and tapping your ski, you can concentrate on steering the inside/uphill ski so that it matches the outside/downhill ski. 

Learn The Parallel Turn

A parallel turn has two stages: initiating the turn and edge change. Let’s look at both of them in greater detail.

To start making the turn, you need to move up and lean forward so that your hips are over your downhill ski. Try to do this in a smooth movement so that the tips of your skis tip downwards. You want your weight to be distributed over both of your skis.

This enables your skis and body to be moving in the same direction. When your body’s properly lined up with your skis, leave your skis flat for a short time and travel straight.

This puts you into the correct position to make an edge change. Keeping your hips down towards the downhill ski and leaning downhill will actually help you to loosen the edges of the ski so you can keep it flat across the slope! 

After doing the above, your ski tips will drop down to face towards the gradient. As these turn, you should ensure your weight moves over onto both of your skis so that it’s evenly distributed.

Your skis should still be flat and facing downhill. It’s easy to freeze under pressure when this happens, but try to get into the habit of committing to making the turn otherwise you’ll lose momentum and your confidence! 

When you’ve started the turn and you’re sure that your skis are moving straight ahead, you can change edge. What does this mean?

Basically, when you parallel ski, you’ll be skiing on the same edge of both skis. Now, when you make a turn, the edges will have to be changed at the point where the skis are moving straight ahead, not sliding to either side (via Snow Skool).

  • Make sure your balance is right. When you do parallel turning, you’re moving your body weight from one of your skis to another. When you’re ready to enter the turn, you’ll have to ensure you bend your knees and move your weight over onto the outside ski. So, if you’re turning right, the outside ski would be your left ski.
  • Make sure you allow your body to gently fall towards the inside of the turn (via Medium), and this is especially important to remember when you transfer your weight onto the ski. Bear in mind that if you put more pressure on the inside edge, the sharper your turn will be.
  • It might help to roll your knees into the turn. This means keeping them slightly bent and then rolling both knees into the turn. You can make this easier by focusing on keeping your inside ski slightly in front of the outside one so that your knee will bend in a more natural way. 

While it sounds complicated, it’s important to let it happen as naturally as possible. Practice makes perfect! 

Extra Tips To Help You Master Parallel Skiing

Extra Tips To Help You Master Parallel Skiing

  • Get into the right stance. If you’re skiing sideways across the gradient of a slope, make sure you put your weight across the middle of your downhill ski. We can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure you know how to distribute your weight! Keep your knees bent slightly. Lean a bit forward and ensure your torso is facing down the slope.
  • If you battle with bending your knees when learning to parallel ski because it feels uncomfortable, an easier method is to focus on your boots – they’re what’s steering you when you ski! So, flex your ankles instead of bending your knees.
  • If you start to feel like you’re moving too fast, you can slow down by turning the ski tips back up in a “C” shape to help you slow down before you can go on your next turn. This will help you maintain control and ensure your balance is on point. 

What About Completing The Turn? 

There’s actually a third stage to parallel turning: finishing it! For this, you need to turn your skis downhill and steer your skis with your legs. You have to twist both your legs at the same time. Make sure your upper body is as still as possible while your lower body is flexible.

By making your leg movements the focus of completing the turn, you will feel more confident and comfortable when entering the turn so you can navigate your way across the slope in the other direction. 

You might fear going too fast downhill, so try to choose a slope that you’re comfortable with and have experience skiing on. 

Related Questions 

Is parallel skiing easy?

Parallel skiing is easier than making a wedged turn. This is because both of your skis are moving in the same direction, so you’ll use less energy. 

What is a wedged turn? 

This is halfway between a snowplough turn and parallel turn. When you do this turn, one of your skis will be pointing at an angle. Both of your skis won’t come together fully until you reach the end of the turn.  

What is a snowplough turn? 

In case you don’t know, this is one of the first turns you’ll learn as a beginner. What it means is that you’re skiing with your feet and skis in a V-shape, or displaced wedge.  

Conclusion 

Parallel skiing is exciting because when you achieve this it means you’ve progressed to another level. In this guide, we’ve outlined important steps and tips you need to know to master it.

Before you move on to parallel skiing, make sure you have mastered the snowplough and basic turns, as this will make it much easier for you to grasp parallel skiing. Have fun! 

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