Skiing tips for intermediates

Skiing is a sport that changes as you progress. Your experience can be drastically different. What works for beginners and what works for advanced skiers might not work for you. That's why it's high time there was an article full of skiing tips just for intermediate skiers — all the need-to-know hints and insider secrets in one place, to help you maximise your time on the mountain, progress and discover new aspects of the sport that will make you fall even more deeply in love with skiing. So, intermediate skiers with a thirst for skiing knowledge … read on. 

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Mastering the slopes - style meets function in ski wear

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What is an intermediate skier?

What is an intermediate skier?

So you feel you've mastered the essential basics like stopping and turning. You can't carve with the pros yet, but you can ride the red runs no problem, and maybe even the black runs on a good day! Even though it might not be the most exemplary display of athletic prowess … On the other hand, no matter the weather, be it low visibility or bluebird skies, a blue run is your happy place. So you might feel it's time to begin fine-tuning those skills.

As an intermediate skier, you'll be exploring the mountain with confidence in your abilities and have an eagerness to learn more. It's a great feeling, and you should take advantage of it and turn that energy into new skills. Just one thing to keep in mind — the intermediate level is the easiest time to develop those pesky bad habits that become harder to shake. This is the time to refine your skills, avoid common mistakes, and implement the best in class techniques explained in this article. 

5 common mistakes intermediate skiers make 

5 common mistakes intermediate skiers make 

There are a few common mistakes you should avoid while on your journey to progression, the phrase "going back to basics" is perfectly applicable here. When in doubt, think back to your initial lessons and try to refine your technique and leave those bad habits in the lift line.

1. Wrong knee positioning

This is undoubtedly the biggest mistake any skier can make. As soon as you get comfortable, this little mistake creeps in. All too often, you'll spot intermediate skiers donning the "pencil stance" with arms relaxed, knees stiff, standing upright. But, let's not forget, skiing is exercise after all. Although it's tiring for the muscles to adopt the bent knees and correct stance, it's the difference between an elegant descent and something that looks terrible as onlookers watch on from the chair lift above. 

While skiing, you constantly react to varying terrain. Having your knees bent engages your core muscles and allows you to respond to situations quickly. You'll be ready for any lumps, bumps or chopped up snow that comes your way.

2. Not planting your ski poles

Ski poles aren't just for dragging your snowboarder friends, nor are they simply just for speed. In fact, using your poles for speed is a massive underuse of their capabilities. Using your poles is an essential function in proper form.

Incorrectly planting your poles could lead to injury and simply doesn't enable you to progress. Instead, every change in direction should be accompanied by a pole plant (the pole plant being the action of your pole making contact with the snow). For example, when carving and making big turns, the movement of a pole plant gives you something to pivot off, even if you are not putting much (or any) weight on your pole. 

The poles stabilise you and give you balance. Pole planting combined with bent knees can make you very agile and in control, ready for anything. 

3. Incorrect stance

Basically, every skier is guilty of a lousy stance at some point in their day. Essentially, skiing in the backseat, leaning too far back as you descend.

You'll know your stance is incorrect and skiing in the back seat if you begin experiencing shin pain or you might also find it difficult to slide your skis in a turn or change edges. It also goes without mentioning if you simply find yourself frequently falling backwards, then perhaps your stance needs work.

Achieving a good, aggressive stance on your skis is to have your knees directly above the toe piece of your bindings, with your shins in constant contact with the front of your boot, pushing into your boots and skis to increase pressure and control.

Maintain a proper stance
4. Loose ski boots

Boot "comfort" is a tricky subject. Skiers are often calling out foot pain (and shin pain and the rest), but it's for a good reason. Finding the sweet spot, just like goldilocks, not too tight and not too loose, is challenging — almost a lifelong journey, it feels like. 

If you're a beginner or intermediate skier, it can feel like having your boot a little more on the loose side is the lesser of two evils, but sadly, you'd be mistaken. On the other hand, if you're attempting to avoid severe discomfort in your feet, this might be an indication that your boots are not actually the issue at all. 

There is a perfect middle ground to achieve high performance and comfort. After all, the ski boot is the bridge between you and your skis. The more secure your boots are, the sharper and more efficient the turn will be. Your action has a direct and more immediate reaction through the boot. Tightening your boot gives you heightened control over your skis, so boots that fit well and are moulded can absolutely be the difference between your progression and not. Simply undo your boots on the chairlift for a release if needs be, but at the top, be sure to tighten up again. 

5. Inadequate equipment

A common mistake intermediate skiers often make is having inadequate equipment. Now that you've got the hang of skiing and you've mastered the basics, you can't be expected to progress while wearing a second-hand one piece from your local charity shop that is older than you are. Nor can you borrow your cousin's boots who is a size larger than you. Or ski on your friends skis who is half your height. It's time to upgrade to see your skills soar. 

Firstly your hardware: invest in boots that are the correct size, preferably fitted by a professional. Have the inner cast moulded to your feet, so these boots become part of you. Then consider buying your own skis that are the correct size, for starters — perhaps an all-mountain ski with enough flexibility to allow you freedom while remaining strong and grounded for perfecting those sharp turns.

Of course, as you spend longer out on the mountain, skiing in all conditions and exploring more challenging terrain, consider buying more technical outerwear that's breathable as your work up a sweat but also keeps you warm and dry. With all these things, you'll be on your way to becoming an advanced skier in no time! 

15 tips for intermediate skiers 

15 best tips for intermediate skiers 

Now that we have covered the common mistakes intermediate skiers make, let's dive into the fun stuff. What are the top tips for intermediate skiers to progress and become the best rider they can be?

1. Get yourself in shape

We have mentioned it before, but it's vital to remember. Skiing is exercise, it's strenuous and takes energy. A lot of skiing lies in the technique and skills but being ready to exert some effort will help make adopting a good stance much easier. So, a few months before your trip, try adding cardio into your workout routine a few times a week, try breathing exercises and some mild strength training. This way, your muscles will be ready, and you can breathe well at the summits where the air is thinner and can make you tired and lethargic. 

2. Warm-up before skiing

With tip number one in mind, limber up. You wouldn't head out on the run without warming up, and nor should you head to the mountain without getting your body ready. Try starting the day by jumping out of bed and mediating with breathing exercises for 5 minutes to prepare your lungs. Then, some dynamic stretches of the legs and upper body will have you feeling fantastic and ready to clip into your skis. 

3. Go skiing in all conditions

The temptation is to only go out when it's perfect conditions, but it's only when you place yourself at your limits, where you don't know if you are capable, that actual progress is made. So venture out and do a few runs even in low visibility, wind, or snow. Take it slow and focus on your technique. Gradually you'll build your confidence — you can ride no matter the conditions, it will just make you appreicate blue skies even more.

Go skiing in all conditions
4. Expand your comfort zone

When you see moguls, carved up patches that look less than appealing or, dare we say, icy patches, don't avoid them. Again, take it slow, take a deep breath, and try to expand your comfort zone by testing out your technique on less than desirable terrain.

5. Plan your day

There is no worse feeling than getting off a chair lift and realising it's only extremely tough runs down. Plan your day to avoid heading down a run that will knock your confidence and have you sat in the hotel for the rest of the holiday. If you plan your day and your routes, you'll be able to pick runs that ensure the best possible experience for the day as well as continued progression.

6. Venture off-piste

You don't need to be packing up on a three-day adventure into the wilderness to try off-piste. Instead, after a fresh snowfall, why not play around at the side of the piste? Gradually build your confidence and bring a playful, carefree feeling to the way you ride. 

7. Ski more

Of course, it's not always possible as skiing is expensive. Preparing for a trip can also be time-consuming, but if you are lucky enough to be able to dedicate more time and resources to skiing, simply ski more. If you have to sacrifice your beach holiday for another week in the mountains, perhaps it is worth it? Especially given how fulfilling and enjoyable time on the slopes can be.

Ski more
8. Transition from snowplough to parallel turns

Taking the leap from snowplough to parallel turns is a significant one in your ski career development. Tightening up those turns will take you from nervous beginner on the nursery slopes to a red run skier happily riding whatever is infront of them. But practice makes perfect — keep going, and you'll master it in no time.

9. Stay flexible

When you see skiers in a super rigid stance — the "pencil stance", as we mentioned above — you know they are overcompensating for lack of confidence and skill. That's why overall flexibility is an excellent benchmark for good intermediate ski techniques. Stretching at the start of the day will help as we recommended but try to keep your arms and legs loose, letting your core absorb the impact of the turn and the terrain. Flexibility is synonymous with agility, and that's the mark of a strong skier. 

10. Train up hip mobility

Is good hip mobility an essential trait in skiing? Yes — in short. Having good motion, or rather, flexibility in the hips allows you to move freely through the ball and socket joint as you execute the movement as well as absorbing bumps and shocks from the snow. In addition, having good hip motion keeps your back in less stressful positions to use your gluteal or buttock muscles. These are important power sources to complement the quadriceps for powering through a turn.

It's all in the hips
11. Finish your turns

Finishing your turns refers to creating the complete "c" shape on the slope. Again, you want to move through the entire motion of the turn to maintain form and technique. It looks great, but also when trying to ski fast or cut metaphorical skill corners, the bad habits creep in.

12. Finesse your stops

You want your "stops" on skis to look sleek, confident and sharp? All you need to do is turn your feet and legs parallel whilst bending your knees. Then dig into the snow with the inner edge of both skis and push through your heel. Dig those inner edges in to finesse the stop, followed by the heel with gusto. 

13. Find a rhythm

It's all in the rhythm. The best place to practice this is on a nice long, wide-open red run, get a little speed, then start putting in your turns. Keep them the same distance apart. Imagine that you dig your edges in on every beat: boom, boom, boom, left, right, left. It helps to listen to music or even sing along to a tune and match the hip movement to the beat. 

14. It's not all about speed

Your technique and confidence are immeasurably more important than your speed. Anyone can bomb their way down the slopes, straight-line it all the way to the apres-ski, but what looks better and makes you a solid intermediate rider is going slower but making every turn nice and smooth. 

15. Worry less & relax

Don't worry and just relax — after all, this is supposed to be fun. You're on holiday, in the fresh air with your family or friends, out in nature, what could be better. Spend less time focusing on being an Olympian (leave that to the pros), and instead enjoy the process of progressing. Intermediate skiers can ski most slopes, so your will is the only thing holding you back. Relax, breathe, and enjoy. 


How does physical preparation contribute to progress as an intermediate skier?

Physical fitness plays a crucial role in the progression as an intermediate skier. Stamina, cardio fitness, and muscle strength, especially in your legs and core, can greatly impact your skiing efficiency and ability to master more advanced techniques. By adding cardio and mild strength training to your routine a few months before your ski trip, you can improve your endurance and skiing form.

Can mindset influence my progression from intermediate to advanced skier?

Absolutely! Adopting a positive mindset and being open to learning not only helps you absorb new techniques faster but also enables you to handle challenges on the slopes with more resilience. Embrace mistakes as learning opportunities, and remember that every skier’s journey is unique – your personal progress is what truly matters.

Worry less & relax

Wrapping up

There you have it, skiing tips for intermediate skiers, everything from the common mistakes to avoid to the best pointers to help you progress, but more importantly, enjoy the process of improving. There is so much more to say — we could talk about intermediate ski tips for hours! But it's important not to get bogged down with suggestions and simply instead ski more. In other words, get out there! Wrap up warm, grab your skis, boots, poles and your friends and enjoy!

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