Skiing is a winter sport that is performed on two boards to glide over the snow. Both boards -commonly known as skis- are attached to the sole of the skier’s shoes by means of a binding system.

Historically, skiing arose as a consequence of a need for transport, but nowadays, it is linked to purely sporting and leisure activities.

In a snowy environment, there are many sports modalities derived from skiing, such as freestyle, freeride, telemark, speed, bumps, biathlon… In order to summarise, here is a simplified classification:

Alpine skiing: This is the most widely practised and best known sport. The main difference with the other modalities is that the entire surface of the sole of the foot is fixed to the skis and all the equipment is designed and conceived for the descent of snowy slopes in all types of snow, but not for the ascent. The sports equipment used has evolved a lot in the last decades. Today, parabolic or carving skis, poles, helmets and semi-rigid boots that allow dorsal flexion are used.

Nordic skiing: This is a sport that encompasses different disciplines. What they all have in common is that the heel can be lifted from the sole of the ski by means of a binding system that allows the foot to pivot from the toe. The material is light and is designed to move generally up or down areas with moderate slopes. The two techniques used are classic skating and skating, where the skater’s stride is imitated. The sporting discipline that combines skating with rifle shooting is called biathlon.

nordico-esqui
Image: Cross-country skiing on a marked track, in classic style using the alternative step technique.

Ski mountaineering: Also called ski mountaineering or skimo, it is a sport that combines classic Nordic skiing with mountaineering in the ascent and has many similarities with alpine skiing in the descent phase. By being able to free the heel and perform the technical gesture of walking, skiers can ascend steep slopes and venture into untouched mountain areas. It’s easy if you’re fit! You will have to imitate the technical gesture of walking on the ascent, using the poles. If you need to ascend a snow slope, you will need to use a synthetic skin. It is commonly called sealskin, and is attached to the sole of the boards, allowing you to slide in the direction you are walking, but not in the opposite direction. Blades are also used to avoid sliding on steep slopes or ice. If we want to descend a snow slope with touring equipment, we must lock the binding to descend in alpine mode and remove the synthetic skins.

Don’t forget that this is a risky activity and you should be aware of the dangers of ski touring before venturing out.

Finally, if you are looking for equipment to get the most out of skiing, here is a selection of the best brands of skis and the different types of skis available.


 

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