I guess all of us have an idea about skiing, right? You fasten the boards on each of your feet and just glide through the snow. But are all styles of skiing the same? How do you call it if you ski uphill or in the mountains? And do you still call it simply ‘skiing’ when the skier cruises side by side like ice skaters? Skiing is a general term but whether you’re seasoned or new to the sport, you ought to know the different terms used to describe the different skiing types.
Let’s learn some of the more popular types and the gears used for each type.
Some Common Types of Skiing
- Downhill Skiing. Downhill skiing is occasionally called alpine skiing, but the former is more common to people than the latter. It’s done in more advanced ski resorts with well-maintained runs that are guarded and marked. You must wear hard plastic boots that can be mounted snugly over shaped skis. The skis are kept parallel while skiers go downhill and make turns.
- Back Country Skiing. Often called off-piste skiing, backcountry skiing is a type of skiing that is done outside the marked boundaries of the ski area. Skiers do this with telemark equipment or with alpine touring, where they utilize climbing bindings and skins and free heels to ski uphill and then back down again. However, ski enthusiasts who prefer downhill gear and use the elevator going up often take the backcountry terrain by leaving the official ski restrictions. Training for avalanche safety and assessment is a requirement before you can begin backcountry skiing. Gears vital for this type of sport are climbing skins, boots specific for backcountry skiing, backcountry poles and bindings, and avalanche safety gear.
- Alpine Touring. This is a type of backcountry skiing that is sometimes referred to as ‘randonnee,’ or just AT for short. Alpine touring utilizes specific bindings that can shift from free-heel to fixed-heel and vice versa. This is so that you can go up the slopes with the heels unlocked, with only the climbing skins providing the traction. When you reach the top, you can remove the skins, lock your heels again, and go down the slopes by doing parallel turns the way you do when you downhill ski. As mentioned above, you must be trained and ready for avalanche safety and assessment before skiing in the backcountry.
- Cross-Country Skiing.XC or Nordic skiing as called by country skiers, cross-country skiing is usually done on landscapes that are less complicated and easier compared to the downhill ski terrains. Human power is more important for climbing in this type rather than doing a lift. That is why the boots are designed to be flexible and can conveniently attach to the skis through the bindings, and the skis slender and long.
There are two primary forms of cross-country skiing. The first is classic skiing, where the skis are positioned parallel to each other while you kick and push forward and back. Classic skiing is more preferably done on groomed terrain with parallel trails, but some people love to take their skiing to the next level and explore the unmarked terrains, like the forest roads. The second type, skate skiing, requires relatively shorter skis. The kicks are also different in pushing forward, which are to the sides, just like how the ice skaters do it. Unlike classic skiing, skate skiing can’t be done on ungroomed trails but trails specifically for skate skiing.
Two less common types are telemark skiing, which is defined by the way you make your turns, and ski mountaineering, of which its goal is to reach the peak of a hill or mountain and then successfully ski back down. Both types can utilize backcountry type gear and backcountry types of trails as well.