If you talk to anyone who skis they will wax lyrical about how much they love it. Partly, the joy of the sport is being connected to nature, the stunning mountain views and also the health and fitness benefits.
Skiing is not a quick skill to learn, even seasoned skiers are learning new things all the time, so, it requires some commitment on your part, however the pay off is worth it.
As a novice, here are some of the thing you need to know about skiing.
Strengthen your legs
Skiing uses almost every muscle in your body, including your core, but is particularly hard on the legs.
In particular, before heading off to ski, you should focus on strengthening your glutes, quads, hamstrings and adductors, and also on your core muscle strength to help keep you balanced.
It’s also advantageous to do cardiovascular exercise to increase your overall fitness and stamina.
Skiing is not as easy as it looks and can be extremely tiring. The stronger and fitter you are before you go skiing the more you will enjoy it and the longer you will be on the ski slopes.
Get the right equipment
To start with you should hire all your kit, or borrow from a skier friend, to make sure you like the sport. Buying all the gear, including skis, ski boots, ski poles, helmet, goggles and clothing is an expensive outlay.
Many people start with their own ski clothes, helmet, goggles and ski boots before progressing to buying their own skis.
It’s worth having a look at the ski selection guide from Snowlink, which is useful for looking at skis.
Most good ski shops will be able to help you pick out the vital things that you need. You will need the right ski clothing and layers to make sure you do not get cold on the slopes.
You will need gloves to keep your hands warm and snow goggles to protect your eyes from sun glare, bright light and falling snow.
You are advised never to ski without a helmet. You will fall when skiing – even the most experienced skier will fall many times – and your head needs to be protected.
It is important to find a comfortable pair of ski boots because your feet will spend a lot of time in them. They should feel snug, but not so tight you can’t move your toes at all. Take advice from a qualified ski boot fitter on the right boots for you.
Ski socks are very thick, so make sure you wear them when searching for the right pair of ski boots for you, otherwise the boots will be too tight or too loose.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
You may not think you need to take sun protection on a winter holiday, however you must use sun protection on a ski holiday.
The sun reflects off of the bright white snow and is very intense. Without sun protection you will get burnt.
Pack a good sunscreen of factor 30 at a minimum, preferably 50, and that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply to any skin that is exposed, which will mainly be your face and neck.
Often people forget to apply a lip balm that has UVA and UVB protection, but it is so important to protect your lips.
Wear your goggles. Goggles not only protect the delicate skin around your eyes from burning – which can be incredibly painful – but also protects your eyes from being seriously damaged by the intense light.
Get lessons with a professional
Ski lessons are a great way of learning to ski. All ski resorts offer these, and you can also have some on dry ski slopes before you leave to learn the basic technique.
You might be offered lessons by a friend or family member who go on regular ski holidays. While this is very kind and well-meaning of them, it is always better to have a lesson with a professional, too.
A professional instructor will be able to teach you in a logical manner, and can correct any mistakes with your posture that you’re making.
Professionals are also taught first aid, so should anything happen, they will be able to help.
Skiing is not an easy skill to learn and it can take some time to learn how to ski, as it is something we have never experienced before.
Take things slowly and be patient with yourself. It is easy to get frustrated when you can’t do something straight away, but the best things normally take time.
You will fall pretty regularly at first, so don’t be disheartened. Listen to your instructor because they can tell you where you’re going wrong and teach how to correct the mistake.
Learn the language of the slopes
The ski runs are known as pistes, and they are all marked differently depending on who they are suited for and how steep they are.
In Europe, green slopes, also called nursery slopes are for very beginners. Blue slopes are the next level and are usually slightly steeper then green slopes.
Red slopes are for intermediate skiers who are fairly confident in their abilities and black slopes are only for the most advanced skiers, these are quite dangerous.
You may hear the term “off-piste”, which means they are unmarked runs that are suitable only for the very advanced or professional skiers.
And lastly, the best tip is that you should remember to have fun. Even if you don’t master skiing straight away, it’s all about having fun.