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How to Stop on Skis

how to stop on skis

One of the best things about skiing is the feeling of flying down the hill, the wind in your hair, and the snow spraying up around you. But eventually, every skier has to come to a stop. 

Learning how to stop on skis is one of the most important things you can do as a beginner. After all, what good is it to be able to ski if you can’t stop when you want to? Fortunately, stopping on skis is not as difficult as it may seem. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can be quite fun! 

In this post, we will explore how to stop on skis and cover the different types of stops and how to execute them along with some of the common mistakes that skiers make when trying to stop.

How to Stop When Skiing

There are several ways to stop when skiing however in this post we will be only talking about 3 methods which are the most popular. The Snow plow which is easiest for beginners, the wedge turn stop and the hockey stop which is best for more experienced skiers.

Before you learn how to stop when skiing, make sure that you are not skiing in the backseat as it might be chance of falling if you try out some these advanced stop while in backseat.

stopping on skis

The Snow Plow

Every beginner skier should master the snow plow or the pizza stop, which is the most well-known ski stop. If this is your first time skiing, start with a small slope. The snow plow requires using your skis to form a triangle (or pizza slice).

You may pause your motion by putting out your skis at an angle to make a triangle with the snow. This snow plow angle lets you manage your pace and, and if you exert enough effort, come to a complete halt rather than pushing forward.

Use your snow plow movements that you practiced on the flat surface first, also make sure you support yourself a little with the poles so you don’t start gliding before you are ready. Get a buddy to pull you forward as you hold out your poles. As soon as you begin to skid, start honing your snow plow as described below:

  • To create the shape of a pizza, extend the skis’ backs. You’ll experience some resistance and a sense of slowing down as a result.
  • Push the skis’ backs out slightly more until you come to a complete halt.
  • Gently push onto the inside edge of each ski to build friction and speed up the slowing process to enhance your plowing.

Wedged Turn Stop

The wedged turn stop, also called the turning stop, is another good method that is used in order to stop skiing. You can stop more quickly and avoid things right in front of you by moving to the side. You could say this is kinda similar to the snow plow method but here, you have to apply more pressure on one leg than the other. 

  • First, you should start sliding and then try doing a snow plow, so that you’ll have more control with your skis.
  • One ski should be turned to the side as you put more force into it.
  • Push into your left ski to turn right or left into your right ski to turn left.
  • Your goal when you make a gentle turn to the side is to come to a stop so that your skis are pointed at the mountainside.
  • To prevent sliding down the slope when in the stance, put extra weight on the inside edge of your skis as you come to a halt.

On steeper terrain, you may use this method to stop on skis, but it’s essential to realize that you’ll now be skiing across the hill and need to be cautious of downhill skiers who may be approaching from behind you. Additionally, if you’re turning towards the ski slope, you shouldn’t be too near to it in case you overshoot and wind up hugging a tree.

Learning this stop might be tricky but its just like learning how to ski backwards.

The Hockey Stop

The hockey stop, also known as the parallel stop, is a bit more complex than either of the other methods mentioned here but still a very great way to stop quickly on any type of the slope.

This is for skiers who can parallel turn and are more experienced. This fundamental skiing maneuver enables you to quickly change directions and halt. The parallel stop is only advised for skiers who are prepared to go beyond the snow plow and are confident turning at speed. It is the quickest and most effective approach to avoid obstructions or crashes at speeds.

  • Just before coming to a halt, slowly rise to ease the skis’ grip on the snow.
  • Start a parallel turn and shift your weight onto the outside or downhill ski of the turn (faster and with more weight than you would during a turn).
  • Turn your feet and legs parallel, bending your knees as you push through your heel and drive both inner ski edges into the snow.
  • Your halt will come faster the deeper you sink into the snow.
  • To prevent falling backward, let your skis’ angle go and flatten them toward the surface.
  • Repeat. (You’ll develop muscle memory more as you practice.)

The hockey stop is effective regardless of the surface or pace, however, it is more challenging while traveling slowly, when you might choose the turn. Almost certainly, one side will feel easier than the other. Focus on mastering that side first, but also practice the opposite side.

Tips and Warnings

Here are some tips to think about when you are about to stop on skis.

Do not try and stop using your ski poles

A common mistake made by novice skiers is to try to stop themselves with their poles. If you rely only on your poles for stopping, they are easily bent, and you run the risk of hurting yourself.

Using your poles to stop yourself is not a smart idea if you’re traveling more than 1-2 mph, even if they’re wonderful for stability and for pushing off on your skis. Instead for more stability, plow the snow before planting your poles.

don't use pole to stop ski

Ride out the turn

The “ride out the turn” approach can be used if you’re traveling too fast to snow plow and need to stop but haven’t yet mastered the other techniques. It’s very straightforward, but it’s a helpful suggestion for novice skiers who are losing control or have to dodge a hurdle.

Instead of connecting the turn, place more of your weight on one ski, make a turn, continue skiing, then ride across and upward to slow down and come to a halt. You will slow down much more quickly on the uphill slope than a snow plow would on a downward slope. Turn toward the slope and let the ascent help you lose momentum.

Avoid turning uphill to avoid sliding backward; instead, strive to adopt a parallel stance and stop entirely by placing your weight on your inner edges. By doing this, you will avoid falling to one side.

  • Till you gain confidence, keep your upper body calm and softly push into the plow.
  • Before advancing to tougher terrain, continue to practice on smaller slopes.
  • Keep training!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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