Your best bet if you are a newcomer to alpine, or downhill, skiing is to rent skis, boots, and poles. Lessons are not essential, but if you feel a bit shaky and need direction or encouragement, sign up for a lesson or two.
Have your equipment checked and the binding releases set by the ski shop or a ski patrolman. Bindings should be equipped with a ski brake or a runaway strap to prevent the skis from shooting downhill if they release during a fall. Practice stepping in and out of the bindings several times so that you know how to operate them. And learn to hold your ski poles properly. Insert your hands into the loops from underneath so that your hands close around the poles and the straps.
Before skiing down a hill, spend time getting used to your skis. Slide them forward and backward. Take side steps. Push with your poles and walk around in circles. Watch the people around you as they walk with skis. Walk up and then slide down slight rises and dips in a flat area. Next, find a very gradual slope with a wide, level runout. Walk up a small portion of the slope (sidestep up if your skis slide backward) and, using what you have learned about balancing with your arms and your poles, push off and slide down. Point your skis in the direction you want to go-and most of the time you will. Gradually climb higher and slide farther. You may fall a few times, and you maybe unsure of your balance, but this is entirely normal for a beginner.
When you fall, relax and fall easily. Hold your poles so that you don’t land on them, and try to fall on your side with your skis downhill from your body and parallel to the slope. To get up, pull your legs up under your hips, place your hands or poles uphill from your body, and push.
As your ability improves, try sliding downhill with the tails of your skis pushed slightly apart and the tips close together but not touching. Relax in a slightly flexed stance. Your weight should be evenly distributed and centered over both skis.
Always look in the direction you want to go. Keep your hands relaxed and in front, with your ski poles pointing to the rear. Allow your skis to come back together, push them apart for a longer distance. Practice over and over. Next, while sliding along comfortably with the tails slightly apart, turn your body gently to one side, then the other. Just looking in the direction you want to go will start you in that direction. Try these gentle turns many times, with an occasional straight run for fun. As you practice, remember to turn with your feet. Keep your upper body relaxed and faced in the direction you intend to go. Take larger, longer turns; make short, quick turns. Try turns with your skis pushed slightly apart, then farther apart. Ski across the slope with your skis parallel, and try pressing the uphill edges of the skis into the slope. Turn uphill to stop. As you become more sure of your balance, try turns with your skis parallel, turns to the rhythm of a tune, alternating with long, straight runs.
Before you attempt riding a ski tow or lift, watch other skiers do it, and ask them for advice. Let the lift attendant know that it’s your first time. Use awareness and common sense as guides to better skiing.