Feldberg, Schwarzwald  

Ski School, Feldberg

This pair of images of a children’s ski school, taken in Schwarzwald in Germany, will really test your ability to be a photo detective. If you don’t follow skiing as a sport, you may not realise that what you just think of as ‘skiing‘ is probably downhill or alpine skiing, which is what the children in the picture are learning. This type of skiing requires a special course or ‘piste‘, provided by the ski resort, and runs are graded by colour according to their difficulty: in Europe, Blue is the easiest slope, Red is intermediate and Black is only for expert skiers. Some reorts also classify beginners‘ slopes, such as the children in the photos are learning on, as Green. You may also see Black Diamond routes, which are even harder than Black runs.

The other main type of skiing is ‘cross country skiing‘ or ‘Nordic skiing‘. The main difference in the equipment used is that alpine skis have bindings to lock the ski boots on that are fixed both at the toe and heel, whereas Nordic skis are only fixed at the toe, so that you can lift your heel when walking on the level or uphill. Nordic skis are also longer, and are made to grip better when walking up a slope. As its name suggests, Nordic skiing is popular in Norway and Scandinavia, where there are purpose-built cross country trails for skiers. Downhill skiing requies a greater infrastructure in the way of ski lifts and machines to keep the snow on the piste in good condition; with cross country you can just get out there and ski!