A beginner’s guide to skiing

I recently got back from my first ever skiing holiday, and I have to say, I think I’m hooked. Blue skies, perfect snow, and amazing views, it really was a week to remember. I also didn’t resemble Bambi on ice, huzzahhhhh.

Having no previous skiing experience, it’s safe to say I was a liiittle apprehensive about it. I mean, I was excited but I mean how excited can you be about something you have no idea whether you like or not? What if I was rubbish? What if I hated it? But, by the end of the first morning on the slopes, I knew I was gonna be juuust fine for the week.

When we were booking, it was legit like the blind leading the partially sighted. Dom has been three or four times before but do you think he knows a thing about booking holidays? I literally had no idea what I was looking for when booking our trip – there was so much information and so much choice that it all seemed a little overwhelming. What’s a gondola? Salopettes… sorry, what?

Luckily my mum AKA ski queen showed me some tips and what to look out for when booking a ski trip. I thought her advice, along with my first experience of a ski holiday, would be handy for anyone thinking of planning a ski holiday, but, like pre-ski me, does not have the foggiest about where to start.

Here are ten tips to think about when booking your first ski trip.

Make sure you consider how far away your hotel is from the slopes

The last thing you want to be doing after a day skiing when your legs are aching like a mother f’er is walking your skis and boots a mile back to your hotel (spoiler alert – they weigh a bloody ton). When you’re booking your trip, try and look at hotels that are less than a 10 minute walk away from the slopes to avoid those long walks lugging your ski gear around. Let me tell you, skis are hard to carry at the best of times okay.

This can be avoided altogether by hiring a locker on the mountain for a small fee. Not all resorts do this so make sure you double check, but definitely worth the money if it means travelling back down the mountain to your hotel ski and boot free!

Stay half board

Can you imagine getting back after a long day of skiing/apres-skiing, and having to make dinner? Or even worse, actually make yourself look presentable and drag yourself back out into the cold to a restaurant? Nah, sorry, not for me.

Staying half board, which to be fair, I think most ski hotels are anyway, is so so ideal. We wandered down most nights in comfy clothes, and the best part (by far) was that it was all you can eat… every night!

Take a beginner lesson before you go

This isn’t essential, but as I said these are just tips and are based on my experience. I went for a three-hour beginner lesson at Milton Keynes’ snowdome the weekend before, and I’d definitely recommend doing the same.

Although it cost a bit, it meant I wasn’t a complete beginner when I got to Andorra. I was classed as ‘advanced beginner’ which meant our class learnt quicker, and we got to try some of the harder runs throughout the week, rather than sticking to the nursery slope.

Enrol in beginner ski school

This is the quickest way to get better while you’re there, as well as ensuring you’re using the right techniques. Even if you’ve been before, there are loads of different levels of lessons available.

Even my boyfriend, who has been skiing three times before and is pretty good, went for the advanced intermediate classes. While he was sceptical at first, he really enjoyed them and definitely improved throughout the week. Aside from this, being in lessons is a great way to make friends too.

Pick the right time of year

There are loads of things to take into consideration when thinking about the best time for you to go. Time off work, prices, school holidays, snow conditions, busy-ness. The list goes on! Definitely do your research.

While January will be coldest and least busy, you don’t want the risk of a white-out every day (when you can’t see anything due to fog/snow). There’s that dreaded half term in February, and while March may be a little warmer, which means longer days, if it gets too warm the snow will be slushy and hard to ski on.

If you’re looking to go late skiing (March/April), make sure to choose a resort with an altitude of 2,000m or higher. The higher the better, as it’s colder up there so the snow lasts longer.

Pick the right destination for you

We picked Andorra because not only was it cheapest, but we read online it was a really good resort for beginners. With loads of green and blue runs, as well as one of the best ski schools in Europe apparently, Andorra is the perfect resort for beginners.

It’s also not an overly large resort either, so plenty of time to get familiar with and master those greens and blues. Definitely make sure you look at the amount of green and blue runs in any resort, you wouldn’t want to get there and be instantly out of your depth!

Take note of transfer times

This isn’t really a massive deal (clearly not for me as I picked the resort with the four hour coach transfer), but it’s always one to take into consideration if you don’t like long coach journeys, or if it means you’re going to get less skiing in.

Save money by renting or borrowing your ski gear

Skiing is expensive, there’s no getting away from that. And buying ski gear can easily get rather expensive too once you get a lil carried away. One way to avoid this is to borrow or hire your ski gear (preferably borrow coz y’know who knows how many other people’s sweaty heads have been in that helmet?) *shivers*.

All of my stuff this year was borrowed from my mum, bar my salopettes (I didn’t fit into my mum’s medium ones, so I had to get a large *sob*). This probably saved me a couple a hundred quids – decent stuff doesn’t come cheap people!

Get specific snowsports insurance

It goes without saying you need to take out holiday insurance for every trip you take, but skiing is a little different. Make sure you pick snowsports insurance to ensure you’re covered for any injuries you might (hopefully won’t) get on the slopes.

Don’t just go for the cheapest either, read them properly and figure out which one is best for you. Being precautious pays for these kinds of trips.

Apres ski is important

Aaaand I’ve saved the best till last… apres ski!

‘Apres ski’ [noun]: the social activities and entertainment following a day’s skiing (read: the short yet intense party between skiing and going back to your hotel for dinner. Usually involved cheap pints, shots and jagerbombs obvs.)

Don’t underestimate how much you’ll be longing for a refreshing pint after a long day of skiing – and make sure you pick a resort with a decent apres ski scene. To be fair, Andorra has by no means the best apres ski out there, but it had a few pubs and bars, cheap drinks and good music, and with the right people, that’s all you need really.

Apres ski usually starts at around 4pm and should go on till around 7 but usually has a habit of going on until 9 or 10 meaning you miss hotel dinner. Oops.

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Quickfire ski terminology

Drag lift – a lift that, quite literally, drags you up the mountain
Four man – a four person chairlift
Gondola – the large cable car that takes you from the village to the bottom of the slopes
Magic carpet (no it’s not as fun as it sounds) – the travelator to get to the top of the smaller slopes, usually the nursey ones.
Off-piste – an area outside of the marked runs
Parallel – bringing your skis parallel to one another to gain speed. As a beginner, it felt gooood getting to this level
Run – a slope. Green being the easiest, going to blue, red, then black
Salopettes – ski trousers
Snowplough – when you turn the front of the skis inwards so they are in a V shape to slow down or turn
White out – when it’s so foggy or snowy, everything just looks white. It makes it quite hard to ski, and is quite disorientating

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Hopefully you found this post useful – I certainly wish I had known some of these things before I went. Although, I suppose I didn’t have it that bad as my parents and Dom were able to impart their wisdom on me. Have you been skiing? What did you think of it?

Christie x

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2 Comments

  1. March 27, 2017 / 10:55 am

    As a first time skier last year, I must admit, your guide is spot on! And I definitely learnt from not having any sort of food included in my trip 🙁 And lessons definitely helped! I also did mine at Milton!

  2. April 25, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    This is all key info and if I do ever get to go skiing I’ll be coming back here. I never actually thought about how you get to the slopes and assumed hotels would just be on the mountains! I always assume I’d be half decent as I used to rollerblade and ice-skate, it’s probably completely different though?
    Maybe a trip to the dry slopes here is a good start.

    Josh
    https://www.lookdwn.com

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