A Guide to the Different Types of Skiing

Skiing Styles Every Skier Should KnowIf you are new to the wonderful world of snow skiing, you may be thinking that you want to give it a try—but what type of skiing do you want to do? There are several types to choose from, and each has its own types of skis, bindings and gear to go along with the style. All types of skiing are basically the same in the manner that you attach your feet to two boards and move through the snow. However, you can ski downhill, on flat terrain, or even uphill. There is a type of skiing for everyone, no matter if you want an adrenaline rush or you just want some casual exercise.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiing is also called downhill skiing. It is the most common type of skiing and likely what you think of when someone says “skiing“. This is the most common type of skiing at resorts on pisted trails where the snow is artificially prepared with a surface of packed snow and it leads from up high downhill. You will ride a ski lift to get to the top and then downhill. Each piste is graded from beginner to advanced so you know if you are ready for that step forward as you gain experience. At night, the trails are groomed again for the next day. Alpine skis have boots that clip into the ski bindings that are fixed in place at both the toe and heel to help eject the boot when you fall and protect your legs.

Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing is any type of skiing that isn’t on pistes. Ski touring and long distance ski touring from hut to hut both fall into this category. It involves hiking up an incline and then you choose the route you want to take to ski down. Backcountry skis usually have alpine touring or tech bindings to allow the heel to be free while the toe is attached to the skis in order to hike upward more easily. Some backcountry skiers hike up the mountain with their skis on their backs and then put them on to ski back down the mountain. The beauty of this type of skiing is that you get to traverse the entire mountain and not only on trails where beginners are likely found.

Cross Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is also known as Nordic skiing, and it takes place on relatively flat ground using cross-country skis. This is more the type of skiing that you would use to travel to and from places in the snow. You can use a striding motion as if you are walking or a skating motion as if you were on ice skates to traverse the snowy ground. Cross-country skiing involves the use of long poles that are about elbow height to help propel the skier forward. It can be a leisurely stroll or it can be quite difficult depending on the terrain you are covering. Cross-country bindings and boots are made so that the heel is free to help with the motion of moving.

Freestyle Skiing

Freestyle skiing is a combination of alpine and park skiing. This is the style that is used in pistes, parks, and half pipes to do many different stunts in the air. Freestyle skis have alpine bindings and skis, but usually have twin tips, meaning that the front and the rear of each ski turns upward to enable them to go backward as well as forward.

Race Skiing

Ski racing is most common in parts of Europe, and there are two types: mogul and slalom ski racing. This type of skiing is usually found in a town where the youth starts race skiing from an early age and compete with each other while using specialized race poles.

Telemark Skiing

Telemark skiing is similar to ski touring in that each type of skiing is done with a free heel. Touring skiers clip their heels into place to go down a slope but telemark skiers leave their heels from on the downward run. Telemark skiers place one foot further in front that the other and hold the back leg’s heel up.

The greatest part about skiing is how many different varieties there are. If heights scare you, you can go cross-country skiing, or if you want to be competitive, you can try race skiing. Next time you head to a ski resort, try something new!