As told in my recent blog, I embarked on my first ever ski trip to see in the 2019 New Year. As with trying anything new, there was a lot to learn along the way. Fortunately, I was travelling with a group of friends, most of whom were more than competent skiers. This meant I had people every step of the way guiding me on what I needed to do. I thought it would be useful to note down some of the top tips that stuck with me so as to help any other skiing newbies out there who may be in need of a steer.
Keep your ski pass in your sleeve pocket. This stops you having to get it out each time you want to enter a lift. Simply leave it in your pocket and the reader should automatically detect it as you approach. If not, a simple touch of your sleeve should do the trick without you have the faff of taking your gloves off. Just check which side the readers are at your resort so you know which pocket side is best.
Get to the main lift as early as possible. This increases your chance of getting to the top of the mountain without delay, leaving enough time to get your gear on and not be late for your lesson! Our first lift was at 9am but to have a chance of being near the front of the queue we had to arrive no later than 8.30am. It’s a bit of a wait in the cold but, fear not, the morning entertainment put on for the crowd will keep you amused!
Keep the rest of your pockets filled with the essentials. Tissues are a must for runny noses on the slopes and lip balm stops your lips getting too chapped in the cold. The ultimate pocket pal though is miniature chocolate bars! Learning to ski is a tiring business and I wouldn’t have made it through without my mid-lesson snacks. Mini Mars bars and Twixes were my go to – just make sure you keep them in an inside pocket to reduce the chance of freezing!
Rent a locker at the top of the mountain. Do not underestimate how heavy and awkward carrying your full ski gear can be when you’re not used to it. To save hoisting everything up and down each day, rent a locker at the top of the mountain. This also saves you having the panic of trying to get your skis in the slot on the outside of the main lift when there is a long queue of people trying to jostle their way on!
Don’t forget a change of shoes on day one. In the chaos of getting our ski gear to the top of the mountain on day one I forgot to take a change of shoes. This wasn’t a problem on the way up as I got a car share wearing my ski boots. The walk home was a different story. The last thing you want to be doing is walking a mile in ski boots after a long first morning of trying to ski when you could have left them in a locker at the top!
Download a skiing tracker app. I went for Ski Tracks which is free for basic tracking such as speed, distance and slope incline, or just £0.99 for more detailed stats and features. It was great to see myself progress from a maximum speed of 9km/hour (which felt super fast) to 30km/hour! Just remember to press the play button to start the tracking before you get going.
Ditch your poles to foster better technique. Going hands free stops you relying on your poles too much and you can master skating – using your skis to move on flat snow like you’re ice skating – from the start. This will get you from A to B much more quickly and easily than shuffling or dragging yourself along!
Observe others and hold your nerve on the lifts. As you’re queuing for each new type of lift just watch how others approach it and follow their lead. If you are carrying poles, make sure you hold them both in one hand on button lifts to make sure they are out the way. And don’t be surprised if you get put in charge of a small child on a chair lift – they are more likely to get off without falling than you! If you do fall, don’t panic. They’ll stop the lift and someone will come along to help. Practice makes perfect!
Have supplies to soothe your aching muscles. I knew I was going to feel achy but wasn’t quite prepared for the pain of simply walking up and down the stairs! Make sure you have a supply of bubble bath to relax in after each day of skiing and Tiger Balm, or the equivalent, to continue the good work while you sleep.
Take a good stock of board games. If you aren’t in a party resort and want to spend your evenings indulging in good old fashioned fun, make sure you take along a pack of cards and your favourite games. We got competitive over Linkee, Articulate and Dobble and just about managed to stay friends afterwards!
And most importantly…
Be kind to yourself. Learning to ski is difficult, particularly if you haven’t learnt something new in a while or are not a naturally sporty person. Accept that you will have ups and downs and try to focus on the overall progress you are making rather than the few spectacular falls you’ve had. Back yourself and be proud of how far you’ve come!
If you want to read more about my experience learning to ski, read my blog post – Learning to ski in the French Alps!