Planning your first ski trip can be incredibly exciting and there is lots to think about before you hit those magical slopes. Making sure you know what to expect will help you decide whether you’re likely to enjoy the experience with the resources you currently have.
If this is your first time skiing then you’re in the right place to find out some handy ski tips for beginners before you book!
1. Don’t Teach Yourself How To Ski
You may have already planned how much fun you’re going to have on the snow by teaching yourself how to ski. Or perhaps you are planning on using a trusted friend who has a few seasons under their belt?
Either way, professional ski lessons should not be overlooked if you want to maximize the amount of time you have on the piste. A ski instructor will provide great value in many ways and they are familiar with beginner anxieties that friends or family may not be as patient with.
Ski instructors know the mountains like the back of their hands and will only take you to areas that they know beginners can handle. They will also teach you the correct techniques that will help you avoid bad habits, many of which are formed when self-taught.
And most importantly, they will make sure you enjoy your first time on the slopes! You can choose group or private lessons that are usually 4-hours in length. Opt for the fresh powder snow lessons in the morning and then meet up with the rest of your party for lunch!
You can check the average prices for 4-hour ski lessons in France here.
2. Clothing Will Make or Break Your Ski Trip
It’s tempting for beginners to throw together some items they already have in their wardrobe, believing that if it’s thick and warm they’ll be just fine. Truth is, if you haven’t got the right gear you could end up a damp, miserable mess at the top of the mountain – much to the annoyance of your group! Effectively, your first skiing experience could be your last!
For maximum comfort and enjoyment on the slopes, beginners should consider:
Should be made for skiing. Layering is key so your jacket should not be a thick goose-down puffer! The best ones are rather thin and with the right materials, provide fabulous insulation.
Also known as salopettes, they protect from the elements and keep you dry. Although slim trousers may look appealing, there are practicality issues, so choose comfort over fashion!
Base layers and Mid-layers play a key role in your comfort. Avoid anything with cotton as you’ll need wicking material to keep you dry when you get sweaty. Have at least two base layers so that you can alternate between washes whilst the other is drying.
This is a must-have. Even the most hardened of mountaineers will have these! It’s no fun when the tips of your fingers are frozen, so if you normally have cold hands then mittens may be a better option and easier to fill with hand warmers. Normal gloves will generally be a little more practical though.
You may think that these expensive socks will not provide much value, but trust us when we say you will need them! Ski boots can be harsh on your shins and these socks have a thinly padded shin guard to prevent aches. They can also ensure your feet are kept nice and toastie.
When the wind chill hits a ski buff be the only thing keeping the cold off your face! You can get a variety of cool designs to suit your ski outfit.
READ: Detailed list of EVERYTHING You Need For Stress-Free Ski Trip
3. Choose Your Ski Equipment Wisely
Selecting the right equipment for skiing is crucial to your success on the mountain for the first time. If you have uncomfortable boots or the wrong type of skis then you could end up throwing in the towel way before you really start enjoying yourself.
Necessary equipment (with tips):
- Ski Boots
Perhaps the most important and difficult bit of kit to get right for some! For beginners, ski boots should feel tight, stiff, and snug (recommended by professionals).
The downside is that some people get ‘achy’ feet as the day goes on. To help with this you can just loosen them off at lunch to give them a break. If boots are loose whilst skiing you’ll have less control of the movement of the skis, not a great feeling for first-timers!
The type of skis you will need for the first time is more than likely going to be ‘All Mountain Skis.’ As you will be sticking to the piste, powder skis should not be necessary. The size will depend on your height and technical ability, with the top of the skis usually being level with your eyes.
- Ski Poles
Although you may see some people skiing without them, ski poles are a must for beginners! They can help with your balance, come in handy when mushing along flat slopes, and are generally a useful tool to have.
- Ski Helmet
Ski Helmets are not mandatory in some resorts but we think they should be! Even if you believe you’ll be keeping yourself safe enough on nice easy pistes, you cannot account for someone else knocking into you if they lose control!
Plus, they are good at keeping your head warm and provide additional comfort when placing goggle straps over your head.
- Ski Goggles
An item that you may believe is not worth investing in, ski goggles can be lifesavers when the weather is not playing ball. In very windy conditions they prevent your eyes from streaming and when there is a snow blizzard they’ll ensure you can still see ahead of you.
Sunglasses are not a substitute and can easily fall off your head and disappear into a mound of snow when you take a tumble.
Transition lenses for goggles are fabulous. They change in color from low light to bright light, ensuring you do not have to carry two sets of lenses with you.
4. Hire or Buy Ski Equipment For Beginners?
There are two ways beginners could choose to go with ski equipment.
Hiring ski equipment is a piece of cake and highly recommended for first-time skiers. After all, how do you know if it’s worth the investment before you’ve had a taste for it?
All you need to do is find a local store near to where you are staying and book online before you leave. It also means that you won’t have to lug huge ski bags around with you at the airport, not to mention the additional charge most airlines place on ski luggage.
If you know for sure that you were made for skiing and don’t mind spending a small fortune, you could buy everything before you leave. Head to a good specialist ski store and book in some time with someone who can help with fitting ski boots.
You may want to consider custom-molded insoles for your boots, well worth it! If your ski equipment is looked after properly, it should pay for itself within 3-4 seasons in comparison to hiring every trip.
5. A Place To Leave Equipment
There may be a variety of reasons for not wanting to take your equipment back to your accommodation every day. You may have a difficult hike up to your chalet which is dangerous in ski boots or perhaps the skis are just too heavy for you to carry.
Most resorts will have lockers that you can rent out. These are normally heated and will dry out your equipment ready for the next day.
6. Leave The Rucksack At Home
There is nothing stopping you from wearing a lightweight ski rucksack, however, this is generally not recommended for first-time skiers. A rucksack is just an extra thing that may make you uncomfortable when trying to concentrate on learning how to ski.
TIP: Make sure you have enough pockets in your jacket or trousers to make up for this
7. Get Fit For Skiing
Many beginners give up on skiing because it can be extremely hard work if your fitness levels have been below average. Once you’ve learned the correct techniques and become a better skier, you’ll use less energy.
But whilst you are still a beginner on the slopes you may be surprised at just how tiring skiing can be.
There are some great ways to prepare your body for the types of movements expected, such as squats, lunges, and planks. Thighs will be the hardest-hit areas on the slopes, so concentrate on these along with some good core work which will help with stabilization.
Get used to effective stretching techniques and do this at the end of each day to prevent muscles from completely seizing up the following day.
8. You Can Forget About The Diet
Think you can live on 300-calorie meals whilst skiing?
Skiing is an incredible sport that demands a lot of energy from you. Especially as a beginner, you’ll be working harder than most. You will be exhausted from using ski poles to mush along flat ground, feeling like you’re fighting to get away from a tiger!
Skiing burns up to 500 calories per hour, which means the hot chocolate with cream and yummy Cinnabon will compliment your burger and fries nicely.
9. Yes, There Are Restrooms and Toilets On The Mountains!
You’ll find that most people have a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a hot chocolate or coffee stop at the top of the mountain. Most mountain restaurants in resorts will have great facilities that you can use and they are easily located on the piste maps.
10. Try Not To Get Lost
Now, something has gone terribly wrong if you get lost whilst skiing for the first time!
For beginners, you should be sticking to the piste and should ALWAYS have someone with you. Even the most seasoned of skiers stay in pairs whilst skiing off-piste, so for beginners this shouldn’t happen at all.
If you and your group end up somewhere you shouldn’t be and don’t know how to get yourselves out of trouble, then Mountain Ski Patrol can be called to the rescue.
To reduce the chances of this happening, you can get a map of the ski resort when you pick up your pass and download an app that shows your location offline. Take regular stops en route to check you are on the right path.
TIP: What3words is a free app where you can easily share your exact GPS location, very handy in general amongst friends!
11. Hang On To Your Belongings
Ski lifts are an exciting part of mountain life and a great opportunity to admire the scenery. Naturally, at this point, people will want to get their phones out to take pictures, which means removing said items from pockets. Adios prized possessions!
Many people lose their gloves, poles, phones, and more whilst on the lifts. Hold on to your belongings tightly as the chances of finding them later are slim! And no, the resort staff will not help you look for these.
TIP: Buy gloves that can be attached to your wrists with a cord to reduce the chances of losing them
12. Don’t Let Tumbles Put You Off
If you think you can learn how to ski without taking a tumble then you are hugely mistaken!
It’s inevitable. What you will quickly learn is that falling over in snow is different from hitting a hard surface at speed, and the anticipation is far more terrifying than the actual impact.
If you have pre-existing injuries then you will naturally be more apprehensive and this can hold you back from pushing yourself to the limits. Getting used to expected falls will help with progression, after all, if you’re not falling over then you’re not trying hard enough!
13. (BONUS TIP) You Definitely Need Ski Insurance!
Skiing is one of those trips, that 9 times out of 10, you’ll have a blast without anything going wrong. However, when it does, it can become an extremely expensive and stressful period of time.
Injuries abroad are no joke, and with skiing being classed as an extreme winter sport it’s not impossible to experience broken bones out on the slopes.
Medical emergencies and treatments can become eye-wateringly expensive if you do not have the right insurance. Although ski resorts do offer optional insurance with your ski pass, this will only get you safely out of the mountains. Once you’re at the hospital, you’re on your own.
Aside from injuries, you’ll have expensive ski clothing and gear with you, which if lost in transit or stolen can set you back thousands.
Without a doubt, this is our favorite place to search for Travel Insurance. They have policies that can also provide cover for COVID-19-related issues, just be sure to check out whether they have a 5-star rating.
COVID-19 insurance cover is absolutely essential if you’re booking any travel over the next 12 months. Take a good look at the conditions to see what you’re willing to accept. Making sure that you’re covered for medical treatments should take priority over cover for holiday cancellations.
Top Ski Tips for Beginners
As a beginner skier, you can expect the first few days to be physically challenging if you push yourself, however, you can also expect fun and excitement like no other type of getaway.
Just a little preparation and knowledge go a long way towards helping make your experience a much more enjoyable one!
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