1. Do Some Pre Ski Trip Research
Well done, it seems that you’ve already started your research right here. As with most sports, there are a few things you’ll need to make yourself familiar with in terms of etiquette, clothing and equipment.
On-piste etiquette is generally a matter of common sense and good manners. As far as clothing goes, if you’re a beginner stick to something that is functional and affordable; you don’t want to break the bank on gear you might only wear once! Get some good gear once you’re hooked on the sport.
2. Get To Your Ski Resort Early
Chances are you’ll be with friends or family on your first ski trip and they may be experienced skiers. If you can, get to the resort early so that you can get your kit sorted out and take a couple of lessons.
Skiing is such a fun and exciting thing to do with friends and family and it really makes a difference if you can enjoy the same slopes. Getting some advanced preparation in will get you safely alongside them quicker.
Having said that….
3. Know Your Limitations
Yes, it would be great to be up there with the best of your friends and family, but not at any cost. Pushing yourself too hard and too fast on your first ski trip can be unsafe, can hurt and can get you into bad skiing habits.
Ease yourself into this new skill; you’ll be using muscles in a different way, learning new skills and getting used to a new environment. That’s a lot to take in, so take your time. You’ll reap the benefits of good skiing technique if you build your new skills slowly and steadily.
4. Adopt a Layering System of Clothing
Dressing correctly for the conditions will allow you to deal with most types of weather. This means not only having the correct clothing but also knowing how to wear it. Ski clothing is best utilized by adopting a 3 layer system.
The first layer of clothing is your base layer – the layer that is next to your skin. Ideally this will be made of a material that has ‘wicking’ properties meaning that it will take sweat away from your body. Stop on the side of a ski slope when you are sweating and that moisture is going to bring your temperature down really quickly. So, invest in a good base layer.
You middle layer is designed to keep you warm and a fleece or jumper is ideal. Be aware that you can overheat even in the snow and especially when you’re learning, so something that is easy to put on and take off is good.
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Your outer layer is for protection from wind and water. Many new materials exist for this, with the old favorite being Gore-Tex.
5. Hire Your Equipment
OK, so you’ve watched a few Ski Sunday episodes; that should not justify your purchase of the latest ski equipment. There will be plenty of opportunity for that once you’ve got your ski legs and decided you like it. Your best option is to hire your equipment. That way, if you get the wrong size you’ve just got a short trip to the ski shop to change.
Ski shops will replace their equipment, generally, at the end of each season, so you’re going to be skiing with the latest gear if your hire. They will also provide you with advice on fitting equipment and how tight your boots need to be locked into your skis.
6. Take Drinks and Snacks Onto the Slopes
Skiing can be physically exhausting, especially when you are learning for the first time. You should be looking to keep yourself topped up with nutrition and fluids routinely. Something that is easy to eat and, ideally, can be accessed without taking your gloves off. Don’t forget to drink! You will dehydrate really quickly in the snow, so drink plenty of water.
7. Get Ski Fit
If you are new to skiing, you are going to be surprised at the muscle aches you will get, even if you are already fit. You will use your muscles in a way you have not done before, so practising ski specific exercise prior to your trip will help.
Your cv fitness is important too; the altitude you’ll be at will make even walking around cause you to breathe a little heavier. Plenty of stretching before your trip and each morning during it will help you get more supple and avoid aches and pains.
8. Use Sun Protection
Even when it is cold, mountain sunshine can burn you very quickly. At altitude you have less environmental protection from the sun’s rays and without sunscreen you can burn up. Also, get yourself a good pair of UV protection sunglasses – yes, you will look cooler, but they will also protect you from getting snow ‘blindness’ from the sun’s reflection off the white slopes. Your lips are also at risk of drying up quickly in the sun, so always carry a chapstick – people often don’t want to share theirs!
9. Never Ski Alone
The mountain can be a dangerous place if you do not respect it. Never think that you’ll be safe to ski on your own (on or off-piste) and especially if your a beginner. If you take a bad tumble and no-one is around to help, you are going to deteriorate quickly in the cold. Always ski with a partner, so you can help each other out in an emergency. It’s more fun too!
10. Take Lessons From a Professional Instructor
Yes, your mate may be a really good skier, but if you are new to skiing you really should get lessons from a professional instructor. Either one-to-one lessons or as part of a group, you will learn faster with a professional. More importantly, you will learn correct technique and having the correct technique will ultimately make you a faster, safer and more stylish skier.