How To Stop On Skis Safely & What To Avoid! 2023

If you are new to skiing and want to know how to stop on skis safely, I have you covered!

Skiing down snowy mountains can be the most breathtaking experience, but nasty accidents can happen if you don’t know how to stop with skis at will when going downhill. (Confession: I got into a bad accident in New Zealand and couldn’t walk for ages , horrific. I never want this to happen to anyone else !)

Stopping on skis is the most fundamental skill to learn and is essential for your own and others’ safety on the mountain.

Taking a lesson from a professional ski instructor is the best way to learn how to stop when skiing. 

To help you get extra prepared, we have compiled 7 ways how to stop on skis safely as a beginner before hitting the slopes this winter. 

How to stop on skis

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2 Fundamental Skills To Help You Stop On Skis

As a beginner, there are two fundamental skills you need to know before learning how to stop with skis. That’s good balance and control!

Skiing down a mountain can be scary especially when your legs are strapped in two separate skis. You can easily slide in different directions, leaving you unstable and vulnerable to falling.

Of all the skiing tips for beginner skiers, learning these foundational skills is the most important and can be easily taught with ski lessons.

The “athletic stance” is usually the first position ski instructors teach as the foundation for balance and control. Imagine a soccer goalie on guard to protect the goal, where you:

  1. Position your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees.
  3. Keep your back straight.
  4. Have your chest and eyes up looking straight ahead.
  5. Position your shoulders over your knees.

This stance puts you in an optimal position to maximize your strength and power, so you can move quickly in any direction.

You will also be able to feel more sensations at the bottom of your feet to maintain balance and pressure control on the snow.

How to stop on skis

Which Part Of The Skis Help You Stop?

As a newbie, it is also useful to know which particular part of the skis affects your navigation and control.

The metal edges that run along the inner and outer sides of the skis are the most important areas of your skis.

Digging your edges into the snow helps you control your speed, turn and stop.

You control them by tilting, shifting your weight, and applying pressure on a particular side to cut through the snow.

Over time, the edges will get blunt and need to be sharpened. Keeping sharp edges will give you a better grip in the snow for a smoother ski experience. 

5 Ways On How To Stop On Skis

1. Pizza Stop

This is the first technique you will learn as a new skier. It is called the pizza stop because of the triangle shape your skis make when you brake. The V-shape creates resistance in the snow to help you slow down.

Also known as the ‘snow plow’ or ‘wedge’ stop, this is the easiest technique for beginners to learn how to balance, control speed and stop on shallow groomed terrain like bunny slopes.

The safest place to start learning the pizza stop is downhill on the flat. You begin in an athletic stance and start by:

  1. Pushing the back of your skis out while turning both your legs inward. 
  2. Then apply pressure on the inner edges of the skis, this will cut into the snow and start reducing your speed.
  3. Point your tips inwards keeping them close together like an arrow.
  4. Continue pushing the tails further apart to create more friction until you come to a full stop. 

Making a bigger slice in your pizza skis helps you stop quickly, while a smaller slice slows you down. 

This technique is not suited for stopping at fast speeds on steep hills. It is also harder to use this method on deep powder snow.

When practicing this technique, it is essential not to join your knees. Keep them hip-width apart with your hands held out in front of your body for better balance. 

Here’s a great video explaining the basics of how to snow plow.

How to stop on skis

2. Wedged Turn Stop 

Once you know how to pizza stop, you can build on this technique by adding a turn. Learning how to turn on skis is a useful way to control your speed, especially on steeper terrain. 

The wedged turn (also called “snow plow turn stop”) follows the same steps as the standard pizza stop, but more pressure is added onto only one leg. The aim is to turn and stop with your body and feet facing across the slope, and your skis ending in a V-shape position.

Here is how you can add a turn to your pizza stop:

  1. Start sliding and get into a snow plow.
  2. Keep your torso relaxed, arms in front with your eyes looking ahead.
  3. As you pick up speed, point your feet in the direction you want to turn.
  4. Start pushing more weight into your left ski to turn right or your right ski to turn left. This pressure helps grip the snow to steer your turn.
  5. Lean to the left side when turning right or your right side when turning left for balance.
  6. Maintain the pressure on one ski until you come to a stop with both skis facing horizontally across the hill.
  7. Once you are stationary, put more weight on the inner edge of your skis to avoid sliding down the slope.

You may find that it is easier to turn in one direction than the other. Start practicing with your stronger side first then move on to the other.

The snow plow turn stop is a faster technique than a pizza stop. However, stopping is progressive, not instant. The amount of pressure applied controls your speed for stopping. If you do not put enough weight on the outer edge of your ski, you will not turn as quickly. 

This method is about slowing down to turn and not turning to slow down. 

You will also tend to continue moving sideways across the slope for several meters before coming to a complete halt. So, it is important to take note of this when deciding where is a good place to stop safely on the mountain.

Before making a turn, always watch for uphill skiers coming downhill to avoid nasty collisions. 

This tutorial video by SKNG Life runs through each step on how to stop using snow plow turns.

3. Ride Out Turn

Once you have mastered the snow plow turn stop, you can easily progress to the ride-out turn. It is similar to the snow plow turn stop, where you turn and ski across the slope using the uphill to help you lose momentum.

However, unlike the snow plow turn stop, your skis end in a parallel stance instead of a pizza shape. This minor variation helps prepare you for more technical moves like the hockey stop.

How to stop on skis

4. Hockey Stop

The hockey stop (also called ‘parallel stop’) is the most effective method to learn how to stop when skiing fast.  This is a more advanced technique taught once you have mastered parallel turns and are comfortable skiing at higher speeds down steeper slopes. 

The hockey stop involves quickly turning both your skis parallel to the slope, bringing yourself to a swift halt. 

Follow these steps when performing a hockey stop:

  1. Start skiing downhill with your skis parallel to each other in an athletic stance.
  2. Gently stand up and lift your weight easing the pressure off your skis. This makes it easy for you to rotate your feet.
  3. Shift most of your weight onto the outside ski. This helps you turn quickly.
  4. Swiftly rotate both your feet and legs so your skis are parallel to the slope. You want to keep your skis flat on the snow here to maintain balance. 
  5. Once your skis are turned, bend your knees and quickly dig the inner edges of your skis into the snow to stop.
  6. Finally, release pressure off the inner edges and flatten your skis to avoid falling backward.

Throughout this technique, your hips and upper body do not twist with your turn. It continues facing forward together with your head to help control your balance. 

Hockey stops are good on any terrain including soft snow or powder. However, it is not the best stopping method when going too slow. 

Practice committing to your turn and applying pressure to your edges properly in one swift motion. You can also check out the technical moves in this tutorial video.

5. Falling

If all else fails and you are unable to stop on your skis, a controlled fall is your best option. It is not ideal but if you purposefully fall with care, you can reduce the risk of injuries to yourself and others. 

Of all the downhill skiing tips, learning how to fall on skis is one of the most important. 

Always keep your arms, hands, and poles out of the way. Do not break your fall on your elbows, wrist, or hand.

Tuck your chin and neck towards your chest to protect your head.

Where possible, fall into the slope and land on your side with straight arms, outstretched legs, and your skis below you. Avoid landing on your back.

Dig your feet into the snow to stop you from sliding but never bend your knees. They are vulnerable to twisting. 

Keep your legs straight to withstand the twisting motions until your bindings release. If they have come off, try digging your boots into the snow to stop you from sliding further. 

Momentum and speed can build up fast in fall, so it is important to act early and swiftly. 

How Not To Stop While Skiing?

As a beginner, it is common to make mistakes when learning how to stop while skiing. So we’ve compiled a list of don’ts to help you stop like a pro:

1. Don’t Use Poles

Never plant your poles in the ground to help you stop. Your poles bend easily and can do serious damage to your wrists. You also run the risk of skiing over it, which can hurt your knees. Use your poles for stability and push off instead.

How to stop on skis

2. Avoid Leaning Back

When you lean back, it is harder to turn your skis across the slope. Leaning back too much can lead to a fall. Stay balanced by keeping your weight over the middle of your skis and feeling the pressure under the balls of your feet.

3. Don’t Obstruct A Trail

Never stop in the middle of a trail. This endangers you and other skiers who may crash into you.

4. Don’t Be Invisible

Do not stop in areas where you are not visible from above. If you are waiting for friends, continue riding down and stop at a visible area.

5. Don’t Stop Near Park Features

Stop far away from snow park features and never stop under a jump!

6. Don’t Stop Near The Slope Edges

Skiing too close to the slope edges is dangerous. As a beginner, you will tend to take wider and longer turns, if you cannot stop in time you risk falling off the edge. Ski closer to the middle of the trail to avoid this.

What Extra Safety Precautions To Take When Skiing?

There are a few extra safety tips to keep in mind when stopping on skis:

1. Stay In Control

Be aware of your surroundings and other skiers. Changes can happen quickly on a slope, so it is important to stay in control and stick to terrain within your ski level.

2. Keep a Safe Distance

The skiers in front of you have the right of way. Always maintain a safe distance from them to avoid a collision.

How To Stop Skiing On Ice & Hard Packed Snow?

Icy conditions can make it very hard to control your speed and balance, especially for new skiers. It will be harder to make turns with less friction on the snow. 

It is more slippery and your skis can easily slide out from under you, causing a nasty fall. So it is important to be more careful and subtle with your edge control.

Start finding your edge and slowly turn down the hill keeping your skis flat.  You can have a slightly wider stance than normal for stability but ensure you maintain your weight over your skis for control.

Gently apply more pressure on the inside edge of your downhill ski and slide through the turns at a controlled pace until you come to a gradual stop.

Avoid making sharp turns and do not attempt a sudden stop. Focus on keeping your balance throughout the whole turn.

How to stop on skis

How To Stop Skiing While It’s Snowing?

Skiing in the snow is more physically demanding. The powder makes it hard for you to turn, and it becomes easier to catch an edge. Your skis get caught in the snow and you come to a sudden stop, leading to a nasty fall.

So how do you stop when skiing in snow? 

You can do a hockey stop if there is a light layer of snow. If there is thicker powder, swift turns like hockey stops are not as effective. Instead, make a big wide turn or “J-turn” to slow down in the powder. 

FAQs On How To Stop On Skis Safely

How Should A Beginner Stop Skiing?

One way a beginner should stop skiing is to turn your feet and legs parallel whilst starting to bend your knees and dig into the snow with the inner edge of both skis and push through your heel

Dig deeper into the snow to stop faster. Relieve pressure from the inner edges and flatten your skis to stop you from falling backward.

How Do You Slow Down And Stop When Skiing?

How do you slow down and stop when skiing? Pushing out your skis to form a triangle is how you slow down and stop when skiing. The pizza stop creates resistance in the snow and slows your momentum, so you can come to a gradual stop.

For a quicker stop, apply more pressure to your inner edges and push out your skis further.

How Do You Stop Skiing When Going Fast?

How do you stop skiing when going fast? Carve or “snow plow” long turns across the hill are how you stop skiing when going fast. The aim is to turn and stop with your skis so they are parallel to the slope.

Point the ski tips together like a snow plow or a pizza stop to slow yourself down even further.

Knowing how to stop in skiing is essential to a safe and enjoyable day on the mountain. Always start slow and take your time.

You will naturally gain confidence as you gradually master the basics and move on to more challenging techniques.

Remember much like in life, skiing is about balance. Keep practicing and you will confidently be zooming down the slope in no time!

These first-time skiing tips will help you learn the basic stopping techniques and understand which method is best in different snow conditions. We hope you no longer worry about how do you stop on skis. It’s time to grab your poles and hit the bunny slopes!

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