person downhill skiing

Discover downhill skiing

Looking to discover a uniquely thrilling sport?
Want to get a breath of fresh air?
Downhill skiing may just be the sport for you.

Downhill skiing is great for kids, adults, thrill-seekers, or simply those who like to enjoy the beauty of winter scenery. Skiing is a great opportunity to enjoy the fresh mountain air with family or friends and, especially, to have fun on safely marked slopes.

What is downhill skiing?

A little history

Did you know the first ski club in Canada was founded in Montreal in 1904? At that time, Montrealers were zipping down the hills of Mont-Royal and, in Quebec, it was the Plains of Abraham. In 1939, the first chairlift was introduced at Mont-Tremblant. For over 100 years, downhill skiing has continued to grow in popularity and has become one of the most practiced winter sports in the country.

Where is it practiced?

As the name suggests, downhill skiing is practiced on groomed slopes. It is up to the various ski resorts to prepare, maintain and ensure the security of their slopes in winter. You can get to the top of the hill using lifts such as gondolas, chair lifts and ski lifts. Off the groomed hill, the snow is in its natural state; skiing on this type of snow is referred to as "all-mountain" or "freeride" skiing. At a ski resort, each trail is colour-coded according to its level of difficulty and its steepness, which is measured by grade (as a percentage) instead of degree angle:

Green circle trails are considered to be the easiest. They are perfect for those who are just learning how to ski.

Blue square trails are for intermediate skiers, but some can be suitable for beginner skiers as well depending on their gradient, which varies between 25% and 40%.

Black diamond trails are the most difficult and are generally for advanced skiers who enjoy a steep slope to gain speed. The technique used on these trails is called "carving", which means that the ski edges are used to carve out great-looking turns.

woman downhill skiing

Code of conduct on the mountain

Ski hills are like giant playgrounds for eager skiers, but it is important to follow certain codes of conduct to ensure the safety of everyone on the hill. The Code of Conduct is generally posted at the ticket office of the ski resort and also near the entrance of every chair lift station at the base of the hill. The rules apply to everyone who is using the mountain - whether for downhill skiing or snowboarding. The ski hill operators can even revoke your day pass or season pass if you do not obey these rules. Remember to be vigilant and always remain aware of what is happening around you. No matter what level skier you are, you need to avoid dangerous behaviour and should be careful to control your speed and be cautious of other skiers when you are zipping down the hill. 

A ski lesson

If you are skiing for the first time, it's a good idea to take a lesson with a ski instructor. This will help you to develop good techniques to get you started off on the right foot.

At first, you will use the snow plow technique to go down the green/blue hills. You'll learn to control your speed, your balance and your direction. Next, you'll work on a series of turns from one side to the other, learning how to put your skis into a parallel position in between each turn. Once you feel comfortable on the green hills, you can move on to the steeper hills and discover new sensations of gliding down at higher speeds.

What are the benefits?

Downhill skiing combines sport with pleasure.

It gives you a sense of freedom that is very much connected with the surroundings. Since it works all the muscles (abs, arms, calves, buttocks, shoulders, legs, etc.), downhill skiing is a complete sport. It also helps to improve your balance, coordination and agility.

The sun's rays are stronger at altitude, so a downhill skiing session will also increase your vitamin D intake, which will give your immune system a boost (just don't forget to protect your face with sunscreen!).

Doing sports at altitude also improves blood circulation by speeding up your heart rate. Muscles grow, and calories burn faster.

Finally, downhill skiing is a sport that can be done with others, so it's a great way to have fun with friends and family this winter. 

four people downhill skiing

Is it the sport for you?

If you want to have fun with family or friends in an idyllic setting, this enjoyable outdoor sport may be perfect for you!

There are ski hills for every level of ability and preference. There are no restrictions to downhill skiing, and a medical certificate is only required if you want to pursue it at a competitive level. Therefore, any healthy person who is not at risk can enjoy skiing without a problem.

ski boots

Ski boots 

You should choose your ski boots according to your stature and your body weight. Downhill ski boots should provide comfort and support. Ski boots can be more or less rigid depending on your level of ability. The degree of stiffness of the boot is measured using an index called "flex". A higher flex means that the boot is more rigid. Generally, beginners and intermediate skiers should opt for a less rigid boot that is more forgiving of errors in positioning, while advanced skiers who are focused on their performance will appreciate the more precise control available with a more rigid boot style.

downhill skis


You should choose your skis according to your level of ability. Beginners will generally opt for shorter, more flexible skis that make it easier to turn and are more forgiving of errors. Intermediate skiers will often choose a longer and more rigid style of ski, and advanced skiers will go for long, very rigid skis that are light and maneuverable and offer good grip in hard, packed snow.

piste ski poles


Downhill ski poles are made to be light and aerodynamic, they also have small baskets on the ends which help you maintain your balance.

piste skiing goggles and helmet

Helmet and goggles

Skiing is not without risk, and an accident on the slopes can happen to anyone. It is therefore strongly advised that you follow the code of conduct and wear a helmet when you ski to reduce your risk of a head injury. And if you're wearing a helmet, you also need goggles! They are highly recommended for safety and also offer effective protection from the cold, wind and sun to improve your vision.

piste skiing gloves


Go for gloves rather than mittens when downhill skiing. Gloves are more practical for carrying your skis to the ski lifts and also for gripping your poles properly.

Downhill skiing jacket and pants

Downhill ski jacket and pants

Ideally, your downhill ski attire should have a slim fit to be more aerodynamic. Stretchy and breathable fabrics will give you more comfort and ease of movement. Check the weather conditions before you head out, and be sure to prepare accordingly: base layers, socks, neck warmer, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.

So, do you feel ready to put on your skis and hit the slopes?

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