How To Ski

What to expect when learning how to ski or snowboard on your very first ski holiday.

Learning to skiing

Learning to ski

If you're wondering whether you can teach yourself to ski, learn from your friends, the simple advice is “don't” - Get Lessons! Yes, they'll cost a little but much less than a spoiled holiday - they'll also get you skiing faster, easier and safer. There are lots of good ski schools out there who have all the qualifications, experience and teaching techniques to get you gliding confidently down the piste in no time, so ask our guys about lessons when booking your first ski holiday.

Beginner's group lessons with people of similar age are great because everyone's in the same boat, so you won't feel left out, and it's a fantastic way to meet new people who are also learning to ski on their first beginners ski holiday. For extra help, book a one-off private lesson – this can really help if you need a confidence boost and want to get your head around the basics in private. The best way to start skiing is to book a week of lessons, either on a one-to-one basis, or in a group. It's a fantastically sociable way to learn if you're on a group ski holiday with other beginners.

Your First Time on Skis

When you're reading up on how to ski, the advice can seem very technical. How to put your weight ‘here but not there' or leaning ‘one way but not too much'. While this can help some people it can simply confuse others and is rarely a good way to first get your head (and body) around the basics of skiing.

The best advice is to not over-think the technical side of skiing, because it's all about getting the feel of it... and once you have, you're away!

Give yourself a very gentle introduction. Before you hit the slopes, practice walking and sliding around on a flat area, to get a feel for the snow, putting one ski in front of the other. Be sure to go to a nursery slope or area reserved specifically for beginners, where you can benefit from a little trial and error in a safe place.

It's a good way to get used to having big long planks under your feet and is a good idea to warm you up before your first lesson, but the real key to learning to ski is professional instruction. Ask our specialists about lessons when they're helping you choose your ski holiday.

How to carry & put on skis

How to carry skis safely: When you're carrying your skis around the resort, you don't want one in each hand. Face the bottom of your skis towards each other with one slightly higher than the other, bring them together and slide the higher ski down. The skis should join together with their breaks overlapping. Hold the skis carefully so that the breaks don't slip away. Carry them wrapped under your arm or over your shoulder (with one of the ski's bindings resting behind your shoulder). This leaves your other hand free for ski poles which you can also loop over your wrist if easier.

How to put on skis: Before putting on your skis, get rid of any snow on your boots by scraping them across the bindings on your skis, or tapping them with your poles. Put the front of your boot in the binding first and step down firmly with your heel until the boot clicks into place and is held in properly. To take your skis off, you need to press down on the back of your bindings, behind your heel (you can use your pole to help) and the bindings will release.

First ski lesson

First you'll learn how to snowplough and do snowplough turns. Snowplough is the position where the tips of your skis are close together and the backs further apart in the shape of a ‘V'. The wider your snowplough, the slower you go and speed can be controlled by pushing the backs of the skis further apart to slow down and drawing them closer together if you want to go a bit faster. Make sure you look ahead, not at your feet. To stop, you basically make the backs of the ‘V' really wide and bring the tips together, digging into the snow slightly. Don't worry about falling – especially if it's the only way you feel you can stop – fall to the side and get your skis pointing across (not down) the slope. Even amazing skiers fall over now and again – it's less likely for people not to!

Ski posture & positioning for beginners

Keep your knees bent, with your shins resting on the tip of your ski boots. Lean slightly forwards to stay balanced. Keep your legs a shoulder width apart so you're more supported and point the tips of your skis inwards, making a V shape (this is called a snowplough). You don't want to start at the top of the slope with your skis facing downwards in parallel - to stand still on the piste, make sure your skis face across the slope rather than down and lean slightly towards the slope, or keep your skis in the snowplough position.

Before you go skiing

Ski fitness

There's no doubt that a little legwork every other day before you go can really make your week on the slopes fun. If the first exercise your legs get is the moment you have to try to learn this new physical skill, you may find that your legs are too tired to do what you're telling them by around the middle of the second day. Your ski holiday is precious, so avoid spending too much of it getting ski fit and recovering from exercise you're not used to, by doing a few basics for the few weeks before you go. Simple squats or even regular cycling will make a huge difference to how used to exercise your body is, when you arrive in resort. There's no need to go over the top, but its true to say that the fitter you are, the easier learning to ski will be. You can read more about ski exercises on our ski fitness page.

Beginner ski areas

Once you've conquered the snowplough turn, your instructor will take you on some nice gentle runs so remember these for when you're practicing outside of your lessons. When venturing off the nursery slopes for the first time, know your piste colours! Ski runs are organised by difficulty through colours: greens are for beginners, blues are easy, reds for intermediates and blacks are difficult. Start off on the green and only venture onto gentle blues when you feel completely in control of your speed and direction, Take it very slowly because, if you rush at this stage and scare yourself, it can be a big effort to get your confidence back. To keep your speed well under control, don't face straight down the slopes but zig zag, to ensure a controlled descent.

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