How Hard Is Skiing?

How Hard Is Skiing? The Ultimate Assessment

Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by James

If you watch a good skier, you will be amazed at how easy it looks. They are smooth and graceful when gliding down the slope, making it look effortless.

If you are new to the ski world, it’s common to start wondering: How hard is skiing? This is a complex question, but we have used years of ski teaching expertise to bring you an honest answer.

In this guide, we discuss the different aspects of skiing that can make it more or less difficult.

How Hard Is Skiing? A Quick Answer!

The answer to this question can be subjective. However, one simple phrase is able to shed some light on this topic:

Skiing is easy to learn, but hard to master. Click To Tweet

Most beginners will pick up basic ski technique relatively quickly. Learning how to control your speed, stop and turn is often accomplished within a matter of days.

This means you can usually get to the top of the mountain, providing there is a suitable slope down, before the end of the week – the Holy Grail for beginners! 

Ski slope
If you’re lucky, you could make it to the top on your first week!

The ease with which you can learn basic skills often makes skiing seem easy to learn. This instils confidence within beginners, who will often proclaim that skiing is less challenging than they first imagined.

Improving beyond basic technique is usually the challenging part for many learners. If you want to progress past the easy slopes, you will need to significantly adapt and perfect your technique.

Steeper terrain poses a much greater challenge than shallow beginner slopes. It’s very hard to ‘master’ the technique required for difficult terrain, with many weeks of practice and patience required.

Steep ski slope
Steep terrain strikes fear into many skiers

Why Is Skiing Hard?

Like all sports or activities, whether skiing is difficult depends on the individual. People learn at different speeds, making the rate of progression different for each participant.

There are many factors that contribute to the speed at which someone will learn to ski:

  • Physical fitness
  • Mental learning capacity
  • Quality of equipment
  • Condition of the terrain
  • Ability of your instructor

These are just a few the many aspects affecting ski progression. If you want to excel on the slopes, you will need to perform well in each of these categories.

What Makes Skiing Hard For Beginners?

If you are new to skiing, the main focus is often around mental learning capacity and the ability of your instructor.

Since you are new to the sport, the ability to absorb advice from your instructor is vital. If you can put this advice into practice, you will find skiing simple.

Beginners usually find skiing difficult because they are fearful. If you can practice with confidence, your rate of progression will always be quicker.

A good ski instructor should instil confidence in your learning and be aware of your ability levels as they progress. Click To Tweet
Skier practicing a hard technique
Practicing with confidence will get you a long way!

What Makes Skiing Hard For Intermediates?

Once you have mastered the basics, physical fitness begins to play a larger role in your ability to progress. Core strength, cardio, balance and coordination all play a vital role in progressing your technique.

Increasingly difficult terrain will also make skiing difficult, causing physical and mental challenges that are hard to overcome. This is where having the right equipment starts to have a larger impact on your performance.

The more skilled you become, the more difficult it is to improve. Marginal gains in performance can take much longer, with a wide range of factors affecting your technique.

Why Is Skiing Easy To Learn?

Skiing can prove easy to learn for those who are motivated. Although picking up the technique can feel awkward at first, progression is fast with the correct practice.

When you are a beginner, skiing can be a forgiving sport. The slow and shallow beginner slope will afford you plenty of time to recover if you make a mistake.

Even if you do fall, the soft snow will cushion your landing. Click To Tweet

Since you are facing forwards, with both your feet separated, you will feel natural when standing on the snow. This allows you to make instinctive movements that can aid your balance and coordination when necessary.

The basic ‘snow plough’ technique learned by beginners also makes it easy to control your speed at all times. With your speed under control, your confidence will increase at a rapid rate.

The key to ski progression is confidence. Click To Tweet

Most ski beginners will be able to control their speed, stop and turn within three days. Once they have achieved this level of skill, they will be able to move away from the beginner slope.

(Image: Serge Melki CC BY 2.0)

Is It Hard To Go From Beginner To Intermediate?

Progressing from beginner to intermediate technique will be one of the hardest parts of your skiing journey.

If you are a beginner, you will still be using the ‘snow plough’ technique. However, in order to ski steeper terrain, you will need to learn how to ski parallel.

Going from snow plough to parallel is a significant hurdle for many learners. It requires a much greater level of balance, strength, control and technical ability.

This proves a stumbling block for many learners that previously found skiing easy. A significant amount of practice is required to achieve intermediate parallel technique, making it a frustrating task for most skiers.

It usually takes around 3 weeks of constant practice to move from beginner to intermediate technique. Once this has been achieved, they will be able to look towards steeper terrain.

Although 3 weeks doesn’t sound long to most people, that’s 3 full ski holidays with very limited progression.

Why Is Skiing Hard To Master?

Mastering advanced ski performance poses a significant challenge. Making incremental improvements to your technique can take a significant amount of time, patience and persistence.

Skiing is a sport with so many variables. Different types of terrain, technique and equipment all require countless hours of practice to reach proficiency.

While you’re skiing, you will need to show coordination and strength throughout your whole body. Both skis need to work in unison to provide a balanced and technique, something that is challenging for many learners.

Small technical errors and bad habits plague even the best skiers. This makes skiing an extremely difficult sport to master.

Skiing is a broad and complex sport. No matter how much you learn; there will always be room for improvement. Click To Tweet
Skier trying to master technique
Advanced ski technique is hard to master

Is Skiing Harder For Adults or Kids?

It’s a common belief that kids pick up skiing faster than adults. This belief is correct in most cases, with many adults being left behind on the beginner slopes by their younger counterparts.

There are a number of reasons why kids find it easier to learn skiing then adults:

  • Less fear
  • Less likely to suffer injury
  • Kids are used to the learning process
  • Lower centre of gravity
  • Lightweight kids carry less momentum
  • Kids often have more energy
  • Kids ski gear is lightweight and forgiving
  • Great at observing and copying

If we take age out of the equation, this is a great list of mental and physical attributes for any skier.

The most significant difference between adults and kids is fear. Most adults find skiing hard because they are fearful of falling over and getting injured.

If you are learning to ski as an adult, you should look to emulate the confidence shown by the younger generation. If you are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will reap the rewards.

Kids having a ski lesson
Fearless kids pick up skiing quickly

How To Make Skiing Easier

Skiing isn’t easy for everyone. Some people seem to have a ‘knack’ for the sport, while others can find it a challenge.

If you’re struggling on the slopes, here are some basic tips that can make skiing easier:

  • Improve your physical fitness.
  • Get a good ski instructor.
  • Practice as much as possible.
  • Use the best equipment.
  • Choose suitable ski terrain.
  • Improve your confidence.
  • Ski with a smile.
Make sure you have fun!

Summing Up

The question of ‘how hard is skiing’ can only be answered subjectively. Every new skier learns at a different pace, so you will only ever know the truth once you are on the mountain.

However, in general, it’s relatively easy to learn the basics. If you are patient, determined and physically able; you will not find it hard to progress your technique.

The more you advance your technique, the harder skiing will become. Skiing is a challenging sport to master, with even the best athletes still trying to improve.

If you head to the mountain with the right mentality, you will never have a ‘hard’ day skiing. Click To Tweet

Do you think skiing is difficult? Leave a comment and let us know…sharing is caring!