The (honest) beginner's guide to learning to ski in your 20s
If you had asked me a few years ago which appealed more, a sun kissed holiday surfing in the sun or a weekend spent wrapped up in thermals with two giant skis attached to my feet, I would have undisputedly said the former. It wasn’t until last year, at the grand old age of 26 that I was actually faced with this decision.
After deciding to move to Switzerland for a new job, it was time to see what all the fuss was about and to finally learn to ski. I booked myself into a couple of group classes in Megève and Chamonix, and hoped for the best.
Here are five things I experienced when hitting the slopes for the first time:
GET USED TO BE TAKEN OVER BY TODDLERS
Having always been sporty I was assured I’d be fine and that I’d soon be flying high on the red and black routes. For none skiers these are like the A*s of the ski world.
Though you'll see children breezing their way down these vertical slopes, don't be fooled and don't skip the revision. While they may look cute wrapped up in their baby ski outfits, these toddler terrors are not to be challenged, they are secret pros. Their deceptive appearance will leave you feeling ridiculous as they overtake you at speed, most likely just as you’re trying to recover your skis from the side of the mountain – just me?
FALLING HURTS AND UNLIKE THE TODDLERS, MUM IS NOT THERE TO HELP YOU UP
Not only do the toddlers overtake you but they also make falling look painless – it isn’t. My first ski session didn’t result in any big falls but as I moved on from my lessons and tried to take to the slopes myself, things soon changed.
At one point, a lack of control on ice resulted in sudden speed and left me feeling like Bridget Jones flying down the side of a mountain before crashing chest first.
Unlike the toddlers who have mum to help them up, I was left embarrassed as a group of hot snowboarders offered to lend me a hand, while I awkwardly tried to retrieve my skis and work out whether I had cracked a rib - I hadn’t, just my pride.
ALL THE GEAR AND NO IDEA IS A THING, AND IT’S NOT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
What better way to get into a sport than to buy all the gear for it, right? Wrong. I returned to Switzerland after Christmas with my fabulous Sweaty Betty purchases, new goggles (not the ones pictured below - these were a bad hire option) and cosy Sorel snow boots, with no understanding of what this would lead to.
While my gear may have looked the part, I soon found this does not work to your advantage if you're a beginner on the slopes.
I began my first day skiing with a guy complimenting me on my outfit before asking me about my ski technique, to which I mumbled “I’m a beginner”. His quick exit and my evident naivety should have foretold the rest of the day’s events.
From my instructor insisting I had skied before, to no one helping me on my first T-Bar – yes, I face planked - I felt like a child dressing up in my mother’s heels.
…BUT APRÈS SKI WILL HELP
Whether you’ve skied before or not, après ski is probably a term you’ve come across and is one of my favourites. Nothing beats a hard day (of tumbling) on the slopes like the sweeping landscapes of the mountains with a mulled wine or G&T in hand.
And one major incentive for keeping up the lessons is the better you get, the better the après ski, with the best parties on the black routes.
I genuinely considered faking breaking my leg to attend a party in Megeve, where the only way down was to ski the mountain’s hardest route – surely the resort wouldn’t have just left me stranded at the top?
Despite my wounded pride following a fair few tumbles and the embarrassment of being taken over by fleets of children, I can understand why skiing is addictive.
While I still look more like a bruised Bambi on ice than a pro, here's to more fondue and inevitably more falls, because everyone loves a trier!