Getting Started

Getting into snowsports can be a daunting experience; donning rigid boots and planks of wood in a freezing environment may not be your first definition of “fun”! However, every skier, be they pro-athletes or one of our seasoned Freshtrackers has started somewhere. We’re here to help you take the first steps in your winter adventures and learn to love the mountains

Getting Fit for Skiing


There are several steps you can take to ensure your first snowsports experience is as smooth as it can be.

First of all, get fit! Skiing, after all, is a sport, and does require a good standard of fitness to stay on your feet all day. A week in the mountains requires good stamina to keep you going the whole time and asks a lot of specific muscle groups. It is recommended that you begin to think about your mountain fitness about 6 weeks before you go.

However, you don’t have to slave away in the gym for all this time. We’ve teamed up Chemmy Alcott, former British Olympic downhill skier and Ski Club Honorary President, to give you some exercises to do at home before you hit the hills. She also helped our members stay in shape during 2020’s lockdowns!

For all our top fitness tips and tricks, head over to our Get Fit for Skiing Page.


Learn Before you Go


Skiing can seem horribly “unfamiliar” – sliding down a hill in heavy, uncomfortable boots, strapped to large planks of wood. However, it is easier than ever to get used to snowsports equipment right here in the UK and get a taste of what it’s like moving about on the snow before you hit the mountains proper!

There are many “dry-slope” ski centres around the UK. These use a material like a door mat to allow skis to slide nice and easily over the surface. They provide a great introductory experience to skiing and snowboarding and have the added benefit of being usable regardless of the weather outside!

However, Dry Slopes are not perfect, and it is possible to experience real-snow skiing right here in the UK. As well as the five alpine resorts in Scotland, there are a range of indoor real-snow ski centres dotted around the UK. These include Milton Keynes, Hemel Hempstead, Tamworth (near Birmingham), Manchester, Leeds, and Glasgow (Braehead). These offer year-round, real snow skiing as well as lessons.

We at the Ski Club would highly recommend heading to one of these centres, either real snow or dry slope, and taking a couple of lessons to just get used to the equipment and some of the skills involved. Then, when you head to the mountains proper, you’ll be that little bit more familiar with skiing and boarding and in the best position to become a master at either!

The Ski Club is a key partner of Go Ski Go Board, an initiative running across the UK to open up Snowsports for everyone. They offer great resources to find nearby Clubs and sessions. See our map of dry slops, snowdomes and alpine resorts, to find your local snowsports club!

When you’re out in the hills, we’ve teamed up with New Generation Ski and Snowboard School, one of the largest private ski schools in the Alps; they offer lessons for all ages and abilities, and you can get a discount on bookings as a Ski Club Member! They have also provided a series of helpful videos to help you stay on the ball at home – see our “Learning to Ski” page in this section.

We’ve also partnered with Snowsports Scotland to provide some great info on Scotland’s alpine resorts – head to our Skiing in Scotland page for everything you need to hit the mountains right here in the UK.


Get Dressed


It is important to dress appropriately for the mountains. Not only can it be very, very cold, but it can rain or snow on you, whilst at the same time you can get quite warm from the exercise you’re doing in the hills. Ski gear has been specially designed to keep you warm and dry, as well as vent the heat you generate skiing or boarding.

If you’ve already got some outdoor or sports gear, this will be a good start – sports baselayers to wick away sweat, or a fleece to keep you warm. What is most important is a good quality ski or board jacket and trousers. These need to be waterproof, to keep the rain and snow out, as well as warm, to keep out the cold.

You’ll also need a good quality pair of skiing or boarding gloves – warm and highly water resistant – and appropriate ski socks – long enough to come nearly up to your knee, which is where the ski boot will reach to, and warm. Modern ski socks are relatively thin, and work to generate blood flow to the feet to keep them warm, rather than being big and bulky.

For all the best tips on ski clothing, head over to our “Equipment & Clothing” section for a full run through of everything you will need to wear skiing or boarding. This year we’ve partnered with Snow+Rock, one of the UK’s biggest retailers, to provide expert advice on the latest and best gear, as well as free boot fittings. Ski Club member also get a 15% discount, in-store and online.


Instruction


So you’ve got all the right kit; trained hard for weeks; tested out your skills at your local dry-slope centre. Now it’s time to hit the mountains!

It is super important to ensure you get good quality instruction when learning to ski. All alpine countries have their own national ski schools which work to supply instruction directly, such as the Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF) in France, or coordinate and certify instruction delivered by local, resort based ski schools, such as in Italy or Austria. These are often a good place to start, offering English language instruction and a series of progression levels to allow you to keep track of your ability.

There are also a range of private, British ski schools across the Alps, offering top notch instruction wherever you go. They are ideally placed to help you learn to ski and become a confident, independent skier. We’ve teamed up with New Generation Ski and Snowboard School, one of the largest private ski schools in the Alps; they offer lessons for all ages and abilities, as well as instructor courses and guiding, and you can get a discount on bookings as a Ski Club Member! They have also provided a series of helpful videos to help you stay on the ball at home – see our “Learning to Ski” page in this section.
Ski Club Top Tips
The staff at Ski Club HQ offer comment on their experience starting out on themountains
Cheap and cheerful first holiday – save money by heading to somewhere like Bulgaria for your first holiday
Learn before you go – taking a lesson or two in the UK before you go will make a world of difference to your experience
Pick the right resort, suitable for beginners, with plenty of Greens and/or easy blues (pistecolouring country dependent)
Borrow as much kit as you can–until you know for sure thatsnowsportsare right for you, borrow kit like jackets and goggles from friends,familyand colleagues
Bringplenty of layers – it can get seriously cold in the mountains, andit’sbetter to be too warm than too cold!