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Looking to try out something new this winter? Well, if you’re a thrill seeker on the hunt for a new adventure, pack a pair of ski boots and head away on a fantastic skiing holiday. And what better time to book a break on the slopes than December, when temperatures are dropping, snow is falling and the Christmas spirit is flowing!
If you’re new to the sport and you’re not sure where’s best to go, don’t worry, there are plenty of destinations all over the world to choose from that are perfect for beginners, as well as those on a budget. From France and Italy, to Canada and Colorado, there’ll be a resort out there for you.
But don’t just take our word for it! To make choosing your skiing holiday a little easier, we’ve teamed up with some of the UK’s top ski experts. They’ve offered their advice on where to visit, as well as their top tips for beginners stepping out onto the snow for the first time.
Felice Hardy, Co-Editor of welove2ski.com, thinks that Val d’Isère is the perfect place to learn to ski. Once known for being a place where mainly experts would ski, this popular resort has changed over the years to become a fantastic, family-friendly destination.
Felice said: “Val d’Isère is an experts resort, I hear you say. Great for off-piste but no good for beginners. Well, this used to be the case, until recently, when the top of the Solaise mountain was reshaped by shifting a million tons of earth to create a novice-friendly ski zone.”
There’s a new gondola lift with heated seats, that will whisk you up and down the mountain, and it even has wifi! The day lodge at the top contains a picnic area, complete with a microwave, a video room for kids and a café, home to the cheapest cup of coffee in the resort.
Felice added: “Three giant lifts, also known as ‘magic carpets’, serve the nursery slopes, which have recently been regraded from a 16 to a benign seven degrees.”
Besides Val d’Isère, other resorts Felice would recommend for learners include Obergurgl in the Austrian Tirol, Flaine in France, Cervinia in Italy and Soldeu in Andorra.
Felice’s top tip: “A great place to start is a ski school. One of the best for beginners here, or indeed anywhere, is Progression Ski, headed by Scotsman Ken Smith.”
Solaise Beginners Area. Pic © Andy Parant - Val d'Isere Tourism
Megan Hughes, ski expert and Writer at InTheSnow, would recommend Obergurgl in Austria for learners. One of the highest ski villages in Europe, sitting at nearly 2,000 metres, the charming resort of Obergurgl has been popular with families for years.
Megan said: “Austria will always have a place in my heart thanks to the amazing winter seasons I’ve spent there, with Obergurgl in particular being an area I can't recommend highly enough for first-timers. You are in very safe hands with the extremely reliable snow conditions in this resort, while the many gentle beginner slopes offer a lot of variety to keep you from doing the same run over and over again.
“The slopes are often un-crowded, which makes them great for practicing your turns. Plus, a variety of off-slope activities, such as tobogganing and ice skating, are available if you fancy a day off those skis!”
Obergurgl is the perfect place to visit if you’re holidaying with little ones, as the traditional alpine town is quiet and well pedestrianised, as well as having easily accessible beginner skiing areas.
Another destination Megan would recommend for first-timers is Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy. She added: “Never mind the spectacular scenery and delicious food, Cortina boasts many lovely learner pistes that are often empty! From nice gentle nursery slopes to specified 'slow-skiing' runs, it's an amazing ski area for novices.”
Megan’s top tip: “Enjoy yourself! It's easy to get caught up in trying to be the best, not falling over and keeping up with the group, but it always helps to take some time to appreciate where you are and what you're doing.”
Ski Slopes in Obergurgl. Pic © Philipp Horak - Ötztal Tourismus
Olly Alkema, freeride skier and Operations Manager at Adventure Base, recommends the historic town of Chamonix Mont-Blanc in France for novice skiers. Nestled in a wide valley surrounded by magnificently steep summits, there are glaciers the size of motorways curving down the beautiful peaks.
He explains: “A first-time skier coming to the Alps may feel that Chamonix is an intimidating ski destination, but they couldn’t be more wrong. With its well-deserved reputation for being home to some of the world’s best skiing, it is often forgotten that alongside the extreme skiing whirlwind there is also a thriving beginner’s paradise.
“You’ll find six green slopes, and over thirty blue pistes across the main ski areas, which offer ample progression. Before you know it, you'll be sniffing out your first red piste with an eager grin on your face.”
If you’re learning to ski in Chamonix, you're sure to be in good hands making your first turns on snow. After all, some of the best skiers, instructors and mountain guides in the world reside there.
Olly’s top tip for newcomers: “Falling is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of someone looking to improve their skiing.”
Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Pic © Chamonix.net
Before you head off on your skiing holiday, here are five top tips to keep in mind:
• Pack the Correct Clothes: Temperatures up on mountains are usually below 0° in winter, so thermals, gloves and thick socks should be one of the first things you pack! If it’s your first time, it’s unlikely that you’ll have your own boots, goggles, ski pants or jackets, but don’t worry, you can rent all of these from your resort. If you did want to own your own goggles though, you can get a cheap pair for about £20-30, so don’t be tricked into thinking you need to spend a fortune.• Don’t forget Sun Cream: You might think sun cream is just needed for a beach holiday, but you’ll be surprised how sunny it can get on a mountain. All you’ll need is a small amount SPF30 or SPF50 to protect your face. You don’t want a burnt face with goggle tan lines, do you? • Think about Equipment: Waiting until you get to the resort before thinking about equipment might seem good idea, but it’ll generally mean spending more money. Booking in advance will save you a lot of money in the long run, leaving you with more spends for après-ski, local foods and souvenirs!• Get Comprehensive Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance is one of the most important things to sort out when booking a ski holiday. Winter sports are covered as standard in Asda Money’s multi-trip travel insurance, or can be an additional option on single trip cover. There are also plenty of other insurance options you can choose to make sure you’re covered in every way possible, including broken equipment, lost ski passes and piste closure.• Have fun: Last but not least, holidays are all about having fun, and a skiing trip should be no different. Skiing is difficult sport, so even if you’re not the best in the world, be sure to have fun whilst trying!
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