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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > November 2015 > BEGINNER’S GUIDE SKIING


Swooshing down a snow-covered mountain can be exhilarating – if you’re a frst-timer, get the basics here

How do I get started?

The view from the Saulire ski area between Courchevel and Meribel, with the 3,855m peak of Grande Casse behind

Unless you have ice-skated or rollerbladed in the past, skiing is likely to be a completely new experience, but get it right, and it can be fun and addictive. As a beginner, don’t try to organise a ski holiday yourself; put yourself in the hands of a specialist tour operator who can offer you a travel and accommodation package. Tour operators often have reps in the resort to help you through the confusion of the frst few days. Stay in a catered chalet if you can – these are mountain houses or apartments that offer communal dining, laid on by the tour operator. The atmosphere is usually upbeat and sociable, and you can pick up advice from fellow guests and chalet staff. Self-catered apartments can be a cheaper alternative, though resort supermarkets are often expensive, making the saving minimal. It’s a good idea to book some ski lessons to learn the basic skills and manoeuvres, such as how to turn, slow down, stop and use the ski lifts. Do an internet search to see if there’s an English-speaking ski school in your resort, and if you want to learn the ropes quickly, consider private lessons where you’ll receive one-to-one coaching.

HOW SAFE IS IT? Provided you book classes with a certifed ski instructor (check that they’re affliated with the International Ski Instructors Association, or ISIA), you shouldn’t have much to worry about, and it’s unlikely you’ll be travelling fast enough to really hurt yourself. The trouble comes if you let yourself be dragged around the mountain by more experienced friends once the class is over. It’s best to stick to the nursery slopes and practise your skiing there. Also, don’t be lured off-piste by fresh powder and tracks between the pine trees as there could be boulders, deep dips and a higher risk of an avalanche. Make sure you take out travel insurance that covers skiing, as some packages don’t cover winter sports. It is highly advised that you wear a helmet; some resorts have made it compulsory to wear one, and many insurance companies insist on it.

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