First Time Skiing Tips
The most important thing to remember when skiing for the first time is to go slowly and stay in control. This will minimise risk of injury. Never point your skies directly downhill when you are learning as this will cause you to pick up speed very quickly. Be patient when learning, and make sure you pack lots of layers to stay warm.
There are a few things to bear in mind when setting off on your ski holiday for the first time. What to do and what not to do even before you set off on your trip as well as once you get to the resort. I also have a list of tips and tricks to be aware of to help you get the most out of your ski trip and make it as enjoyable as possible. I am speaking from 17 years of experience skiing multiple times every year, as well as having 3 full ski seasons under my belt across the world.
1. Don’t be afraid of falling
There is a well-known saying in skiing and a lot of different sports “If you're not falling, you're not learning". The main point I want to put to you, which I hope will make learning to ski easier and more enjoyable, is that there is no shame in falling when you are learning to ski and snowboard, that is the only way you will improve! People who have skied for 20+ years still fall from time to time, and all that a fall means is that you are pushing yourself beyond your limits, and that is the quickest way to learn!
How often do you fall when skiing?
The answer to this question is a lot. You will fall a lot when you are learning to ski, and the truth is, nobody ever stops learning how to ski or snowboard. On every ski holiday you go on, if you are actually trying to improve at skiing, you should expect to fall a few times. Whether that is trying to improve your turns, teaching yourself to ski moguls, or learning how to ski backwards, there is always something new to learn in skiing.
2. Wear layers to keep warm
There is no easier way to guarantee a miserable day on the slopes than by not wrapping up well enough to keep warm. Make sure you do everything you can to make sure you are not going to be too cold on the slopes. The best way to do this is to wear layers which is a far more efficient way or retaining heat than one or two thick layers. This enables you to regulate your temperature better than just wearing one or two think heavy layers. Not only will this restrict your movement, but also allows you to remove layers as you inevitably heat up throughout the day with all the exercise, or even as the day heats up from -7°C in the morning to -2°C in the afternoon. The best clothing for keeping warm are thermals. These are thin and light and very easy to pack if luggage space is tight. Although expensive, try to get your hands on some merino wool thermals. This material has anti-microbial properties, meaning your clothes will stay fresher for longer. Don’t underestimate how many pairs of thick ski socks you will need – I would recommend 3 pairs of socks per person for a week of skiing - minimum.
3. Rent your equipment instead of buying it
For the first 15 weeks worth or so of skiing that you do, I highly recommend that you rent your skis, boots and poles/ snowboard and boots. This will give you a chance to reach a good level of skiing before making the expensive investment in your own equipment. There are a huge range of different types of skis and snowboards, and until you are a confident skier you will not know the difference between any of these skis or what skis suit your skiing technique the best. As well as this, there is point in purchasing skis while you are still learning, as your ability will soon outgrow your skis and you will need to buy new ones anyway. As I mentioned above, skis are designed very specifically, and there is a big distinction between beginner skis and advanced skis, so if you buy your skis too early, you're wasting your money.
4. Make sure your ski boots are very, very comfortable
Getting ski boots that fit perfectly is the most important thing to get right, while also being one of the most difficult things to get right first time. Ski boots are notoriously uncomfortable, and while it is true that your feet get used the discomfort over time, if your ski boots are painful when you try them on in the shop, they are guaranteed to get worse when you start skiing. This will ruin your day and waste a lot of time while you go back to the shop to find more comfortable boots. If you are sure that skiing is your passion and plan to continue for years to come, purchasing your own boots is the best way to find comfortably fitting ski boots.
5. Get a good level of fitness before your holiday
Good fitness will make sure you get the most out of your ski holiday. Skiing is a surprisingly energetic and tiring sport despite the fact it involves sliding down the mountain for most of the day. Holding your balance and making turns on skis uses every muscle in your legs, so if you can prepare your legs for a week of heavy use, whether by taking up jogging or going to gym, you will thank yourself later. A day of skiing involves carrying skis around on your shoulders or skating along the snow when you are on the flat. The fitter you are, the less exhausted you will feel each morning you wake up ready for another day of skiing, and the more skiing you will fit in each day.
6. Mountain restaurants are expensive
Something that doesn’t occur to everyone when planning expenses for a ski holiday, is the cost of food and drink up the mountain where the cafes and restaurants have a captive, hungry audience – and you will get very hungry. The rush of tourists for lunch normally takes place between 12 - 2 so if you want to be sure of getting a seat and getting your food quickly, I would recommend aiming to eat at around 11:30 each day. You will be amazed how much hassle this saves you.
7. Don’t underestimate professional lessons
Taking lessons from your friends that you are on holiday with will sure save you a lot of money, but it will also leave you feeling frustrated at your lack of progress, and how difficult it is to learn the sport. Even if you only want to pay for a few days of lessons, this is highly recommended and will help you grasp the basics such as stopping and turning, before you set out on your adventure around the mountain.
8. Bring sunscreen
Even on a cloudy day, snowing, in -5°C the sun will still find you. Do not apply normal logic to the chances of you or your family getting sunburnt while out skiing for the day. Being at a high altitude, the UV light from the sun can reach you much easier. The snow you are surrounded by also reflects the suns UV light at you, meaning the effect of the sun is multiplied. You will be amazed at how easily your face and your lips will burn/ dry out. You do not need a high factor sunscreen, however it is important to be wearing a layer of sunscreen to some degree.
9. Always wear a helmet
Regardless of whether you are planning on skiing slowly or sticking to the bunny slopes for the day, a helmet is essential. The compacted snow found on the pistes of the resort are extremely hard, and it does not take much force to seriously hurt your head on the snow, even for a seemingly gentle fall.