What is Skiing? Concept, Movements, Skiing In India

  • Post last modified:7 January 2023
  • Reading time:34 mins read

What is Skiing?

Skiing is a recreational activity and competitive sport in which individuals slide down a slope while standing on skis, typically made of wood, plastic, or composite materials. Skiing can be done on a variety of terrain, including downhill slopes, cross-country trails, and jumps and ramps. Skiing can also be classified into several different disciplines, including alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, and cross-country skiing.

Alpine skiing, also known as downhill skiing, involves skiing down marked trails on a ski resort using skis that are designed for this purpose. Freestyle skiing involves performing tricks and stunts using skis, often on a specially designed course with jumps and other features. Cross-country skiing involves skiing across relatively flat terrain, often on trails in the backcountry.

Skiing can be a fun and enjoyable activity for people of all ages and abilities. It is also a popular competitive sport, with international competitions and professional ski tours held around the world.


Basic Concept of Skiing

How do you define skiing? Is it, a ski moving downhill with a skier attached on the top. The answer is no. Than what exactly is skiing? It is an art of moving on snow with different techniques like sliding, slipping, skidding and carving.

  • Sliding: skis moving downhill in the direction they are pointed. This can be in a straight run down the hill or a traverse across the hill.

  • Slipping: skis moving sideways down the hill at an angle relative to the long axes of the skis. The direction of travel is perpendicular to the skis.

  • Skidding: is a combination of sliding and slipping as the skis move through the turn. Tails of the skis making a wider path than the tips. Most turns involve some amount of skidding.
  • Carving: when tips and tails travel through the same arc created on the snow.

Moving downhill

Moving downhill requires the act of balancing but turns in the skis require something more than just balancing. To make a turn in skiing one require to take center of mass away from of the skis or skis away from of the center of mass. The skier that is on flat terrain or moving down the hill can make four different types of movements:

  • Balancing movements: Maintaining balance when moving down the hill.
  • Edging movements: Aiding in adjusting the edge angle of the skis in relation to the snow.
  • Rotary movements: Turning and guiding the skis.
  • Pressure control movements: Managing and manipulating pressure variations between the skis and the snow.

Balance

When we are talking about balance, we talk only about movements, where the skier is moving down the hill. What movements can affect the balance?

  • Change the width of your stance

  • Flexion and extension of your ankles, knees, hips and spine

  • Use fore, aft and lateral movements to shift your center of mass

  • Change the amount that you lean or tip into the hill

  • Move your head and arms

  • Increase and decrease muscle tension

Dynamic balance is the key to success in creating modern downhill skiing technique. Always remember this when you are creating and developing any kind of technical elements.

Edging Movements

Edging movements allow the skier to:

  • Change direction

  • Control speed

  • Change the shape and size of turns

  • Slip, skid and carve

Different degrees of edge angles for turn creation. Edging movements are created from the center of mass, and may be developed in two different ways:

  • Inclination or tipping – involves the whole body

  • Angulation – involves forming angles between body segments

Tipping the whole body. Tip combination of different parts of the body. Edging is created by tipping (inclining) different parts of the body:

  • Feet/ankles
  • Lower legs/knees
  • Upper legs/hips
  • Lower spine
  • The whole body

The main idea is higher the point of inclination the more edge angle you can create.

Angulation: Angulation involves forming angles between body segments. In skiing, angulation involves flexing and extending on a diagonal and/or lateral plane. Angulating different parts of the body throughout the turn allows you to:

  • Change the amount of edge angle without changing inclination

  • Maintain the balance stance

  • Resist forces created throughout the turn

  • Manage the pressure along the lengths of the skis

  • Increase or decrease the speed of foot movements

  • Alter turn shape

  • Negotiate changing terrain and snow conditions.

In skiing we angulate with a combination of the hips, knees and ankles. The hips and lower back create the biggest changes in edge angle. While the knees and ankles offer a chance to fine-tune the edge angle.

Most turns involve both: inclination and angulation. Inclination without any angulation is known as whole body tipping.

Rotary movements

Rotary movements involve turning some parts of the body relative to another part of the body. Rotation is a circular motion around the axis. In skiing rotary movements in conjunction with edging movements and pressure controlled movements allow us to initiate the turn and guide our skis through the turn.

If you are standing on flat skis while gliding, and then twist your legs and feet, your skis will pivot and slip. If your skis are tipped on edge and you apply pressure and rotary forces to the skis while gliding, the skis carve rather than skid.

Rotary movements can be produced or stopped internally using the muscles, or externally using the pole plant or hard edge set. Skiing involves several types of rotary movements. Most of of the movements change direction of your skis, but combining rotary movements with balancing, edging and pressure control movements allows you to change directions more efficiently.

Remember one of the major goals is in skiing to create and manage resistance between skis and snow. Beginner and low level skiers tend to use large scale rotary movements, often involving the whole body at the beginning of the turn. More advance skiers use rotary movements that are subtle, originate from the lower body and are distributed evenly throughout the turn. Major types of rotary movements in skiing are:

  • Upper body rotation
  • Counter rotation
  • Leg rotation

Upper body rotation (of the shoulders, chest and upper back) is a very powerful motion but a very slow way to turn skis because movements going to your hips, knees and after that ankles with skis. Turn with upper body rotation was taught many years ago. In modern technique it is not used and not taught anymore.

Counter rotation

Counter rotation can be explained using Newton’s Third low of Motion “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” If you force something (your upper body) to turn clockwise something in return (your lower body and skis) must receive an equal but opposite torque.

Leg rotation

Leg rotation is simply turning the legs to make the skis turn. In normal skiing conditions turning both skis is an optimal way because the legs are powerful, and the turning forces translated to the skis very quickly.

Anticipation

Anticipation – in skiing is the act of preparing for the next turn. Typically the upper body will be an anchor for the lower body to turn against, which allows you to create muscular tension in the mid-section of the body. This is the act when ski moving in arc finishing the turn and upper body (hands, arms and chest) already turned in the direction of a new turn.

Pressure Control Movements

The ability to manage, control and manipulate pressure is often described as the most difficult skill to muster of skiing. Effective pressure control requires the constant action of muscles and use of specific movements to moderate forces from foot to foot, along the length of the skis, and between the skis and the snow. The amount of pressure that is applied to the skis can be controlled by repositioning the center of mass or by changing turn radius, speed, amount of bend of your joints, edge angle and weight distribution.

Fore and Aft Movements

Fore and aft movements control pressure along the length of the feet and skis. The deliberate application of pressure to the front, middle or back of the feet allows you to use ski design to aid in turning and edging.

Turn Radius

Turn radius in the other words size of the turn. In skiing we talk about short radius, medium radius and long radius turns. Short radius turns create more pressure that the long ones.

Speed also effects pressure during the turn: the greater the speed the greater the pressure.

Flexion and Extension

Flexion and extension of the skiing joints, affect pressure. The speed at which you flex and extend can define the amount and duration of pressure on your skis. If you body accelerates downward from a tall position quickly, pressure on the skis temporary decreases.

When the flexing is stopped pressure increases. If your body accelerates upward from a short position quickly the pressure on the skis temporary increases. When the extension is stopped pressure decreases. If you move in a constant rate the pressure can be the same or can be progressive.

Flexion can also help absorb changes in terrain and snow conditions while maintaining balance, and allow more powerful rotary movements. Flexion can be active (causing the knees to bend) or passive (allowing to push your knees into your body).

Edge Angle

Edge angle is the amount a ski can be tilted relative to the surface of the snow and the hill.

If you increase the amount of edge angle, hence you are tipping the skis onto a higher edge and putting your weight into a smaller surface area, thus increasing pressure. If you decrease the amount of edge angle and flatten the skis you are putting you weight onto a larger surface area, thus decreasing the amount of the pressure.

Foot to foot changes in weight distribution can also control pressure. At the end of the turn you decrease the pressure on the old outside ski and move to the new outside ski. During the weight distribution from one outside leg to the other, the new outside leg is always extending as the new inside leg begins to flex. This long leg / short leg appearance produces a lateral movement of the center of mass into the new turn, and a shift of pressure from one ski to the other.

Now when we understand all types of movements let’s take a look how they going to be used for skiers with different skiing skills?

Beginner Main Type of Movements Rotary

Skier very often sitting on the back seat, skis moving flat, edge angle doesn’t exist. For Beginners the main goal is to keep in central stance. Put as much attention as you can on hands position and pressure on the tongue of the boots.

Intermediate Skier

Intermediate skier for this type of skiers everybody who can make skidding turns can be said to an Intermediate skier. These skiers are trying to decrease the amount of wedge, and we can talk about vertical motion (flexion-extension).

Skiers are decreasing rotary movements, and more and more are putting their skis on the edge creating edge angle. Aft-forward movements getting better in the process of completion.

Advance Skier

Advance skier that is finding harmony in all types of movements. Their stance is becoming wider, and turning with skidding moving to the dynamic carving turn. In this kind of turns, rotary movements practically do not take place. The main type of body movements fore-aft with angulation and edging. The amount of angulation and inclination depends on terrain, speed and type of the turn14 .


Skiing In India

Skiing in India was introduced very late as compared to other parts of the world despite some of the world’s best locations and indeed the Himalayas. As per records Skiing in India was first done in Baltoro Godwin-Austin region in 1902.

Later in 1905 skiing was done in Gulmarg by British Officer. Today India is having some of the world’s good skiing destination for all adventure enthusiasts may it be novice or expert. Heliskiing is still awaiting its turn to take up India in the international arena of Skiing. Skiing destination in India are mostly in the Himalayas and are listed here by state (North-West to South-East)15.

Jammu & Kashmir

Gulmarg

Gulmarg (translation: “Meadow of Flowers”) is a town, a hill station, a popular skiing destination. Gulmarg is located 52 km from Srinagar at an average elevation of 2,690 m. The old name of Gulmarg was “Gaurimarg”, the name of Lord Shiva’s wife. Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. It was a favourite summer holiday destination for the British stationed in India16 .

The town is nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks, and receives heavy snowfall during the winter season and is a popular ski resort. Gulmarg has quickly become one of the state’s most visited destinations. The slopes of Afarwat Hills of the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalaya Chain boast one of the longest and highest ski slopes in Asia.

The total distance covered by ski lifts is five kilometres and the resort peaks at an altitude of 3,950 m (12,959 ft), accessed by an aerial gondola (Cable Car). The skiing project was inaugurated by the Chief Minister on 25 December 2004. The peak season starts with the snowfall in December and lasts until March (April if it is a good season).

The “heartland of winter sports in India”, as quoted by CNN, is a gathering ground for all things extreme sports and outdoors related. In the winter, the diverse and extreme terrain combines with torrential snowfall to create a snow destination that is among the best in the world17 .

Sonamarg

Sonamarg (“Meadow of Gold”) is a hill station in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir. In its vicinity lies the great Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley namely Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier with some peaks of above 5000 meters Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Sonamarg an alpine valley is situated at the bank of Nallah Sindh, 87 km north-east from Srinagar on Srinagar Baltal motor road, it is a popular tourist destination, nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. It lies at an altitude of 2800 metres above sea level.

Sonamarg had historical significance and was a gateway on ancient Silk Road[18&19] along with Gilgit connecting Kashmir with China and other Gulf countries. In late April when Sonamarg is open for road transport, the visitors can have access to snow which is furnished all over like a white carpet. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier a major attraction during the summer months. One can enjoy skiing in Sonamarg with good instructors and scenic beauty all around.

Himachal Pradesh

Kufri

Kufri is a small hill station in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. It is located 13 km from the state capital Shimla on the National Highway No.22. The name Kufri is derived from the word “Kufr” meaning a lake in the local language. Kufri has a Himalayan Wild Life Zoo which hosts rare Antelopes, Felines and Birds including Himalayan Monal. During winter a meandering path through the potato plantations turns into a popular Ski track.

Narkanda

Narkanda is a town in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh. It is at an altitude of 2708 meters on the NH 22. It is about 65 km from Shimla and surrounded by the Shivalik Ranges that span a large part of Himachal Pradesh. It is a skiing resort in winter. It connects Shimla with Rampur and a detour also goes to Thanedhar, the prime apple belt of Himachal Pradesh.

Solang Nala

Solang Nala (Valley) drives its name from combination of words Solang (Nearby village) and Nullah (water streams from mountains). It is a side valley at the top of the Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh 14 km northwest of the resort town Manali on the way to Rohtang Pass, and is known for its summer and winter sport conditions. The sport’s most commonly offered are parachuting, paragliding, skating, skiing and zorbing.

Giant slopes of lawn comprise Solang Valley and provide its reputation as a popular ski resort. A few ski agencies offering courses and equipment reside here and operate only during winters. A ropeway also assists the tourist for skiing and paragliding.

Sikkim

Lachung

Lachung is a town in northeast Sikkim. It is located in the North Sikkim district and is near the border with China. Lachung is at an elevation of about 9,600 ft or 3,000 m and at the confluence of the Lachen River and Lachung Rivers, tributaries of the River Teesta. The word Lachung means “small pass”. The town is approximately 125 km from the capital Gangtok.

The town’s economy has been boosted by tourism in recent years as the region has been opened up by the Indian government. Tourist came from all over the world to visit the town between October and May, mostly on their way to the Yumthang Valley and the Lachung Monastery. During winter the town is usually covered in snow. Lachung is also the base camp for Rhododendron Valley Trek which starts from Yumthang Valley and ends at Lachen Valley.

Lachung has been described as the “most picturesque village of Sikkim” by British explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker in his definitive, The Himalayan Journal (1855). Skiing is conducted in Phuni near this town.

Yumthang Valley

Yumthang Valley is a grazing pasture surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in the North Sikkim district at an elevation of 3,575 metres (14,000) above amsl at a distance of 150 km from the state capital Gangtok. It is also home to the Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, and has over twenty-four species of the rhododendron, the state flower. A tributary of the river Teesta flows past the valley and the town of Lachung, the nearest inhabited centre. Yumthang is closed between December and March due to heavy snowfall.

A forest rest house is the only permanent residence in the valley. During the spring months, the area blooms with rhododendrons, primula, poppies, iris and other flora. Skiing is conducted in the valley.

Arunachal Pradesh

Tawang

Tawang is a town situated at an elevation of approximately 3,048 metres (10,000 ft) in the north western part of Arunachal Pradesh. The area is claimed by both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China as a part of South Tibet. Tawang town is located approximately 555 kilometres (345 mi) from Guwahati. Tawang has an average elevation of 2,669 metres.

Tawang Monastery was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. The name Tawang (Tibetan: རྟ་དབང་, Wylie: Rta-dbang) means Horse Chosen20 . It is said to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet21 . Tipi Orchid sanctuary in Tawang houses thousands of varieties of orchids.

Visitors to Tawang require special Inner line permits from the government which are available in Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur, and New Delhi.

Tawang is the base for Parvat Ghatak Commando School, one of Indian Army’s elite high altitude warfare training schools. Several domestic and international units have been trained in high altitude special operations at this school.


FAQ

What are the different types of skiing?

Skiing can be classified into several different disciplines, including alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, and cross-country skiing. Alpine skiing, also known as downhill skiing, involves skiing down marked trails on a ski resort using skis that are designed for this purpose. Freestyle skiing involves performing tricks and stunts using skis, often on a specially designed course with jumps and other features. Cross-country skiing involves skiing across relatively flat terrain, often on trails in the backcountry.

Can anyone ski?

Skiing can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. However, it is important for individuals to be in good physical condition and to take necessary precautions when skiing, such as wearing appropriate clothing and equipment and skiing within their ability level.

What should I wear for skiing?

When skiing, it is important to wear appropriate clothing to keep warm and dry. This may include a ski jacket and pants, gloves, a hat and goggles, and a ski helmet. It is also a good idea to wear several layers of clothing, as this allows for better temperature regulation on the mountain.

How do I choose the right skis?

Choosing the right skis depends on several factors, including your skill level, the type of skiing you will be doing, and your personal preferences. When selecting skis, consider the width and shape of the skis, as well as the type of binding system they use. It is also a good idea to try out different skis before making a purchase to find the best fit for you.

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