You’ve seen the movies, you’ve heard anyone and everyone raving about how ah-may-zing a skiing break is, and you’ve seen the cool posters for snowy festivals, like Snowbombing in Austria. You’re sold, it sounds like the best time ever. There’s just one teeny weeny problem.
You can’t ski.
That was me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still like Bambi on ice, but I can ski. However, it wasn’t long ago that I was in the same position as you (at least I’m guessing you’re a newbie to the slopes as you’re reading this post). I feel your pain, fear and nervousness (just call it a woman’s intuition); you let out a nervous laugh when your friends chat about the black runs they’ve enjoyed, and you try to hide your shocked mouth-on-the-floor expression when they swap injury stories. Let’s not even talk about those menacing ski lifts.
Snuggle down with a hot chocolate, relax and read on for my seven pearls of wisdom for enjoying your first skiing holiday. You’re going to love it.
Find your inner Gloria, and embody her most famous song, “I will survive.” As much as you need some technical ability (we’ll get onto that later), it’s also mind over matter. You need to have confidence in yourself. That will grow with practice, but until then imagine yourself slaloming down those slopes like a pro.
Don’t be tempted by the first ski break you see advertised. If you’re a newbie, you need to make sure there’s some baby slopes for you to play on. Runs (the ski routes you’ll follow down the mountainside) are colour coded so you know what ability they’re suited to – green (only used in some countries) is the easiest, followed by blue, through to red, and then for the extreme adventurers, black.
I would highly recommend visiting your nearest indoor slope before you venture on your first ski trip. It’s a safe way to not only get familiar with speeding (well, eventually speeding) down a hill, but also a good opportunity to get used to the equipment. It took me a while to get the knack of the ski boot clips, or even how to carry the skis. It’s a whole lot easier to learn from someone who speaks the same language as you. The beginner course at Snozone in Milton Keynes was really helpful and helped get me excited for the real thing. Don’t tell anyone, but it was actually really fun.
♥ Sense and Sensibility
This may sound obvious, but as experts (or crazies) hurtle past you, remember that you are on a mountain. A real mountain. If you get too close to the edge, you could actually fall and injure yourself. As a novice, you’ll need to concentrate and remember your technique. Don’t be swayed by others. Take your time and only go where you feel comfortable. You can always start on the small ones and then notch it up each day as you feel more confident.
♥ Get On
The ski lift is an episode in every skier’s life at some point. The first time I used one in a resort, I didn’t know that I was supposed to pull the safety bar down. As we climbed higher and higher until the skiers became small dots, I started to complain loudly about how safety was so low in other countries. It wasn’t until I looked around that I noticed how other people were doing it (the bar pulls over your head, onto your lap). If you’re not sure, ask a member of staff (before you get on it) – don’t be embarrassed. It’s their job to help. If you really are too shy, just casually stand nearby and watch the others. If you have a good instructor in your pre-ski lessons they should also give you a heads up.
♥ Get Off
You’ll probably have been distracted by the stunning scenery during the ride up. As you realise you’re approaching the getting off point, you might feel a little apprehensive. Remember Gloria, focus and watch the skiers in front. Raise the safety bar and hold your ski poles ready. Look ahead and as your lift reaches the ‘get off’ point (it will probably be distinguished by a sign or a marked area), stand up and glide forward (using your poles if you need a bit of momentum). Do not attempt to walk with your skis on, like someone who I won’t name (ahem, Jay) tried to do. You’ll end up flat on your face.
♥ On the Job Training
You may choose to go to ski school when you get to your destination. Think of it as onsite training. However, if you’ve had pre lessons you might want to try one of the baby slopes (that’s what I did). I preferred to just give it a go, but each to their own. Do what works for you. Just remember to have patience (unless you’re super lucky, you might not be an instant pro) and to get back up and try again when you fall over (you will fall over).
If you follow that advice I’m pretty confident that you’ll have a good first time ski experience. Remember it’s not just about the skiing, there’s also activities that require less effort (snowmobiling, and tubing to name a few). Oh, and of course après ski. X