Outdoor Horizon is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

Is Skiing Fast Dangerous? (The Truth)

Most skiers will find themselves gradually picking up their speed as they are progressing in their skiing. In fact, sometimes it is often easier to ski when you have a little bit of speed. But this may have you wondering if skiing fast is dangerous.

Skiing fast is dangerous. Skiing is an extreme sport and you can pick up quite a bit of speed while you are traveling down a slope. Even in professional circumstances such as speed skiing, it is still highly dangerous and people have even died as a result of their speed.

Everyone wants to go that little bit faster as they progress in their skiing. But it is wise to be wary of the danger that skiing fast cans pose. Below we will discuss what is fast skiing, for both the average skier and those that speed ski, and whether or not it’s dangerous.

What Is Classed As Fast Skiing?

At the pinnacle of skiing, the fastest someone has ever skied has been at 158.4 mph, a speed that has not been broken since 2016. Now, this is the most extreme example of fast skiing and was achieved while they were deliberately trying to surpass the last world record.

For most racers, they are looking at getting to speeds of around 75 mph while Olympic skiers will aim to reach speeds over 90 mph. The reason they can get to these speeds is due to several factors but the top is because they are the only ones on the slope at the time. All they need to worry about is taking their turns and getting to the bottom in the fastest time.

How Fast Is Normal Skiing?

Normal skiing is around 25 mph speed on a regular run, though advanced skiers do aim for faster. Normal skiing is where it can be a little less clear as to what is fast skiing as every skier will have their own definition. To a beginner, anything above a crawl might be too fast.

On a regular ski slope, the highest speeds that you will see will probably cap at around 40 mph. This is mostly due to the fact that there are other people that you will need to be cautious of. Also, the fact that racers that go faster than that are specially trained. While at the end of the day 40 mph is perfectly adequate for most people craving speed safely.

For the average skier, even that may be a little high as most people normally ski around 20 mph which when you think about it is still a significant speed to reach without being in a vehicle. 

3 Things That Will Impact Your Speed

1. Ability level

The skill level of the skier is one of the biggest factors affecting the speed at which they ski. Knowing advanced techniques and maintaining the correct posture is key to being able to ski fast.

There is an important reason behind this, if a beginner is reaching anything over 10 mph then they are probably out of control, wedge turns and pizza stops are not effective tools to get your speed up. Generally, if you can carve then you are probably going to be able to ski pretty fast.

2. Snow Conditions

The second thing that will impact your speed is the snow conditions on the slope. If you are skiing on a powdery day or in a lot of slush you are going to be a lot slower. This is because it is heavy and increases the amount of friction between you and the slope.

Whereas ice or a groomed run will help increase your speed for the opposite reason as there will be less resistance, though it is inadvisable to try and ski too fast if it is very icy.

3. Equipment

The equipment that you are using will also impact your speed. For racers to get the high speed they need to win, they are using top-of-the-line equipment from their clothes right down to the type of wax that they put on their skis.

Is Fast Normal Skiing Dangerous?

Fast normal skiing can be dangerous and can result in injury or death. In regular alpine skiing if you want to ski fast it is important that you are doing so in a controlled manner. This is because you are going to be sharing the run with other people and everyone has their own style. 

You need to be able to have enough control to be able to descend safely and be able to avoid obstacles such as people or stationary objects. The danger comes from people that are going recklessly fast, as you still need to be aware of what is downhill.

You can get permanent injuries while skiing too fast on a regular run due to the risks of a crash either due to a wipeout or crash. Not to mention the damage that you can cause by hitting another person on the hill while skiing at speed.

What Is Speed Skiing?

Speed skiing is skiing as fast as possible, usually for a race. Speed skiing is a little bit different from regular alpine skiing. This comes from the fact that you are skiing downhill in a straight line. Something that you should be told not to do when you are first learning to ski.

The goal of speed skiing is to ski downhill and get to the bottom in the fastest time possible. This is only ever done at specialist events due as they are limited by needing a slope that has a straight run for over half a mile with an adequate runoff at the end so a skier can slowly reduce their speed.

There are two types of competition for it and they mostly take place in Europe. The first is where the goal is to solely beat the previous world record, which is 158 mph for a man and 153 mph for a woman, and the second is to simply be the fastest run.  

Is Speed Skiing Dangerous?

Speed skiing is an extremely dangerous sport. There have been several reported deaths tied to the activity and it was deemed too dangerous to be an Olympics sport in 1996. An example of how dangerous it can be is the 1992 Alberta Olympics when a French skier died after a crash while practicing.

This should be no surprise as speed skiers are reaching speeds that are faster than the limit on most highways.If you have seen a picture of what happened when a car crashes at a high speed it should be no surprise what would happen to a person. 

Final Thoughts

Skiing fast is a dangerous sport, whether you are partaking in normal skiing or speed skiing. Skiing fast may be a rush but you should always be wary of the dangers that come from going too fast. If you lose control or are unable to slow down you may end up with a serious injury or death.