Is Skiing Hard? (Plus Tips for Conquering the Slopes!)


When I was a youngster, I used to watch the skiers go down the hill at my favorite sledding spot and think, “Could I do that?” It seemed so exciting and different, and I wanted a taste of it for myself. I wondered: is skiing hard?

Skiing is a moderately challenging activity due to its balance and coordination requirements. Most new skiers will feel comfortable on easy to intermediate ski runs after a few days of practice.

So, what are the challenges to skiing? If you buy a pair of skis today, how long will it be until you’re cruising the slopes? All these questions and more will be answered in this article!

How Long does it Take to Learn to Ski?

According to, it takes a few hours to learn basic skills like balance and forward motion, and a couple of weeks to become a confident skier. However, we all learn at our own pace, and you may find that it takes a shorter or longer amount of time to feel comfortable on skis. 

For comparison, you can take a look at how quickly you’ve been able to learn new skills in the past.

  • Were you able to quickly pick up the basics of a new activity?
  • Or do you find you struggle with them for a while before growing comfortable?

When I started skiing, I had issues with getting my skis crossed for the first couple hours on turns. But once I got the hang of it, things started to feel easy!

Granted, I wasn’t ready to tackle double black diamonds, but the greens and blues felt manageable! Go skiing for a couple days in a row, or several times within a season, and the muscle memory will start to sink in.

That doesn’t mean you need to get frustrated if it takes you a bit longer, though. Skiing can be challenging for different people depending on their age, athleticism, and overall enthusiasm for the task.

Take it as slow as you want, and don’t let anyone intimidate you into going down slopes you don’t feel comfortable skiing. 

And don’t get discouraged if you find you’re not getting it. Like any skill, skiing isn’t something everyone can just pick right up. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you won’t be an expert after day one. It requires a lot of strength, balance, and attention to ski well!

Keep your head up, and keep getting up after you fall down- you’ll be zipping around the slopes in no time, I promise. And if you aren’t, you may just be slower to pick up certain skills. There’s no shame in that. Keep at it if you really want it, and you’ll eventually get where you want to be. 

Last but not least, a ski lesson can really help!

While many of us love the challenge of learning on our own, there’s nothing wrong with getting tips from an expert. This is especially helpful if you’re just getting started with mountain sports.

This is a great way to jumpstart your learning process and ease some of the frustration that is bound to come with learning any new activity.

Can You Learn to Ski in a Day?

Again, it depends. Who is the ‘you’ in question here? Are you retired with arthritis and a bad back? Or are you a spritely teenager in great shape?

Depending on your level of skill and athleticism, you’re probably going to have a different experience. 

Prior experience with similar activities can also help!

Have you ever been waterskiing, iceskating, or even snowboarding? If so, those are examples of activities whose skills will have some transfer to (snow) skiing.

While there are certainly differences between them, they all require balance and coordination on a slippery surface.

The key is balance. So long as you can learn to stay off your butt, you can learn to do turns, use poles, and every other aspect of the sport quickly! Again, it depends on your age and fitness, but most people take anywhere from a day to a week to feel comfortable.

group of three skiers going downhilll

Can I Go Skiing Without Lessons?

Yes, you absolutely can go skiing without lessons. However, if you’re totally new to the sport, no prior experience in similar sports whatsoever, a beginner’s lesson will be extremely helpful.

There are a few do’s and don’ts of skiing that might not be obvious to first-timers. If you can’t afford an instructor, remember that the internet is a spectacular tool for obtaining hidden knowledge. 

These and other helpful tips can be related to you by an instructor. An internet article also won’t be able to call you out on mistakes in real-time if that’s your thing. 

Ski lessons will usually cost around $35-$50 per hour, depending on the instructor or the resort. Beginner group lessons can often be combined with the purchase of your lift ticket and gear rental at a discounted price.

Keep in mind, though, you’ll likely only need an hour or two of instruction to get the basics and correct the major mistakes.

Lessons can also be a fun experience in general, and if you find group instruction, you can make some great friends. I made my best skiing buddies giving instructions to friends who wanted to learn the sport but didn’t want to go all in. 

Skiing is a great bonding experience and a great way to get to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve got a feening for adventure, skiing can cure it!

Is Skiing Harder than Snowboarding?

Whether skiing is more challenging than snowboarding depends on what factor you’re considering and what kind of skiing you’ll want to do. As with all other things, it really depends, and you can’t make blanket statements about every situation.

But we’re gonna try as hard as we can to do just that 😉

I would say the most significant difference between skiing and snowboarding is the two separate gliding surfaces. Learning to get two skis coordinated and in line can be an incredibly challenging experience.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen one of my snowboarder friends almost do a split on skis!

Overall, though, snowboarding is a great precursor experience to skiing and can help you pick it up much faster. Former snowboarders have the balance and experience in snowy terrain necessary to navigate both slopes and backcountry environments. 

Ice skating is also a great experience to have before skiing. Guiding your feet along a flat, slippery surface can be a spectacular exercise for when you’re on bumpy terrain. So go ahead and try the rink if you want some prior experience in a controlled environment. 

The hardest thing for me was balance, which you’ll already have as a snowboarder, especially if you’re used to standing in that awkward sideways position (no offense to snowboarders). 

Some snowboarders often find it challenging to keep their skis straight when they first start skiing. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at them, but those two thin boards can be challenging to point in the right direction.

If you don’t want your skis knocking around on your first ride, you can work on your ankle strength. Ankle strength can be built up by exercises like jumping jacks and jump rope, all of which are used by fighters to strengthen their legs for fights. 

And trust me, you’ll have to fight with your skis the first few times around. 

Just remember not to give up. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a friend come to me saying, “Hey! Can you take me skiing?” Only to have them stick around the general store with a cup of hot chocolate after their first big fall. 

It can be frustrating to learn any new skill, even if you have prior experience in a similar area- but remember, practice makes perfect. So long as you keep at it, you’ll inevitably see improvement. 

All in All

All in all, skiing is a challenging experience, but not necessarily hard. If you go down easy slopes at first and take it at your own pace, you’ll be having a fun, relaxing time.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re having trouble at first- everyone does. You won’t be an expert on your first day, even if you can learn to do it after just one outing!

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Hi, I'm Zach Reed and I'm a Colorado-based outdoor lover! For more information about me, take a look at my dedicated about me page.

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