Learning to ski: 10 things not to do
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Learning to ski: 10 things not to do

A ski holiday is not like every holiday. There’s a lot of planning but also mental preparation that goes into it, especially for first timers. A ski holiday can carry a lot of high expectations or be quite daunting - you may not even know what to expect!

But that's okay! To help you get started, we’ve got some insider tips on your first time hitting the slopes, so you can put your mind at ease and enjoy your ski holiday to the fullest!


Not wear suncream and SPF lip balm

It may be surprising to ski newbies but suncream is just as important on the mountains as it is in a hot country. Altitude makes UV rays stronger meaning you’ll be more susceptible to sunburn and end up with a goggle burn and look like a panda. It’s a distinctive look but I look that screams I forgot to put suncream on as you’ll be left with the bottom half of your face bright red. Especially when it is a sunny day, reapply suncream throughout the day so your skin is protected. Also top up on lip balm as lips can easily get chapped and burnt. No one wants to endure the discomfort of swollen lips!

Have the 'gaper gap'

Known to ski enthusiasts as the gap between the bottom of your helmet and the top of your goggles where a bit of forehead is exposed. Although it’s mocked because it looks silly, it’s actually a sign your helmet doesn’t fit properly or you’re wearing your helmet wrong. The helmet is probably too loose, and easy to move around on your head which isn’t good if you fall over! Make sure that the helmet is secure on your head, tighten it by turning the cog in the inside of the helmet and tighten the chin strap to fit your chin.

Tuck your salopettes inside your ski boots

Again, not only does it look silly but it is also impractical as it allows more chance for snow to slide into your boots and up your legs. There is an elasticated inner layer at the bottom of salopettes which you pull over the ski boot to stop any snow from getting in. Not to mention, they can also rub on your skin if you tuck them in.

Not getting fit before you go

Sometimes we forget skiing is actually a form of exercise and it does wear you out. A ski holiday is physical and can quickly zap your energy and tire out your muscles, especially if you haven’t done some exercise beforehand to prepare your body. This doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym every day in the weeks leading up to your holiday. You can work on cardio and your core strength about 3 times a week. There are loads of Youtube videos and guides on the internet for exercises and fitness routines before you hit the slopes to ensure you’ll be ready to take to the mountains all day.

Taking someone else's skis by accident

Hire equipment is known to look pretty similar or have the exact same designs; especially if your group or chalet is all getting equipment from the same hire shop which makes it easy to accidently pick up someone else’s equipment.

A lot of hire shops put name labels on your hire equipment so you don’t get them mixed up. But if not, either remember or note down your ski length so you can differentiate yours to others. That way you won’t pick up someone else’s and be perilously jamming your boot in the binding or skiing down the slope with the bindings popping off!

Awkwardly carry your skis and poles

I’ve seen so many people awkwardly carry their skis and looking like they’re really struggling. Not only does it tire your arms but it makes carrying your kit so inconvenient and can quickly make your skiing experience turn sour.

The best way to carry your kit is to rest them on your shoulder blade, with the front bindings (non slippy side) facing upwards so they don’t move around. Keep the skis steady by placing your arm over the front section of the skis. The front tips of the skis should be facing downwards so it balances better on your shoulder. Then your other hand is free to hold your poles.

Remember to be spatially aware and don’t do this inside or in a crowded area as you run the risk of whacking someone behind you.

Not buying or having sufficient travel insurance

As important as packing, buying sufficient travel insurance should be done before you set off on your holiday. Even if you already have travel insurance, check you are covered for winter sports.

Planning to hit the snowpark or try some off piste skiing? This is more for experienced skiers, but again, check that this is also covered as you could run the risk of paying a hefty bill if not.

Insurance isn’t just for your own safety but also covers damage or theft which can put your mind at ease when on holiday, especially as ski equipment can be expensive.

Teach yourself or get a friend to teach you

Although it’s the cheapest way of starting, it isn’t the most effective and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Even if they are an experienced skier or an instructor themselves, it is better getting an instructor who you do not know. That way you have a neutral ground; it doesn’t interfere with that friendship and you’re less likely to give up early.

Book yourself into lessons, whether that’s private or in a group. Private lessons are great if you just want one-on-one teaching and want to progress quickly. It can work really well for some whilst others can find it a bit intimidating. Group lessons are sociable and cheaper, usually running in the morning for 2-3 hours over 6 days.

If you are looking to book lessons, Ongosa is a great company to find the right ski school for you.

Not putting your lift pass in your jacket pocket

It’s an awkward situation to be in when you’re with friends, all shuffling up to the barrier at the lift station and you find that you can’t get through. You suddenly realise you haven’t put your lift pass in your jacket pocket and it’s still sitting in your welcome pack envelope in the hotel.

A great way to kick start your ski holiday is to pack your essentials in your backpack/ jacket the night before the first day so you are ready to go. As soon as you get your lift pass, put it in your jacket pocket. Most jackets have special lift pass pockets on one of the sleeves so there is no need to take it out and scan it when you get the barrier – just simply walk through and it will detect it!

Having a negative mindset

It takes time to learn to ski or snowboard and is common knowledge without struggle there is no progression. The process of learning can be tough but you’ve just got to go through the ups and downs and not be impatient as it can really impact your progression. Simple things such as having a positive mind-set really does make a difference in self-confidence and persistence and this is only going to make you progress more quickly.