Skiing Tips for Beginners
1. Pick the right equipment
Some things are ok to borrow. Your grandma’s vintage beanie and your Uncle Lester’s pink goggles from the 80s will do the trick. But, when it comes to your skis, boots and poles, borrow from an expert. Visit a local ski shop nearby the resort. They often have better deals than the resort and they always have employees that want to do a better job getting you fitted.
Skis, boots and poles are made to fit you for the best experience, don’t risk borrowing your equipment and rent from a popular local shop.
2. Pick the right clothing
Cotton will absorb water and even worse, sweat. You wouldn’t want to smell bad for your Après Ski date in the Lodge. Find some good athletic clothing and layer to stay warm. This is the time to consider borrowing from those skier friends of yours.
As always, follow the advice of your trusty local ski and board shop. They might talk funny but those kids live to play in the snow, they’ve been through it and they are eager to help.
3. Buddy Up
Skiing alone is a drag, and unless you didn’t heed our advice on cotton, you should be able to find a friend that would love to go along. Be sure and go with someone that will be ok waiting for you and give you basic tips but avoid someone that will push too hard. You won’t enjoy a lifetime of skiing by smashing your face into a tree on your first day.
4. Learn from the pros
Your sister’s boyfriend that took 4th in the X-Games might be excited to show you some things, but learning from a friend can have it’s pitfalls. They want to enjoy a double black diamond and you can barely ride a lift.
Consider lessons from the resort’s ski school. They are getting paid so they have the patience to stick with you while you get your snow legs. A lesson in the morning while your friends are hucking big air is often enough so that you can enjoy a few runs together by the end of the day.
Many resorts offer lesson discounts if you go as a group so remember tip number 3 and you might save a little dough as well.
5. Respect the code
There is a code of responsibility amongst skiers and snowboarders. Simple etiquette and resort rules will be clearly posted at the ski resort. A little more might have to be learned by watching and listening to those around you. Everyone is there to enjoy their own style of fun so try and respect those on the mountain with you by being visible, being courteous and skiing within your abilities.
6. Grab a map
If you’re adventurous enough to leave the magic carpet and explore the resort, be sure and bring a map. The junior snow ranger on the lift knows these trails well but until you’ve been to a resort a few times you’ll have more fun if you can plan your descent. Pick routes that will offer you some variety while still allowing you to stay on trails that won’t kill you. Most resorts will offer several trails that lead to the same place so you can see new things without having to move on to more difficult terrain.
7. Watch the weather
You’ve heard your skier friends talk about gnarly powder days, but 2 feet of new powder is no fun to learn in. On the other hand, no snow for 3 weeks might mean icy conditions and hard packed runs that will leave your bum begging for Summer. Skiing for the first time on a very cold day can also be a bummer if you’re not used to frigid temps. Try to pick a moderate day with some fresh snow in the last few days but not the storm of the century last night.
8. Drink plenty
Skiing is a rigorous activity. You might not notice it because of the cold but you can dehydrate in a hurry. Have access to plenty of water and take hydration breaks often. You’ll enjoy more runs and feel better afterwards if you fuel and hydrate properly.
9. Don’t Drink
You’ll see plenty of people throwing back beers and nipping the flask. You’ll also see the ambulance make a few runs down the mountain on most days. Skiing is a dangerous sport and skiing intoxicated is a good way to end up hurt. Enjoy a host of beverages in the Lodge at the end of the day but keep your head in the game while you’re shredding the runs.
10. Go at your own pace
You’ll probably never be an Olympic skier, you might not ever be an expert. But you can have a wonderful time enjoying the greatest Winter activity ever known. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and go at your own pace. Let Black Diamond Dave go at his pace and you conquer the hard stuff when you’re ready. Push your limits but don’t push your luck and you’re likely to grow your skills.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t offer one more tip to the first time skier: HAVE FUN! Skiing is a wonderful way to enjoy a lifestyle of Winter or a weekend a year. Whatever you hope to get out of your time in the mountains just remember that it’s your Winter so relax and enjoy every last snowflake.