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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.
Many resorts claim to be the birthplace of skiing, including St. Moritz and St. Anton. Morgedal in Norway, has a pretty good claim too — and with skiing being a mode of transport during winter in parts of the country, I reckon it's a pretty good shout out. So, here's what they had to say on the matter.
Morgedal is the birthplace of skiing, or to be more correct, snow sport.
People have used skiing as a mode of transport for over 4000 years. However in the 1800s, downhill skiing as we know it today was influenced like never before by Sondre Norheim from Morgedal. A charismatic character who changed ski design and gave us the world's first carving ski and full heel binding. Where he lived and the terrain he grew up with inspired him to develop skis and new techniques — just for the rush of downhill skiing.
Jazz-lovers flock to New Orleans, Elvis fans congregate in Memphis, ski enthusiasts travel to the little mountain valley of Morgedal. What do they all have in common? The search for the original... Maybe it is time you took the skiers' pilgrimage to Morgedal — no flashy chairlifts, ritzy bars or designer ski wear, just the world's first slalom slopes and a valley where people have always loved to ski.
The Birthplace of Skiing
Sondre Norheim was a poor farm labourer. Born in Morgedal in 1825, in a part of Norway where in there is heavy snowfall during winter, skiing had always been an integral part of his daily life. Skis were traditionally used as the main form of transport and for hunting, collecting wood in the forests, social visits and for generally getting around on the steep, snow-covered slopes.
Sondre — a skilled craftsman and athletic figure — changed the way people saw skiing: He designed and made skis which enabled skiers to tackle the slopes in ways never seen before. He also used a new heel binding design which held the ski firmly to the foot. Skiing became playful and he demonstrated feats of skiing never seen before. Playful, charismatic and always out skiing — around him the ski culture in Morgedal developed in the 1860s, growing into a thing of legend.
It is from Morgedal that ambassadors would go out and start the world's first ski school in Oslo, before going on into America and Europe — taking their new skis and technique with them. From transport to sport, skis were now being used for the pure joy of the downhill, jumping and racing to the bottom of the snowy hills; it was the dawn of modern snow sport.
Here in Morgedal in this unassuming little valley you can rediscover this pure, original ski experience.
Last night I was lucky enough to be at the London premiere of Flow State, Warren Miller's 63rd film — and my favourite to date.
As always with the Warren Miller tour, the whole evening was great fun. There was a drinks reception sponsored by Asahi beer — which went down well — goody bags, that included ski locks, wax and stress balls, and the always popular prizes — featuring a Warren Miller suitcase and a pair of Rossignol world cup skis.
But, you don't want to hear about that, you want to hear about the film.
Flow State is my favourite Warren Miller film to date, the overall feel of the film seems to have changed and the abundance of powder keep the 400 strong crowd wowing and whooping the whole way through. As this is my favourite installation of the film to date, I'm not going to ruin it telling you about the best lines, funniest comments and sickest tricks, as you really need to watch it for yourself.
Warren Miller might not be doing anything ground breaking with Flow State, but the skiing, the snow and the atmosphere of the film are all great — you even get to see narrator Jonny Moseley doing some '80s skiing. There are steeps in Alaska throughout the film, a trip to Stavanger, some Japaneasy powder-filled tree-lined skiing and a fantastic section on Murren.
Watching ski films often make you awe at the impossible, but Flow State has firmly put Murren at the top of my To Ski list, and is a damn site more achievable that heli-skiing in the Tordrillo's!
So, stop reading reviews of the film and go and watch it, if you are lucky there may be a few tickets left to this year's tour!
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