There’s a common misconception on the ski hill that speed equals skill—the faster someone skis, the more advanced their skills. But speed isn’t so much an indication of a skier’s prowess as a sign of their confidence or risk tolerance. We’ve all witnessed beginner and intermediate skiers capable of bombing down the hill. A much more accurate indicator of a skier’s skill is their ability to control their speed on the hill. After all, it takes much more effort and technique to slow yourself down when slope angles and gravity are working against you.
The concept of speed control may sound rudimentary to intermediate and advanced skiers—a skill checked off when you mastered the hockey-stop and the parallel turn. But as skiers advance to skiing different types of terrain and steeper slopes, learning how to control speed with different turn shapes, technique, and edge angles becomes an even more critical skill.
“You need to be able to slow down when you need to, and speed up when you want to,” explains Michael Rogan, professional ski instructor and head coach of the PSIA Alpine Demo Team. Intermediate skiers may know how to slow themselves down and maintain a constant speed, but advanced skiers can change their speed at the drop of a hat using different turn shapes and edge angles.