Guide to Skiing – Skiing Trips

Guide to Skiing – Skiing Trips

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at skiing trips…

While budget may be your first consideration, there are other factors that you will need to consider when you begin to plan your skiing trip and need to select a resort; these should include the quality of the resort and where it is, as well as its character and overall ambiance. So, let’s look at each of those important considerations individually…

When it comes to location, Canada, France, and the United States are the most popular destinations, but also attracting a good number of skiers are Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, Italy and, of course, Switzerland. The time of the year will dictate pricing, but keep in mind that the more established countries will probably have higher prices. Planning your trip to coincide with the beginning or end of the ski season can net you significant discounts.

As far as costs go, just some of the outlay for your trip will go towards travel and lodging as well as expenses for food and beverages, but you must also remember that you will be paying for passes, maybe lessons, equipment rental, and a very important, but often over-looked expense, insurance. Research the cost of things at resorts as well as the costs of getting to and staying there. Keep in mind that the laws of supply and demand have a tendency to drive up prices in these out-of-the-way places in the mountains. Doing a little research on-line in advance can save you some money on things you will need, as will taking items with you, such as sunscreen, that are sure to have a higher price tag once you get there.

Once you have selected where you want to go, take a look at what that location offers in the way of facility types and quality. Major considerations will include lodging types (everything from dormitories to hotels to chalets); access to eating establishments and night clubs; and finally what types of activities are available, as perhaps you wish to snowboard, toboggan or ice skate while on your trip. Prices for all of these things can be drastically different from resort to resort, and you cannot rely on the price to give you a clue as to quality. Lesser known resorts in emerging countries (for example Andorra and Bulgaria) may well have facilities that are equal to or better more famous resorts, and at a lower cost.

Then you’ll want to look into the character and ambiance of potential resorts. Your personal vision of what a ski vacation means to you should drive your choice as to resort selection – you may wish to have a more cutting-edge resort with all the modern conveniences, or you may wish to forego high-speed internet in lieu of a small village where you can taste and feel the local culture. If you see yourself sitting by a relaxing fire and turning in early, you will want to find a quiet resort that does not encourage a lot of partying; but if you want to party on your vacation, that will affect your choice, as well. You can find a resort that caters to your taste with a quiet, homey atmosphere, a well-defined party vibe, or a little of both and researching on the front end is the best way to determine what will make your stay a good one.

The internet can be your source for finding out all of this information; view a resort’s official website and also find reviews of them by entering ‘resort name + review’ into an internet search engine.

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Guide to Skiing – Skiing Schools

Guide to Skiing – Skiing Schools

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at skiing schools…

Taking lessons at a ski school from a professional instructor, will allow you to correctly ski within one week. You will need these basics in order to truly take advantage of what a resort has to offer, and to do so safely with the skills and confidence you need. It is important, however, to make sure you look into any ski school’s reputation for quality, the cost of its services, and what purpose it hopes to serve, all of which can vary considerably. You should enquire about at least the following…

Ask them if they offer private lessons and group lessons, or just one or the other. Private lessons are much more expensive than group ones but all of the ski instructors attention is concentrated on you and you’ll make quicker progress. Group lessons, however, can offer the fun of meeting new people and can give you an added benefit of hearing the experiences of your classmates. First timers, in particular seem to prefer class instruction.

Finding out the number of students are generally in a class is advisable, however. While it is dependent on how the school manages the students, an ideal class size should be no larger than seven or eight students. For quality ski instruction, shy away from schools that have larger class sizes, as this is a red flag that profit is the school’s primary motive.

In addition to class size, the experience level the school focuses on is also important; do they cater to beginners, intermediate or expert levels, or maybe all levels? You should always be assigned to a class where everyone is roughly at the same starting point. In order to assess your abilities before placing you in a class, a school might ask you to participate in an instructor-supervised test of sorts where you will be asked to ski down a couple of slopes and show them how well you are able to turn. If you don’t know exactly where you are skill-wise, underestimate a little; if you find the class is too easy for you, you can always asked to be bumped up to the next level.

Inquire as to whether the school offers gender or age-specific classes. Some will be targeting specific groups, whereas others will have an ‘everyone welcome’ policy. In order to receive a high quality learning experience, you will want to attend a ski school that narrows its instruction focus in order to put you in a class that is age appropriate (kids or adults) and appropriate for how your gender typically learns.

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Guide to Skiing – Buying Skis

Guide to Skiing – Buying Skis

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at buying skis…

In order to make the most out of your skiing time, it is important to choose the correct pair of skis, as they are the most important piece of equipment needed for skiing. There are many variables (type, length, shape, stiffness, etc.) with skis though and the right pair for you is dependent on your skiing ability and style.

Skis are designed to support certain types of skiing, so it’s important to know what type you plan to do. You will find that most skis have been designed for powder or packed runs, because those are the most popular types of skiing. Those are the skis you should look to get if you’re a beginner. Upgrading your skis to those tailored specifically for off-piste or deep powder terrain should happen when you feel experienced enough to take on those challenges. It’s not advisable to start off with modified skis though as it’s believed they can hinder the initial progress of beginners.

Length, shape and stiffness are arguably the most important considerations. Regarding length, the shorter they are, the easier they are to turn. For this reason, most beginners start off with a pair of short skis. Once you’ve mastered the basics of skiing and are confident of your ability, then you can consider longer skis, which will allow you greater speed in many different snow conditions, but which also will be less forgiving of errors.

Shape dictates a ski’s stability – skis that are wide in the boot area provide more stability while making broader turns than those that are narrow in this area, providing for faster, sharper turns. The two factors that make up a ski’s stiffness are the material it is made from and it’s shape. Longer ones are usually stiffer than short ones and are more stable at high speeds. The less stiff shorter skis offer greater maneuverability which is seen a benefit to beginners.

The last point to remember is that you shouldn’t invest in skis until you know you will use them, so go skiing a couple of times before purchasing your own skis. Even if you’re sure you’ll be a regular skier, rent before buying because they’re not a cheap investment and you’ll want to be sure that you get the right type, length, shape and stiffness for your specific needs.

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Guide to Skiing – Learning to Ski

Guide to Skiing – Learning to Ski

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at learning to ski…

Standing up, turning, and stopping, are the three basic skills you will need to master if you want to ski.

Start by standing, placing your feet even with the width of your shoulders and making your feet “pigeon-toed” with the tips of your skis pointing inward and forming a “V” – this is called a ‘snow plough.’ The following three steps are next – (1) create a more stable stance by slightly bending your knees; (2) increase your balance by spreading your arms out widely; and (3) help your turning and stopping by leaning forward.

Moving forward / down is no problem as your skis will automatically do so on even the slightest slope. To go faster, make the triangle / V shape of your skis smaller at the back (i.e. move your heels closer together) and, to slow down or stop, turn your toes more inwards and push your heels further apart. Doing the latter will work on small slopes, but for steeper slopes, to slow down or stop you’ll need to gradually turn your skis so they face horizontally across the slope, instead of vertically down it.

Turning is really not much more complicated than moving forward on skis (simply point your skis in the direction you want them to take you), except that it will require that you find your comfort zone with balance and timing before you will be able to do it well.

For sharper turns, you’ll need to move your weight from foot to foot (i.e. to turn sharply to the right, put more weight on your left foot and, to turn sharply to the left, put more weight on your right foot) as well as pointing your skis in the direction that you want to go. You will master sharp turns more quickly if you will remember to move nothing but your feet while turning, as moving body parts like your arms and shoulders is not necessary and can decrease your focus on the body part that’s actually effecting the turn.

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Guide to Skiing – Skiing Clothing

Guide to Skiing – Skiing Clothing

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at skiing clothing…

Proper and safe skiing means being properly and safely outfitted so that you are protected from internal dampness, external humidity and, of course, cold temperatures. Packing the right combination of ski clothing can be tricky, but you should be covered if pack the following items for a one week ski trip: Fleece Tops – 3; Goggles – 1; Hat – 1; Headband – 1; Ski Gloves – 1 pair; Ski Jacket – 1; Ski Pants – 1; Ski Socks – 3 pair; Sunglasses – 1 pair; Sweaters – 3; Thermal Underwear – 2 sets.

Rather than wearing one thick layer of clothing, it is recommended that you dress in layers, and stick to the standard three-layers system, which includes a base layer, an insulating layer, and a protective layer. The outer layer should be waterproof and windproof and should be made of a ‘breathable’ material that allows perspiration to escape.

Wear a fleece, which is warm, light-weight and dries quickly, then add a sweater of acrylic or wool and, over it all, wear either eider or goose-down ski pants and jacket to increase protection from the elements.

Your gloves should be thick enough to protect your fingers and hands from the elements, but must also be flexible enough to allow you to hold your ski poles comfortably, and you should choose a warm fleece hat (make sure it covers your ears), as you always lose a great deal of body heat through the top of your head.

Only wear one pair of socks at a time (wearing more reduces the blood circulation to your feet and makes them colder) and avoid blisters by wearing thick ones made of stretchable material. When it comes to underwear, choose wool thermals, which will provide more protection and warmth than cotton underwear.

The features you will want in a pair of sunglasses are not only that they provide 100% ultra-violet (UV) protection, but your glasses should be shatterproof and should wrap around your head and ears securely. You can wear goggles with your sunglasses whenever you may be skiing in snow or rain.

If your budget allows you to do so, purchasing brand-name ski apparel will net you better quality and longer-lasting clothing and accessories.

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Guide to Skiing – Ski Safety

Guide to Skiing – Ski Safety

In this installment of our guide to skiing we look at ski safety…

Though skiing has a relatively low injury rate when compared to other recreational activities, thousands of skiers are still hurt every year. The nature of it means that you’ll always be at a degree of risk, but there are things that you can do to minimize the risk of sustaining an injury.

Check that you have all the necessary equipment, and that it’s in good, working condition, and that you’re wearing the appropriate attire. Remember that your boots, your bindings and your skis should all be tailored for you – your weight and height, as well as your expertise level – and have them checked out by someone at a certified ski shop before using them again after any prolonged period where they have not been in use. Your clothing must be wind and water resistant and should keep you adequately warm (your head, hands and feet being particularly susceptible to the cold).

Ensure that you know how to ski and feel confident doing so. While family and friends may know what they’re talking about, it’s a better idea to learn from a certified ski instructor. Improving your technique and skill lessens the chances that you’ll make a mistake that will result in injury. Research has proved that those who take more ski lessons are less at risk of injury than those who have taken fewer lessons.

Ski only at a speed which is safe (in relation to your ability and experience, the number of skiers around you, the condition of the slope and the weather conditions), don’t make any rash or unpredictable maneuvers, and never stop unnecessarily. Just as with traffic, you must obey all the posted signs on the slopes, especially those posted at the top and bottom and where slopes merge, and if you end up on a slope that makes you question your safety, don’t attempt to ski it, rather side-step down it with your skis on.

Prepare yourself physically for skiing by engaging in a strengthening and conditioning program months in advance of your trip. Focus on aerobic training but complement it with some weight training also. You will not be able to ski for very long without succumbing to fatigue if you are not well-conditioned and physically fit. It is dangerous to ski when you are tired, so frequent rest breaks are important, as is knowing your own physical limits.

When you stop for a rest break, make sure you rehydrate yourself and that you reapply your sunscreen. Drinking enough water is critical to avoid nausea, fainting and altitude sickness, and sunburn is more likely at high altitudes so use a sunscreen with a 30+ factor even on cloudy days.

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