A beginner's guide to ski
If you’ve never been on a ski holiday before, you’re in for a treat. Imagine rocketing down sugar-dusted slopes, leaving a spray of powdery snow behind you, before retreating to a cosy chalet for mulled wine and cheese with a heavenly mountain backdrop.
If you’re ready to take the leap (so to speak) and plan your first alpine adventure, then read our guide for a first timer’s foray into the snow-sport world.
Before you go
Here on some quick-win tips if you don’t even know where to start:
Choose a great beginner resort.
Some resorts are perfect for a novice, and our experts will recommend the best destination for you. Choosing a resort with accommodation close to ski lifts, a lively après ski scene and facilities for when you’re not pounding the powder are all things you should consider.
Think about what to wear.
It’s all about layers. Wearing thick cotton or wool jumpers will be cumbersome (and eventually sweaty) so try to avoid them. A thermal base and thin extra layers are the best way to keep both warm on the snow and cool in the sun.
Prepare your body.
Make no mistake about it; skiing is a sport. And your body (especially your legs) will thank you if you exercise in the run-up to your trip. There are many online guides to getting ‘ski-fit’, but even a few weeks of jogging before you go will help to get you ready.
Try before you fly.
There are many excellent indoor slopes in the UK these days, and a lesson or two before your holiday will not only show you the bare essentials but also prepare you for the feeling of being on skis. It’ll also give you an introduction to the button lift – a surface lift where your skis remain on the snow and you are dragged up the mountain, which takes some getting used to, but is lots of fun once you’ve got the knack.
Pre-book your extras.
You will need three essentials to get on the mountain; a lift pass, lessons, and equipment. However, arranging, paying, and queuing for these things on day one can be a frustrating experience, so we recommend you pre-book these extras before you go.
What to pack
Ok, you’ve picked an incredible hotel in the perfect resort and booked your ultimate holiday in the snow. So when the time comes around, what do you need to put into your luggage? To help, we’ve put together a handy checklist to winter-proof your packing.
• Gloves – Make sure they are water-proof.
• Helmet – Protection is paramount so keep safe. You can hire these with your equipment.
• Socks – Thermal ski socks will keep the toes toasty – but never wear two pairs.
• Footwear – Resorts will be either slushy or icy – make sure you’ve got some good boots.
• Eyewear – ‘Sunglasses for sun, goggles for clouds’ is a good rule of thumb to go by.
• Hat/scarf – You’ll thank us on those cold walks back to the hotel.
• Sun cream – The sun shines hard on those mountain tops, so make sure you protect your skin.
• Swimwear – There’s nothing like soaking in a Jacuzzi after a long day on the piste
Ski myths debunked
Everyone you know who’s skied will have their own opinions and thoughts that they will no doubt want to share with you, but perhaps take some of them with a pinch of salt.
Ski boots hurt
By no means the most comfortable of footwear, ski boots do have a reputation that precedes them. To be effective, boots need to be tight and secure around the ankle and heel and after a few hours, you will want them off your feet, but they shouldn’t necessarily hurt. Make sure you speak to the boot fitter and tell them if you’re experiencing any pain.
Skiers and boarders dislike each other
When the snowboard first appeared on the slopes in the seventies, ski purists were not initially keen on to this new invention or the alternative counter-culture its riders favoured. But times have changed, and not only have the two disciplines shared ideas and styles over the years, but many skiers are now borders as well.
Skiing is for the rich
This is a reason many give when asked why they’ve never tried skiing. Of course, buying designer ski clothes, staying a five-star chalet, and hiring the very best skis will rack up quite a bill, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, a ski holiday can be better value than you think. Also, borrowing ski clothes and arranging everything in advance will save you money too.
I’m too old to learn to ski
There’s no cut off age for learning to ski. Whether you’re 8 or 80, you’ll be welcomed into a ski-school. As long as you’re reasonably fit, ready to listen to the instructor and are willing to learn, you’ll pick it up in no time. Many instructors are now specialised in teaching skiers over 50, and with all the new technology and equipment available these days, it’s even easier to hit the slopes. If skiing isn’t for you, why not swap the skis for a board and give shredding a go.
It’s a dangerous sport
The fear of the mountain is enough to stop many people from learning to ski. However, thanks to improvements in equipment safety and higher quality instruction, injuries on the mountain are increasingly rare these days. Hire from a reputable shop, wear a helmet, and listen to everything your instructor tells you, and you’ll have a great (and safe) time.