Skiing is a lot of fun. It’s all about the adrenaline rush you get as you whip down a hill with the wind against your face. This rush isn’t without risk, and if you’re a new skier, it can be scary or intimidating. Sharing the slopes with more experienced skiers who are zooming down the mountain while you’re feeling as steady as Bambi on ice is mildly terrifying, to say the least. Despite that, skiing is worth trying. It can be a lot of fun and it’s surprisingly healthy for you. But how do you get started?
The most traditional way to learn how to ski is by taking lessons. Even if you don’t plan to continue taking classes, take at least one. This will help you get the basics down under a watchful eye. Not only can a good teacher help you learn how to slow down, turn, and control yourself on the slopes, they’ll usually teach you slope etiquette — how to pick a trail that’s your skill level, how to maneuver the chair lift, and more. Some ski resorts offer single “first time” or “beginner” skiing lessons that are focused on teaching enough to get you started.
Take It Slow on the Bunny Hills
Once you’ve learned the very basics, it’ll take some time for those lessons to become natural. Even if you passed your first lesson with flying colors, you’ll want to practice a bit first before hitting the slopes. Most mountains have practice or “bunny” hills that are flatter and shorter. This is a safe, slow area where you can practice controlling your speed, turning, and stopping. It’ll take time to get good enough to head to the slopes so don’t worry if you spend a few days on the bunny hills getting confident.
Remember, when you head onto the trails, they’re not just going to be more difficult than the bunny hills, but you’ll also be sharing them with more experienced skiers. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s easy to panic while others are zooming all around you. This panic can lead to you accidentally hurting yourself or others. It’s okay to pace yourself as you get better. Not only can this prevent injuries to yourself or others, but it’ll also help you have more fun and leave a better lasting impression in the long term.
Once you’ve taken a class and practiced on the bunny hills, you’re ready for the slopes. However, you’re not done learning. It’s going to take time to get good at skiing. As with any skill, it helps to commit by practicing a lot. With skiing, this can get expensive unless you find a convenient workaround. One way is getting a season pass at a local ski area near you. Instead of paying per trip, you’ll pay one price and have access to the slopes. It also helps you commit to going because you already spent the money, so you might as well go.
If the one-time season pass price is too much, you may also be able to get discounted lift tickets. These may be more expensive than a season pass depending on how many you use, but if you only go a few times, it may make sense financially. You may also be able to purchase discounted season passes like an “off season” pass or a senior pass. Finally, smaller ski resorts may have more cost-effective packages if you’re just getting started and don’t want to spend too much too early.
Rent, Don’t Buy
The one way you shouldn’t commit to skiing is buying yourself some nice new gear right away. When you’re just starting out, it’s wise to rent first. You don’t know what you’re looking for in skiing equipment yet, so you don’t know what your preferences are. Secondly, if you’re just starting out, you may not enjoy skiing in the long run. Don’t get stuck with expensive equipment that’ll just gather dust. Renting allows you to try out different types of equipment without a long-term commitment.
Renting will also present you with more choices. You could rent a different set of gear each time you ski or rent one set for the entire season. Seasonal renting is often cheaper as a package than renting each time and lets you become familiar with a single set. Renting each time costs less if you only go a few times and may allow you to try different types of equipment to test out. Ultimately, both have benefits that are worth considering. You can rent directly from the resort you’re going to (some season passes even include rental fees) or rent off-site. Off-site renting is often less expensive but comes with the hassle of getting everything to the slopes.
Learn the Ratings
When you’re reading a trail map, you’ll notice different symbol and color designations for each trail. These are the trail difficulties. Knowing these off the top of your head can ensure you don’t accidentally go down a trail that’s much too difficult or steep.
- Green circles are beginner trails
- Blue squares are intermediate trails
- Black diamonds and double black diamonds are advanced and expert trails
There are other terms in the skiing dictionary, but right now, the ratings are what you should know.
Check on Your Health and Fitness
If you’re going to start skiing, it’s important to check your health first. You’d be surprised at how exhausting skiing can be. Skiing is a great workout, but if you’re not fit enough for that, you could hurt yourself or have a medical emergency. Winter weather can also play a role in heart attacks. Before you start skiing, check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough. You should also work on your core and leg strength at home, since skiing requires a lot of strength in these muscles. Finally, work on your cardio so that you don’t tire yourself out on the slopes.
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If you’re a little intimidated by the ski slopes of the mountain, you’re not alone. No matter how fun it may look, skiing can be difficult to learn, especially if you don’t know where to begin. It’s a good thing there are ways that you can make skiing both less dauting and less expensive in the beginning. Following these tips, getting steady and confident on the slopes becomes that much simpler.