How To Practice Skiing Without Snow?

Whether you are a victim of “climate change”, or you find yourself smack-dab in the middle of tropical Africa, you can still channel your inner Jean-Claude Killy or Mikaela Shiffrin. Welcome to the hidden world of snow-free skiing.

The first and safest, way to ski without snow is to use a ski simulator system. Various ski machines and simulation software are available for skiers to train without physically being in a ski area. The other ways include forest skiing, volcanic ash skiing, sand skiing, grass skiing, and indoor skiing.

Skis? Check. Goggles? Check. Poles? Check, check, check. It looks like we’re all set…but wait. There’s a catch. Say goodbye to snow skiing and say hello to some of its fun (and quirky) alternatives.

Can you practice skiing at home?

Thanks to technology and some radical out-of-the-box thinking, anyone can now ski at home, even in the comfort of their living rooms! Let’s quickly look at how it’s done.

The first and often safest way to ski at home is to use a ski simulator. These machines are a great way to practice balance and build up confidence before hitting the trails for real. Most commonly known as “ski machines” or “ski sims”, they are now a hot fitness trend, and are spawning whole new sporting disciplines.

Even the best of the best in professional skiing train with top of the range simulators, and polish out their moves to, hopefully, cross the fine line between a medal and an early ticket home. For the rest of us wipe-out magnets, there is an abundance of cheaper options on the market, many of which are portable as well.

A famous piece of home skiing history undoubtedly belongs to the NordicTrack ski machine family. NordicTrack has been designing and producing ski simulation equipment for decades, and the earliest incarnations of their ski machines were behind the “indoor cross-country skiing” craze that swept the U.S. in the 1970s.

The brand is legit and has a strong dedication to helping you improve your skiing or simply keep fit. Of all their models, the Sequoia SkierOpens in a new tab. (available on Amazon) is arguably the best. Ski on flats? Attack the thigh-busting incline?

It’s all up to you thanks to the machine’s adjustable gradient positioning. The fabulous pinewood body encapsulates the product’s overall quality and refinement.




The device replicates the movements of Nordic cross-country skiing, with two cable holds that help to work the upper body, and a pair of pinewood mock skis. The wooden skis are also known as the device’s “Skimill”, borrowed from “treadmill”.  The cable holds are moved in a manner that simulates the poling motions of cross-country skiing. A lot of set up and workout routine content is available online.

Unfortunately, the Sequoia Skier is oriented towards cross-country skiing. Alpine skiers need not worry though, for a solution is already at hand. The Ski Fit 360, from skiing specialist brand Pro Ski Simulator, is the ultimate alpine skiing machine. A B-type footing cart is cradled securely in a simple, but the ingenious metal frame.

The foot pedals move side to side independently on the cart’s track, allowing for weight redistribution and adjustment, just like in real skiing. Weighing in at a portable-ish 103lbs (47kg), the Ski Fit 360 is a great addition to your home gym.

The full-body workout you get from this thing is, by itself, a solid reason to get one of these simulators. However, there’s more on offer.

The Ski Fit also has a built-in multimedia console that comes preloaded with Pro Ski Simulator’s virtual ski simulator. A simple HDMI connection links the Ski Fit to your TV with zero hassle.

The plug-and-play simulation game features typical alpine skiing events such as slalom and downhill. The user’s actual movements on the device are captured and relayed to the on-screen avatar, which mimics the moves.

This advanced technology is great for skiers of all levels to identify specific weaknesses in their timing and technique. The on-screen simulation is immersive enough to transform any Ski Fit session into a fun and competitive workout, especially if you are taking turns and going up against a friend or two.

The ergonomic design allows for various intensities and levels of explosiveness. The ski machine also has a pair of integrated ski poles that can be independently angled in any direction. For beginners, a fixed handlebar is placed on the front of the Ski Fit to aid with balance. The Ski Fit 360Opens in a new tab. is certainly one of the best at-home skiing solutions out there today.


ski simulator


The wave of virtual reality continues to splatter and splash across various global industries and fields, and the world of skiing is receiving a significant dousing. Immerse yourself in the alpine wonderlands of your choice without even leaving your house. Take a short trip to your mobile app store and get skiing with VR Ski Winter Simulator, a cool new alpine skiing simulator from Aploft.

This game is packed with incredible features, including high detail graphics, glorious landscapes, and an all-round immersive first-person perspective. The rendering is excellent and, unlike most VR titles, VR Ski Winter Simulator is relatively battery friendly to your phone, meaning you’ll be chasing records and medals for hours.

Customize your avatar by choosing from a far-out selection of skis. The skis, and poles, in the game feature colors, sponsorship decals, and tribal designs of all kinds, and unlocking them is a worthwhile and satisfying grind. Another cool feature is the multiplayer mode.

The game can support up to six players, over the same network, in a session. Sounds like fun for the whole family to me, and a fun substitute if you cannot access real skiing areas. Purchase VR Ski Winter SimulatorOpens in a new tab. from Amazon today and begin your journey to superstardom.

How to practice skiing without snow?

To the casual person, this question would be rather absurd. Everyone knows that skiing is a “winter sport”. Surely snow is a must when it comes to practicing. Or is it?

Not everyone has access to snow at any given moment and this fact, combined with natural human curiosity has led people to seek out the feasibility of skiing without it entirely. French daredevil and internet sensation Candide Thovex is a man who is pretty much the poster boy for snow-free skiing at this point.

The pro-skier-turned-filmmaker is widely regarded as one of the finest freeskiers in history. French magazine Skieur also famously called him a “true ambassador of skiing” after an incredible jumping performance at the legendary Mont Blanc.

However, Thovex is arguably more famous for his classic Audi Quattro2 commercialOpens in a new tab. on YouTube. In the clip, the Frenchman straps up his skis to go on a run. This time, though, there is a slight difference…no snow.

The four-and-a-half-minute video sees Thovex take on rock surfaces, grass, forest floors, dunes, a banana plantation, and even someone’s roof! The pièce de résistance of the whole advertisement has to be the part where he unapologetically skis on the stairs along THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA like it’s just another day in the office.

The internet is awash with skiing enthusiasts and organizations attempting to push boundaries and take the sport to new heights without the use of naturally precipitating snow. Below are some examples of such attempts.

Skiing Simulators

The most popular snow-free approach to practicing skiing, at least professionally, is simulation gear and software combos such as the one in the aforementioned Ski Fit 360 package. Samsung also provides spectacular VR skiing simulations to several professional skiers.

Remember skiing is extremely seasonal, yet skiers are expected to be competition ready by the time tournament season rolls back around.

Simulators are the next best thing and they are an incredible help for the athletes’ preparedness. Athletes on the comeback path after serious injuries can also benefit from simulations.

Depending on the injury, doctors would advise athletes not to hit real trails too soon because of the unpredictability of the ground surface. Simulations offer a more controlled environment, as their movement is often smooth.

Indoor Skiing

For recreational use, the most common substitute for on-snow skiing is indoor skiing. Now popularized by facilities like Ski Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, indoor ski facilities have been around since the 1920s. The first was constructed in the year 1926 in Berlin, as part of the German capital’s Automobilhalle.

Ever since 149 indoor winter facilities have been built all over the world. It is estimated that at present, about 113 are currently open for business across six continents and 35 countries. Thanks to the invention of snowmakers in the mid-1990s, these winter parks now make use of real snow rather than the potentially harmful chemical substitutes used in the past.

Besides Ski Dubai, there are other world-famous indoor skiing facilities. The wintry city of Harbin, China, is home to the utterly ridiculous Wanda Indoor Ski and Winter Sports Resort.

This engineering marvel was dreamt up and manifested by Chinese property development tycoon Wang Jianlin, of Dalian Wanda Group fame. Jianlin and his associates sought to take advantage of Harbin’s already booming tourism, and build an indoor ski center that would blow any other out of the water.

Remember when I said this ski park was “ridiculous”? Scratch that, a more appropriate description for the Wanda ski resort would be “stark raving mad.”   It features six separate slopes: two experts (black) slopes, two beginners (blue/green) slopes, and two intermediaries (red) slopes.

There is also a large play area for children and a snow castle. All in all, the world’s largest indoor ski facility occupies an area of 860,000 feet, a size that allows it to easily accommodate 3000 visitors at any given time. Definitely worth a visit for any indoor skiing fan.

Other notable indoor ski facilities in the world are the AlpinCenter (Bottrop, Germany), the Big Snow American Dream (New Jersey, USA), the Snow Centre (Hemel Hempstead, England), and SnowPlanet (Auckland, New Zealand).

Forest skiing

Technically, real skiing CAN take place in a snowy forest too. However, in this context, the term “forest skiing” refers to skiing in a forest without a flake of snow in sight. Essentially skiing on leaves. This new phenomenon is sweeping the internet and, unsurprisingly, causing a little controversy within the skiing community.

Forest skiing, or leaf skiing, is an acquired taste, and while some will love it, others may struggle to find the appeal.

Now, before you go off ripping through the bushes, you need to understand a few key things about this form of skiing. Firstly, always try to use old equipment for leaf skiing. Skis and other gear are pretty pricey so it is not advisable to use your premium stuff on the unprotected ground.

Without the padding provided by snow, your skis will be at the mercy of whatever ground surface you find yourself on. Trust me, the sound of a ski cracking against a rock will haunt you…and your wallet. Use an old and somewhat disposable pair.

Another reason to avoid using high caliber skis for leaf skiing is that it makes no difference what skis you use. Modern elite skiing equipment is engineered for getting maximum performance on snowy and icy surfaces.

As a result, would-be leaf skiers are advised to find a patch of forest where the ground is relatively soft and covered by a dense layer of leaves. Falling on the ground will be more painful than falling on snow, so it is recommended that you find the softest grounds possible.

You should also try to avoid extremely steep areas, because “high-speed leaf skiing” sounds like a story with a painful (or even lethal) ending. However, flat stretches should also be avoided because you will not be able to generate movement.

The point of skiing is to get somewhere, and the friction you will generate on the ground will hinder that. I won’t lie, though, seeing a fully kitted out skier aggressively poling at the ground with minimal movement would make for some good laughs and great photos.


The next tip, before you go forest skiing, is to find an area without trees, or where the trees are sparsely positioned. Turning on leaves will be much more difficult than turning on a snowy surface. The forest floor has more friction than an alpine trail, so a simple jab of your ski pole will probably not suffice, especially for sharp corners.

Instead, try to “jump into” the turn. This involves anticipating turns a little earlier than you would on snow, before jumping and angling your body towards the desired direction. Use your poles to help you balance in mid-air if you need to.

Unfortunately, as fun as it seems, forest skiing is best left to strong athletic skiers, who have great balance and quick reactions. The sheer unpredictability of the exposed ground surface is a huge element of risk for anyone, let alone beginner skiers who are yet to hone their skills on the snow.

Experience helps skiers make better decisions and adjustments while on the go. They also know how to avoid falling unnecessarily and, maybe more importantly, HOW to fall properly in most scenarios.

Just like with regular skiing, forest skiing will require sharp focus and an iron will to succeed. Half the battle is fought in the mind and a strong mentality is everything. Unfortunately, though, mental fear is a massive barrier to progress in most people.

The best way to build up the confidence necessary for leaf skiing is to continue getting better at skiing, in general, and learning how not to worry about failure.

Sand skiing

Sand skiing is almost the polar opposite of “normal” snow skiing, as it is a sport that is, usually, prevalent in areas and countries where snowfall is but a distant dream. This epic cousin of alpine snow skiing has its roots primarily in Namibia.

The southern African nation is world-renowned for its Namib desert, which is home to some of the world’s smoothest and most refined dunes. The picturesque sandhills stretch as far as the eye can see in all directions, a ghostly abandoned playground that is desperate for rip-roaring troublemakers.

Enter sand skiing, which involves the same equipment and fearless attitude of regular skiing. Bravery is a must, otherwise, pack up or go home. Yes, falling in the hot sand will hurt more than falling in the snow, but that’s not what your mind should focus on.

Unlike in the forests, skiing on dunes has similar friction levels on the skis as it does on the snow. The result, therefore, is a similar potential for cheek flapping speed. As a matter of fact, German National Henrik May set a Guinness World Record sand ski speed of 92.12 km/h (57 mph) in the Namib dunes.

The sport is fairly popular in many desert areas around the world. Of course, Namibia is thought to be the world’s premier sand skiing heaven, with its endless nooks and crannies.

Another cool thing (no pun intended) about the Namib desert is that its proximity to the Atlantic sees it consistently receive refreshing oceanic winds, making it a giant, naturally air-conditioned ski park.

Iran is another hot (again…no pun) destination in the burgeoning sand ski community. Make sure to check out Qeshm Island, in particular, a formerly hidden sand ski paradise that was brought to mainstream light by Austrian Fabian Lentsch.

We cannot discuss extreme sports and dunes without talking about the United Arab Emirates. The country’s iconic desert landscape is home to an ever-expanding list of fringe sports.

Camel-racing, desert falconry, 4X4 racing…Dubai has it all. So, it is not a surprise to see that there is a booming sand ski and boarding scene in the Middle Eastern gem. Dubai is probably the best place to compare dune skiing to alpine skiing, as after you finish hitting the dunes, you can head to the famous Ski Dubai indoor slopes.

Skiing on volcanic ash

For the insatiable adrenaline junkie. Turn the “extreme” dial all the way up to eleven, as you and your friends seek out and climb potentially active volcanoes. Whether you need the rush or need new friends, is a debate for another day. For now, though, ash skiing is here to stay.

Nicaragua is an up and coming hotspot for this wild new adventure. One of the country’s younger volcanoes, the Cerro Negro, is the home of this new craze. Skiers and boarders can climb the mountain, take in the views, and snap selfies before the main business of the day commences.

The descent, as you can imagine, is a pure shred-fest, filled with lightning-fast straights, quick turns, and unpredictable bumps and grinds.

Sicily’s Mount Etna is also a ski haven for those with a penchant for vulcanicity. The beast erupts almost every two years, meaning a fresh coat of ski-ready ash is never too far away. Just make sure to take heed of trustworthy volcano experts before climbing Etna, as that could be the last thing you ever do.

Volcanoes are also home to some poisonous gases, and the ash is a potentially serious choking hazard when it is still in the atmosphere. However, if you are given the thumbs up, prepare for one heck of an experience. You can almost guarantee that skiing down an active volcano at 40+mph will crack your top 10 “most thrilling moments” list.

Grass skiing

This form of skiing was originally employed as a part of the alpine skiers’ training regimen, especially in the off-season. This version of skiing features skis with wheels or rolling treads similar to those found on military tanks.

Grass skiing has come a long way since its introduction by German Josef Kaiser in 1963 and is now a fully recognized international sport. If you are not quite ready to ski off of lava-spewing volcanoes, grass could be the ideal choice for you.

How do you physically prepare for snow skiing?

Please, and I repeat…PLEASE do not assume that because skiing is “downhill” that it is a simple cakewalk down the trail. There is a lot of climbing in skiing, not to mention walking through the snow while heavily padded with layers of clothes.

You have to be in decent shape by the time ski season begins, otherwise, you will get fatigued or wiped out. Some aforementioned ski machines, like the Ski Fit 360 and the NordicTrack Sequoia, can help you with specific movements and techniques. Of course, such machines barely scratch the surface of the fitness work that needs to be done in the off-season.

Below are a few exercises that will prepare your body, and your mind, for the rigors of this demanding sport.

Russian twist

This workout, if done correctly, is an absolute monster for your core. The Russian twists build and strengthen your obliques, which will help you when shifting your weight side- to side during your ski runs.

Front squat

Another one that benefits your core. However, front squats also help make your legs stronger, which will give you better control over your skiing posture. A skier’s ability to adjust their height while moving is central to managing their center of gravity, which, in turn, can determine the skier’s speed.

Single- leg deadlift

This simple, but useful exercise is a great way to develop and train your stabilizer muscles. Skiing is a bumpy affair so you do not want every little rough patch to knock you off your stride completely. Your hamstrings, core, and ankles will benefit from this workout, which incorporates the use of a dumbbell or kettlebell.

Leg blasters

Guess who never skips leg day? Skiers. Without strong quadriceps and legs, forget about competitive skiing. Your thighs are extremely important for skiing, as this is where you generate explosiveness for jumps and thrusts.

When going downhill, strong quads will help you with stopping, as well as turning. The leg blaster workout is four exercises (jump squats, squats, jump lunges, and alternating lunges) that are compounded together to give your legs a sweet burn as you sculpt away all the summer donuts.

Lateral hops


This is a great exercise for the reactionary “fast-twitch” muscles in your legs and abdominals. Skiing on snow, especially alpine, relies on your ability to react, adjust, and adapt to whatever the ground surface throws at you. Hopping from side to side, preferably over some sort of object is basically what lateral hops are all about.

The aim for you is to jump quickly and softly without stumbling or disrupting your balance. The hop also combines well with the tuck hold, a fundamental squatting position in skiing. Alternate between hops and holds for a dynamic, yet isometric exercise.

Recent Content