A beginner’s guide to skiing and snowboarding

Carving down fast groomers or shredding through deep powder with your friends and family is a thrill that’s hard to beat. It can take a lot of practice to get to that level, but by following our beginner’s guide to skiing and snowboarding you’ll be riding with confidence in no time.

Get Some Lessons

New to skiing or snowboarding? Jump straight into it with a couple of lessons from the pros.

The techniques and tricks involved can help you progress at an exponential level if learnt from the beginning. Tips such as how to:

  • balance
  • correctly shift your body weight to turn
  • stop quickly.

They’re all skills that you’ll eventually learn on your own, but being taught them from day one means you’ll be carving down runs a lot quicker – and a lot safer.

Even if you have experience with similarly active sports like water skiing, skateboarding and surfing, do yourself a favour and get a lesson to start. You can book one at any ski resort.

Lessons should be a whole heap of fun
Lessons should be a whole heap of fun

Always Wear Proper Gear

We don’t need to tell you that snow is cold, but it’s important to know that the trick to maintaining comfortable body heat and staying safe is to dress properly wearing specialised snow clothing.

Learn to dress in layers, with moisture wicking thermals as a base and a breathable fleece on top, depending on the outside temperature. This way if you start to overheat, you can simply take one layer off.

For your outer layer, always wear a waterproof shell or an insulated jacket with waterproof snow pants. Bright colours are great as you’ll stand out against the snow. You really want to avoid getting wet as this will sap body heat away.

Other essentials include:

Keep dry and keep warm – and you’ll be able to stay out all day.

The right gear will help you enjoy your time on the slopes
The right gear will help you enjoy your time on the slopes

Learn Mountain Etiquette

Just like driving on the road, there’s a list of rules that you need to follow while out skiing and snowboarding. Learning these is easy, and it’s important to always follow them for your own safety, and the safety of others on the hill.

Try Not to Stop in Dangerous Spots

It’s very important to only stop in places that are safe to do so. This is critical to know, and the one thing that is easiest to forget when starting out.

What this means is don’t stop on the other side of a hill or roller where you’ll be out of sight of anybody above you. If you do, you run the risk of someone coming down at speed and not having time to brake before colliding with you because they didn’t know you were there. When you stop, always look left, right and uphill to make sure you’re in a place that is clearly visible.

If you happen to fall over in a place that may be less than ideal, there’s no need to panic. Simply pick yourself up steadily, regain your balance and slide to a better position.

Stick to the groomed slopes and you can't go wrong
Stick to the groomed slopes and you can't go wrong

Ride Within Your Abilities

Once you get a bit of confidence it’s very tempting to head straight to the top of the mountain and try a difficult run, or chase powder through the narrow gaps between trees.

Always remember to ski within your abilities. Progression is great – and we all need to challenge ourselves to improve – but by developing in stages rather than jumping straight down a black run.

If you’re comfortable on green runs, try an easy blue run next rather than a double black. Ride through trees after you’ve learnt how to link your turns perfectly. And hit the park once you’ve tried the small jumps first. 

Ride or ski in control and you’ll be progressing to the top of the mountain in no time.

Get the right snow gear

Alesha and Jarryd are professional photographers, writers and the founders of Australia’s biggest adventure travel blog, NOMADasaurus. They’ve been exploring the world together since 2008, searching for culture and adventure in off the beaten path destinations.