An Overview of Different Types of Skiing

by Frank V. Persall

Whenever the topic of skiing is brought up, many people think that the only way to ski is either at a ski resort or at the Olympics. But, in reality, there are a ton of different kinds of skiing. That is why we have compiled a list of the various types of skiing. We have included everything from the less intense activity of alpine skiing to the adrenaline rushing parachute skiing. So continue below to gain some inspiration of what kind of skiing you want to do next winter!

1. Alpine skiing

An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Alpine skiing
An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Alpine skiing

When most people think about skiing, whether they know it or not, they think about alpine skiing. Alpine skiing is the activity of skiing on snowy hills and mountains. Alpine skiing is more of a broad kind of skiing because there are a bunch of subcategories in alpine skiing. But, for this situation, we are using alpine skiing as the general act of skiing down mountains. Usually, people travel to ski resorts to alpine ski.

2. Backcountry skiing

An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Backcountry skiing
An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Backcountry skiing

When you have mastered alpine skiing at ski resorts, check out backcountry skiing. Backcountry skiing is a little bit more intense than alpine skiing, because unlike alpine skiing, you are usually skiing on ungroomed and unpopular trails. Also, most of the time you have to uphill ski or hike to the top of the mountain in order to ski. Thus, in order to backcountry ski, one must be in tip-top physical shape. While you can go backcountry skiing without any prior ski experience, it is recommended that you have at least some skiing experience before backcountry skiing.

3. Cross-country skiing

An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Cross-country skiing
An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is practically the same thing as backcountry skiing. When cross-country skiing, you only travel using your locomotion. Thus, you do not use any ski lifts, cars, or snowmobiles to move mountain to mountain. You only use your skis. The main difference between backcountry skiing and cross-country skiing is that when cross-country skiing, you usually travel on snow, so you keep your skis on for the whole trip. But, when you are backcountry skiing, you can carry your skis as you ascend the mountain, then attach them to descend the mountain. Also, when backcountry skiing, you can use different machines and ways of locomotion to move from one slope to another.

4. Freeskiing


If descending down a mountain with the basic terrain, turns, and some obstacles bore you, you may want to check out freeskiing. Freeskiing is basically the same as skiing, just with the addition of; tricks, jumps, rails, boxes, jibs, and other obstacles. Freeskiing is all about showing off your tricks and skills. So, if you have some cool tricks you want to show off, or you want to learn some awesome things to do while skiing that will take the whole experience up a notch, check out freeskiing.

5. Grass skiing

If you are looking for a way to ski during the spring and summer without having to travel, check out grass skiing! Grass skiing is performed on grass instead of the snow. It is usually done in bright and warm weather. The fundamentals and idea of grass skiing are the same as alpine skiing. But, instead of wearing your typical set of skis, you wear skis with tiny rollerblade type blades on the bottom. Those special skis enable you to navigate through the grassy terrain. Since grass skiing does not require anything too special, it can be done practically anywhere!

6. Half-pipe skiing

If you enjoy skateboarding at a skate park, you will probably enjoy half-pipe skiing. Basically, half-pipe skiing is when you ski on a half-pipe. Typically, tricks are performed on the half-pipe. You can also snowboard on the half-pipe, which could be more appealing to those who enjoy skateboarding!

7. Heli-skiing

If you want a true adrenaline rushing skiing experience, try heli-skiing! Heli-skiing is when you board a helicopter, fly to any mountain you please, and then descend the mountain. Typically the helicopter lands before you descend the mountain, but people have jumped from the helicopter as it hovers a few feet above the mountain. The best part of heli-skiing is since you use a helicopter as your means of transportation, virtually any mountain, with any terrain, located anywhere in the world is accessible. There is also a heightened adventure factor in it since you travel by helicopter.

If you think heli-skiing is intense, wait until you learn what parachute skiing is!

8. Mogul skiing

Another way of extreme skiing is mogul skiing. If skiing on basic and groomed terrain bores you, then check out mogul skiing! Moguls are circular formations on terrain that are formed by skiers who have skied and turned on terrain, in the same area, for an extended period of time. As time has gone on, the terrain formed into moguls. Moguls can be tiny or large. The difficulty of mogul skiing is that the moguls can be physically demanding. You have to have an immense amount of balance, stamina, and strength in order to mogul ski.

9. Night skiing

Night skiing is the same as alpine skiing but in the dark. Usually, in order to help you navigate the slope, there are lights that are aligned on the sides of the slope. While night skiing is not necessarily extreme, it has a fun factor, since you are skiing in the dark.

10. Nordic skiing

Nordic skiing is basically like cross-country skiing, but with an edge. Usually, ski boots are fully attached to the skis, but when Nordic skiing, the heel of the ski boots are not attached to the skis. Thus, you need a lot more balance and stamina in order to Nordic ski.

11. Parachute skiing

The most intense type of skiing on this list is parachute skiing. Parachute skiing is definitely not for the faint of heart. Parachute skiing is basically the act of jumping out of an aircraft, parachuting down, then skiing from the place you landed. Parachute skiing has so many technicalities, such as; ensuring you jump out from the aircraft on time, parachuting safely down to the correct landing spot, and skiing safely. Parachute skiing is extremely fast paced and adrenaline rushing, one minute you are in an aircraft, then you are gliding through the air, and finally you are skiing down a mountain! Before parachute skiing, it is recommended that you have experience parachuting and backcountry skiing. Once you feel comfortable with the two sports, you should attempt parachute skiing.

Overall, if you have enough courage to try parachute skiing you will be able to see some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world and experience a new sense of accomplishment and pride.

12. Ski ballet

Definitely not as risky and adrenaline rushing as parachute skiing, ski ballet is a different take on skiing. Although it is not as thrill seeking as parachute skiing, ski ballet is just as physically demanding. Ski ballet is the act of performing a choreographed routine, using skis, on a ski slope. Typically the ski choreography consists of flips, rolls, leg crossings, jumps, and spins.

Although ski ballet seems intriguing, it peaked in the mid-1900’s. It is not as popular now, but people still partake in it.

13. Ski flying

If you are looking for another unique take on skiing, then check out ski flying! Ski flying is a type of skiing where you descend a ramp, glide through the air, and attempt to gain as much height and air time as possible. Think of it as an activity that is similar to something you would see in a track meet, but it is geared towards winter sports.

If you are interested in ski jumping, be aware that you do not use typical skis, you do not even use ski poles! Instead of using your basic ski gear, you use oversized, elongated skis, and nothing else. Also, instead of standing practically straight up when you jump, like in alpine skiing, you are practically parallel to your pair of skis. Or in other terms, your body is elongated and stretched out in a bent down formation. Thus, ski flying requires a lot of physical endurance and flexibility. So, it wouldn’t hurt to take a few ballet or yoga classes to teach your body how to move in unusual ways without discomfort.

While ski flying is different than typical skiing, you still experience the same, if not more, exhilaration and rush as regular or alpine skiing.

14. Skijoring

An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Skijoring
An Overview of Different Types of Skiing: Skijoring

Another unusual way to try skiing is by skijoring! Skijoring is the activity of skiing, but instead of being in full control of navigation, a horse, dogs, or a motor vehicle is—aka a horse, dogs, or a motor vehicle pulls you, while you hang on to a rope and wear a pair of skis. Think of skijoring as the extreme winter way of waterskiing!

15. Yak skiing

You won’t be able to find our last type of skiing anywhere! Only practiced in Manali, a tourist attraction in India, yak skiing is the activity of skiing by the help of a yak. To begin, you are attached, by a rope and pulley, to a yak. The yak sits at the top of the slope while you wait (ready to ski), at the bottom of the slope. In order to begin, you have to shake a bucket of pony nuts. The pony nuts will attract the yak, and it will begin to charge down the hill. As the yak charges down the slope, you will be pulled up the hill. It is truly a fun, exhilarating, and unique experience—just don’t forget to put down the bucket of pony nuts!

About Frank V. Persall

Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.

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