Learning how to ski can seem quite daunting to the beginner, among all the thrills, so we have a few skiing tips for novices to take with you to the slopes, because even the Olympic slalom champ had to start somewhere. It’s worth taking time to read such advice in order to master a wonderful sport that will take you to some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes.
Ski tips for beginners
- Pick a resort that caters for novices.
Look for a place with lots of green (complete beginner) and blue (beginner/intermediate) slopes. La Rosière in France has an excellent reputation for helping those new to skiing, with its many welcoming green and blue runs totaling some 160km in length. Also in France, Val d’Isère attracts thousands of families to its 300km of high-altitude slopes, and Val Thorens offers a snow guarantee, as part of a 600km Three Valleys ski area perfect for novices. Check out St Anton in Austria – and Méribel and La Plagne (with its lovely blue runs and easily reached slopes) in France, too.
For our last-minute ski deals and beginners’ resorts: www.skiworld.co.uk/ski-holidays/beginner
- Insuring you have a good time
Before you even leave home, you must have the proper travel insurance to cover all your skiing activities (for example, off-piste, heli-skiing or snowboarding). You’ll need the standard package to cover illness, lost luggage and any medical expenses, but extra winter sports cover is essential. Make sure that every day of your trip is covered and that the insurance is tailored to your level of ability. Always carry your insurance documents with an emergency contact number on you.
- Make a checklist of what you’ll need
When packing for the trip, make sure you have your insurance and travel documents, the local currency (enough for the first two days) and your passport. Lip balm with UVA/UVB and sun cream are essential as the reflecting snow intensifies the rays. You’ll also need goggles (you can’t always rent these), sunglasses, a ski jacket, ski pants, sturdy walking boots, thermal underwear, several pairs of ski socks, a hat, gloves and scarf. Think layers. You’ll depend upon a small backpack to bring to the slopes – fill it with a water bottle, spare goggles, tissues, plasters and an energy bar. Hire your ski equipment on your first trip, but if you’re bringing your own gear, find out what the surcharge is from the airline for your wheeled ski bag.
- Find a good tutor
You’ll no doubt feel a little frustration when on skis for the first time, so it’s best to put your faith in a professional instructor, rather than a loved one. A trained professional will have taught hundreds of beginners like you, so it will be money well spent and you’ll be in very safe hands. Enquire about package deals via MySkiworld, so you can save money on the lessons, the skiwear rentals and the lift pass.
- Pick the right skis
If you are hiring these at the resort, you’ll receive all the help you need, but you may have your own skis or a borrowed pair. Beginners should pick short, wide, flexible versions when learning how to ski. Check the underside has no deep holes and scratches – the tops will get scratched anyway as you’ll cross your skis. It’s preferable, therefore, to hire them on the slopes; ask the staff how you should carry them.
- Every beginner needs good boots
It will take a while to get used to the feel of them, but try not to go for a looser pair immediately; they’ll soon be comfy. Bend your knees and lift each heel off the ground in turn. If there is any slip when you plant your heels and then your toes on the floor, you will need to try on another pair, for your foot controls your ski and can’t be shifting even a few millimeters inside your boot. This will result in soreness at the end of your day of skiing, as your muscles overcompensate for your foot’s sliding. Just be sore from smiling.
- Stick to the right terrain
Most skiers seek out the powdery snow as it’s thrilling to ski through and soft to fall into, but beginners will find themselves getting stuck in its heavy fluffiness. The novice should stick to terrain with consistent pitch and surface that has been prepared for them to practice their technique on, before enjoying the deep powder.
- Putting your skis on
First of all, find a flat area in the beginners’ area, where you can concentrate on getting ready to enjoy skiing. Set down your skis parallel to one another across the slope. Checking each boot is clear of snow, slip your toe into the front of the binding and then kick your heel backwards into it; there should be a click once secure. Use your ski poles or a friend to help you balance.
- Make sure your knees bend and go slowly
With your helmet on, make sure you are leaning forwards as you set off. Your balance will increase if you flex your knees, since it forces you to lean forward and keep control of your skis. Slide them so that your weight is on the one that is gliding forward as if rollerblading or skating. Take it slowly.
- Look 10ft ahead, not at your feet
When you first put on your skis, the temptation will be to look down at them to ensure they don’t touch, but you must look ahead for any skiers or drop-off ahead of you. If you keep your eyes 10ft in front of the ski tips, you will be able to glimpse your skis as well as your immediate terrain.
- Practice stopping and turning
These two techniques are vital to your safety when learning how to ski. When you have found a flat surface, plant your skis in a V position (the snow plough), with the tips touching and the backs apart. If you put more weight on one leg when performing the snow plough, you will begin to turn.