Whoa how did that happen? Suddenly we're approaching mid-October. Ski Shows, Halloween and winter are round the corner. It's the ideal time to start thinking about getting ready for skiing. Whether you're taking the plunge for the first time or an experienced skier, a little bit of preparation and planning will make everything go a lot smoother.
1. Holidaying wth beginner kids? Get them some lessons.
It's hard for intermediate/experienced adults to remember how unfamiliar and strange everything was the first time you clipped into bindings. Cumbersome boots and planks under your feet is something we obviously don't experience everyday. Factor in your age and if you're under 10 the weirdness element can be mutliplied by 10.
So what can you do to avoid a first day fall out - when you go to pick up the kids from ski school and find them in tears and vowing never to return? If you can, get them some pre-season lessons. Snow domes, snow centres and artificial ski slopes all over the country offer beginner lessons aimed at children from as young as 3. This can make an enormous difference to how successful the ski experience will be in resort - and will often allow your children to improve quicker once they're on real snow.
The UK Snozones for example, based in Milton Keynes and Castleford, offer the SnoAcademy for kids from the age of 3. It consists of weekend sessions and the emphasis is on fun and play whilst developing new skills. The Snow Centre in Hemel also offers group lessons for juniors (from age 4) and during school holiday periods, 2 day courses - you can book now for the upcoming half term week.
Whilst it may seem like an unecessary expense think of it as an investment. By the time you get them into resort and onto snow they'll know the deal and will be excited and raring to go, rather than scared!
2. Physical Preparation.
Ok so you say it every year about this time - I must get fitter for skiing. But somehow, with the pressure of work, family, social life, the best intentions get forgotten. Then suddenly you're at altitude and trying to negotiate something steep and you wish you'd taken the time to do just a bit more. Make this the year that you do something about it! Just stepping up your regular fitness routine by about 10-20% will pay dividends in a month or two - so by the time you're on the slopes you'll feel the benefit.
Just googling "exercises for skiing" will give you a great range of resources and tips. Start easy and adapt exercise to your level. It's never too late to start.
3. Do Some Research.
So you may have already booked your holiday or are looking around to see what's available. The main thing is to choose a holiday which meets your expectations. if you're a seasoned skier you'll have a good idea of what to expect and what you want. If you're not (or even if you are), spend the time and make a list of what's important to you. Do you need a short transfer? Some airports can be 3 hours or more away from mountain ranges. Do you want chocolate box charm? Do you want a lively resort with lots of apres ski? Do you want a good swimming pool, gym, ice rink, bowling alley? Are you looking to tour the local area - what are the roads like for driving? Is there public transport? What's your budget - do you want the best of the best, or cheap and cheerful? In your accommodation is wifi essential? how about a hot tub or sauna?
If you're organising the holiday, whether for a large group, family or just you and one other, it's a good idea to set the guidelines so that nobody is disappointed. If you haven't found your holiday yet then you could try The Solutions Room - that's where you can ask all your questions and see what offers/answers/solutions come back.
4. Learn about Snow Conditions
If you're an experienced skier/snowboarder chances are that you will at some point be skiing off-piste. Modern skis make it much easier for relatively inexperienced skiers to try the powder - and snowboarders have been doing it for years. So if you are going to do that it makes sense to learn more about the environment. During the autumn Henry's Avalanche Talk runs regular sessions in partnership with Ellis Brigham and the Ski Club of GB. 90% of avalanches are triggered by the victim, and in many cases the situation could have been avoided with a bit more knowledge. The HAT Autumn Tour kicks off in Manchester on November 29th. If you're an off-piste regular you owe it yourself and your ski/snowboard buddies to go along.
Will you be jumping for joy on your next ski trip?