Starting any new sport can be a daunting prospect, but getting involved in skiing and snowboarding has never been easier.
There are indoor real snow slopes and artificial dry slopes throughout the UK running all-inclusive GO SKI GO BOARD courses, there are tour operators and holiday companies offering affordable ski packages to beginner-friendly resorts, and there’s a wealth of information online about where to go, what to take with you and how to get the most out of your time in the mountains.
We’re here to help too. You’ll find plenty of information and advice in these pages to get you out on the snow, with all the gear and the right idea. From handy advice on what equipment and clothing you’ll need, through to planning your first ski holiday. Remember that the Ski Club has a dedicated Information service, so give us a call on 020 8410 2009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
Learning in the UK
There are loads of benefits to learning the basics right here in the UK before you head to the mountains. Indoor snow slopes and dry slopes throughout the country have dedicated areas for beginners, as well as professional qualified instructors to get you comfortable with your equipment and teach you the basics. Our map of UK slopes can help you find your nearest ski centre.
GO SKI GO BOARD is an initiative from Snowsports England, which provides an easy, transparent and cost-effective way to get involved in skiing and snowboarding, with six hours of instruction or slope time split over six weeks.
Once you’ve mastered a few basic skills and you’re comfortable with your ski or snowboard equipment, you’ll get a lot more out of the experience when you do head out to experience the mountains.
What to expect
Like any sport, there is a learning curve, but you’ll be amazed how quickly you can improve with a bit of focused instruction.
Skiers may well find the equipment awkward at first, but once you get used to the sensation of sliding around on snow and find your balance, you’ll soon master the snow plough and learn how to steer your skis to make turns. When you can effectively control your skis and make a few turns you can start working towards parallel turns. Technique is something that even the most expert skiers still work on. That’s one of the great things about skiing – there’s always something to learn!
Snowboarders may find it more difficult to balance on the snow initially, with both feet attached to one board, however once you get a feel for sliding on a board you’ll soon learn to control your speed (through side-slipping on your toeside and heelside) and work towards linking turns. If you have a bit of experience with other ‘sideways stance’ sports such as surfing, skateboarding or wakeboarding, you may find the learning curve with snowboarding easier.
Getting fit for the snow
Gravity might be doing a lot of the work for you, but don’t be mistaken, skiing is still a sport! If you’re learning to ski or snowboard, or planning a holiday in the mountains, a bit of physical preparation will definitely pay off.
Even if you’re active and play other sports, you’ll soon realise that skiing and snowboarding use quite different muscle groups. Don’t be surprised if after your first full day on the slopes you’ve got a few aches in places you didn’t know existed!
That shouldn’t put you off though. Cycling and hill walking are great ways to build cardio fitness, while many skiers and snowboarders find that yoga and stretching increases flexibility and mobility. Dynamic stretching before and after skiing can really help too. You can find more detailed information about getting fit for the snow on the Ski Club's YouTube channel, provided by our own fitness expertDr Craig McLean.
First trip to the mountains
Fresh mountain air, wide-open spaces and stunning views… not to mention après ski! If you’ve mastered making turns at your local artificial slope or indoor snow centre, you’ll no doubt start to understand the allure of the mountains, and may want to start planning your own snowy adventure.
For your first ski or snowboard holiday, you’ll want to find a beginner-friendly resort with a good nursery slope area, facilities for children and suitable intermediate runs to progress onto. Having the right kit and equipment and knowing what to expect for your first trip to the mountains really can make all the difference.