How to Ski Steeps

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Skier on a steep run

Skiing steep slopes can be thrilling, but it can also be scary if you don’t have the basic skills to get down. With some practice, you’ll get the hang of staying balanced, making skid turns and choosing a line.

How to Ski Steeps

  • Stay balanced: Keep your body stacked over your skis front to back and side to side and your shoulders facing downhill.
  • Make skid turns: Skid turns allow you to control speed more than when you’re carving on your edges.
  • Choose a line: Take time to look for obstacles, icy sections or no-fall zones before heading downhill.

 

VIDEO: How to Ski Steeps

 

Maintaining Balance While Skiing Steeps

a skier using a strong pole plant and balanced body to stay balanced on their skis while skiing steeps

  • Keep your body stacked over your skis front to back and side to side.
  • Keep your shoulders facing downhill and tip them slightly over your outside ski as your skis cross the fall line. This will help you keep more of your weight over the outside ski.
  • Strong pole plants are key for stability and control in the steeps. Reach downhill and plant your pole just before you release your edges. Then push your pole forward as you ski past it. Check out our video on pole plants to help dial in your technique.

 

Making Skid Turns on Steeps

Rather than carving tight turns on your edges, try making skid turns down steep slopes. Skidding allows you to control your speed and makes it easier to release your edges and initiate the next turn.

a skier on a steep slope and a visual example of a low edge angle

To do a skid turn, focus on keeping a low edge angle. That way the sidecut of the skis won’t engage too aggressively and send your skis speeding across the hill.

 

a skier practicing their skidded pivot stops

To help perfect your skid turns, practice the pivot-slip. Here’s how:

  • Find a comfortable, groomed slope and gather some speed.
  • Then twist your legs so your skis point across the hill while your upper body stays pointing down the fall line.
  • Keep your skis in this position and slip downhill for a bit.
  • Now release both edges and turn your skis back across the fall line in the opposite direction.

Practicing the pivot-slip will get you used to keeping a low edge angle so your legs and skis can twist while your upper body stays pointing down the fall line just like in the steeps.

 

Choosing a Line

a skier glancing down to mountain to determine their line

Steeps can be challenging and treacherous to ski if you’re not prepared. Perhaps more than anywhere else on the mountain, you need to plan ahead in the steeps and be thoughtful about the line you will ski. Before proceeding down a steep section, take some time at the top to look for obstacles, icy sections or no-fall zones.

Based on what you see, and while considering your skiing ability and comfort level, pick the best line for you and try to stick to your plan.

 
 

Remember: Safety is your responsibility. No internet article or video can replace proper instruction and experience—this article is intended solely as supplemental information. Be sure you’re practiced in proper techniques and safety requirements before you engage in any outdoors activity.

 
 
 

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Contributing Experts

Robin Barnes

Professional Ski Instructors of America National Alpine Team member, Robin Barnes, has been teaching skiing since 1990. In her pursuit of powder, she enjoys two winters each year: one in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the other in Portillo, Chile.