Not all that long ago I noticed a visitor landing here due to a Google search looking for advice on selecting lenses for ski photography.
I will be open with you, this is not something I have thought a lot about. Most of the photography you see here is taken with a fixed lens Lumix camera. The lens has a large range of focal length, IIRC the 35 mm equivalent is about to 450 mm or so and the wide angle is pretty decent too. However, it is aperture limited with a very narrow range of apertures to choose from.
I think there are a few things about ski photography that will be helpful to the photographer on the slopes.
This is going to be a major help, the fact you are shooting where there is a lot of snow reflecting light. As long as it is sunny out and your are photographing during the daylight, you don’t need as fast a lens. This will allow you to get a long zoom or telephoto without having to reach deep into your bank account. You should be able to get some good depth of field too, show that spraying snow!
In fact, this factor alone is so helpful, instead of having to choose between a slow and slower shutter speed you can opt for action stopping shutter speeds or medium shutter speeds that will blur out snow sprays.
Pick Your Spots
Know where and what you will be photographing, this way you know which lens will be suited. Are you going to go to the peak and shoot panoramas, if so, then leave your long zoom/telephoto locked up and bring shorter focal length lenses. Will you be photographing skiers as they clear a gate and you can not get too close, then go for the long telephoto.
Choose your objectives and gear up accordingly. I don’t know about you, but I can not focus on photography for too long and I need to get some turns in myself. I could hardly do so with my full complement of camera gear. Remember, gear weighs you down both physically and mentally.
I have a 70-210 F/2.8 (35mm) lens and 2x teleconverter and those two items along with a monopod would be all I need for most photography I am doing on the slopes. So I would have a range of about 105 mm F/2.8 up to 600 mm F/5.6 with that setup, a little long on the short side, but when shooting skiers that setup seems about perfect. If I were shooting vistas then I would go with mlupiney 18 mm – 55 mm kit lens.
I am a good skier, and fall rarely (my only fall last season was a late season digger while trying to stop for a beer break) but there are other ways for your gear to get damaged. Protect your gear, get at least a water repellant backpack and one with padding to protect the gear and don’t forget the bag is there to protect YOU too, falling on a lens at high speed will add some extra hurt.
The fundamentals of photography do not change on the ski slope. You choose your lens according to the same thought processes you use in any other photographic situation.