Skiing has long been one of the most popular winter sports. It’s pretty easy to pick up, it’s a great way to get out of the house in the winter, and most of all, it’s just plain fun. Who wouldn’t want to be one of those graceful figures swooshing down the side of the mountain? Unfortunately, skiing can be a little intimidating at first. The movement isn’t exactly natural for most, and though you’ll probably pick up the skill in no time, it’s the getting started part that’s hard. So if you’ve had your eye on the ski hill for some time now, and really want to commit but just aren’t sure how, here are some tricks to help you get into skiing and stick with it.
DO A LITTLE CARDIO FIRST
No one wants to get to the ski resort only to quit, huffing and puffing after one run down the bunny hill. If you regularly go to the gym already, you’ll probably be just fine on the slopes. But if you’re not really into the whole working out thing, don’t worry! Skiing isn’t as intimidating as it seems, and you can get yourself into ski-shape quickly by just going for a run every few days, or taking a long walk every afternoon. So long as you work to get your heart rate up a few times a week, you should be fine to start skiing.
RENT OR BORROW BEFORE YOU BUY
It’s not a good idea to go out and buy an entire set of skis, goggles, a helmet, poles, and of course the killer matching outfit before you learn to ski. First of all, until you ski, you won’t really know what gear is right for you, and second of all, you don’t want to drop a ton of money only to find out that you don’t really care for the sport. It’s a good idea to ask friends for some ski gear you can borrow, and renting skis from the resort is actually one of the best ways to go nowadays. Most ski resorts offer top-of-the-line, high quality skis as their rental pairs, and their technicians will be able to fit you with a size that will work best for you. You save a lot of money this way, and you’ll be able to learn on a pair of quality skis.
WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR
Like we mentioned earlier, it’s better to borrow gear from friends than it is to buy all new stuff. That being said, make sure you’re wearing the right gear. You don’t want to be freezing on your first day out, because that will only negatively color your first experience skiing and make it harder to learn. If you can, borrow a warm pair of snowpants, a waterproof ski jacket, gloves and goggles from a friend. (The resort will typically provide skis, a helmet, and poles when you rent). Then, layer your own moisture wicking t-shirt – like what you’d wear to the gym – and a sweatshirt under a jacket. Pull on a pair of sweatpants or leggings under the snowpants to keep you nice and warm. You’ll also want to bring along a scarf or neck gaiter – if your jacket doesn’t come up high enough, biting winds can easily get to your neck and chin.
If you can’t get all of this gear from a friend, consider hitting up the Goodwill or resale shop for a few items that will work for now. Then, once you’ve decided you’re going to be skiing for the rest of your life, you’ll feel comfortable dropping more money on high-end gear.
TAKE A FEW LESSONS
Skiing isn’t an easy sport to teach yourself. Most resorts offer group lessons to first-time renters that are cheap and give you the basics of skiing so you can at least get around the ski lift and bunny hill. If you have a little extra to spend, a few professional lessons will go a long way. Professional trainers are patient, work with new skiers every day, and won’t push you past your limits before you’re ready. They’ll make sure you know how to turn, how to fall properly, and finally, how to really ski!
DON’T LET YOUR FRIENDS TEACH YOU
We caution you to avoid taking lessons from your friends. It always seems like a good idea until it’s not. Typically what happens is they get bored, or overestimate your ability, and then take you on a run that’s way beyond your level. The whole “come on, you’ll be fine” peer pressure is a real trap you don’t want to fall into. Because once you get to the top of that black diamond run, there’s only one way down. The other problem with having friends teach you is that they’re not professional instructors. Depending on the friend, they might get frustrated, or not actually know how to teach you properly. If you can, try out a professional lesson first, and then only go on runs you know you’re prepared for.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FALL
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to fall! Your greatest obstacle is your own fear of embarrassment. Skiing is about having fun and getting outdoors in the winter. If you fall, so what? Everybody falls, and after they fall, they get better! So get out there, fall a few times, and so long as you keep getting back up, you’ll soon be one of those graceful skiers coming down the mountain.
And if you do decide that skiing’s the sport for you, make sure to check out our Winter Sports Layering Guide, full of suggestions on what to wear to keep you warm on your next trip to the mountain: