Types of skiing

Skiing has evolved into many different disciplines that differ greatly. From cross country skiing to freestyle, here is a review of the different types of skiing styles.

Cross Country Skiing

Also known as “nordic skiing,” cross country skiing involves skiing over flat terrain. Also abbreviated as “xc skiing,” cross country skiers ski over the countryside, rather down on downhill terrain.

Most cross country skis are long and thin, allowing the weight of the skier to be distributed quickly. Cross country skiers use poles to propel themselves forward. Cross country boots are attached to the ski with a binding, but the heel remains free.


Downhill Skiing

Arizona Snow Bowl woman skiers skiing on a sunny hard packed day
Perhaps the most popular form of skiing, downhill or “alpine” skiers ski down mountains and strive to ski well on challenging terrain.

Downhill skis vary in length and shape depending on the height of the skier and the type of snow they will be skiing. Downhill skiers use ski poles, and their boots are reinforced plastic that steadily hold the foot to the ski.


Backcountry Skiing

From rolling hills to jagged high peaks, skiers seek out backcountry terrain for solitude, freedom and untracked powder. There has been a recent surge in the popularity of backcountry skiing due to open-gate policies at ski resorts, Big Mountain Freestyle Ski Films, rising lift ticket prices and advances in ski equipment.


Freestyle Skiing

Freestyle skiing is a type of skiing where skiers do tricks or jumps. From skiing on halfpipes to getting air and soaring over jumps (and then doing tricks in the air), freestyle skiers also ski moguls. While skiing down close set moguls, freestyle skiers race through moguls and then ski over a jump.

Most freestyle skiers ski in normal downhill ski boots, yet some freestyle skiers use twin tip skis, which allow them to perform jumps and ski through moguls well. Other freestyle skiers use snow blades, which are extremely small skis.

Telemark Skiing

Telemark skiing is similar to downhill skiing, as skiers ski down mountain slopes. However, telemark skiers use boots that do not attach their heel to the ski – telemark skiers are sometimes called “free-heelers.”

Telemark skiers generally use more flexible skis, and they use special telemark skiers that do not attach their heels to the boots. Most telemark skiers do use ski poles.


Adaptive Skiing

Adaptive skiing enables skiers with disabilities to participate in alpine skiing by using special equipment. Different types of adaptive equipment is available, and some adaptive skiers can ski with a lot of independence. Adaptive skiing lesson programs are available at many ski resorts for children and adults with a wide range of disabilities.