Photo: Tourists enjoying night skiing
Korea is gearing up to host the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and with ski resorts spread throughout the country, the number of international tourists coming to enjoy skiing in Korea is steadily increasing. For visitors from warmer climates that don’t receive snow or those who have never tried skiing, there is no need to fear; Korea Tourism Organization has created a helpful guide for beginners who wish to enjoy Korea’s ski resorts. After reading our guide, all that’s left is to gather up your courage and hit the slopes!
Step 1. Purchase lift pass & rent equipment
Photo: Clothing rental shop (left) / Tourists renting ski equipment (right)
The first thing to do when arriving at the ski resort is to purchase a lift pass and rent ski equipment. You can bring your own ski suit and equipment if you have them, but if not, they are available for rental at the resort. However, please note that ski caps, goggles and gloves are not available for rental so you should bring your own or purchase these items if needed.
Lift passes are generally divided into morning, afternoon, evening, and midnight runs. If you don’t want to cut your ski time short, all day passes are also available, as well as combination morning+afternoon, afternoon+evening, or evening+midnight types. Equipment rental time can be matched to your lift pass time.
Ski equipment names & explanations
Photo: Ski equipment names
- Plate: Beginners should start with plates the same length or 10cm shorter than the skier’s height.
- Boots: Wear the correct sized boots for the best experience. When renting equipment, give your shoe size for the right boots. Be aware that Korean shoe sizes are measured in millimeters (mm).
- Pole: Poles should be as tall as the skier’s bellybutton. Poles can be used to help with balance and to release your boots from the ski plates when taking them off.
Step 2. Become familiar with basic poses
Photo: One of the basic poses for skiing
Before getting on the lift and heading up to the top of the slope, we recommend beginners become familiar with the basic poses used when skiing. When starting out, you should put your skis in a parallel line. Grab your poles for balance and step down strongly onto the bindings of the ski plates to lock into the skis. With your skis still in a parallel line, bend your knees and lean forward slightly, being sure to keep your back straight without sticking your rear end out too far.
Photo: Parallel ski-pose (left) / Side-view of A-pose (right)
After becoming comfortable with the first pose, it’s time to learn the A-pose! As the name suggests, in this pose the skier spreads their legs apart with the heels leading to position the plates in the shape of an ‘A’. The A-pose is used to control speed, and a build-up of friction can stop the skier’s motion.
Photo: Correct A-pose (left) / Incorrect A-pose with crossed ski tips (right)
One thing to be aware of when making the A-pose is the spacing of the plate tips. The distance between the two front tips should be roughly the size of a fist. If the skis are too far apart, you can lose your balance; too close and you will change directions without decreasing your speed.
Step 3. Learn how to fall safely
Photo: Correct way to safely fall and get back up
It sounds silly, but another step for a safe and enjoyable skiing trip is to learn how to fall properly. As a beginner, falling over is expected, so it’s best to learn the method for minimizing the risks of getting hurt.
When one begins to fall, the natural inclination is to put out one’s hands to stop the fall. However, catching your full weight on your wrists is dangerous, so cross your arms over your chest and let your rear end touch the ground first. From the ground, arrange your plates in a parallel line, cutting across rather than down the slope. Scoot as close to the plates as you can, place your hand on the ground and push yourself into a sitting position. From here, hug your knees and pull yourself up in to a standing position.
Step 4. Learn to walk back up the slope
Photo: Skier walking up the slope while wearing skis
While skiing, you might drop a pole or perhaps your glove or hat. In this situation, you can “walk” up the slope while still wearing your skis. Walking up the slope is a bit different from normal walking, but you will quickly get used to the motion.
Similar to when you get up from falling, stand with your ski plates in a parallel line cutting across the slope. From this position, move your top leg up the slope and bring your down-slope leg to meet it, being sure to maintain the parallel positioning. Continue this sideways stair-stepping motion until you reach the point of the slope where your item is waiting.
Step 5. Ride the lift
Photo: Getting on the lift
After learning the basic poses and positions, it’s time to ride the lift to the top of the slope! When it is your turn on the lift, hold on to your ski equipment and stand in the waiting area. Look behind you to confirm the position of the lift before you sit down. Once you are seated, pull down the safety bar and put your plates over the footrests. The footrests hold the safety bar in place while providing support for the heavy ski boots and plates. If your equipment is not securely in place on the lift, it can fall down so be careful, especially about any loose clothing and your poles.
At the top of the slope, follow the guidance of the staff. At their signal, take your feet off the footrest and lift the safety bar. When the staff tell you to stand up, quickly get up and ski away from the lift so the chair will not hit you as it continues around.
Step 6. Night skiing
Photo: Enjoying night skiing
If you have become comfortable with skiing in the daytime, try the excitement of night skiing! Ski resorts offer different hours, but almost all resorts have evening, night, or overnight skiing options available. It’s important to be aware that despite the bright lights on the slopes, your line of sight will be shorter than during day skiing. In addition, the temperature at night is much lower, so be sure to bundle up so you don’t catch a cold!
Tip) Ski lessons from an expert instructor
Photo: Beginners attending private lessons with an instructor
For first-time skiers, signing up for lessons with an instructor is one way to learn all you need to know. Ski resorts in Korea offer a variety of classes, from groups to private lessons for one or two students. Private lessons are more expensive but the instructor can provide more personalized guidance. The content of lessons can range from beginning instruction to intermediate and even advanced ski techniques depending on what the students require. In addition, some resorts offer lessons in other languages, but be sure to check in advance before you pick a resort. Please be aware that there are basic lesson programs included with the lift pass and special programs with a separately charged fee.