Having grown up in Austria with a ski instructor Mum and Dad, the saying holds true that I probably knew how to ski before I knew how to walk (very much to my dad’s pride). Skiing, to this day, is one of my favourite pastimes as it combines adventure, fun and relaxation in one awesome activity. The culture around skiing, from communal ski race watching to Germknödel eating in ski huts, is just the cherry on top of what is an amazing activity that I recommend everyone try at least once in their life. Having recently introduced my boyfriend to skiing I realized a few things that might be useful for every first-time-skier, hopefully making the day a little safer and more enjoyable for you!
1) WEAR A HELMET
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you: Wear a Helmet. Seriously. I know it doesn’t look as sexy as putting on a cute hat, but it can save your life. I’ve had a few pretty serious falls myself that I walked away from without a scratch, because I was wearing a helmet. And I’m not the only one.
2) YOUR BOOTS WILL MAKE OR BREAK YOUR SKIING EXPERIENCE
I can’t stress enough how important this is. The first day of skiing with my boyfriend, he was wearing boots that were too small and ended up hurting so bad, we had to stop after half an hour. After switching shoes, we had an incredibly fun time for the rest of the day!
While your skiing boots will never be as comfortable as trainers (trust me – to this day, taking off my ski boots is the best part of my ski day), (well, not entirely, but you know what I mean) they must fit properly. Boots that are too small: will hurt like hell before you’re even on your skis. Boots that are too big: you’ll never be able to ski a proper curve. Make sure your boots are tight but not too small, and get an expert to make sure they fit. It will make or break your skiing experience.
3) IN GENERAL – GET PROPER EQUIPMENT
As a skiing instructor, I’ve seen all kinds of things – including people coming to class with equipment that was probably 25-years-old. Please. Don’t try to learn how to ski with your grandma’s old skies. It will just make it so much harder for you to learn how to ski, much less actually enjoy it. Modern equipment is worth the rental fee, I promise.
4) TAKE A LESSON
Even if it’s just half a day, take a lesson. I’m not saying this because I’m an instructor. For skiing to be fun, and for you to not be a danger to everyone around you, you need to learn proper techniques. Again – I swear it’s worth it, because you’ll actually learn what does and doesn’t work, and why. You don’t have to hire an expensive instructor – just find someone who knows what they’re doing and have them teach you – whether it be a friend or a helpful stranger. And if you’re in northern Austria, you’re welcome to hit me up!
5) DON’T BE ASHAMED
Don’t feel like you’re standing out. Nobody actually cares. And secondly, the first rule of skiing is to be mindful of other skiers on the slope, whether they are total beginners or absolute pros. Don’t worry about being “in the way” or being slow – we’ve all been beginners once and it doesn’t matter whether you’re slow or fast, going big curves or small ones – if another skier is faster than you he’ll just go around you, not even thinking twice about it. You’re brave for just going on that slope, so keep rocking it!
6) DON’T STOP RIGHT AFTER AN EDGE
This is probably the most dangerous place on the slopes as skiers coming from above can’t see what’s below. While most skiers will slow down, others might be crazy enough to jump over it full speed. While that doesn’t attribute to their intelligence, you can keep yourself safe by just going down a few extra turns, where everyone has enough time to see, and avoid, you.
7) GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Skiing is not easy. Skiing is also exhausting. Give yourself and your body a break whenever you feel like you need it. That’s part of the whole experience! Like I said, there’s a whole culture around skiing and that includes going to a nice Ski Hut for lunch or coffee, sitting in the sun or watching a race while sharing a beer or a coffee with everyone else there.
8) DON’T GO FULL SPEED STRAIGHT DOWN
This is usually more of a problem with not-afraid-of-anything kids, but it’s still worth mentioning. Racing straight downhill as fast as possible, is not how you learn skiing. While it may look like fun, going straight downhill at full speed on a public slope, is not just dangerous for yourself, you’re also a danger to yourself and everyone around.
9. SAVE MONEY, GO TO A SMALLER SKI AREA
Big, famous skiing areas mean more lifts, more people and more expensive tickets and rental gear. While all skiing areas have some beginners, it’s just not worth it to go to big and famous skiing areas for your first few hours. Try finding a smaller, local skiing area where tickets for a day are sometimes a fifth of the price, the rental gear is cheaper, classes are more personal and the slopes are just as exciting.
10. HAVE FUN!
This is so most important! Have fun! You’re out in fresh air, learning a new skill, probably with friends or family around – does it get any better than that? Don’t pressure yourself, enjoy what you’re doing and go for it! The most important this to remember when skiing is you are out there on the slopes to have fun!
If you have any more questions about your first skiing experience or are thinking about going skiing in Austria, don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m more than willing to answer any questions you might have.
Have you ever been skiing? We’d love to hear your stories, tips or questions in the comment section below! And if you know any other top tips for skiing we would love to hear about them.
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