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5 Tips for Beginner Skiers

19 January 2016

Pflexx for all your knee problems

One thing I have always wanted to do was to book a holiday to a great ski resort like Jackson Hole, but my only problem is I am afraid of heights!  So I went to Jackson Hole during the summer.  But I am still optimistic so I found these top 5 tips from Nicola Iseard which could be helpful to you if you are a first time skier. 

You want to look good, right?  You want a knock-out suit that might possibly distract from your less-than-pretty ski technique?  Perhaps you’ve got your eye on a Prada all-in-one?

1.   Don’t Buy: Borrow

Well, put your credit card away this instant.  The golden rule of ski wear for beginners is this. Don’t buy: borrow. This goes for men, too. 

2.   Book a Chalet, Not a Self-Catering Apartment

Ski holidays can be dirt cheap, especially if you book a self-catering apartment.  But I wouldn’t suggest a self-catering holiday for beginners.  A ski resort is a pretty baffling place if you’ve never been to one before, and the way to learn the ropes is to book yourself into a catered ski chalet (or chalet-hotel).  In a catered chalet you get not just breakfast, tea, unlimited wine, and six out of seven dinners laid on.

You also get the services of the resort manager to guide you to the ski hire centre and the nursery slopes; as well as the advice of chalet staff and other guests about the best bars and mountain restaurants.

For the first trip, it’s also a good idea to book a chalet company that offers chartered flights and transfers too. That way, you won’t have to worry about driving up to the ski resort yourself.

3.   Tell your Friends and Family They Won’t Be Teaching You

A lot of adults learn on holidays organised by friends and/or family who can already ski.  If you are one of them, then don’t, DON’T let them be your ski instructors.  Pretty soon, they’ll get bored of teaching you the basics and drag you to the top of a vertiginous slope with the dread words, “you’ll be fine”.  If you don’t actually hurt yourself, you’ll be so freaked out by the experience you probably won’t want to leave the chalet again until the transfer bus comes to take you back to the airport.

The only way to learn is to book yourself into ski school.  The luxury option is to have private classes. Some people will find the unremitting focus on them (and their mistakes) claustrophobic.  But most thrive on this kind of attention and make rapid progress.

The cost of private lessons can, however, be astronomical (especially in the A-list French resorts, although private tuition in Italian resorts is notably cheaper).  The cheaper option is to join a five- or six-day course of group lessons, with classes in the morning and free time after lunch to practise what you have learnt.  You should enrol for the course at the same time as you book your holiday, but don’t just blindly book the ski school offered by your tour operator.

4.   Get Fit

The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of pounds on a ski holiday, only to find you are too tired to get out of bed on the third morning of the trip.  Taken in isolation, the snowplough – the classic beginner’s manoeuvre – is not demanding.  But it is if you practise it over and over again for six hours a day, at altitude, for an entire week.  The only way to make sure you have the energy – both physical and mental – to enjoy the experience is get in shape long before you hit the slopes.

Non gym-bunnies, don’t panic.  There are lots of ways to get your heart rate up and strengthen those leg muscles in your every day routine: take the stairs instead of lifts or escalators; cycle or power walk to work instead of driving; when eating your morning porridge, swap the breakfast table for a spot against your living room wall – press your back flat against the wall, and holding the position with your legs bent at 90 degrees (“bend ze knees!”), see how long you can stay there. (If it’s less than 10 seconds, well, you need to climb more stairs.)

5.   Watch Videos

If you can’t practice in an indoor ski slope then there is nothing better to get you in the mood for your trip than by watching videos of skiers having buckets of fun, as they float through powder, weave through trees, and glide down rolling open pistes.

Okay, so you’re not going to get anywhere near that kind of skiing by the end of the week – but you have to know what your ultimate destination is, don’t you?