The first thing beginner skiers learn is the pizza or wedge technique. In a wedge, the tips of the skis are close together and the tails are apart, creating a triangle shape. Though this is an effective method, parallel skiing is the goal for many beginners, and you may be wondering how to start.
The 4 easy steps to skiing parallel are:
- Wedge turns
- Wedge christie turns
- Early wedge christie
- Simultaneous edge release
These simple steps provide a basic guide for someone who can already ski in a controlled wedge. Once mastering these steps, parallel skiing can take you all over the mountain. We walk you through detailed instructions below to prepare you for learning to ski parallel.
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Parallel skiing is a form of skiing where you always keep the tips and tails of the skis together, ensuring they are parallel from each other during turns. Parallel skiing takes more skill than other methods but allows for more control on steeper terrain without expending excessive energy.
You may be asking yourself whether it is worth it to bother with all the extra steps. Though the wedge technique works well for beginner slopes, it can be scary to attempt on a narrower base of support or when facing straight downhill while gathering speed. The transition to parallel skiing can be challenging, but the benefits are well worth it.
Skiing parallel makes the sport a lot more enjoyable. Standing in a wedge isn’t natural, whereas parallel skiing is a lot closer to a normal everyday stance. This position takes pressure off your knees, ankles, and hips. If your knees are uncomfortable after a few wedge turns, parallel skiing is the solution. With your legs under your body where they belong, skiing will feel like less of a chore.
It’s Less Effort
You’ll be able to ski for longer. Again, this has to do with how much effort it takes to ski in a wedge. Parallel skis are moving in the same direction, so it takes a lot less effort to do parallel turns. This hopefully means more time enjoying the mountain with family and less time sitting in the lodge.
Skiing parallel will open more terrain. Yes, you can lap the bunny slope all day but that will quickly get boring. Learning to confidently ski parallel opens more of the mountain for you to use. You can enjoy some steeper runs or check out the powder everyone is always talking about.
It Feels Cool
Above all, parallel skiing feels as cool as it looks. When all the steps come together for that first parallel turn, it feels incredible. The skis are designed to be parallel. If you’re doing the right things with your legs and edges, the skis will match with very little effort. This makes you look and feel very cool.
Before matching your skis (parallel skiing), it’s important to understand the wedge turn. A proper wedge turn becomes the base for all other skills. In a wedge turn you use a wedge position to steer the skis across and then back down the hill. Your weight should be centered over the middle of the ski, not the back of the ski.
Start by doing one single wedge turn to a stop. This is done by shifting your weight onto the outside ski. If you want to turn right, lean left and vice versa. Outside ski pressure is crucial in all the steps. It’s important to practice turning all the way to a stop on both sides. Turning uphill will slow you down and allow you to bring the legs closer together, already closer to parallel.
As the single turn starts to feel smooth and controlled, start linking turns. Try five or six turns in a row remembering to turn uphill to control the speed. By using the turns to control speed we don’t have to rely on the wedge as much.
If you can comfortably link wedge turns while controlling your speed, it’s time for the next step, a wedge christie turn. A wedge christie is half wedge and half parallel. The turn begins with a wedge and ends with the skis matched, before starting the next turn.
As you start facing across the hill, steer the skis together. You will do this by turning the inside or uphill ski and bringing it to the downhill ski. If the uphill ski gets stuck, the ski is on its inside edge. The uphill ski must be flat to be steered. To flatten the ski, narrow your stance and roll your knee and ankle out or uphill. Making the ski flat makes turning much easier.
You’re now getting parallel at the end of the turn by steering your flat uphill ski to the downhill ski. Next, try bringing the skis together earlier in the turn. Instead of waiting until you’re across the hill, steer the skis together right before turning across the hill or while you’re still facing downhill. The earlier you can do this, the closer you are to skiing parallel.
Practice your wedge christies on a variety of slopes and steepness. At this stage you’ll be gaining confidence and a little more speed. You should be directing pressure to your outside ski and releasing your uphill edge early in the turn.
Now the scary part, the moment of truth. Up till now, you’ve been doing two-movement turns. Previously, the new downhill ski turns, then the uphill ski follows. It’s time to change that, turn both skis at the same time for simultaneous edge release. Do this correctly and you’ll be parallel skiing!
To start a turn, think about your inside ski going first. You’ll flatten the new uphill ski to start the turn.Remember to do this by rolling your knees and ankles outward, then steer the ski for the turn. It can help to focus on the new inside ski. Since the outside ski is already on the correct edge, it will automatically follow.
Some people find it helpful to think about their toes. In a parallel turn, you move from pinky toe and big toe edges to pinky toe and big toe edges on the other side. If you’re on both big toe edges, that’s a wedge. To go smoothly from side to side, imagine your toes playing a piano scale. You must move through each toe to correctly play the scale. It is the same with parallel skiing.
It takes practice to break out of the reliable, safe wedge. Be patient with yourself. At first every 5th turn will be parallel, then every 3rd. Eventually, you’ll be linking parallel turns on green runs. Then you might move up to a blue and a little wedge comes back. This is common, don’t let it frustrate you. Keep practicing the steps and focusing on simultaneous edge release.
For a lot of beginners parallel skiing can seem like an impossible task. However, there is a clear progression you can follow. It starts with mastery of the basic wedge turn. From there you’ll do wedge christie turns. Then, practice bringing the skis together earlier in the turn. Before you know it, you’ll be starting turns with a simultaneous edge release.