As the winter months approach and snow covers the ground, many people head to the slopes for some skiing. Skiing can be a thrilling activity, but it can also be challenging, especially when you’re on icy terrain.
Skiing on ice requires specialized techniques and skills that not all skiers possess. But fear not- we’ve got you covered with these five expert tips to help you ski on ice like a pro!
“Skiing is a dance, and the mountain always leads.” –Author Unknown
You’ll learn how to control your turns better, pick up speed safely, avoid skidding and sliding out of control, and use the right equipment. Even if you’re an experienced skier, these tips will surely come in handy next time you hit the slopes.
Dress warmly, take a deep breath, strap on your skis and get ready to conquer any icy slope with confidence and finesse after reading our top 5 expert tips for skiing on ice! Let’s go!
Choose the right gear
Invest in quality skates
To ski on ice, you will need a pair of good quality ice skates. Investing in a high-quality pair of skates is essential as they provide better support and stability while skating. Opt for skates with stiff boots as they offer excellent ankle support and control.
The blades should be sturdy and well-maintained to ensure optimum performance. The length of the skate blade must also match your skill level. Shorter blades are suitable for beginners as they provide more balance, but longer blades are ideal for advanced skaters who want faster speed and increased maneuverability.
Choose appropriate clothing
Layering up when going skiing is key. Wear a comfortable base layer that fits snugly and wicks away moisture from the skin. Avoid cotton material as it tends to get wet and stay damp causing discomfort. Cover your base layer with one or two insulating layers such as fleece or wool sweaters for added warmth.
Your outermost layer should be water-resistant to prevent moisture penetration and keep you dry. You can opt for breathable jackets that allow sweat evaporation while keeping rain and snow out. Additionally, waterproof gloves, warm socks, and a hat or helmet should also be worn for comfort and protection while skiing on ice.
Select the right blades
Choosing the right blades is vital if you want to enjoy skiing on ice. An essential thing to consider is the thickness and shape of the blade’s edges. Blades with thinner edges have less resistance and glide over the ice much faster. Conversely, thicker blades require more effort for movements but provide more grip and control on the ice.
You may also consider getting blades with a rocker-shaped curve. These types of blades have a slight curve that provides better maneuverability, making it easier to turn and change directions while skiing.
Pick the right accessories
Carrying the necessary accessories is crucial when skiing on ice. You will need essential items such as a pair of sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from glare reflecting off the snow or ice. Also, ensure you have a hydration pack or water bottle close at hand for drinking breaks as fatigue and dehydration can occur during extended periods of physical activity.
You may also consider bringing along extra blades for backup in case of unexpected damage or malfunctioning. Lacing hooks can come in handy to help lace up skates quickly and efficiently. Lastly, carry an emergency kit with basic first aid supplies and a whistle that you can blow if you encounter a dangerous situation.
Master the technique
If you’re new to skating on ice, it’s essential first to learn the basics. As your skills progress, you can work towards perfecting your stride, practicing your turns and mastering backward skating.
Learn the basics
The difference between a successful skate and an unpleasant fall comes down to learning the fundamentals correctly. Take time to understand how to stand in your skates by bending your knees slightly and finding your balance over the blades. When placing your foot down, start with your heel and shift your weight to your toes as you move forward. Ensure that you lead with your dominant foot and keep your feet shoulder-width apart while you get comfortable on the ice.
For beginners who struggle with balance, take small steps when moving forward since this will help build confidence and reduce the risk of falling. Remember always to have your head up and look straight ahead. Bending over or looking at your feet disrupts your center of gravity and makes it harder to stay upright.
Perfect your stride
Moving smoothly around the ice requires good strides, which are long glides along each edge of the blade. Once you’ve mastered the correct posture, begin to practice your push-off from one foot to the other in a smooth motion. Concentrate on pushing off primarily from the ball of your foot and letting your momentum carry you forward effortlessly.
Keeping a steady rhythm is crucial when skating any distance on the ice. The ability to relax, release tension and use a natural swinging arm motion creates efficient pushes and brings fluency into your movements. Try counting out loud to establish and maintain a stable cadence while optimizing more extended strides.
Practice your turns
A well-executed turn requires understanding balance and leaning angles properly. In addition to maintaining momentum, you need to focus on positioning your body correctly with each progressive turn. When turning left or right, initiate the movement by shifting your weight slightly to the opposite side of the intended direction and bend your knees more than usual.
Here’s a tip for beginners; use the hockey stop method when practicing turns since it is an excellent way to slow down, maintain balance and pivot in different directions. To achieve the hockey stop technique, tilt one foot outwards while keeping the other straight ahead, transferring your weight onto your outer edge until you come to a halt. With persistence and consistent practice, this can help you improve your turns over time.
Master backward skating
Backward ice-skating requires lots of practice to perfect, but don’t be disheartened. Understandably, it may feel strange at first to skate backwards, especially if you’re new to ice skating. Begin by focusing on your posture and sticking close to the boards. Keep your knees bent, gaze forward and move slowly while concentrating on gliding across the ice safely.
To start skating backward, position your feet shoulder-width apart as before, complete a half-swivel motion to orient yourself in the desired direction, then push off with one foot like you would when going forward. Remember always to lean slightly forward without bending at the waist. Swivel your head to keep looking forward so that you stay aware of the surroundings throughout the entire process.
“The difference between falling and not falling is often correct stride mechanics.” -Jordan Hinds
Practice makes perfect, so consider signing up for lessons with an instructor who can guide you through every step of the learning process. Reach out to experienced skaters for advice, watch tutorials online, and visit your local rink regularly. In no time, you’ll find yourself enjoying a fun and thrilling sport that is ice skating.
Control Your Speed
If you want to ski on ice, controlling your speed is crucial. You have to be able to adjust your speed based on the terrain and conditions you are skiing in. Below are some tips to help you control your speed.
Apply Brakes Properly
The first thing you need to learn is how to apply brakes properly. To slow down, gently press the edges of your skis into the snow. This should create friction between your skis and the snow, which will eventually slow you down. Avoid using excessive force when pressing on the brakes. Doing so can cause you to lose control and fall over, especially if you’re moving at a high speed.
It’s important to practice applying brakes until it becomes second nature. Keep practicing until you can stop more quickly without falling or losing balance.
Learn to Stop Effectively
A great way to control your speed is by learning how to stop effectively. There are different ways to stop while skiing, but one of the most effective is called the “wedge turn”. Here’s how you do it:
- To start, position your skis perpendicular to the hill and try to come to a complete stop.
- Then, slowly move your weight to one foot and shift your legs slightly so that they form a wedge shape like this “/” with the tips touching each other.
- You should feel yourself starting to slide sideways across the slope. If you don’t feel any movement, push outwards with your feet while transferring your weight to one side of your body.
- Move into another direction as necessary for your next move in order to stay safe.
Practice stopping gradually and try to make the wedge shape as small as possible. You’ll find that you’re coming to a stop much more quickly after some practice, which will give you more control over your speed.
Control Your Speed With Crossovers
Crossovers are another great way to control your speed on ice. This technique involves skiing in a zigzag pattern down the slope, making sharp turns back and forth across the hill. To do this correctly:
- Ski down the hill, gradually increasing speed until you feel like you’re moving too fast.
- Draw your skis outwards from parallel into an angle toward the side of the run.
- Shift your weight onto the edge of your downhill ski.
- Create an “S” motion by swinging your opposite ski around it and then transferring your weight to that foot before repeating the process again.
The crossovers should be tight enough to reduce your speed significantly without losing balance or momentum. Practice this technique slowly until you feel comfortable doing it faster.
Master the Hockey Stop
If you want to reach expert level at controlling your speed when skiing on ice, mastering the hockey stop is key! The hockey stop is a stopping technique used by many professional skiers, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have better control over your movements. Here’s how you can do it:
- Select a high point on the mountain and launch yourself downwards.
- Place most of your weight on one foot, while keeping both feet pointing straight ahead.
- Twist both of your skis in opposite directions so they become perpendicular to each other (one tip goes left and other right).
- Balance on your outside edge (edge closest to the snow) of the ski you’ve rotated and dig it in deeply with pressure.
- The skis will slow down, slowing down your momentum almost instantly once they come parallel. That’s what a hockey stop is all about!
If done correctly, the hockey stop lets you control your speed quickly while keeping your balance steady without sacrificing too much potential for continued movement, which makes it an extremely useful technique to learn when skiing on ice or packed snow.
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” -Albert Einstein
With these helpful tips mentioned above, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming better at skiing on ice. Just remember to start slowly and practice constantly before attempting advanced moves. Applying these techniques will make controlling your speed easier and more natural over time, so hit the slopes soon to get started!
Look for the best conditions
Skiing on ice can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun. However, to ski safely on ice, you need to look for the best conditions. You should find smooth ice, avoid thin ice, and stay away from ice with cracks or holes.
Find smooth ice
To have the best skiing experience on ice, make sure you find an area with smooth ice. The smoother the surface, the easier your ride will be. If there are any bumps or rough patches in the ice, your ski can get stuck, and you might end up falling. Look for areas that have been groomed, where snow has been swept off, leaving behind smooth ice. Make sure you check the weather, as warm temperatures can melt the ice and create uneven conditions.
“Finding good icy terrain is fairly common throughout the US, Europe, and Japan,” says John Stifter, editor at Powder Magazine. “When the snow melts, water freezes over thus exposing alpine obstacles that transform into potential hits.”
Avoid thin ice
You must avoid thin ice when skiing. Thin ice can crack, causing you to fall through. To ensure that the ice you choose is thick enough, take a tool such as an ice axe or ski pole and test the thickness of the ice before stepping onto it. Be aware that different types of ice require different thicknesses to support your weight. For example, white opaque ice needs to be about 12 inches thick to hold the weight of people while gray ice needs around 15 inches.
“The most important consideration is safety,” says Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards. “In other words, if you aren’t entirely confident that the ice is safe, don’t hit it. The snow and ice will be there tomorrow and the next day.”
Avoid ice with cracks or holes
Avoid skiing on ice that has any visible cracks or holes, as they can cause you to lose control of your ski. When skiing fast, hitting a crack or hole can make you fall off your ski, making it much harder for you to balance. If you’re unsure about the condition of an icy area, ask someone who is more experienced in skiing on ice.
“One thing I always tell people when going out onto ice is to try not to have too much of a preconceived idea because the conditions are often changing,” says professional skier Lynsey Dyer. “What you need to do is assess what’s around you and figure out where the best line is.”
Now you know how to ski on ice safely. Always remember to look for smooth ice, avoid thin ice, and stay away from ice with cracks or holes. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy skiing on ice while staying safe at the same time!
Stay safe on the ice
Wear appropriate safety gear
Safety gear is essential when heading out onto the ice. Skating can be incredibly fun, but if you fall and hit your head or get cold, it may lead to injury or hypothermia.
The most important item of safety gear for skating is a helmet. Make sure that your helmet fits snugly and has been approved by government safety organizations such as ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials).
Other items to consider wearing include knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and warm clothing. If you’re going skating outdoors, make sure to dress appropriately with layers and bring extra gloves and socks in case your current ones get wet.
Avoid skating alone
If possible, avoid skating alone. Not only is it more enjoyable to have someone to talk to while skating, but it’s also safer to have someone else around in case you fall or experience an accident.
If you’re going to skate alone, always let somebody know where you are going and approximately how long you will be there. Consider carrying a mobile phone with you to call for help in case you need it. Also, try to skate in populated areas, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the terrain and the surrounding environment.
Know the signs of hypothermia
Hypothermia happens when the body’s temperature gets too low due to exposure to cold water or air. Symptoms of hypothermia may include confusion, sluggishness, difficulty speaking coherently, shallow breathing, weak pulse, and loss of consciousness.
If you or another skater begin to exhibit any of these symptoms, immediately take steps to warm up quickly. Remove all wet clothing, including gloves, socks, and hats. If possible, get indoors or to a sheltered area where you can turn up the heat.
Wrap yourself in warm blankets, drink something hot like tea or cocoa, and soak your feet in warm water. Do not drink alcohol since it may cause blood vessels to dilate, causing your body temperature to drop even more.
“Frostbite and hypothermia are two very real dangers of any cold-weather activity. Wearing appropriate gear and knowing how to stay safe is key to enjoying winter sports.” -Bill Hemphill
If you want to enjoyably ski on ice, always take safety seriously. Remembering to wear proper safety equipment, having a companion or someone who’s aware of your activities, and being able to recognize initial symptoms of hypothermia will go a long way in keeping you from harm’s way while you’re out there on the ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the techniques for skiing on ice?
When skiing on ice, it’s important to stay balanced and keep your weight forward. Use sharp and short turns to maintain control on the slippery surface. Keep your knees flexed and your upper body facing downhill. Focus on your edges and use them to carve into the ice. Try to avoid skidding or sliding as much as possible, as this can cause you to lose control. Practice these techniques on easier slopes before tackling more challenging terrain.
How can you prepare your equipment for skiing on ice?
When preparing your equipment for skiing on ice, make sure your edges are sharp and well-maintained. Use wax that is specifically designed for icy conditions to help your skis glide smoothly. Adjust your bindings to ensure they are at the correct tension and are in good condition. Consider using stiffer boots to provide more support and control. Lastly, make sure your helmet and goggles are in good condition and fit properly for maximum safety on the slopes.
What are the safety measures for skiing on icy slopes?
When skiing on icy slopes, safety is paramount. Always wear a helmet and goggles to protect your head and eyes from injury. Stay within your abilities and avoid slopes that are too steep or challenging. Be aware of other skiers and snowboarders around you, and always yield to those downhill. Stay hydrated and take breaks when needed to avoid fatigue and injury. Lastly, be sure to check the weather and slope conditions before heading out to ski.
What are the best locations for skiing on ice?
Some of the best locations for skiing on ice include resorts and mountains in regions known for their colder temperatures and icy conditions, such as the Northeastern United States, Canada, and Europe. Look for slopes that have a higher elevation and receive more snow, as this can help create a better base for skiing on ice. Check with local ski shops or online resources for recommendations on the best locations for skiing on ice in your area.
How can you improve your balance and stability while skiing on ice?
Improving your balance and stability while skiing on ice can be challenging, but there are techniques you can use to help. Practice exercises that focus on strengthening your legs and core, such as squats and lunges. Work on your balance by standing on one foot and holding it for as long as possible. Try skiing on easier slopes and gradually work your way up to more challenging terrain. Lastly, practice good posture and keep your weight centered over your skis.
What are the common mistakes to avoid while skiing on ice?
Common mistakes to avoid while skiing on ice include leaning back, which can cause you to lose control and fall. Avoid skidding or sliding, as this can also cause you to lose control. Don’t rely too much on your poles, as this can throw off your balance. Don’t try to ski too fast, especially on icy slopes, as this can be dangerous. Lastly, don’t underestimate the importance of staying hydrated and taking breaks when needed to avoid fatigue.