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Sport Spotlight

Tips for outdoor recreation and outdoor sportsOutdoor Sport Spotlight

Wild or mild outdoor sports and recreation are a passion of the camping.com editors.  Here we profile different sports and outdoor recreation activities.  We'll give you tips on getting started, tell you about the great places for outdoor sports and show you what gear you need to be comfortable in all conditions.  So whether you're a seasoned outdoor sports enthusiast or a enthusiastic beginner we have tips and advice to make the most of your outdoor recreation passion.

Downhill Skiing

Experience the exhilaration of downhill skiing


Downhill skiing, also known as Alpine skiing, is the fastest form of skiing. Professional downhill ski racers can reach speeds of up to 150 km/hr on the world's fastest runs. Most downhill skiers never reach those speeds, but even the average downhill skier moves pretty fast. Alpine skiing is one of the most popular forms of skiing, and many ski mountains offer a variety of runs from beginner to expert and also offer private and group lessons for skiers of all ages.

The first step in learning to ski is finding the right ski area for you. You'll want to make sure they have lessons and offer assistance in purchasing lift tickets and renting the appropriate ski equipment. In addition, you will want to choose a ski area that has beginning level runs.   The worst thing you can do it to start your ski experience on a run that is far beyond your experience level.

Most people already have appropriate ski clothing. Make sure to wear warm winter clothes that are waterproof, but also allow movement. As a beginning skier, you do not want to go out and purchase your equipment right away. Most ski areas have equipment rentals. They will rent up-to-date equipment, including boots and skis that are in good condition. Purchasing ski equipment is an investment, and you should probably hold off until you are more familiar with the sport.

After you have found the right ski area for you, sign up for lessons. Make sure you choose a ski school that has certified instructors. The best way to learn a sport like skiing is by having an expert introduce and familiarize you with the basics. You have a few options for lessons; most areas offer both group and private lessons. Private lessons are more costly, but if you are uncomfortable with the idea of learning with a group or want more one-on-one instruction, private lessons are worth the extra expense. Group lessons are cheaper and, if you don't mind learning with others, are a great option. With group lessons you will have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others.

Sign up for lessons that are appropriate to your skill level.  You don't want lessons that are too easy or too difficult, since you won't get as much out of them. Also, choose an age-appropriate ski lesson, especially for children. When you are taking lessons, you may want to find an instructor that you are comfortable with, especially if you are taking multiple lessons. As always, have fun.

There are a few basic maneuvers that you will learn first. Getting on and off of a chairlift is one of the first things you will need to know. To get on a ski lift, have all of your equipment in order.  When the lift comes, sit down on it like you would sit down on a chair. You can hold your poles in one hand and use the other to balance yourself on the seat. When the lift is in motion, keep the safety bar down until you reach the designated point. Also keep your ski tips pointed up as the lift moves up the hill.

As you near the offload point, you will need to get all of your gear ready to disembark the lift and make sure the safety bar is fully raised by the time you reach the offload point. To get off the lift, raise your ski tips so that when you get to the offload point your skis will lay flat on the snow and you can simply glide away from the lift. When you are fully off the lift, move away from the unloading station so others can get off the lift behind you.

The fist position you will learn as a beginning skier is the snow plow. This maneuver will help you glide downhill on your skis, but will put you in a position where you are able to stop easily. To snow plow, stand on your skis with your knees bent slightly, pointing the tips of your skis together, making a slight v shape. Allow gravity to start pulling you downhill by standing without pressing your skis into the snow. If you want to stop, bend your knees a little more and press your weight forward to increase the pressure on your skis. This will slow and eventually stop your downhill movement.

After you can successfully start and stop your downhill movement in the snow plow position, you will need to learn a beginning turn. To turn to the right while in the snow plow position, drop your left shoulder down a little toward your left ski, increase the pressure of your left foot on your left ski, continue to hold this position while moving downhill and your skis will slowly turn to the right. If you want to turn to the left, do the same sequence of movements using your right arm and boot instead of your left.

Learning to maneuver with the snow plow position as a beginning skier is very important. Most of the time you will not be alone on the slope you are skiing. This means that you will be sharing the space with other skiers. In order to keep your ski trip fun and safe and increase safety for the other skiers, you need to know how to maneuver on your skis. Learning to start, stop, and turn will take practice, so practice until you are comfortable and confident.

Once you are confident in the snow plow position, you can begin to take on more advanced maneuvers. Stand with your skis shoulder width apart and hold your poles until they are down, but still within line of vision, then begin moving downhill. You have just progressed out of the snow plow position. To turn to the left, raise and extend your left arm, allow your line of vision to follow the movement of your hand, this will cause your head to move toward the tip of your left ski, orienting your head more toward the left. This will cause you to turn to the left. Do the opposite to complete a right turn.

Once you have progressed from beginning skiing, you can start more difficult trails and eventually become an expert skier. Skiing is a great way to have fun outdoors during the winter. You can enjoy the entire culture of skiing, from the slopes to the nightlife. If you want to try something a little different than simple downhill skiing you may want to progress to moguls or backcountry skiing.

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