Skiing or snowboarding for the first time can be a daunting experience. It’s a high octane, thrilling sport when done right, but when you’re first stepping out on the slopes, unstable and constantly on your bottom, it can tend more towards the terror than the titillating. But don’t let that trepidation put you off; there’s a white world of adrenaline and apres-ski out there just waiting to be explored.
Should even the thought of a green slope scare you, or perhaps you feel you’re in a constant state of milk run, and you don’t know the difference between powder and slush, then fear not; here are our 5 IDEAL tips for first time ski and snowboarders.
Skiing and snowboarding is physically demanding, make no mistake, as a thousand crashed out apres-skiers will attest to. Even if your skiing trip is just a week long, you don’t want to curtail that time feeling tired with sore, aching limbs. And if it’s longer, you’re going to need to be in good physical health to survive the duration. It’s simple; the fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy yourself and the lower your risk of injury. So prepare your body physically during the weeks leading up to your trip; there are a number of ski specific exercises you can do prior to your holiday, the most effective being squats, lunges and planks, for quad and core strength focus.
DON’T SKIMP ON TRAVEL INSURANCE
Skiing, snowboarding and other extreme snow sports holidays are without doubt riskier than a holiday spent relaxing on a beach somewhere with a pina colada or two in hand. Even if you take all of the necessary precautions on the slopes, a risk remains as so much of the danger is out of your hands. Indeed, between 2012 and 2016, there were 58 British deaths and 118 hospitalisations arising from skiing and snowboarding in European resorts. It’s essential, then, to have yourself sufficiently covered by a consummate travel insurance program, such as the one provided by Fast Cover, which has a dedicated snowsport policy covering not only injuries, but also equipment damage or loss.
PRACTICE ON AN INDOOR SKI SLOPE FIRST
Skiing and snowboarding is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive holiday. The equipment, bought or hired, can rack up into the hundreds, if not thousands. The chalets aren’t exactly cheap to rent, then there’s flights, apres-ski indulgence, the ski pass and any beginner’s lessons you’ll likely need to get you going.
A prudent move, to save both time and money, then, and to get the most from your trip, is to practice first on an indoor ski slope in the UK, to get familiar with the feel of the skis and the thrill of the descent. We’re fortunate enough here to have both real snow indoor slopes and dry ones, check out this handy guide here to find your nearest.
TAKE A LESSON OR TWO FOR CONFIDENCE
If those dry runs didn’t quite give you the requisite confidence to tackle the real thing from the off, then a few beginner’s lessons on arrival are a wise move, both in terms of skills and safety. We’d caution against taking casual tips and guidance from more seasoned skiers and snowboarders within your group, and instead plump for a professional to build up your confidence. A day dedicated to getting attuned to real snow, altitude and atmosphere should set you back around €100 per day.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE SUN
Well known in winter sports circles, we know, but for absolute beginners, it definitely bears repeating; the mix of high altitude, reflective snow, lack of shade and a long day of being outside and exposed to the sun can lead to severe sunburn unless you take the necessary precautions. Sure, a little ski goggle tan line is inevitable, but to avoid the worst of it, avoid skiing when the sun is at its strongest, around midday, and apply suncream of a minimum factor 20 liberally and often, even under those goggles around the eyes.