Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this post you’re thinking about heading off on your first ski holiday and beginning your journey into the splendid, snowy world of skiing. Perhaps you’ve heard how amazing it is – more a lifestyle than a mere hobby – or perhaps your curiosity as to why so many of us want to throw ourselves down mountains in sub zero temperatures has got the better of you. Indeed, an impressive 97% of people who go skiing in a given winter plan to go skiing again the following winter, so there must be some draw, right?!
Either way, what is for sure, is that your first ski holiday will be an experience like no other. Gliding smoothly down a winding mountain trail, breathing crisp mountain air and looking out over some of the most incredible natural landscapes you will ever lay eyes on – there’s nothing better.
However, before you reach the slopes there are a few things to figure out when it comes to your first ski trip. While it may seem daunting, don’t worry – it’s really not as difficult or confusing as you may think. Especially when you follow these handy tips, from nifty ski lesson booking platform SkiBro, which makes it a doddle to compare and book ski lessons online.
1. Choose the right resort for you
Not all ski resorts are created equal and your friend’s favourite destination might not be suitable for the ski holiday you’re after – and not just because the terrain is too difficult.
Many people choose the destination for their first ever holiday based largely around the level of ski slopes available. Most good choices for a first time ski holiday will have free-to-use, easy-to-access beginner areas and an assortment of wide, gentle runs that make it easier to comfortably progress. The internet is awash with lists of the “best resorts for beginners” but the fact is that there’s a lot more to a ski holiday than just the skiing.
The place you learn to ski will forever hold a special place in your heart, so you should try to find a resort that reflects not only your current skiing ability, but your personality as a whole.
What is your budget? Do you prefer traditional Alpine architecture or more modern resort centres? Are you keen to experience the unique party atmosphere après-ski? Are fine dining or luxury spa facilities a staple of your holidays? Yes, you want to go somewhere with accessible beginner terrain, but finding a resort you will love is equally as important.
2. Book Proper Ski Lessons
Skiing isn’t something that can be learnt in an hour, it takes a lifetime and even the most seasoned veterans and expert athletes are continually finding ways to improve.
However, taking tuition tips from anyone who isn’t a professional ski instructor (even friends with the best intentions) can end up doing you more harm than good. This could be from accidentally teaching you poor – or unsafe – techniques (inadvertently hampering your progress) or by getting bored/frustrated and pushing you too hard too fast.
Learning under an experienced and well-trained ski instructor will lead to dramatic improvements in your skiing and a far better experience than trying to learn on your own or with a friend. If you’re a late learner, don’t worry – you’re far from alone! Adults now make up over 30% of all beginner ski school lessons.
To find out all about the difference between ski school lessons and private ski lessons, check out this post that highlights the benefits of each.
This winter, SkiBro are offering a €20 discount on lesson bookings exclusively for In The Snow readers.
Simply enter code ITS20 at checkout.
3. Dress Properly for Skiing
Having the right ski clothing will keep you warm and dry no matter the weather, but taking up a new sport does not mean you need to spend thousands of pounds on new kit. In fact, it’s very likely that if you’re thinking of going on a ski holiday you’ve got some mates who ski already. If you can borrow some kit, you can save some money until you know for sure what you would like to buy for yourself.
There are countless articles on how to dress for skiing, but the golden rules are:
- Your outermost layer of clothing should be waterproof.
- Avoid cotton where possible – it should never directly be touching your skin.
Indeed, one of the most important pieces of ski clothing is a proper base layer. Made from special materials, these under layers are designed to wick sweat away from your skin, unlike materials like cotton which absorb sweat and moisture, getting really cold and inevitably ruining your day!
4. Use A Good Ski Hire Shop
No matter how professional you want to look, we wouldn’t recommend buying your own ski equipment for your first holiday. Not only are you not sure you will enjoy skiing (although we’ve never met anyone this applies to!), you’ll very likely quickly outgrow proper beginner skis – in terms of ability, if not height – possibly even during your first week on the slopes.
By hiring skis, you can benefit from expert advice on what’s best for you, as well as the ability to swap your skis for different models if you do need a different model. A good ski shop will not only kit you out with this season’s latest gear, they’ll also make sure that you’ve got safe, comfortable and suitable equipment for your age, size, skiing level and general athletic ability. Plus, you won’t have to pay for an extra bag on your flight – or lug skis and boots around the airport!
Try to avoid the temptation to go for the “best deal”. Paying very little but getting old, ill-fitting equipment that ruins your expensive holiday isn’t the best way to start your skiing adventure. Doing a bit of research and using a well-reviewed shop, even if it costs you a little bit more, is definitely worth the effort. Your progress and your feet will thank you for it!
Alpinresorts.com is an excellent platform allowing you to compare ski hire shops and book easily online.
5. Show Up in Shape to Ski
As a beginner, keeping yourself in control, stopping and turning will all require some muscular input, most likely from muscles you don’t use everyday. Whilst skiing isn’t exactly running a marathon, it’s never a bad idea to show up in decent shape.
If you do yoga or go to the gym on a semi-regular basis you’ll probably be fine, but if you don’t do any exercise at all, try making small changes to become more active in the lead up to your holiday or, even better, give an at-home pre-ski workout routine a go.
Most of all though, don’t stress. It’s a lot of fun, and even if you end the day a little bit sore it’s a great excuse to enjoy a drink in a hot tub!
6. There Are No Stupid Questions
Just like any other sport or hobby, there are a lot of things that current skiers take for granted, although even they had to learn it once upon a time.
So please don’t ever feel silly about not knowing what to do in a given situation or feel like you shouldn’t ask a question. Most skiers are super-friendly and welcoming of newcomers to their favourite pastime. For example, below are our top tips in answer to a few frequently asked questions.
7. What is a Lift Pass and How Do I Use It?
A lift pass (aka. a ski pass) is pretty much like a train ticket, which you’ll need in order to ride the vast majority of an area’s ski lifts. Lift passes are usually sold for a half-day, full day or for multiple days and are available online or in-resort at the lift pass office. Once you have your pass, you just pop it in a pocket on the left side of your body and the gates in front of the lift will read your pass and let you through.
8. What is a Piste Map and How Do I Read It?
A piste map is a map showing you all of the runs around a given ski resort or area. These pistes (ski runs) are colour coded to make it easy to find your way to runs that are the correct difficulty for your skiing ability.
Green – Very Easy. Green runs are always the easiest, though not all countries and resorts use green slopes.
Blue – Easy. In areas that don’t use green, blue slopes will be the easiest on the mountain.
Red – Intermediate. Likely not going to be much fun on your first ski holiday.
Black – Expert. Probably best to give these a miss.
Piste maps will also show you the lift options in the area. “Magic carpets” (essentially travelators) usually have the easiest beginner slopes next to them, while Gondolas and Cable Cars allow you to walk on and off, so you can get to the top of the mountain (and back down) without having to ski.
9. Learn the Lingo
Check out this useful guide to ski lexicon and slang that might help you decode what skiers are on about!
10. How Do I Walk in Ski Boots?
Quite simply? Heel-toe, heel-toe. Avoid over thinking-it! Unless you have to go up or down stairs. Then you’ll want to turn sideways and plant your feet flat, parallel on each stair. It’s probably not a bad idea to hold the hand rail either.
SkiBro is the booking platform bringing ski lesson booking into the 21st century. Don’t expect lengthy email chains, awkward phone calls and transfer day booking office mayhem. Instead you’ll find it easy to compare the top instructors, ski schools and guides in your resort (including instructor profile videos and client reviews to help you choose), easy online booking, English customer support 7 days/week, secure payment, free cancellation and a nifty app packed full of features on lesson-day and beyond.
Remember code ITS20 when booking to receive an exclusive €20 discount.