Every year thousands of people head off with some trepidation on their first ski trip. For some, there’s the fear of breaking limbs, a fear contributed to by the high cost of winter sports cover on travel insurance.
Many of the ‘ski virgins’ will be school children heading off on possibly their first holiday abroad and for those who haven’t skied before, it’ll be mornings at ski school listening to the stereotypical ‘benz ze kneez’ and possibly a run or two on the nursery slopes towards the end of their stay.
For adults taking their first ski break, some will have tried out at a dry ski slope centre in the UK which they’ll soon find does very little to prepare them for the real slopes. Others will think they can do it and head onto the slopes with no idea and become a danger to themselves and others.
Whichever type of first time skier you are, what are the main things to watch out for when you open your chalet door on that first frosty morning?
The first mistake people make is not checking the likely weather in their resort. High altitude resorts are much colder and you’ll need to consider what to wear under your ski jacket and salopettes – skiing whilst too hot or too cold can ruin the experience. In some countries the temperature between low and high altitude resorts can vary by as much as 15C and if skiing early or late in the season, the temperature can be appreciably warmer.
Even before people travel, mistakes are made. Whilst a resort may look lovely and your hotel ready to cosset you in sumptuous luxury, you must check the suitability of the runs. There’s no point staying in a resort with only red and black runs or limited nursery slopes if you’re a beginner and the same goes for experienced skiers who sometimes fail to spot the lack of challenging pistes when they book.
Check out the cost of lift passes and ski equipment hire for, if it’s not included in your holiday price, it can add appreciably to your holiday cost, especially if you’re travelling as a family.
There are many ski resorts where these prices are low but the payback for that may be poor quality accommodation and a lack of facilities, especially in Eastern European resorts.
Think carefully about whether you’re going to do a package deal or put your own holiday together. First timers are better going with a ski specialist and, if you can afford to, book all your ski needs through them.
Once you are confident and have found a resort that you like, then think about putting together your own deal. When booking car hire to get you to the resort, don’t forget to ask for winter tyres or snow chains and, if you’re taking your own ski gear, a ski rack is also a sensible option.
Whilst not wanting to worry you, make sure you are adequately covered for medical cover and possible repatriation costs. Accidents are common and even a broken arm can be an expensive medical procedure abroad.
It goes without saying not to over indulge in après-ski; a hangover can seriously impair your enjoyment of the next day’s skiing whilst residual alcohol can impair your judgement and lead to accidents, which, if it’s proved your alcohol level had a part to play, can lead to litigation or the voiding of some insurance cover.
Enough now of the perils and downsides of skiing; it’s a wonderful, exciting and sociable sport. Do your homework first, use common sense and you’ll be craving the arrival of the next skiing season, even before you’ve finished this year’s!