Seven Top Tips for New Skiers

If you are about to head off to the French Alps on a skiing trip for the first time, it’s a good idea to put in a bit of preparation before you go.

Although you could just turn up without knowing what to expect, you won’t get the most from your experience and might end up wishing you’d done your research in advance.

So for anyone who has never been to a ski resort before, here are a few top tips that will help you enjoy yourself after you arrive.

1) You don’t need to buy everything

Despite the sun shining high up in the sky, the ski slopes are packed with thick snow and ice which doesn’t melt and thaw. That should give you an inkling of how cold the temperatures really are.

It’s critical that you wear the right protective clothing; don’t expect to be able to turn up in your jeans and a jumper and feel just fine.

However, ski clothes are expensive and if you aren’t yet sure whether you are going to enjoy it, it’s a good idea to try and rent or borrow as much as possible.

The only exception is your thermal underwear (yes really you’ll be thankful for it!) and your socks. After all, who wants to wear another person’s underwear or socks!

2) Rent your boots and skis when you get there

Having your own ski boots can make a big difference to your comfort on the snow but if you don’t yet have your own, then simply rent a pair once you arrive.

When it comes to skis, it is rarely worth the hassle of lugging your skis to the airport and then getting them to your chalet or hotel. Unless you are an extremely advanced skier, the skis which are available to rent from the resort will be more than satisfactory and you won’t notice the difference.

3) Don’t let your friends and family teach you to ski

Unless your loved ones are qualified ski instructors it’s never a good idea to let them teach you to ski (and even if they are it’s still not advisable!).

It’s important to learn the basics and practice those until you have a sound grip, but that’s quite boring for someone who can already ski. They will soon tire of going over and over the same steps and will soon be urging you to join them at the top of the slope.

Get a few lessons from a ski school and you will have a far better chance of learning to love the sport and will be a far better skier as a result.

4) Consider visiting a dry slope

It’s true that a dry slope is as similar to skiing on snow as a cheese string is to a chunk of Gruyere, but it’s worth attending for a few sessions to learn the basics.

If you can ski on a dry slope, you’ll certainly be able to ski on snow as the former is far less forgiving and much tougher to learn.

With the appearance of an upside down toilet brush, a dry slope is less slippery but that can be an excellent way to learn how to stop, start and turn. These are the basics you need to have a really good grip of before you can head off up to the top when you reach the ski resorts in the Alps.

If you’re lucky enough to have an indoor ski slope near you, it’s a good idea to visit here too as they provide a much better impression of what skiing on snow will be like.

5) Avoid doom merchants

Every year the local A&E departments has visits from people who have injured themselves in the most bizarre and seemingly innocent of ways; walking into a lamppost, falling over the family dog or even just sneezing.

So when someone wants to tell you about a horrific skiing injury they’ve heard about, take it with a pinch of salt.

Every sport can be dangerous if you want it to be and skiing certainly is no exception. But if you know your limits, wear protective equipment such as a helmet, and don’t try to ski in areas you aren’t supposed to, the chances are you will have a great time.

Don’t listen to every story you get told.

6) Leaning back makes you go faster….before shortly falling over

One of the most rudimentary every novice skier makes is to sit back on their skis when they are starting to feel nervous.

This has the opposite effect to what’s intended, it will cause you to go faster but will also impair your balance so there’s no chance of avoiding a fall.

If you are starting to feel out of control, stay forward over your skis keeping your hips and ankles in line, and then putting downward pressure on your carving edge, start to turn one way and then another. The wider and longer your turns are, the more quickly you will slow down.

Sitting back will certainly make you stop more quickly but it will be as a result of you colliding with the ground, not the controlled slowing you will inevitably be hoping for.

7) Forget about your dignity

The first time you fall over on the ski slopes, the chances are you will be more worried about other people laughing at you than the bump on your bottom.

What you will quickly learn is that ski slopes are full of people falling over and no-one usually takes a blind bit of notice. Forget about trying to preserve your dignity and just focus on having a great time!

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