HIT THE SLOPES
Ski yourself fit with our guide to fine-tuning your technique and getting the right kit
Now is the perfect time to pick up a ski-holiday bargain. Many resorts have dropped their prices due to the impact of the pandemic and the warmer winters are more welcoming than ever, especially to beginners and improvers.
REASONS TO SKI
An all-in-one activity, skiing is one of those rare sports that combines fitness, adventure and the great outdoors...
Thanks to advances in the kit used, skiing is easier to learn now than it has ever been. “Long gone are the clumsy planks we used to handle,” says Rob Stewart, a coach with the British Association of Snowsport Instructors. “Now we have super lightweight and responsive skis designed to steer easily.” Ski shops have honed the whole equipment hire process, too, making it simpler and quicker to kit yourself out on the first day.
Most resorts realise that beginner skiers are their future, and the facilities on offer reflect that. “There are incredible facilities off the slopes: hotels with spas and pools, kids’ clubs, and amazing food,” says Stewart.
Ski schools are more geared up for beginners than ever before. “There are instructors who speak several languages, beginner slopes with surface lifts (much easier than drag lifts) and huge, wide areas designated for firsttimers,” says Stewart. “Many resorts, including Les Gets in the French Alps, have beginner areas both close to the village and higher up the mountain, too, which means novices don’t miss out on the best views.”
Deals to be found
Ski holidays certainly aren’t cheap, but they cost much less if you head to the mountains outside of school holidays. Many travel operators offer great, allinclusive beginners packages. “Action Outdoors, for example, run beginners courses out of centres across the French Alps,” says Stewart. “It’s basic and not luxury, but everything is included: food, lessons, equipment, ski passes. For a week you can expect to pay £600 to £850, all-in.”
If you can’t handle a whole week of skiing – and many first-timers can’t – you can always try your hand at other activities on offer. The Ski Club GB survey found that over 60 per cent of skiers indulged in après-ski; 16 per cent spoilt themselves in spas; and eight per cent limbered up in resort gyms.
Given the travel restrictions we’re all under, it's good to know you don't have to head abroad to enjoy skiing. As well as the various indoor ski centres, the UK offers skiing at five resorts in Scotland. However, it is worth bearing in mind that facilities are limited and snow can be patchy during milder winters.
Ski holidays give you the chance to experience the cultures of many different countries – and the Alps alone span multiple nations. Ski Club GB found France the most popular ski destination (regularly visited by 52 per cent of skiers), followed by Austria, Italy and Switzerland.