8 December 2019 from Danielle in Tips

You're almost ready to set off on your very first ski holiday and you're in a fine mood. You've been preparing for weeks and you're ready to hit the slopes and see what all the fuss is about! You've managed to borrow most of your ski equipment, you've read up on skiing and you know more or less what to expect... or not? As a beginner skier, it seems there are always a few things that people forgot to tell you.

#1. Skiing isn't (always) cold

You know you're supposed to dress in layers so you've splashed out on a new ski jacket and stocked up on thermal undershirts and a fleece midlayer, plus warm mittens and a neck warmer. But depending on when you booked your ski holiday, you might find yourself sweating buckets, especially after falling down and hauling yourself up off the ground time and time again.

ski holidays aren't always cold

#2. Take your ski boots inside and close the buckles

It was a fantastic first day of skiing and you ended on a high note, with one or two après-ski drinks and a soak in the hot tub. The best part of the day? Taking off your ski boots and dumping them outside on the doorstep as you change into a cosy pair of slippers. The next morning, you head outside and try to pull on your boots, only to find they suddenly feel like they're two sizes too small. What's going on? Letting your ski boots get cold makes them stiffer and almost impossible to get on. Next time, buckle up your ski boots to preserve the shape and take them inside with you overnight.

#3. It's just not done to step on other people's skis

You have enough to think about in the lift queue, what with trying not to trip over yourself or fall out of the chair. But we'll add one more: try not to step on other people's skis or poke them with your ski poles. Lift queues can get crowded and a lot of people are careful not to scratch their skis, so they'll appreciate you being careful around them.

#4. Don't sit down on the drag lift

As comfy as it looks, a drag lift is not designed to support all your weight, so resist the urge to sit down. Grab on tight to the pole and adopt a relaxed body stance as you let the lift drag (not carry) you up the hill. Be sure not to cross the tips of your skis, and release the anchor where indicated once you reach the top. Don't worry, you'll soon get the hang of it and become so pro you can just relax and appreciate the view!

#5. Ski lessons start early

Ski holiday = holiday. Holiday = sleeping in, right? Wrong. For some sadistic reason, most ski lessons start with the first lift - think 8:30am. This pretty much means waking up at the crack of dawn if you want time to eat breakfast, gather all your ski gear and make your way to the meeting point. Night owls, be prepared to stock up on coffee!

#6. Chairlifts come at the speed of light

Ok, perhaps not quite the speed of light, but chairlifts are definitely not as easy to board as they look. Old-fashioned chairlifts that don't detach from the main cable are especially brutal, whipping towards you and giving you just a few seconds to position yourself safely. It may help to advise the lift attendant your first few times. Sometimes they will slow the lift down for you.

#7. Chairlifts go at the speed of light

Ok, now that you've safely boarded the chair, the hard part is over, right? Nope. As you approach the top, you'll barely have time to raise the safety bar, point the tips of your skis up and ski off the chair before the chair is off again, carrying you back down the hill! And that's not all - once you're off the chair you'll have to get out of the way quickly, because the next chair is approaching already and it's full of skiers just waiting to run you over. Yikes!

snowy chairlift

#8. A good pair of goggles is mandatory

You figured that since the weather forecast calls for clear skies, you'd be fine with a pair of sunglasses instead of goggles. But once the wind starts to pick up, you start to realise that maybe a pair of goggles would have been more comfortable after all. Ski goggles are specifically designed to give you a wide range of vision and help your eyes adjust to the weather and light on a ski hill, so they're an important investment and not one to be skipped.

#9. No backseating

Man, that hill is steep! Your body's natural reaction is to lean back. But leaning back, otherwise known as 'backseating', will throw off your centre of balance and make it much, much more difficult to control your skis and sometimes making you go even faster.

#10. Learning to ski is not as easy as all that

All your friends said skiing was super easy and you would pick it up in no time - well, they might have been lying just a tiny bit. All part of the plan to get you out on the slopes! Skiing is a highly technical sport that takes years of experience to perfect. But now that you've tried it for yourself, you'll agree that it's really fun and totally worth it. Congratulations, you're hooked! See you on the slopes!

fallen skier in powder snow
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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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