To be honest, I had never before been intrigued by the world of snowsports. I never felt any curiosity to try skiing, or any of its kin. Somehow, the idea of plummeting down a mountain on two planks just didn’t appeal to my sense of adventure…
However, in the summer I finally agreed to give it a go. So, I was signed up to a taster course at the Norfolk Snowsports Club.
If you live in Norfolk, the club is well worth an investigation. Prices are reasonable, and the instructors I have met have all been excellent. Everyone there is a volunteer, which is amazing considering the hours they put in at the club.
(If you’re under 25 and living in the UK, you should take advantage of the Sportivate scheme. It made the course I went on RIDICULOUSLY cheap.)
If you have never skied before, I really recommend having a few lessons before you head off on to the slopes. Having a little bit of technique and confidence under your belt will give you a great start to your holiday and, if you don’t intend to join a ski school, it will also mean that you can get yourself down some blue runs without hurtling down at breakneck speed. You may be a speed junkie who does not mind this, but when you find yourself on a busy piste covered with juniors in ski school and various people who have fallen over, you will regret skipping those first essential lessons.
I made a little progression during my taster sessions, but I still became a nervous wreck each time I put on some skis, so I felt that I needed more individual attention. So later in the year I booked a series of private lessons to help boost my confidence.
My instructor Mark was fabulous and has the patience of a saint. He put up with my swearing (Sorry!), refusals, nerves, and, most importantly, he even forgave me for ploughing in to him and injuring his knee… If you are at the Norwich club and you ever hear the tale of the girl who knocked Mark flying, that would be me. (It also got caught on CCTV and played back to everyone. Thanks Waddo and Ed!) Personally I think Mark was making a fuss. I mean, I had an egg-sized bruise on my knee and I didn’t complain. I’m sure he didn’t really need those painkillers and physio sessions…
Anyway, when you start learning to ski you need to be prepared to fall over a lot. You will inexplicably just topple over and lie on the floor flapping like a fish out of water until a nice person picks you back up. It’s really not worth worrying about. I have had a few hairy moments, like the time my skis really wanted to go down the mogul course, but it’s amazing how quickly you learn to stop yourself.
Some may scoff at learning on a dry ski slope because it is, admittedly, very different to snow. Dry slopes also have the disadvantage of running quite slow on hot days, which can make skiing on them feel a bit sticky. However, if James Woods was able to reach the top of his game after starting out on dry slopes, then that’s good enough for me!
Along with falling over a lot, you also have to be prepared to ache. I thought that I was generally quite fit, but skiing was mentally and physically exhausting. Skiing as a beginner is especially tough because you have to concentrate hard, and you also have to snow plough all the time, which is insanely taxing on your legs. The day after my first class I ended up walking around like an old crone. Stiff doesn’t even begin to describe it.
If you’ve read this and still want to give skiing on a dry slope a go, you will need to wear the right gear:
- A long-sleeved top: dry slopes can graze you if you fall, so this is essential even on the hottest summer day.
- Long trousers: you will need something you can tuck in to your boots, or you need trousers that fit over the top. A waterproof variety may be a good idea because dry slopes have water sprayers on them.
- Gloves: gloves will protect your hands if you fall over. They need to be worn even on hot days. If you are skiing in the summer, invest in a light cotton pair.
- Long socks: long socks will cushion your legs against the ski boots. You may be able to get away without them if you are tucking your trousers in to your boots, but if you aren’t, a long pair of socks will save you a lot of discomfort.
If you want to get an idea of the theory of skiing, these youtube videos are really good. I watched them before my classes, and I think it really helped not turning up without a clue what to do.
If you have any other tips, please feel free to share below!