Skiing and snowboarding bring some tough decision-making to the table. Rent or buy? Lessons or no lessons? And the all-time most important choice of all: to après-ski or not to après-ski? Before you get into the groove of your ski holiday – you know the point where every morning you can just sling on the same ski suit as the day before, pull your crusty socks off the radiator and click into your skis like you were born to do this – you have a lot of decisions to make.
The number-one dilemma in the snow sports world: to ski or to snowboard? Most of us who start skiing at an early age are taught to ski, but once we get to our rowdy teenage years, many of us switch to snowboard. What was your choice – or are you both a skier AND a snowboarder?
To ski or to snowboard, that is the question
Seems like a simple one, but the consequences will plague you for the rest of the day if you make the wrong decision here: how many layers to wear? The weather looks freezing cold when you glance through the window from the comfort of your bed, so you chuck on your warmest jumper and an extra pair of gloves... but after 5 minutes of waiting for your mates to get ready, you’re already sweating through your balaclava. If you ditch the jumper, you’ll regret it as the lift slowly drags you through the freezing wind. If you don’t, you’ll be overheating as you work your way down the moguls on that black piste. What to do, what to do?
Even the most die-hard skiers and snowboarders like to sail down a nice blue piste once in a while, but opinions about which piste to take at what moment of the day never seem to coincide. And of course, there’s the problem of skiing in a mixed-ability group, where inevitably some beginner is going to suffer when (because it’s only a matter of time) you drag them down a black piste. Make it easier on your group by scoping out ski resorts with lots of black pistes or lots of blue pistes.
Red and blue pistes in the SkiWelt
Do you turn your nose up at the slushy snow in the valley run, or are you the one normally chomping at the bit to get one last run in before taking off the ol’ ski boots? If you decide to ski down the valley run, good on you – just remember that injuries usually happen on the last run of the day! Play it safe and buy travel insurance before your holiday.
It seems like an easy decision: ski lessons are expensive, and the sport doesn’t look that hard. You decide to skip the lessons and use the money you saved to buy everybody a round at après-ski. That is, if you make it to après-ski! Five minutes on the slopes are usually enough to make you understand why ski lessons are a thing. It’s not all about perfecting your technique to snooty ESF standard – ski lessons actually help you make it down the slope in one piece. There are loads of ski resorts in the Alps that offer ski lessons in English - book a lesson, and by the end of the week maybe you’ll be skiing blue slopes.
Later in the afternoon you start hearing the jolly sounds of après-skiparties ringing out through the mountains. You know that there’s no such thing as “just one drink” with après-ski, and you wanted to get first tracks tomorrow, but it’s just so... tempting... You know what you’ll do, you’ll tromp to the nearest mountain hut and order a käsespätzle, and of course a drink, but only to accompany your food. Then, once you’re done, you’ll skip the après-ski evening, go on home and get an early night. That’s the responsible decision.
... Five hours later... oops...
Kicking off the après sesh in style
Is this even a question? What kind of skier or snowboarder goes on a snow sports holiday just to sleep in and miss the best snow? Well, your hangover might be able to answer that question. But believe me, if there’s one thing that drags me out of bed regardless of the state I’m in, it’s the promise of fresh cord. You’ll know you made the right choice as soon as your skis hit the virgin snow.
This is another tough one: what to have for lunch? Whether you’ve chosen the French, the Swiss or the Austrian Alps, you’re undoubtedly faced with a delicious smorgasbord of hearty, caloric alpine food . And don’t even try choosing if you’re in the Italian Alps – you’re basically required to try every dish during your ski holiday! Maybe someone in your snow sports entourage wants to share with you.
Tucking into a plate of Kaiserschmarrn at a mountain restaurant in Obergurgl
The rising popularity of ski touring and off-piste freeriding in the backcountry might have you interested in trying it out yourself. Off-piste skiing is definitely an adrenaline rush and there’s nothing quite like it, but if you’re venturing off-piste for the first time, be safe and take an avalanche training course, go with a guide and invest in all the proper equipment.
Do you rent your skis or snowboard at the ski resort, or buy your own winter sports gear? Those budget airline prices might make this an obvious choice – sometimes it’s just not worth paying the luggage fees to bring your own kit! Another option is to invest in your own helmet and ski or snowboard boots – that way you can count on a perfect fit every time, plus you’ll get the chance to test out a wide range of skis or snowboards every time you go on a ski holiday!
Skis for hire in the rental shop
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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