Do you want to improve your ski technique? Stepping up your game by progressing from a beginner to intermediate opens a world of possibilities. You’ll be able to handle more of the ski slopes and keep up with more experienced skiers. Our handy guide will walk you through the basic steps to becoming an intermediate skier.

What is an Intermediate Skier?

Intermediate skiers, unlike beginners, use parallel ski turns and have left the snowplough far behind. It typically takes one to two ski lessons to progress from a beginner to intermediate skier.

How to Make Parallel Turns in Skiing

How to Go from Snow Plough to Parallel Skiing in Three Easy Steps

Once you’re comfortable with the snow plough, you can begin to think about parallel skiing. When you use a snowplough, you have the brakes on full-time. Taking away this safety precaution can feel scary at first, but there are other ways to control your speed without having to apply the brakes.

Step 1: Using Parallel Skis to Move Across the Slope

To control your speed while parallel skiing, point your skis straight across the hill. The more you point your skis downhill, the faster you’ll go. One insider skiing tip is to point your arms where you want to go as this makes it easy to see where your skis are pointing (without looking down). At this stage, you want to point you arms directly across the slope. You don’t need to worry about going too slow -- its all about getting the technique right.

As you approach the far side of the slope, make a normal snowplough turn. After you’ve made the turn and are starting to traverse, push your heels together and your toes apart to form a french fry or parallel shape. Practice using parallel skis to move across the trail and then a snowplough to make your turn. Ideally, you want to make the french fry shape as soon as you exit the turn, so you’re only briefly using a snowplough.

Step 2: Ski Tips Intermediate - Mastering the Wedge Christie

Once you’re comfortable with the classic parallel, snow plough technique, you can move onto the next step of making parallel ski turns -- the wedge christie. Also known as a stem christie, this ski technique is a hybrid of the snowplough and parallel turn.

  1. To begin the turn, make a snow plough shape with one ski. This allows you to change direction.
  2. Next, bring the other ski parallel to the snow plough ski by swivelling your heel inwards
  3. You can now complete the turn with both skis parallel

You’ll want to practice the stem christie for at least a few runs. Ideally, you want to make a smooth transition between the snowplough and parallel shape.

Step 3: Achieving Parallel Ski Turns - Abandoning the Snowplough

After you’ve mastered the stem christie, the next and final step is to stop using the snowplough once and for all. To do this, you’ll need to use a different ski technique to change direction.

This time, as you approach the corner, push your heels together like you’re making a hockey stop. Pushing your heels together will bring your skis around to face the opposite direction. However, you want to do this movement slow enough so that you don’t completely stop and can keep your momentum through the corner. We recommend practising on a flatter slope, so you don’t pick up too much speed during the turn.

As you become more comfortable making hockey stop turns, you can make wider turns. Eventually, your turns will make the perfect ‘S’ shape.

Ski Drills: Parallel Skiing Exercises

There are a few fun skiing exercises you can use to improve your fundamental techniques and make the above steps a bit easier.

  • Driving. When making parallel turns, it’s essential for your skis to point in the right direction. Pretend that you’re driving a car and have a steering wheel in your hands. As you move through the corner, you turn the wheel so that it’s pointed in the direction you want to go.
  • One leg balances. On flat ground, try balancing on only one ski. Parallel turns require you to put almost all your weight on your outside ski and this exercise can help with balance. As you progress, you can try balancing on one ski while slowing moving across the slopes.
  • Hockey stops. On a completely flat ground, practice pushing your heels together to make a hockey stop. You don’t need any speed for this exercise and it’s simply to help you get a feel for the movement required to make parallel turns.
Practice Makes Perfect

Like learning anything new, mastering parallel turning will take some practice. If you’re feeling frustrated trying to learn how to parallel turn on your own, book a ski lesson. Ski lessons aren’t only for beginners and ski instructors can provide the support and guidance you need to progress to the next level. With a bit of help and some practice, you’ll be carving up the red trails in no time.