What Are the Different Types of Skiing?

Skiing provides many benefits and is one of the few cold-weather sports that individuals of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. Since its origins the sport has evolved to include various formats, including those that favor casual skiing and others reserved for adventure seekers.

Before you strap on skis for the first time, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the most popular skiing formats, so that you can find one in line with your experience and interests.

Downhill Skiing

When most people think of skiing, they envision racing down steep mountains at breakneck speeds. Downhill, or Alpine, skiing is generally the preferred format of more hardcore skiers, as it is both more difficult and expensive than other variations.

Cross-Country Skiing

The oldest form of skiing, cross-country skiing has its roots in more practical applications. Namely, mail carriers would ski across the snow when the weather wouldn’t permit safe transport via other means. Some believe that cross-country skiing dates back even further, all the way to approximately 6,000 B.C.

There are two types of cross-country skiing. The more traditional (classic) style is characterized by its graceful, gliding movements. Conversely, skiers can also utilize a style that more closely resembles skating than skiing.

The primary difference between cross-country and Alpine skiing is that cross-country generally takes place on flat terrain. For this reason, the skier’s heel is not bound to the ski.

Freestyle Skiing

For all you adrenaline junkies out there, freestyle skiing is the way to go. A catch-all term, freestyle skiers may come from one of several disciplinary schools including snowboarding, half-pipe skiing and death defying aerials.

One freestyle form, mogul skiing, tasks athletes with navigating their way around equidistant snow mounds. Although similar in many respects to downhill skiing, mogul skiers require extra focus, as one small mistake could lead to a potentially painful spill.

If you’ve ever watched the Winter Olympics, you’ve probably seen the world’s top aerial skiers take flight. Using only their body for balance, aerial skiers leap off a platform, performing stunts while in the air. Suffice to say, aerial skiing is not for amateurs.

Ski Racing

Speaking of the Olympics, another popular competitive skiing format is simply labeled ski racing. Typically decided over a course laden with obstacles, ski racing requires exemplary precision and grace.

On the very fastest courses, it is not uncommon for skiers to eclipse the 100 mile-per-hour barrier. As such, skiers like Bob Corsini, typically learn other disciplines before graduating to ski racing.

There are two major types of ski racing: Slalom, which features more gates (or flags), and Giant Slalom, which favors fewer gates and increased top speeds.

Backcountry Skiing

The final form of skiing is less of a format and more of an adventure. Backcountry skiers define their own rules, skiing where they want, when they want and how they want. Entire blogs and video series have been dedicated to the best backcountry skiing routes in the world.

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