Ski Stop

How To Stop On Skis [2024]: Without Injuring Yourself

Skiing, with its exhilarating rush down snow-covered slopes, embodies the very essence of adventure and excitement. Whether you’re a novice setting foot on the snow for the first time or an experienced enthusiast seeking the next challenge, the thrill of gliding down mountainsides is unparalleled.

Yet, within this thrilling pursuit lies a crucial aspect that every skier must master: how to stop on skis

Look, I get it, flying down a ski slope at 100mph may seem fun in theory, but let me tell you, any collisions at high speeds can have serious repercussions for you or a fellow skier. I recognise the universal importance of this topic, acknowledging its relevance for beginners in order for them to learn how to stop on skis and carve up the slopes in a safe manner.

Hitting the slopes for the first time can be scary, so this guide is here to plug the gap for beginners wanting to learn how to ski safely and effectively.

It should be noted that the best, and safest, way to learn how to stop on skis is to take ski lessons with a ski school or ski instructor. This article cannot replace the expertise that will be provided to you during a lesson but will give you some tips and tricks so you have some knowledge before tasting the powder for the first time.

What Are The Best Ways To Stop On Skis

It is widely known there are 3 main techniques when it comes to stopping safely when you ski.

  1. The Snow Plough
  2. The Turn
  3. The Skid (Hockey Stop)

With the Snow Plough being the easiest and the hockey stop as the hardest, as you develop your ski ability you can gradually integrate the harder more advanced techniques and know how to stop on skis faster. 

1. The Snow Plough

For those new to skiing, executing the Snow Plough technique is essential for safe and controlled descents down the slopes. 

It is the first technique you are taught and a key skill used to stop on skis.

Always start on slopes with only a slight incline so if you have to fall you will be going very slow.

To initiate the Snow Plough, beginners should start in a relaxed stance with their skis shoulder-width apart. As you begin to glide forward, gently apply pressure to the inner ski edge while simultaneously pushing your heels outward (moving your skis at the same time not just one ski). This motion causes the tips of your skis to come closer together, forming a wedge shape.

You need to distribute your weight evenly between both skis, maintaining a centred stance.

By angling the skis inwards in a Snow Plough position, the ski edge will dig into the snow, so you slow down and stop.

A key tip is to focus on the inside edges of the skis, where the most control is exerted. Additionally, keeping the knees slightly bent and maintaining a forward posture enhances balance, making it easier to execute the Snow Plough.

2. The Turn

Congratulations! Now that you have mastered the Snow Plough you can use it to turn.

No, we are not talking about straight-line turning (that comes later) for snow it’s the Snow Plough turn.

It’s time to progress to a slightly steeper slope so you have enough momentum to execute the turn.

To execute a Snow Plough turn, a skier begins in the standard Snow Plough stance and slowly heads down the slope. As the skier intends to turn, you increase the pressure on the inner edge of the ski in the direction you want to go.

For example, to turn left, the skier applies more pressure on the inner edge of the right ski (70:30 pressure on the right foot), causing the right foot to arc around to the left until your skis are parallel to the slope.

In order to turn to the right repeat the same process but on the other foot, applying pressure to your left foot until the skis parallel again, completing the parallel turn. 

This variance in pressure creates resistance, guiding the skis into a gentle curve.

This is an effective method for people who start skiing as you can stop quickly and by utilising the plough throughout, you are progressing at a slow speed meaning you can be mindful of other skiers on the slope.

3. The Skid (Hockey Stop)

Commonly called the hockey stop, or parallel stop, the skid is a far more advanced technique in order to progress downhill as fast as possible when you stop on skis.

The Skid allows for a quick stop as it brings your skis perpendicular to the slope in one swift motion.

To apply this technique you stop using the Snow Plough and learn the art of parallel skiing.

Start skiing downhill. 

Parallel (both skis side by side pointing forward).

Once you feel you are going too fast, to skid, maintain your upper body in a leaning forward posture bend your knees and use your left ski pole to plant into the snow creating a pivot point to skid around.

At the same time as the planting of the pole, adjust the weight distribution to 70:30 on the right foot so you begin to move to the left. As you feel the right foot breaking from parallel quickly rotate both skis (almost like a flicking motion) so that it feels like the edge of your skis is planted into the slope (visa versa for the other foot).

Continue to progress side to side in a swerving motion down the slop and if you need to come to a stop, once the skid is performed allow for your momentum to come to a complete stop keeping your skis parallel and wait for a gap to proceed.

This is by far the most used method of stopping on skis so make sure you are comfortable with stopping with the skid before increasing the speed else you can be involved in accidents. 

Other Key Considerations When Learning To Stop On Skis

Now that we know the 3 main techniques to stop on skis, we can look at some other ski tips. Learning to ski is not a piece of cake there will inevitably be ups and downs but as long as you are creating good habits you will improve your skiing. Here are 5 tips to help you with your skiing.

  1. Falling is an inevitable part of skiing so do not be afraid of it. New skiers can be afraid to fall and therefore never truly master these techniques. Once you accept falling is part of the process practicing safe skiing and mastering techniques to stop on skis becomes wayyy easier. 
  2. What to do when there are many skiers around you – If this is the first few times you’ve taken to some real slopes, you may be feeling overwhelmed, but don’t worry this is what you should do.
    • Take your time, it is not a race to the bottom, control your speed and proceed across the slop using the snow plough.
    • Be aware of your surroundings, always check uphill before proceeding, wait for a gap and keep testing your ability to stop. 
    • If you find yourself on a slope with few people on it, practice some different ways to stop on skis (try the hockey stop) as this can help with your development later on. Remember to turn both skis instead of 1!
    • Don’t be afraid to go back to a beginner slope if you’re not ready for the trickier slopes yet.
    • If you panic and feel you can’t stop, firstly try to turn your skis sideways, if this is not possible fall to the side UP the hill.
  3. It’s not all downhill skiing – As a beginner, you need to learn how to stop confidently and be aware of your surroundings. Coummincation is key make sure to let people know when you’re within their vicinity. 
  4. When you’re ready use the skid more often – The skid is the most effective stopping method when it comes to the slopes as it is the fastest way to stop on skis. It is relatively easy to learn and will improve your stopping capabilities when you wish to take on harder challenges, like off-piste, where a Snow Plough is rarely used. 
  5. Use the width of the slope – Many skiers try to turn too fast and not use the width of the slope, turn across the hill, move across the slope and turn when you feel comfortable you can make the full arc without going too fast. 

Final Thoughts On How To Stop When Skiing

As we wrap up our overview of different methods of stopping when skiing, it is clear the journey to becoming a good skier, who can stop safely, is linear and the skills you need must develop one after the other.

Remember to leave your ego in the locker room, not everyone will be able to master these skills really quickly so only progress to a new movement or harder slope when you have truly mastered the previous steps. If you have to go back to an easier slope, do it, practice makes perfect. 

This article is here to aid your development as a skier and hopefully help you stop safely but, like I said before, it cannot replace the expertise you will receive from a trained professional at that particular ski slope. You can book a lesson or book a beginner-friendly resort to ensure you have the best possible start to your skiing journey. Check out my other articles on winter sports here.