Some of the greatest fun you will have is when you are learning to ski or snowboard. The friendships you create, the laughs you recall, the exhilaration of being on the mountain – those memories remain with you and will ensure that you return to the slopes. Here, Ireland’s award-winning ski tour operator, Topflight talks through the top 10 tips for ski or board first timers!
1. Fit to Ski
Having a level of fitness before your first ski or board holiday is a huge advantage. As is a dry run on one of the the dry slopes of Ireland! Topflight recommends taking a lesson at Craigavon Golf & Ski Centre. These facilities will give you the basics of ski, i.e how to put on your boots, how to put your skis on, and how to walk in them. These little bits of pre-slope info will save you time on your first morning and give you a little extra confidence.
2. Where to Go & Where to Stay
Your choice of resort for a first time skier is very important. Topflight recommend the following Austrian resorts as good beginner choices.
Austria: Saalbach, Söll, St Johann, WestendorChoosing the right accommodation is also very important. Be clear on what you want: do you prefer a small family run hotel, a catered chalet, an apartment complex or do you crave that hint of luxury after a day on the slopes? Whichever accommodation type you choose, Topflight recommend you opt for somewhere with easy access to the slopes to make life easier each morning and evening. Smaller resorts are great as it means you don't have to walk far with ski equipment to the nearest lift or your ski school meeting place.
3. What to pack
For beginners it is a great idea to borrow ski gear rather than make the investment, so have a chat with your friends and see if you can borrow some bits and pieces. Also breathable layers are a must, so they can be added or taken off, depending on weather conditions. Ensure you invest in good sunglasses, sun protection and ski gloves.
4. Consider the length of resort transfer
For your first ski holiday – particularly if it is a family with young children ski holiday! – consider the length of the transfer from airport to resort. Remember to bring something to keep the little ones entertained on the journey.
5. Ski Hire
If you arrive in resort before the ski hire shop closes on your arrival day, Topflight recommend picking up your ski gear that evening; it saves time the next morning. If you arrive after the ski hire shop is closed, try and get up early on your first day to pick up your ski gear to avoid the queues and ensure you get to the slopes and your lesson on time.
6. Lift Pass
Keep your lift pass in a safe pocket! Usually there is a specially designed pocket on the left hand sleeve of ski jackets. It’s also a good idea to take a picture of your lift pass in case you lose it – some resorts will replace at a nominal fee. Always keep your receipt as a proof of purchase.
7. Ski Pack
Book your ski pack in advance! This saves you a lot of time in resort – time you could be spending on the slopes! Topflight sales staff can talk you through exactly what you need so you can be confident that you have booked exactly what you need and you’re kitted out with everything you need for your first day on the pistes. For your safety, Topflight would always recommend hiring a helmet, and in some resorts helmets are now mandatory.
8. Know your pistes
Be careful when you are in resort and look at the colour of the slopes. As a beginner you will initially be on the green slopes (nursery slopes) and should progress to blue slopes later in the week. Just be careful and follow the advice of your ski instructor s/he will be able to guide you and advise you on what slopes you will be able for after your lesson each day. Be sensible – you don't want to find yourself facing a slope that is above your ability. From an absolute beginner you will be impressed how much you improve in only one week.
9. Après ski
Après ski is a central part of the ski holiday experience, so enjoy it! Your representative in resort will be able to advise you on the best places to go and on other après ski activities, including sleigh rides, tobogganing, quizzes, party nights, etc. Each resort will have different après ski programmes in place.
10. Just ask!
As a beginner skier or boarder, it may be daunting deciding on your ski holiday and booking the various aspects. From the time of your initial booking, just ask for advice from the Topflight ski experts! They know ski and will delight in imparting their mountain wisdom on you! Your Topflight representative is also full of ski suggestions – from what you can do in resort to what pistes are the best suited to you! They have the local knowledge and will be delighted to assist and tell you what not to miss whilst on holiday.