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Iglu's Sales Director and former ski instructor, AJ Johnson, gives us his top tips for skiers planning a holiday first time.
The number one ski resorts for beginner skiing in France are Les Gets, La Rosiere, Courchevel, Avoriaz, La Plagne, and especially Alpe d’Huez. These resorts are loaded with Green and easy Blue runs. Avoid Val d’Isére, Méribel, Les Arcs, Chamonix and Morzine as although these resorts offer brilliant skiing, there are no easy runs back into town or you have to use buses to get around. Buses are tough when you are just learning to carry your kit.
You'll soon go from skiing like this...
1: Have a lesson on an indoor slope here in the UK. It makes a huge difference to your first few hours if you already know how to put your kit on and stand on a green slope.
2: Go for a catered chalet or chalet hotel rather than a self-catered apartment. It is so much more enjoyable to be around other people who are also learning and to have all your food and cleaning taken care of. Apartments are a false economy. What you gain in initial outlay costs, you lose in resort shopping — especially wine which is free in chalets — damage deposit, cleaning time, expert in-house advice and the lack of social interaction with fellow UK skiers. Further to this, use the chalet operator's flights and transfers which are always included. Driving may sound like fun, but unless you have experience at driving in snowy conditions up steep slopes then don’t take the risk.
3: Pre-book your lessons with a reputable British ski school. There are plenty in France now. Do not even think about getting your friends to teach you — it will end your friendship and leave you miserable. It takes very specific training to teach skiing, some people think that because they are fit and can do football/rugby/windsurfing that they will be okay to learn without help. That is ridiculous and extraordinarily dangerous. I doubt your insurance will even consider the inevitable pay-out if you do something this silly.
4: Buy a nice comfortable and waterproof backpack. If you try to stuff your jacket with a water bottle, goggles and sunglass cases, a lunch roll, extra clothing in case of a cold snap, your piste map, lip balm, sun-cream, camera, mobile phone, and a single malt loaded hip flask, then you are going to look like the Michelin Man and lose all mobility. Get a pack with around 10 to 15 litre capacity, that has a waist belt so it doesn’t flap around. You don’t want anything too big.
5: Finally, borrow as much of the ski clothing as possible. Everyone has ski friends that are happy to loan out jackets and ski pants. You will need to buy yourself gloves, thermal underwear, nice thin ski socks (thick are the worst), and a warm hat. There’s too much perspiration going on to borrow these last items.
... to skiing like this.
Skiing is all about fun. You don’t have to ski every minute the lifts are open.
Finish early around 3pm and find yourself a lovely little après ski bar in the sun, or around a fire if the weather is harsh. Try a toffee vodka or two.
About the third ski day you will get muscle fatigue. There’s no disgrace in taking a day off and going for a swim or a massage. All resorts have awesome public spas, most of which are free with your lift pass.
Have a laugh and you will love it from your very first view of the mountains.
December 27. 2012 22:41
Interesting tips thanks. Re the backpack, totally agree that it is difficult packing everything into your pockets but how do you manage on a chairlift? Doesn't the backpack push you forward just a bit dangerously? Thanks
February 25. 2013 12:45
Hi Steve, when you are on the chairlift you take your backpack off and put it on your knee.
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