Explore Types of Snow Skiing

What are all the types of skiing, anyway? From alpine to cross-country and backcountry to freestyle, here are all the major forms of skiing you’ll need to know about.

If you’re new to the world of skiing, one of the first things you may notice is the confusing number of terms people throw around. In particular, there may seem to be a ton of different names used for skiing. Perhaps you’ve imagined that all skiing is downhill skiing, but then someone mentions cross-country skiing. Is that different? And then things get even more confusing when you hear someone mention freestyle skiing — is that something else again? The various names and types of skiing go on, and for many of us, the confusion only grows from here.

  • Alpine or Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing is easy to understand since it is exactly what it sounds like — it’s skiing that takes place on a hill and takes the skier from the top to the bottom. Most downhill skiing takes place at organized ski resorts and mountains, where skiers use lifts to get to the top of the hill. From there, they ski downhill before getting back in the lift and riding to the top to do it all over again. These ski resorts are usually highly groomed and kept smooth for skiers, although some of the more advanced slopes may feature trees and more difficult turns and hills.

  • Cross-country skiing

Rather than using lifts, cross-country skiers ski up the mountains themselves! They don’t ski down mountains as steep as the ones in downhill skiing. Cross-country skiing is much more aerobically demanding and it’s cheaper as you don’t have to pay for lift passes. Cross-country skiing uses a soft boot rather than the hard ones used in downhill, and the heel is not attached to the ski. The skis are lightweight and designed for self-propelled travel over a variety of terrain, not just down hills.

  • Freestyle skiing

While many of the popular types of skiing we’ve mentioned so far are fairly self-explanatory based, freestyle skiing isn’t as immediately understandable since the name is a bit more confusing. Freestyle skiing is a type of downhill skiing, but it’s also much more than that. It typically involves incorporating a variety of stunts, jumps, acrobatic flips and somersaults for a skiing technique that, to the untrained eye, looks more like something you might see in a video game than something that happens in real life. Because freestyle skiing is so intricate and has so much room for injury and error, this is very unlikely to be a type of skiing a beginner starts with. Instead, if this is a type of skiing that interests you, it’s best to start with basic downhill skiing. Once you’ve mastered this and can handle every challenge this discipline has to offer, then and only then will it be appropriate to move on to freestyle skiing. Even if you’re an expert downhill skier, it’s always best to take lessons and learn freestyle skills the proper way, rather than heading out on these slopes yourself and attempting the trial and error method.

  • Snowboarding

This isn’t really a type of skiing at all but we thought we’d mention it here anyway! Snowboarding involves standing on a single board rather than two skis. It’s great fun and worth checking out. Many people find it easier to learn to snowboard than they do to ski.

  • Off-piste skiing

This simply means skiing off the groomed trail on untouched snow. It requires fairly advanced skills and is potentially dangerous. However, it’s an unbelievable rush and we recommend getting lessons and giving it a go once you have mastered your intermediate skills.

  • Telemark Skiing

This is similar to Alpine, as skiers must make their way to the bottom of the mountain, but these daring athletes have skis that don’t attach to the heel. This allows much more flexibility for the skier.

  • Adaptive Skiing

This sport allows those with a physical disability to participate, such as Paralympians, by using different adaptive equipment. This way, everyone can have a blast down the slopes. Most ski resorts will have facilities to for adaptive skiers, but make sure to double check in advance before embarking on a skiing holiday.

  • Ski Mountaineering

Ski mountaineering is classified as another variety of backcountry skiing because it doesn’t take place at a resort and instead involves traversing un-groomed snow. What makes ski mountaineering a distinct category that’s unique from other types of backcountry skiing, however, is the type of terrain it’s done on. While backcountry skiing is the overarching category that encompasses all off-resort skiing, ski mountaineering is specifically about climbing up to the top of a peak and skiing back down again. In this way, it’s a sport that combines both mountain climbing and skiing for an advanced test of skill, precision and endurance. Many ski mountaineers will choose to use the same equipment one might use for alpine touring, thanks mostly to its versatility in allowing the heels to be locked or freed depending on the situation. In addition to buying or renting all the regular skiing equipment, parties interested in ski mountaineering will also need to invest in climbing equipment like ice axes and ropes.

Kedarkantha,  Sankari and Auli, Joshimath in Uttarakhand is famous for Alpine Skiing in India. So book your first beginner or basic course with GoClimbUp.

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