A Beginner Guide on How to Stop on Skis? 2 Easy Ways

  • By: Josh Rosenberg
  • Date: October 9, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Skiing is a recreation, a sport, and a mode of transportation that involves moving over snow by the use of a pair of long, flat runners called skis, attached or bound to shoes or boots. Competitive skiing is divided into Alpine, Nordic, and freestyle events. The most important thing to know when skiing is how to stop on ski.

Skiing can be quite difficult, and one of the most frightening parts of skiing can be learning how to stop at will during motion. How to stop on skis is the most important thing you need to learn when learning to ski. Strapping on a set of skis and flying down the hill is a lot of fun, but it won’t end in a fun way if you can’t stop at the bottom. 

Down are a few methods listed for stopping while skiing downslide.

Snow Plow Stop or Wedge Stop

The snowplow or wedge stop technique is the first way most skiers learn to stop. They will sometimes call it Pizza for kids. You use a wide stance with your feet spread apart. You point the tips of your skis together. 

Your skis will look like the shape of a snowplow or wedge. To turn you will put pressure on your outside foot. To turn left, you put pressure on your right ski. To turn right, you put pressure on your left ski. To stop you put pressure on both skis at the same time.

This technique works pretty well on easy, not very steep beginner terrains like the bunny hill and at slow speeds. It doesn’t work well on steeper slopes as your speed is faster compared to the easy terrains. It also works best on smooth groomed surfaces. 

It’s very hard to hold your skis in a wedge in deep powder snow. If you are skiing straight down the hill on a wedge and decide to stop, you need to keep pushing both feet until you stop. If you get tired and give up before stopping and taking pressure off your skis you will just speed up again. This is the biggest drawback to a straight-down-the-line wedge stop.

You may also read: 10 Best Skis for Beginner Skiers

Don’t Use Your Poles to Help Stop

It’s tempting to stick your pole to the ground in front of you and try to push with it to stop. This is a great way, to hurt you. You will either mess up your wrists or you will jam your pole into the ground and ski over it. A ski pole between the legs doesn’t feel great.

How to Stop on Skis Properly

Method 1

With both skis facing the right, lean your weight into the hand ski a little and keep turning your skis parallel to the hill until you are facing slightly uphill, where you will come to a complete stop. Naturally, when you’re turning to the left, you’ll lean your weight into the right or downhill ski.

Method 2

In order to stop when skiing, if you are out of control, all you have to do is fall carefully. Fall into the slope on your side, keeping your legs below you and straight, making sure your skis turn sideways across the slope, so the edges of the skis can skid on the snow and slow you down to a stop. 

This method is like a last resort if everything fails. Of course, there are risks whenever you fall, but if you fall in an intentional and deliberate manner, you can minimize the risks of injuries to yourself and others. 

Allowing your descent to continue uncontrolled is going to be much more dangerous, particularly if you allow your speed to build.

A Few More Ways of Stopping on Skis

Stopping on Skis

The Ugly Yet Necessary Method

If everything fails, and the above-mentioned methods aren’t working, then act quickly to take a controlled fall. Waiting too long will result in you building speed and momentum that it may be impossible to recover from. Whenever you fall, the most important thing to do is to protect your knees. 

Your knees are easily damaged given the long levers they are attached to (the skis). Any twisting movement of your skis can damage your knees in a fall, but if you have your legs straight, so your knees are not bent, they will be able to withstand these twisting movements to the point at which your bindings release.

It is also best to fall into the mountain, with your skis below you. This reduces the distance you are falling; the steeper the hill the shorter the distance to lean in to. It also enables the skis to start to “bite” into the slope and slow you down as quickly as possible. 

If you can’t fall this way, then it is important to get your skis below you once you start to slide, so they can stop you. Keep your arms and hands and poles out of the way as you fall. Try to fall onto your side.

The Wrong Way

When we learn to ski, we start by learning to snow-plough. We push both skis out to the sides, so they are on their edges, with the tips of the skis close together and the backs a long way apart. This puts the skis onto their inside edges and allows us to control our descent down the very shallow beginner slope we start to learn on. (The shape we make with our skis is a snow-plough or wedge shape.)

We are taught to start skiing like this because it is an easy way to balance our skis and puts them in the ready position for when we want to start to learn to turn across the slope. It is also true that up to a point just going into a snow-plough will slow us down. If you are traveling slowly down a shallow slope, you can stop with a snow plough. However, a snow-plough doesn’t work above anything but a slow speed. On a steep slope, it will have no effect whatsoever.

Just snow-ploughing will never stop you when you feel out of control on skis. If you haven’t got beyond snow-ploughing straight down the hill, don’t progress to other slopes until you have mastered the art of snow-plough turns.

A Good Skidded Turn

If you have learned to snow-plough turn confidentially, or perhaps you can parallel turn, then that is how you stop when skiing. Don’t get phased when you start going more quickly than you had predicted. 

Simply snow-plough and then press on one ski more than the other and you will start to turn across the hill. Keep that pressure on that ski as you keep turning. Your skis will start to turn slightly uphill and you will slow down and then stop.

This is completely same to parallel turning, except that you turn both skis across the hill and press more on the downhill ski.

Hockey Stop

The hockey stop is a way to exaggerate the turn of the skis across the slope so that you stop as quickly as possible. It is worth practicing a hockey stop as a person’s skiing progresses, so a person knows when he can use it when you need to. Practicing hockey stops also teaches important skills and techniques that will improve one’s skiing more generally.

Practice by pointing your skis so you are traversing the slope at about 45 degrees. Keep your skis wider apart than you would usually do – a bit wider than hip-width. It will also help to squat down a little lower in your stance than you would usually do. This will help keep your skis flat despite being wider apart and will help with your balance.

Practice this while trying to keep your direction of travel the same throughout the exercise. Here your learning to stop quickly, not to turn across the hill. This drill is also helpful to develop your leg turning and to help you separate the top of your body and hips from your leg movement – and this is a very important step in developing to become an advanced skier.

So, a skidded turn, with either a snow-plough or parallel skis, is an excellent way to stop when skiing. If you can learn to do a hockey stop, that is even better and will allow you to stop quickly and wherever suits.

The Beautiful Turn

The final way to stop is not the way to stop if you are feeling out of control – use a hockey stop if you can. But, if you want to stop in a beautiful way – a way that both looks great and feels great, then practice a full carved turn. 

You stop and look back and you can see where your skis have carved two clear curved lines in the snow making up to three-quarters of a perfect circle. When you can do this you are an advanced skier and worrying about how you stop is no longer a real concern.

A carved turn is achieved by changing the order in which you apply forces to your skis and requires delicate and subtle movements so that the ski isn’t overloaded and skids. In a carved turn you put the ski on its edge and apply pressure to it. 

You allow the ski to turn your leg, rather than applying a turning force. Practice these turns and you will take your skiing to a whole new level of skill and enjoyment. If you want to know how to stop on xc skis, let us tell you the method you need to follow is the same.

Inspirational Skiing


How do you slow down and stop when skiing?

By pushing out your skis to form a triangle, your skis create more friction with the snow and you begin to slow down. What is this? You can use the snow plough to slow you while skiing or to make you come to a stop. The more you push out and dig into your inside edges, the greater the friction and the more you slow down.

What do beginner skiers use to turn and stop?

Most new skiers start by making turns in a snow plow, or gliding wedge. This works well on very gentle slopes with flat surfaces.

How to stop on cross-country skis?

Turn your feet and legs parallel whilst starting to bend your knees and dig into the snow with the inner edge of both skis and push through your heel. The more you dig into snow, the quicker your stop. Release the angle of your skis and flatten them towards the snow so you won’t fall backward.

What is the difference between carving and parallel turns?

The major difference between carving and normal parallel turns is that while the back of your ski will skid a little with each parallel turn, a carving turn will have the back end of your ski following the trace of the front end of your ski, for a clean turn.

Why do I keep falling when I ski?

You can also learn a lot from falling if you pay attention to your body. The reason most people fall when they ski is because they’re not balanced over the center of their skis. Many people have a tendency to lean back too far. Ski instructors often refer to this as “sitting in the back seat.”

Should skis come off when you fall?

In the event of a fall, the ski needs to break away from the boot but the attachment between the boot and the binding needs to be strong enough, so the skis don’t come off in everyday skiing.

What makes a ski easier to turn?

Rockered tails or early rise tails encourage easy turn release. A rockered tail reduces the effective edge length of the ski and makes the tail feel softer. So, Rockered or early-rise tails encourage easy turn release, which can be helpful when skiing through tight terrain or soft snow conditions.


Skiing is a really fun sport and a fun hobby. But one’s safety is a non-ignorable concern. Anyone should care about their safety before anything. Learn properly how to ski and slow down on a hill.

Read also: How Much Do Skis Cost?

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