Skiing is a brilliant hobby to get involved in (especially for kids), however, unless you live on the Alps, it can be one that, A) is hard to learn and B) is hard to do with any regularity, but you shouldn’t let that stand in your way if you want to learn as there’s no better than feeling than when you’re tearing down the slopes at break-neck sped watching the trees and mountains whoosh by as you become one with the wind itself.
If, like me, your nearest suitable mountain is on another landmass, then you will have to make do with the dry slopes until you can get out there and learn on the real deal. The dry slopes are anything but ideal, however they are useful for learning the basics that will mean you stand out from the other beginners when your half way up the Alps. Here are the basics you should learn by using the dry slopes.
- Stand Up – This is, as you can imagine, not that easiest when you’re on a slippery surface with a couple of planks of wood strapped to your feet.
- Foot Movement – It can feel very weird the first time you try moving your feet whilst wearing skis. Make sure you get used to the feeling of turning the skis to the left and right.
- Stance – Another benefit to using the dry slopes is it allows you to practice your stance. Much like with surfing, the stance is key as it means you won’t fall over. Make sure you are comfortable with it before heading off the top of the Matterhorn. If you aren’t comfortable, get an instructor to show you where you’re going wrong.
You don’t need too much protection when on the dry slopes, but as soon as you get onto the real thing, you’ll need to be properly prepared to protect yourself. The two things you have to worry about first are both weather related:
- The Cold – As you can imagine, standing on top of a snow-covered mountain in Europe is going to feel … you know … cold. It is vital that you get the right gear and make yourself as warm as possible. Remember, it’s easier to take layers off if you wear too much, but if you’re on top of the mountain you can’t nip down to fetch a spare jacket. More tips for defending against the cold: no cotton or big jumpers; wear loads of thinner layers. Only one pair of socks as more will cool your feet down (don’t ask me why). Ensure you’re bottom half is water proof – thank me later.
- The Sun – It may not be warm up there, but it sure is sunny and although you’ll likely feel cold, the sun will burn the skin right off you all the same. So if any part of your body is exposed make sure you apply sun cream and protect your eyes with sunglasses (wear goggles when it’s shady).
Once you know the basics, you’ll be ready to try the real deal. I would suggest the Alpe d’Huez resort in France as it boasts the largest collection of beginner slopes in the world, meaning that you can practice in peace without feeling embarrassed in front of professionals. It’s a brilliant resort for kids, as well, due to its many nursery slopes and instruction schools. There are, of course, plenty of other resorts that are great for beginners, so check out a provider such as www.iGOSki.co.uk to see if you can find more in France and the areas surrounding the Alps.