How to Learn to Ski as an Adult

By Christian AignerCSIA Level 4, Austrian Full Cert. Ski Instructor and Ski Guide

November 23, 2021

8 min read

Can adults learn to ski?

The simple answer is YES! Very often adults are scared to learn to ski. Don’t be! There is a common myth that learning to ski as an adult is very hard, but it’s simply not true. Adult beginners have a great time on the slopes because the process allows you to be a kid again.

Whether you’re a total beginner or you haven’t touched a ski for many years, time on snow is time well spent.

Read on to find out the best methods for learning how to ski; at the end, we have a couple of tips that are sure to make your learning experience much more enjoyable.

With these tips, you'll be skiing with a smile on your face in no time


Is skiing hard to learn for adults?

Contrary to popular belief, learning to ski as an adult is probably not as difficult as you think. Yes, it may be a little easier to learn as a kid, but this is partly down to one's mindset. Whereas children are constantly experimenting with new things, adults tend to prefer skills and activities that they already have experience in.

The good thing about skiing is that it’s very easy to get swept up in the fun and forget about your worries. Above all, skiing makes me happy. It is invigorating and fun at every level. You might have heard this from friends who are skiers and made the assumption that they started at a very young age.

You may believe that if you don’t learn to ski as a kid, well... bad luck, you’ve missed the boat on that one…. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!! There is every chance to become a good skier, even with a later start.

Over the course of my career, I have met and taught many people from all over the world who have taken up skiing in later life with great success. I even know people who have retired in their 60’s from one career and embarked on a ski instructor training course.

These people are quite simply so passionate about skiing and the fun, healthy, and social lifestyle that surrounds it, that they started work again post-retirement.

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How long does it take adults to learn to ski?

Different people learn to ski in different ways, and it takes some people longer than others to find their feet on skis. It really depends on what your goals are, what the conditions are like, what mindset you have and what physical shape you are in.

Either way, stick at it and you'll find your confidence on the slopes soon! Within a couple of days, everyone will be able to do some turns and enjoy the feeling of gliding on white gold - be ready to sense a feeling of real freedom (but in control!).

Learning to ski is a continuous process, from your first turn to 70+ degree carving.


How adults can learn to ski

1. Group ski lessons

A lesson is the best way forward when you have decided to learn how to ski as an adult. There is a reason why professional ski instructors exist and why they have to undergo a lot of training.

Group ski lessons are a great way to get you learning the basics and off to a great start. Remember, it does not need to be a huge ski resort, all you need is a bunny slope to get you started.

You could even consider joining a beginners group lesson in a ski dome or an indoor ski slope. This will definitely help you out once you get to the “real” mountains, and it makes your time much more enjoyable.


2. Private lessons with a ski instructor

If you can afford a one-on-one private ski lesson with an instructor, go for it! This is the tried and tested method of ski instruction, and it offers you the best opportunity to get the quickest results.

A professional private ski instructor is especially beneficial to your skiing progression right at the start of your journey. The lesson is really focused on YOU and nobody else, with the instructor able to adapt the lesson to make sure that you get the most out of it.

Private lessons do really help at all stages of skiing. Make sure to find an experienced instructor who you trust.


3. Teaching yourself

Please don’t try and teach yourself to learn to ski. Learning to ski by yourself is incredibly difficult, and potentially dangerous too if you don’t know how to stop or turn effectively.

Plus, skiing is a social activity best enjoyed among the company of friends and family, with instructors guiding you along your journey. For beginners, lessons are definitely the way forward.

And if a lesson is really not an option, then try to at least get a friend who is an experienced skier with some thorough knowledge to help and advise you on some key pointers.

Skiing is much easier with some guidance. Don’t get fooled and waste your own time, energy and money on a lift pass without some lessons booked too.


4. Smart skiing technology

Learning to ski as an adult is becoming easier with the advent of smart skiing technologies. There’s no doubt that traditional ski instruction remains a key part of establishing good technique and gaining confidence on skis. This is especially true for complete beginners who need human guidance and often physical help in their first few days or weeks on snow.

But digital ski coaches like Carv can really accelerate your learning process, offering objective technique analysis and on-the-fly personalized coaching to keep you improving throughout the whole day and week while you’re skiing, not just during lessons.

3 tips for beginner adult skiers

1. No need to be superman...

... but some level of fitness goes a long way. For your first day on skis as a beginner, it makes sense to come to the mountains as well prepared as possible. In a new environment, you’ll want to be focused on finding your feet with the technical aspects of skiing, without having to worry about your fitness.

Strength, endurance, flexibility and overall a fit body will help a lot on the beginners’ slope. You don’t need to be a fitness fanatic, but a bit more robustness in life doesn’t hurt, and even better when you’ve got some more strength in your pocket than needed.


2. Get the right gear

Ski boots aren’t flip flops or running shoes, and getting the right (and a tight) fit is incredibly important. Trust experienced skier friends, professional ski instructors or the staff in a ski shop.

If you can borrow some skis from a friend, spend the extra money and rent some boots that really fit you. They are undoubtedly the most important piece of equipment you’ll ski with, and ski boots can make or break your trip.


3. Take it easy

Choose your terrain wisely. In every ski area around the world there is a designated beginners’ area, often called a bunny slope. As tempting as an exploration through the mountains can be, the beginners’ area is the perfect place to start with your new adventure. Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of time for exploring the resort and finding new terrain after you’ve found your feet on skis.

As you may already know, in ski resorts across the globe there is a color guidance for terrain difficulty. Make sure to look up what the different color grades mean in your country before you head out onto the slopes. Don’t overestimate yourself and force yourself to ski black runs too early. There is a lot of fun to be had on green slopes!


Have fun out there!

Finally, and most importantly, make sure to have fun out there. Skiing is one of the genuine pleasures in life, right from your first turn. And the more you ski, the better it gets!

If you didn’t like schools when you were a kid, a ski school will be something completely different! It’s a fun and helpful environment and a good beginners’ area will actually help you save some of your muscle strength right from day one when it is most important.

But, don’t forget… it’s never too late to start!

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Written by: Christian Aigner

CSIA Level 4, Austrian Full Cert. Ski Instructor and Ski Guide

A bit about me: Growing up in a ski resort in Austria, I’ve been skiing all my life and have always loved it. After finishing my Bachelors of Education I decided to teach skiing full time. My certifications are CSIA level 4 and Austria full cert and ski guide. Hope to see you on snow soon!