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How To Slow Down Safely While Skiing


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Winona Keating



Skiing is an exhilarating and thrilling adventure sport that allows you to glide down snow-covered slopes and immerse yourself in the beauty of the mountainous landscape. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, one of the crucial skills to master is the art of slowing down safely. Controlling your speed not only helps you maintain control and avoid accidents but also allows you to fully enjoy the experience without feeling overwhelmed.


Slowing down while skiing requires a combination of techniques, terrain selection, and body control. By understanding and implementing these techniques, you can confidently navigate downhill slopes while maintaining a reasonable speed that suits your ability and comfort level.


In this article, we’ll explore various strategies that will enable you to slow down safely while skiing. From choosing the right terrain to employing specific maneuvers, we’ll cover everything you need to know to have a controlled and enjoyable skiing experience.


So, buckle up your boots, grab your poles, and let’s dive into the world of slowing down while skiing!


Choosing the Right Terrain

When it comes to slowing down safely while skiing, selecting the right terrain is crucial. Different slopes offer varying levels of difficulty, which directly impact your speed control. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Stick to beginner or intermediate slopes: If you’re still improving your skiing skills, it’s best to stick to slopes that match your ability level. These slopes typically have a gentler incline, making it easier to control your speed.
  2. Avoid excessively steep slopes: Steep slopes can make it challenging to slow down, especially if you’re a beginner. These slopes can quickly increase your speed, making it more difficult to maintain control. Gradually progress to steeper slopes as you gain more experience and confidence.
  3. Look for wide open spaces: Slopes with a wide-open area offer more room to maneuver and control your speed. This allows you to make wider turns and distribute your weight effectively, giving you more control over your descent.
  4. Consider the snow conditions: The type and condition of the snow can significantly impact your speed control. Fresh powder and deep snow can slow you down naturally, while icy conditions can make it harder to reduce your speed. Take these factors into account when choosing the right terrain.
  5. Be aware of traffic: Avoid crowded slopes, especially if you’re still mastering your speed control. A congested slope can make it difficult to navigate and decrease your reaction time to unexpected situations. Opt for less crowded areas so you can focus on practicing your techniques without feeling rushed or pressured.

Remember, choosing the right terrain sets the foundation for ensuring a safe and enjoyable skiing experience. Once you’ve identified the ideal slope that matches your skill level and the conditions you’re comfortable with, you can move on to mastering the techniques that will help you control your speed effectively.


Controlling Speed through Turn Shape

One of the most effective ways to slow down while skiing is by controlling your speed through turn shape. By adjusting the shape and size of your turns, you can regulate your speed and maintain control throughout your descent. Here are some techniques to help you master speed control through turn shape:

  • Make wider turns: To slow down, focus on making wider turns rather than sharp, narrow turns. By initiating your turns early and allowing for a greater turn radius, you can naturally reduce your speed. This technique gives you more time to control your momentum and distribute your weight effectively.
  • Extend the duration of your turns: Instead of rushing through your turns, extend the duration of each turn. This allows you to stay in control for longer periods and gradually decrease your speed. Remember to maintain a smooth and consistent turn shape throughout your descent.
  • Utilize the whole slope: To control your speed effectively, make use of the entire width of the slope. By moving from one side to the other, you can create a zig-zag pattern, effectively reducing your speed as you traverse the slope. This technique is especially useful on steeper slopes.
  • Focus on the initiation of your turns: The key to controlling speed through turn shape lies in the initiation of your turns. Start your turns early and apply gradual pressure on your edges to control your speed from the beginning. This allows you to maintain a consistent and controlled descent.

Mastering the art of controlling speed through turn shape requires practice and experimentation. Take the time to develop a smooth and fluid technique that works best for you. With experience, you’ll gain a better understanding of how different turn shapes can impact your speed control, allowing you to confidently navigate the slopes at your desired pace.


Utilizing Edging Techniques

When it comes to slowing down while skiing, mastering edging techniques is essential. Edging refers to the process of tilting your skis onto their edges, which helps you grip the snow and control your speed. Here are some edging techniques that can provide you with better speed control:

  • Angulation: Angulation involves bending your knees and ankles to create a sharper angle between your upper body and lower body. This technique allows you to apply more pressure on the edges of your skis, increasing your grip on the snow and reducing your speed.
  • Rolling the ankles: By rolling your ankles towards the inside of the turn, you can further engage the edges of your skis. This action increases your control and stability, allowing you to slow down effectively while maintaining balance.
  • Pressure distribution: Varying the pressure distribution on your skis can directly impact your speed control. When you want to slow down, shift more weight and pressure onto the downhill ski. This increases the edge contact, helping you grip the snow and decelerate.
  • Progressive edging: Instead of abruptly engaging your edges, practice progressive edging. Gradually increase the pressure on your edges as you enter a turn, allowing you to control your speed smoothly and consistently.

Remember, effective edging requires proper body positioning and weight distribution. Maintain an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent and your upper body aligned over your skis. This posture ensures better balance and control as you apply edging techniques to slow down.


Practice these edging techniques on different slopes and snow conditions to enhance your speed control skills. Through experience and experimentation, you’ll develop a better understanding of how edging can make a significant difference in maintaining a controlled and safe descent.


Employing Wedge Turns

Wedge turns, also known as pizza or snowplow turns, are a fundamental technique in skiing that can help you slow down and maintain control on the slopes. This technique involves creating a “V” shape with your skis, with the tips close together and the tails spread apart. Here’s how to employ wedge turns effectively:

  1. Initiate the wedge: Start by positioning your skis in a parallel stance with the tails slightly apart. Gradually push the heels of your skis apart while keeping the tips close together. This will create the wedge shape necessary for executing the turn.
  2. Control your speed: As you enter the turn, apply gentle pressure on the inside edges of your skis. This will help you slow down and maintain control throughout the turn.
  3. Focus on weight distribution: Distribute your weight evenly between both skis, with a slight emphasis on the inside ski. This will assist in maintaining stability and control while executing the wedge turn.
  4. Gradually release the wedge: Once you’ve completed the turn, gradually release the wedge by bringing your skis back to a parallel position. This allows you to transition smoothly into the next turn or return to a straight descent if necessary.

Wedge turns are particularly useful for beginners or skiers who are looking to slow down quickly on steeper slopes. This technique provides a greater surface area for your skis to grip the snow, promoting better control and reduced speed. Mastering the wedge turn is essential for building a solid foundation in skiing and gaining confidence in your ability to navigate the slopes safely.


Practice wedge turns on a gradual slope, gradually increasing the difficulty as you become more comfortable. By incorporating this technique into your skiing repertoire, you’ll have an effective tool for slowing down and maintaining control in various skiing scenarios.


Managing Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is a key factor in slowing down safely while skiing. By effectively managing your weight, you can control your speed and maintain balance throughout your descent. Here are some tips on how to manage weight distribution:

  1. Stay centered: Position your body in a balanced and centered stance. Avoid leaning too far back or too far forward, as this can affect your stability and control. By staying centered, you can respond quickly to changes in terrain and adjust your speed accordingly.
  2. Use your lower body: Engage your lower body to manage weight distribution. Bend your knees and ankles and use them as shock absorbers. This allows you to adapt to the terrain and maintain control over your skis.
  3. Shift weight to slow down: To slow down, shift more weight onto your downhill ski. This increases the pressure on the ski’s edge, enhancing your grip on the snow and slowing your descent. Remember to maintain a balanced distribution of weight between your feet, with a slight emphasis on the downhill ski.
  4. Adjust weight during turns: As you initiate a turn, shift your weight towards the inside of the turn. This facilitates better edge engagement and control while also reducing your speed. By effectively managing weight distribution during turns, you can smoothly navigate the slopes with controlled speed.
  5. Stay flexible and adaptable: Adapt your weight distribution to the specific terrain and conditions you encounter. Be flexible and adjust your stance as necessary to maintain control and manage your speed effectively.

Remember, weight distribution works in conjunction with other techniques, such as edging and turn shape, to provide optimal speed control. Practice managing weight distribution while skiing on different slopes and terrains to enhance your overall skill and confidence on the slopes.


By paying attention to your weight distribution and making conscious adjustments, you can maintain stability, control your speed, and enjoy a safe and exhilarating skiing experience.


Utilizing Pole Planting

Pole planting is a technique that can greatly assist in controlling your speed while skiing. By effectively utilizing your ski poles, you can enhance your balance, timing, and positioning, leading to better speed management. Here’s how you can employ pole planting to slow down at your desired pace:

  1. Proper grip and placement: Hold your ski poles with a relaxed grip, allowing for freedom of movement. Plant the poles in the snow slightly ahead and diagonal to your body, creating a forward and downward motion as you glide.
  2. Timing and synchronization: Coordinate your pole planting with your turns. As you initiate a turn, plant your pole in the snow at the same time. This helps maintain a smooth rhythm and enables you to control your speed throughout your descent.
  3. Weight transfer: Transfer your weight onto the pole that you plant. This action helps stabilize your body and provides additional control as you slow down. As a result, you can better distribute your weight and adjust your speed accordingly.
  4. Visual cues: Use your ski poles as visual markers to guide your turns. By focusing on where you want to plant your poles, you can anticipate and execute turns more effectively, ultimately aiding in speed control.
  5. Engage your core muscles: Utilize your core muscles to support the movement and stability of your upper body during pole planting. This engagement allows for better balance and overall control as you navigate the slopes and adjust your speed.

Practicing and refining your pole planting technique is essential for effective speed control. Gradually incorporate pole planting into your skiing routine, focusing on maintaining a fluid and consistent motion throughout your turns. With time and practice, you’ll develop a natural rhythm that helps slow down your descent while enhancing your overall skiing proficiency.


Remember, pole planting serves as a useful tool in controlling your speed and maintaining balance. By incorporating it into your skiing technique, you’ll gain more confidence, enjoy better control, and have a safer experience on the slopes.


Using Braking Techniques

Braking techniques are invaluable for slowing down and managing speed while skiing. These techniques provide you with the ability to control your descent on steeper slopes or in situations where you need to quickly reduce your speed. Here are some effective braking techniques to incorporate into your skiing repertoire:

  • Snowplow/Pizza: The snowplow or pizza technique is a classic method of braking while skiing. Begin by forming a wedge shape with your skis (tips together, tails apart) to increase resistance against the snow. Apply gentle pressure to the inside edges of your skis to slow down and maintain control. This technique is especially useful for beginners and in steep terrain.
  • Hockey stop: The hockey stop is a more advanced braking technique that requires coordination and agility. To execute a hockey stop, shift your weight forward onto your downhill ski while quickly turning both skis perpendicular to the slope. Dig the edges of your skis firmly into the snow, creating a spray of snow to slow down rapidly.
  • Zig-zag skiing: Zig-zag skiing involves making a series of quick turns across the slope. As you ski across the hill, make a tight turn towards the opposite direction, then quickly switch and turn back in the other direction. This repetitive pattern helps to slow down your speed gradually.
  • Side slipping: Side slipping is a controlled sliding technique that allows you to descend a slope while maintaining a constant speed. To side slip, face downhill with your skis parallel. Apply equal pressure to both skis while keeping them on edge. This technique enables you to maneuver down a slope while minimizing acceleration.

Each braking technique has its advantages in different situations. It’s essential to practice and become comfortable with these techniques through repetition and gradual progression. Take the time to understand the mechanics of each method and experiment with them on various slopes and snow conditions.


Remember, braking techniques should be used in appropriate situations when you need to slow down or navigate a tricky section of the slope. However, it’s crucial to maintain overall control and not rely solely on braking techniques for speed management. Ski within your skill level and always prioritize safety while enjoying the exhilaration of the sport.


Adjusting Speed for Different Conditions

When skiing, it is essential to adjust your speed based on the specific conditions you encounter on the slopes. Different snow conditions, weather, and terrain require varying levels of control and speed management. Here are some tips for adjusting your speed in different conditions:

  • Icy conditions: In icy conditions, it’s important to exercise caution and maintain a controlled speed. Keep your weight forward, engage your edges firmly, and make wider turns to enhance stability and control.
  • Deep powder: Deep powder can naturally slow you down, but it’s important to adjust your technique accordingly. Lean back slightly to keep your tips from diving, and avoid sudden movements. Use wider turns and a more relaxed approach to maintain control in the softer snow.
  • Groomed slopes: On well-groomed slopes, you can generally ski at a faster pace. However, be mindful of other skiers and adjust your speed to maintain a safe distance and avoid collisions. Use your turns and edging to control your speed effectively.
  • Moguls: When skiing moguls, it’s crucial to slow down and maintain control to navigate the uneven terrain. Take shorter turns, absorb the impact with your legs, and maintain a steady rhythm to navigate the bumps safely.
  • Steep slopes: On steep slopes, it’s vital to control your speed and maintain balance. Make use of edging techniques, wider turns, and proper weight distribution to gradually descend while maintaining control.

Remember, adjusting your speed in different conditions requires attentiveness, adaptability, and practice. Always assess the current situation and terrain, and modify your technique accordingly to maintain a safe and controlled descent.


Additionally, be aware of any warnings or advisories from ski patrols or resort staff regarding specific conditions. They can provide valuable information and guidance on adjusting your speed and technique for the best skiing experience.


By being mindful of the conditions and adjusting your speed accordingly, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable skiing adventure while making the most of whatever the slopes have to offer.



Slowing down safely while skiing is a crucial skill that every skier should master. By implementing the techniques and strategies mentioned in this article, you can have better control over your speed and enjoy a safer skiing experience.


Choosing the right terrain, controlling speed through turn shape, utilizing edging techniques, employing wedge turns, managing weight distribution, utilizing pole planting, using braking techniques, and adjusting speed for different conditions are all essential aspects of slowing down while skiing.


Remember, it’s important to practice these techniques in a controlled and progressive manner. Gradually build your skills and confidence over time, always staying aware of your surroundings and adjusting your speed to match the conditions of the slope.


Ultimately, skiing is about finding the perfect balance between exhilaration and control. By mastering the techniques outlined in this article, you can confidently navigate the slopes, slow down when needed, and fully immerse yourself in the joy of skiing while prioritizing safety. So, grab your skis, hit the slopes, and enjoy the thrill of controlled speed as you carve your way down the mountain!