Rob takes his first ski lesson – and wonders why it took him so long
Rob Wight is a keen outdoors enthusiast but he had never tried skiing. After a couple of years of ENCOURAGING him to give the winter sport a try, he headed to the indoor real snow Snow Factor slope at INTU Braehead, near Glasgow. This is Rob’s report of his first skiing lesson.
Rob’s first skiing lesson at Snow Factor
Rob writes: I had never been skiing.
I love hillwalking. I love winter hillwalking and mountaineering. I love climbing – especially in the snow and ice. I even have snowshoes, and I think they’re fabulous.
But I’d never been skiing. Ever.
I’d just never fancied it. There’s something about the idea of going very fast downhill while standing up that I don’t like. It’s not the speed – I’m happy enough in a sledge – it’s the standing up bit that kind of puts me off. That and the fact you have nothing to hold on to.
I rode motorcycles for years and it was tremendous fun, but at least you’re sitting on them. And they have handlebars.
However, my inability to ski is glaring lack in my outdoor skillset that Fi finds rather amusing for some reason.
I’d endured her ribbing for a couple of years before finally giving in and resolving that 2019 would be the year I learn to ski. Besides being the butt of Fi’s incredulous jokes, I’d begun to feel I was missing out – especially when hearing tales of her and Gordie’s latest trip to the Alps, Rocky Mountains or some other place where the cool kids hang.
What really swung it for me though, were Fi’s pics of a back country skiing trip she and Gordie enjoyed last winter, in the Lawers range, right here in Scotland.
It looked absolutely incredible – blue skies, crisp clear air and pristine snow. New possibilities opened up to me – skis could take me far into Scotland’s hills on the shortest days, covering ground I’d never imagined.
But first, I’d have to tackle the beginners’ slope at the Snow Factor, near Glasgow.
Rob joins Snow Factor ski lesson
I signed up for a two-hour introductory lesson. Kit, including skis, boots and helmet (mandatory), was provided and we were told to wear our own gloves. It’s also possible to hire ski clothing if you need to.
I joined five other absolute novices for the taster session. Out on the artificial snow – which looked, felt and was certainly as cold as the real stuff – instructor Nick talked us through the basics before having us clip on one ski. We then shuffled round on the flat, to get the feel of things, before side-stepping in formation a short distance up the shallow slope to try, one after another, gliding downhill – again on one ski.
After that, we clipped on the other ski and shuffled around some more. I settled on a kind of half-lunge motion, which seemed to work well enough and then headed up the shallow slope again.
I say “slope” but the lower parts we were on were as close to flat as you could get.
Weirdly though – on skis for the first time and as graceful as a new-born giraffe – trying to remember and put into practice all that Nick had told us, while actually moving, made the slope seem horribly steep.
Even though I was probably moving at half-a-mile an hour, it felt as if I were dangerously careering down some mountainous black run.
Nick patiently instructed us on the correct form: Knees bent, hips forward, head and shoulders back.
Once we’d more-or-less got the hang of remaining upright and moving gently downhill in a straight-ish line, we moved to the tow rope, hitching a lift further up the still easy slope.
Here, we learned how control our speed and stop by angling the tips of our skis toward each other, pushing the heels outwards.
Then, we learned how to turn.
This is where I got a bit annoyed and frustrated… Now, I’m a fairly active, competent type and I’m used to being pretty good at things, pretty quickly. But not with skiing. I didn’t imagine I’d suddenly be Olympic standard, but I did expect to be at least as good as Roger Moore in James Bond… I certainly hoped I’d be able to, as a bare minimum, turn. But I couldn’t!
To be fair, I wasn’t alone in this. We were a mixed group – I think everyone was here in preparation for skiing holidays they had booked – and it seemed to me that turning ability was dependent on age.
Those under 25 seemed to do it no bother… those, like me, around the 40 mark seemed to flounder about – mostly in a straight line, but occasionally drifting into a turn in the opposite direction than was intended. It really was annoying.
By the time our two-hour session ended, I’d just about got the hang of weaving – albeit painfully slowly – around a couple of cones, but I’ll definitely need much more time.
And that’s the thing – I want more time to master it! Despite finding it much harder than I thought, I really enjoyed it. Certainly enough to book more lessons.
I’ve since spotted the Snow Factor runs an eight-hour “ski in a day” session. Now that’s a challenge, for any instructor with me as a pupil…
Find out more about ski and snowboard lessons at Snow Factor.
For other places to learn to ski and snowboard check out my blog: List of Indoor and Artificial Slopes in Scotland.
- The ski lesson was courtesy of Snow Factor. The post was published in association with Ski-Scotland.