Everyone was a beginner on the slopes at some point. We’ve all felt those butterflies and experienced that sense of terror mixed with elation. Ski instructor and mother-of-two Marie Stenmalm, manager of SkiStar’s ski school in Sälen, has taught thousands of adults and children to take those first turns. With 23 years of experience as a ski instructor, Marie offers us her top tips for getting started on the snow – and she’s absolutely convinced that it’s something everyone can do.

“A lot of people think it’s hard to learn to ski downhill, but I know from experience that it’s something everyone can learn to do. Skiing really is something that everyone can do together, regardless of ability. You just need to choose the difficulty level of piste that you’re going to ski down,” explains Marie Stenmalm.

10 top tips for getting started: 

  • Start on flat ground. Put your skis on and move around a bit with them on. Try gently gliding just to see how it feels.
  • Try a snowplough: form a ‘V’ shape with your skis, with the (front) ski tips pointing in towards each other. This acts as a brake, so that you can slide downhill at a controlled speed.
  • First time on a ski lift: choose the easiest slope and get off at the first exit point. Feel free to ask the lift operator for help! Keep your eyes forward all the time you’re on the lift and try to keep your skis about shoulder-width apart. This should help you stay balanced.
  • Remember that you control your skis with your feet. By pointing your toes, you change the direction of your skis. This will enable you to begin practising turns. Shift your centre of gravity to one foot and you’ll see that the skis start to turn. If you lean to the right, you’ll turn left, and vice versa.
  • Try to put your weight on the middle of your foot – that’s best for balance.
  • You don’t often need poles at first. You can worry about them later.
  • Practice makes perfect! It takes time to learn anything new, but the more you practise, the better you’ll get.
  • Take it easy and relax: people often tense up unnecessarily, which makes things that much harder.
  • Don’t forget to take a break! Downhill skiing is good exercise, and that means you do need a rest. A coffee (and maybe a sweet treat) will taste even better when you’ve been out in the fresh mountain air doing exercise!
  • The very best way to start – and the way to get even better on the slopes – is to book a skiing lesson.

Some simple advice for parents with child beginners: 

  • Take them to the bathroom before you start.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Don’t forget that skiing should be fun, so don’t force it – let it take as long as it takes.
  • Younger children (3-5-year-olds) need more time.