Do you remember the first time you skied? Was it daunting? Exciting? Fun? What about the people you went skiing with? Did you feel like you were holding them up? Worried you’d lose them in the crowd? If you’re due to go skiing with a first-timer, there are lots of ways you can help them transition from being an absolute beginner to a confident learner. Here are some ideas.
1. Choose a resort with a calm beginners area and good amenities
Most ski resorts provide at least one beginners area. Find an area dedicated to learners only. This means no advanced skiers using the area as a thoroughfare to get to somewhere else. A quiet, spacious area allows a new skier to learn without fear of being run over or run in to. The ideal area also has nearby toilets and an indoor snack bar to ensure the new skier remains comfortable and energetic, with shelter and warmth available if required.
2. Book a lesson
Teaching a friend how to ski or snowboard often seems like such a great idea, but in reality, everyone is likely to lose. While ski instructors have a useful set of tools for dealing with every type of beginner, the rest of us don’t. We risk witnessing tantrums, embarrassing falls and injuries, which are guaranteed to put the first-time skier off for good. Do everyone a favour and insist they take a lesson. You have the added bonus of time to whizz around the mountain while your friend is learning how to get up off the snow.
3. Ensure ski/snowboard boots are comfortable and that gear is appropriate
A beginner has lots to concentrate on, and pain is an unnecessary interruption. Comfort is a must on that first day. Make sure your beginner friend has boots that fit well and don’t hurt. It might be obvious to those who visit ski resorts regularly, but also check a beginner has warm, waterproof clothing, including head wear, gloves and ski pants, plus eye protection. Helmet rental is now possible, and doubles as a waterproof, windproof and warm layer.
4. Go in April
The ski season in Europe and North America doesn’t end with school holidays. Normally, the tulips have flowered in the valleys before the ski lifts close. As well as more agreeable temperatures, the slopes also normally less crowded and holidays are often much cheaper. All these factors make a virgin ski trip far more inviting for first-timers. In addition, the atmosphere in resorts is usually relaxed, with staff enjoying their last weeks of snow time and no lift queues to worry about.
5. Enjoy, whatever the pace
Showing new skiers or snowboarders how to carry their equipment or helping them up after a fall will encourage them — and help keep the pace from slowing too much. Remember, half the fun happens off the snow, so stop for those vin chauds, build that snowman, and allow time for a quick nap before the aprés-ski fun begins.