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What a win!
Have you ever imagined yourself rocketing down a ski slope, leaving a spray of white powdery snow behind you?
Are you jealous when friends post endless pictures of fun winters of mulled wine and cheese in front of a heavenly mountain backdrop? Are you ready to take the leap (so to speak) and enjoy your first alpine adventure, but you don’t know where to start? If so, then read our manual for your first time foray into the snow-sport world.
Before you go, here are some quick-win tips if you don’t even know where to start…
Choose a great beginner resort
Some resorts are perfect for a novice. Knowledgeable, English speaking ski instructors, accommodation near the ski lifts, resort après ski and facilities for when you’re not on the slopes are all things you should consider.
Think about what to wear
It’s all about layers. Wearing thick cotton or wool jumpers will be cumbersome and eventually sweaty so try to avoid them. A good thermal base and thin extra layers are the best way to keep both warm on the snow and cool in the sun.
Prepare your body
Make no mistake about it, skiing is a sport. And your body (especially your legs) will thank you if you exercise in the run up to your trip. There are many online guides to getting ‘ski-fit’ but even a few weeks jogging before you go will help get you ready.
Try before you fly
There are many great indoor slopes in the UK these days and a lesson or two before your holiday will not only show you a few basic essentials but also prepare you for the feeling of being on skis - as well as the dreaded button lift!
Pre-book your extras
There are 3 essentials you will need to get on the mountain: a lift pass, lessons and equipment. Arranging, paying and queuing for these things on day one however can be a frustrating experience which can be made easier by booking before you go.
Ok, so you’re ready to go, but where should you visit for your first ski adventure?
Best for Beginners: Méribel, France
Perfectly positioned as a springboard for the whole Three Valleys ski area, Méribel offers over 150km of pistes within its own right as well as access to a total of over 600km of pistes for the entire ski region. With the majority of runs designated as beginner/blue level, it’s the perfect place for new skiers to enjoy and practise their skills across a powder play-land. Ski schools are available onsite and the ski and snowboarding instructors are able to offer lessons in most of the world’s major languages.
Best Yet to Come: Glenshee, Scotland
While not as snow ready just yet as some of the others to follow, Glenshee Ski Centre is a great resort to hold out for once the natural snow starts to settle. Located just north of the Cairnwell Pass, it’s not only the largest ski centre in Scotland but the largest snow sports resort in the entire UK! The season usually goes from December to April and its 40km of pistes, 22 lifts and 36 runs in total are open every day of the week, leaving plenty of time to explore. If you’re after lessons, the Glenshee Ski and Board School offers a variety of classes and a nice collection of restaurants and cafes completes the resort for relaxing times off the powder.
Longest Season: Ruka, Finland
Besides those glacier ski resorts that can stay open year round, Ruka boasts the longest season in Europe. The slopes open in October through to May, making the season at least 200 days – and they sometimes stay open even into June! It’s the largest ski resort in Lapland and has runs for each and every level. They also offer night skiing on Fridays 7-11pm from December to mid-April. You can expect well-groomed slopes covered in a good layer of powdered snow thanks to the snow cannons – in fact, in their entire history, Ruka has never had to close their slopes early due to poor snow conditions. The resort was even awarded the title of Best Ski Resort in Finland 2013 in the World Ski Awards and it’s not hard to see why, when you could be skiing beneath the Northern Lights if you hit the slopes between October and February!
Easiest Access: St. Moritz/Corviglia-Marguns, Switzerland
The biggest ski region in the Engadin, this one goes from Suvetta to St. Moritz and further on to Celerina. Here you’ll have access to 22 lifts to get you around the resort – in fact, they can handle nearly 30,000 people every hour. Not only that but most of the hotels are situated directly beneath the ski slopes or just a short train ride away, as in St. Moritz-Dorf, where you can take the Chantarellabahn. It is recommended to come by car, as you can park directly beneath the slope on many occasions.
Best Off-the-Beaten Path: Kvitfjell, Norway
This resort in the holiday region of Lillehammer has “only” 29 km of pistes but is still among the 10 biggest ski resorts in Norway. You can enjoy a choice of 9 lifts to get you around and there are pistes of every difficulty ranking from beginners to pro. The most recommended slopes are Vestsideløpa, Panoramaløypa and Olympiabakke, where you can do a spot of night skiing. The pistes are covered in a lower of artificial snow in October for the start of the season and you can ski right through until the end of April.