Ski holidays are exciting, healthy, fun, family friendly and romantic. There is something special about the combination of crisp pure snow and dazzling blue skies that you find at a ski resort. You spend your days out on the slopes burning loads of calories and your nights snuggles up in a cosy restaurant in front of a roaring fire replacing them all again!
So, if you fancy the idea of a ski trip this Winter read on for essential preparation steps, training help and some ideas of where to go and what to do.
Pre Trip Practice Is A Good Idea
It’s a really good idea to try some skiing or snowboarding before your trip at one of the UK’s many artificial ski slopes. Even if you can already ski a quick refresher will do you no harm at all.
Firstly it will make sure you have all the clothing that you need, that it fits you properly and that it is of the right quality. Secondly you can learn how to handle and mount your skis or snowboard as well as negotiate some basic ski lifts (not easy I can tell you). And, thirdly you can pick up some basic skills. Taken together this means you will be able to make the most of time on your ski holiday without wasting a day or two in the baby slopes learning the basics.
Technique & Exercises
It makes sense to prepare yourself mentally and physically. This will reduce the risk of injury and make better use of your time on the slopes.
If you are not very fit it is a good idea to build up some of the strength and stamina of the main muscle groups you will use skiing. This will increase the amount of time you can spend skiing and reduce the risk of injury. Choose a simple, low impact set of exercises like this one. Start 6 weeks before your trip and try to do them every other day.
An understanding of the basic techniques is good idea too. There are loads of free videos on youtube so have a look and set some time aside to watch some ‘learn to ski’ videos (this is comprehensive one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yfFGDuJ2g0). Don’t forget to review how to put your boots and skis on properly, how to negotiate the different types of ski lifts and how to get back up after you have fallen over!
Where To Practice?
Sunderland Silksworth Snow sports centre is an open air dry ski facility. It has a 160m floodlit slope, a lift and two nursery slopes. Lessons for skiing and boarding are available for adults and kids.
The Snozone Castleford (previously Xscape) is a large indoor facility with artificial snow slopes. You can book skiing and snowboarding lessons in a group or privately and the price includes hire of your skis, helmet and boots. They also provide lessons for kids.
Did you know that there are actual a few places in the North of England where you can ski out in the open on real fallen from the ski snow? There are a several sites in the North of England. Being in the UK, the snow fall is unpredictable and the amount of skiing that is possible varies every year. You should check with these locations that there is skiable snow no more than a couple of days in advance of your trip. Note they are all run by local sports club on a volunteer non-profit basis so the facilities will be basic and not always open. Don’t expect to be able to hire your equipment there or get lessons.
Teasdale’s Yad Moss is 7 miles south of Alston and has England’s longest ski lift (600m) and slopes of 4km. In a good year there are 40 days of skiing from as early as November to as late as mid April. 2 button lifts carry you 800m up a slope from where you can access a large open bowl with loads of possible routes down – see the image below. http://www.yadmoss.co.uk/
30 miles west of Durham is the Weardale Ski Club. Which has 5 and 45 days skiing each year. You can’t hire boots or skis and the slopes are not suited to beginners. http://www.skiweardale.com/
In a field behind the Northumbrian village of Allenheads are two semi-permanent rope tows and several portable ones. These short (100m) slopes are shallow and perfect for beginners and intermediate level skiers. Call 0191 5974 174 for their daily snow report. http://ski-allenheads.co.uk/
Choose A Good Resort
Make sure you choose a resort with plenty of slopes and reliable snow. You also want there to be plenty to do in the evening or for any days that you don’t want to ski.
One of the best and most famous resorts in Europe is Zermatt in Switzerland. It has countless lifts and 238km of slopes of all difficulties all under the fantastic backdrop the iconic Matterhorn. It is great for learner’s ad has a high concentration of intermediate slopes. There are some great accommodation options in Zermatt village but don’t think you’ll find anything cheap and basic – Zermatt is a high-quality resort with luxury standards and fantastic views. There are plenty of facilities for kids and high-quality ski lessons in multiple languages. You can easily get instruction from an English instructor. The resort is car free and absolutely beautiful with plenty to do and some great eateries.
Another good option is the Sierra Nevada in Spain. It is 30 minutes drive from the city of Granada – yes that’s right it’s on the costa del sol! The ski slopes are actually great quality and there is plenty for every ability including excellent learner slopes and an English ski school. Because the skiers are mainly local Spanish rather than tourists the slopes are only busy at the weekends. So, go during the week and you will enjoy the slopes virtually alone! Best of all you can enjoy sunny Spain when you aren’t skiing. Ski one day and sun bathe on the beach the next!