The Different Types of Skiing

The Different Types of Skiing

If you’re new to skiing you may think all skiing is essentially the same, or you may understand the difference between cross country and downhill but that’s about it.  If you didn’t grow up hitting the slope every weekend throughout the winter then Alpine and Nordic won’t mean much to you.  Let’s go over the different types of skiing so you can see which you would like to try.

Cross Country Skiing

The difference between cross county and downhill skiing are pretty obvious, one involves a hill and the other doesn’t.  The differences extend a little further than that though.  Cross country and downhill use different types of skis, cross country skiing has narrower and lighter skis that come with lighter and more flexible ski boots.  Cross country movements are closer to running than it is to downhill skiing, you propel yourself across the terrain using longer strides.  Cross county requires a fair amount of endurance and cardio strength.  Here is a beginner’s guide to cross country skiing.

Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing uses wider skis and heavier boots and you take a lift up the side of a hill or mountain and ski back down.  Downhill skiing isn’t as physically intense as cross country can be however there is a learning curve.  There are two principal types of downhill skiing, Alpine and Nordic.  Let’s look at the differences between the two.

Nordic Skiing

When you are Nordic skiing you use a different kind of boot, only the toe is firmly attached to the skis and you can move your heel around.  Because this type of boot and binding is used, technically cross county can be considered Nordic skiing too.  If you have ever watched ski jumping at the Olympics, where they jump long distances rather than aerial tricks, they are Nordic skiing.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skier use a binding where both the heel and toe are attached to the skis, however they will pop off if you fall or they are hit hard enough.  Again if you watch Olympic skiing then you will see plenty of variations of Alpine skiing events, including, slalom, giant slalom, downhill racing, aerials, moguls and freestyle.  Almost all downhill skiing is considered Alpine and if you hit the slopes for the first time this is probably the type of skiing you will try.

There you have the different styles of skiing explained, which one are you willing to try out first?

A Beginner’s Ski Gear Guide

A Beginner's Ski Gear Guide

If you are planning your first ever ski holiday and you’re wondering what type of gear that you’re going to need, then let us help you pick exactly what you need.  Many people are under the impression that ski gear is very expensive, but that’s actually not the case.  We put together a beginner’s ski gear guide to help you put together that perfect ski vacation.

Boots, Poles and Skis

If this is your first time hitting the slopes then you want to rent the gear rather than buying it.  Ski resorts will let you do that and you can decide whether skiing is for you before spending money on gear you never use again.  You can usually rent the gear for the day for less than a $100.

Ski Jacket and Pants

A good ski jacket and snow pants can get pricey, if you live far enough north chances are you have a friend that can probably lend you some.  However you can use a good ski jacket throughout the winter even off the slopes.

Eye Protection

Sun glasses will work in a pinch but you are better off with a pair of goggles.  Try them on first to make sure they fit properly and they are comfortable.  You also don’t need to buy the most expensive pair, basic goggles can run about $30.


Helmets aren’t just for professional skiers they are for everyone, even if you are only learning on the bunny hill.  If you are renting equipment at a ski lodge they will likely recommend a helmet as well.

 Gloves and Mittens

When you first start skiing you’re going to fall quite a bit, this can make your gloves or mittens wet and that is not fun at all.  Waterproof gloves work better and mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves.  You might want to wear thin gloves inside your mittens.


Layering your clothing is your best bet.  The ski hill may be cold at first but you will warm up as you start moving around.  The first layer is meant to keep you dry, so get something that wicks away sweat.  Regular clothing between you and your ski jacket and pants, you will want something to keep your neck warm and a turtleneck or neck warmer is better than a scarf.


This may seem like the last thing you’re going to need on a winter vacation under layers of clothing but you do.  The sun reflects off of the snow and it is not uncommon for skiers to get a sunburn on their face if it is not protected.  Dig through your summer stuff and grab a bottle with SPF30 or higher and lather it generously on your face.