How To Slow Down And Control Speeds On Skis

How To Slow Down And Control Speeds On Skis (2)

In order to ski safely, you need to learn how to slow down and control your speed. But how do you do that?

The skier slows himself or herself by making parallel turns right and left. To slow down, new skiers should:

1. Adopt a pizza stance
2. Make a wedge turn
3. Traverse sideways rather than directly downhill.

The fastest way to slow down is to turn parallel to your skis as if you’re playing hockey.

New skiers won’t know how to parallel turn right away as it takes a week or more to build up to that level. On your first day of skiing, you will need to learn how to make a pizza or snowplow.


The snowplow is when you make a wedged pizza shape with your skis.

When you push out your skis in a triangle, your skis create more friction with the snow, which slows you down.

The snowplow can be used to slow you down while skiing or to stop you.

As you push out and dig into your inside edges, friction increases and you slow down.

If you maintain this position and the gradient is not too steep, eventually you will stop.

You can speed up again by bringing the skis parallel or straight together – this will reduce friction and make you glide faster.

To control your speed across a slope, you can push into a snowplow and out again.

⚠️ I wouldn’t recommend skiing snow plow on steep gradients for very long distances unless it is your only option.

Snowplows are the first thing every skier must learn, and they are most useful on steep gradients or at the end of a ski run.

Because you can’t control your direction, it’s not a good stance for avoiding obstacles or moving dynamically across the slope.

For that, you need to learn the next skill.

Wedged Turn

Your next step on your way to parallel skiing is the wedged turn or snowplow turn, which is where you actively choose your direction.

You can create more friction on the snow by applying more pressure to one side of the ski than the other.

Move right by putting more weight on the inside edge of your left ski.

To move left, put more weight on your right ski’s inside edge.

Having the ability to turn is central to any skier’s journey, as it allows you to traverse across the slope.

This allows you to move across the slope diagonally and off the baby slopes.

If you move diagonally on a slope you have less momentum and pull you forward which naturally slows you down.

If you want to slow down more, angle your movements across the slope more towards 90 degrees.

The fastest way to slow down is to point your skis uphill (make sure not to fall backward).

You can speed up your skiing by traversing at an angle that is steeper.

Here’s a video walkthrough of how to progress towards a wedged turn.

When you encounter steeper gradients, a wedged turn will no longer work.

The parallel turn will become more and more apparent as your confidence grows and progress is made.

Parallel Turn

Parallel turns are synonymous with skiing, and it’s the most coveted goal of every new skier

Once you learn parallel turns, virtually any slope at your resort will be within your reach.

The green and blue marked slopes are ideal for a novice parallel skier, red runs as you gain confidence, and black runs after you have mastered them.

Parallel turns allow you to rotate your skis together at a 90-degree angle to the slope.

In addition to slowing you down, this provides a smoother traverse from one side of the slope to the other.

After you begin to turn left and right, you will develop a sense of rhythm in your turns.
When you start doing these linked turns, you’re officially a parallel skier!

Speed can be controlled at will, obstacles can be avoided and you can make your way down the slope comfortably.

How to Parallel Turn

You should be familiar with making a wedged turn before you attempt a parallel turn.

Parallel turns are achieved by leaning slightly forward in your boot with your torso rotated slightly downward.

Push your weight down into your outside or downhill ski as you lean into the turn.

Make sure that your weight is on that inside edge, lean your hips into the turn, and counterbalance your upper body.

You need to be patient as you rotate through the turn and change direction.

The Hockey Stop Or Parallel Stop

How To Slow Down And Control Speeds On Skis (3)

Once you’re able to parallel ski, you’ll be able to hockey stop, which is the fastest way to slow yourself down while skiing.

Hockey stops are like parallel turns, but rather than continuing with the turn, you make an abrupt, sharp movement while digging into your heels to create as much friction as possible.

By using a hockey stop, you can significantly reduce your speed and slow down very quickly.

How NOT To Slow Yourself Down.

There are a number of ways that can harm you and ruin your day. Here’s what not to do:

Don’t Reach Out To Grab Anyone Or Anything

In their first few runs, new skiers may be tempted to grab someone for support or to slow them down.

If you try this, you could seriously injure yourself or others, especially if you’re moving at speed.

Please Don’t Use Your Poles

If you poke a pole into the ground to slow yourself down, you can be killed. Poles aren’t designed to support your weight.

Not only can they ping back and hurt you, but the pole may crack under the pressure.
Sticking the pole in the ground ahead of you will not slow you down, but will act as a spear.

By dragging your poles, you can create friction that will slow you down a little bit.

Skiing In Different Snow Conditions

Your ski will be affected greatly by the type of snow you are skiing in.

A deep powdery surface creates more friction and will slow you down more than a groomed slope.

You will ski faster on ice patches or very hard compact snow since there is less friction.
On compact snow, you’ll need to make more turns to control your speed.

Using Ski Wax To Control Your Glide

As with the surface of the ground, the surface of your ski and the ski wax on the base of your skis will affect your speed.

Ski wax is used by downhill skiers to improve their glide and ski faster.

A ski that needs waxing will glide slower than one that is freshly waxed. Many skiers use all-year wax, which is suitable for a range of temperatures.

If you ski more often or in more extreme temperatures, you can use temperature-based ski wax.

A harder wax that melts at a higher temperature is better suited to colder weather (mid-season), while a softer wax is better suited to warmer weather (spring).

Ski wax makes little difference to beginner skiers – but if you are dusting off your grandpa’s skis, make sure they are waxed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Being Heavier Make You Ski Faster?

A heavier skier is faster than a lighter one because they will have less air resistance. If you are heavy, it is important to look for skis that suit your weight.

Why Do My Skis Wobble?

Skis will wobble due to too much edge and pressure, Ultimately, your skis will wobble when you ask them to do too much. To avoid this, you need to have a good feel for how much pressure you can put on your skis.

How Fast Is too Fast Skiing?

The average maximum speed for all observations, which includes skiers, snowboarders, men, and women, is 26.7 mph. Keeping under this speed will allow you to be safe whilst still enjoying the thrill of the skis.

Final Thoughts

There are three main ways to slow you down: the pizza stance, the wedged turn, and the parallel turn. The hockey stop is an effective way to slow down quickly!

If you want to be a competent skier, learn all methods and pick the style of slowing down that suits you best. If you don’t have a snug fit in your boots, you will have a difficult time controlling your skis.

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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