This week's fitness blog post is about my favourite adventure sport, skiing. I was out last week and chatting in a group when the conversation turned to skiing and where people might go this season. Instantly when this happens there are always a couple of people who's faces fall as the avid skiers begin to discuss preferred conditions and resorts. I chatted to one girl who said she hated the next four months' ski chat. I totally understand why. It's like a secret club that people who ski are in and people who don't aren't (by the way for the purposes of this post I'm using skiing synonymously with boarding - I can hear the gasps - I know they're totally different but at the moment I can only ski so I'll just talk about that). I hate conversations like this where people get really clique-y about something they love and make people feel awkward if they don't know about it. So I offered an admission, that although I love skiing I'm definitely no expert. I didn't grow up going skiing with my family every year and although it's my favourite sport I've only been for about ten weeks in my life. As soon as I made that admission a number of other people offered their novice status too. I mean don't take this the wrong way, I'll try any piste or jump and somehow make it down, as fast as I can, without any style or grace, but I'm not a "good" skier. I'm just brave.
There are 3 things which put people off learning to ski (1) Not being able to do it (2) Being alone (3) Not being able to speak the language.
All 3 of these are really easy to overcome, I promise. If you think you can't ski I urge you to give it a go soon. The whole week away skiing is incredible. If you're a complete beginner I'd recommend getting a course of lessons at a dry slope or snow centre before you go. This doesn't have to break the bank, just do a few hours so that you know how to put your skis on and can do a few basic turns. It will fill you with so much more confidence if you know the basics before you go. It honestly isn't as hard as it might look.
The days are full of skiing, obviously, and the nights from say 4pm, are full of drinking. Most people head straight to a bar from the piste and many stay there without going home to get changed which means even if you do head back home for dinner or to change its way less stressful getting ready for a night out après ski style than at home as its so relaxed. Everyone is in clothes which they're comfortable in which means there's plenty of scope for throwing shapes on the dance floor. Another advantage of this if you're a beginner and you go in a group is that there is always someone who will be hungover. They'll generously offer to ski with you the next day whilst they nurse their hangover which means you'll get to hang out with your friends loads, so that's (1) and (2) covered.
Now for the final hurdle, trying to understand what the heck people are talking about. You'll hear people talking about powder, button lifts, ski in ski out, bindings and snow ploughs*. Skiing is a sport like any other so there's understandably a lot to learn. There's also specialist kit but to be honest you don't need to know how all of that works right away. In your first lesson the instructor will cover all of the basics and the rest you'll pick up over time. I know it sounds like a different language at times but after your first day when you've conquered your first green slope* you'll be hooked.
So how about it, who fancies hiring a huge chalet and going skiing?!!
*Powder - when people talk about powder they are referring the conditions of the snow on the piste. I've heard it said that the opportunity to ski in fresh powder is every skier or boarder's dream.
Button Lifts - these are the lifts that get you up the mountain. They're different to chair lifts because you aren't sitting on a chair. Instead you grab a rope and put a button shaped seat between your legs. They're notoriously hard for snow boarders and also sometimes referred to as drag lifts. You'll hear people say they don't want to do that run (a run is a ski route) because there's a button lift at the bottom.
Ski in Ski out - this refers to the location of your resort or chalet. Some chalets are right on the piste and you can literally clip your skis on in a morning and head down to the lifts. Other places, usually hotels, are a short walk or sometimes a bus ride from the lifts. People will be enthusiastic about ski in, ski out because when you've got all of your ski gear on its a pain to walk around carrying your skis. Plus although ski boots are comfortable to ski in they can be a bit awkward to walk in.
Bindings - these are the fixings on your skis which hold your boot to your ski. People who fall over might say that their bindings didn't release when they fell. This means their skis didn't come off, which they should really when you fall over.
Snow Plough - this is a method of turning which is used by beginners. You touch the tips of your skis together in front of you and push your weight through the leg on the side you want to turn. People might say if they're really hungover that they had to snow plough the whole way down. It's a slower way to ski than parallel turns which is used by more advanced skiers.
Green Slope - slopes/ski runs are coded by colour to describe their difficulty. The colours are different if you are skiing in Europe or America/Canada. In Europe a green slope (or green circle) is a beginner slope.