For those of you thinking about your first ski experience. We’ve put together a Guide for considering what you’ll need, and where to go. Courtesy of us all here at Freedom Snowsports.
Figuring out which skis are best for you will depend on your ability and the type of skiing you will do.
Renting your skis at first will give you the added support from the staff at the rental shop. Allowing you to take advice and try the latest types best suited to you. Do bear in mind that as you develop, so will the need for different skis. This can indeed happen during or after even your first week of skiing.
Softer, shorter skis are ideal for beginners. And can make it easier to control direction, while being more forgiving to movement mistakes.
Attached to the ski will be the bindings which are used to secure the boot in place. The release settings will be adjusted to your own personal setting. So that in the event of a fall the ski will release from the boot.
A typical ski boot has a hard plastic outer shell, an inner boot, several clips, possibly adjustments for flexibility. And a power strap that allows you to tighten the top of the boot.
Like your skis they are designed to suit your performance level. Boots for a beginner will be softer and more forgiving. It can be tempting to over-tighten the buckles over the top of your feet. But this has a counter effect and reduces blood flow to the toes and they can very feel cold. So it’s best to use modest force when securing the buckles. Aiming to keep the foot securely held in the boot, with minimal heel. If your foot is not held like this when the boot is done up. Consider seeking the help of the rental shop to check the fit.
Boots are a major investment and only worth buying if you’re sure you’ll get adequate use. Start with renting and you’ll get a great selection that are appropriate to your skill level. And if they are not comfortable all ski shops will help you resolve the issue and if necessary change them for you. Once you have a couple of weeks skiing, and you are arriving toward an intermediate level. Consider getting your own professionally fitted boots. The difference that it will make to your progression through the intermediate levels will be help greatly.
There are options in the UK to hire ski equipment for your holiday. But it’s worth considering, the if there’s a problem it’s not going to be possible to change the equipment. Also it’s more bulk to carry on the journey. Most hire shops in ski resorts have staff who speak many languages including English. And who offer great advice, good service, and will look after your needs throughout your holiday. After all they want you to have a good experience too.
Where to Ski
The UK has a small number of ski resorts in Scotland, and a range of dry slopes and snow domes. Which provide excellent facilities and a cost effective environment to learn some basic skiing skills. This can be a brilliant way for first timers to prepare for their first trip to the mountains. (Which we highly recommend).
However when it comes to the real thing, some of the best skiing in the world is available in Europe and all less than an 2 hour flight away! Here in the French Alps in Chamonix, Megeve, and St Gervais. We have access to some of the most varied and incredible lift accessed terrain. If you need to book your ski lessons with us, book online or contact us directly.
With or without lessons at home, it’s well worth getting tuition on snow as it’s going to help you develop and maintain both your skill, and confidence levels. Here at Freedom Snowsports we offer both private and group tuition, off piste and alpine touring across Chamonix, Megeve, St Gervais, and Les Contamines.
Booking a Ski Trip
Before deciding on where to ski, do your research. Things to consider are resort height and the piste heights. And conversely how much skiing is available at sheltered altitudes during adverse weather. The higher the resort and piste the better chance of good snow, but also the higher chance of closure during weather fronts. Most resort websites give this information including weather forecasts and snow depths and even webcams.
The best skiing is usually from late December to April. But higher resorts may offer longer seasons. A good base of snow will keep longer and even as the temperature rises in spring the skiing can be wonderful. Because the snow pack will re-freeze during clear nights, and then slowly thaw during the day. This cycle produces some velvet textures that are amazing to ski on.
The busiest times in a ski resort are undoubtedly weekends and in particular holiday periods like Christmas and February Half Term. So if you want quieter slopes try mid week breaks it will mean less time queuing for lifts and more space on the slopes. Always travel with adequate insurance and remember to check that winter-sports are covered.
Before you travel, here’s our checklist (with a few tips) of what you’ll need:
- Sunglasses and SunScreen – the sun can be very strong when it reflects off the snow.
- Goggles – for cloudy and snowy days. Falling cold snow can sting the eyes when skiing into it.
- Helmet – Its worth considering. We are all responsible for our own choices, and there is no judgement either way.
- Hat – take a good breathable thermal hat for when the temperatures get very cold.
- Jacket and Trousers – Even in milder periods of weather it is essential that you are warm and dry. There are plenty of bargains available online if you are on a budget. Make sure things are waterproof and breathable.
- Gloves – Are needed even in the milder weather, good quality gloves help protect your hands from abrasion during a fall.
- Base-layer – the layer of clothing next to your skin, which will get damp if it can’t wick the
moisture away. Any type of dri-fit t-shirt will serve you well.
- Socks – Well worth buying purpose made ski socks which should be seamless and smooth to help protect from getting sore feet.
We hope you enjoy your experience and one final tip from our instructors – Try to avoid carrying a heavy rucksack. Its amazing how it affects your balance when learning to ski.