You have no experience, but this year, it’s decided, you are going: you are going to learn to ski! Let Quandpartir.com guide you to find out everything you need to know about the resorts to choose, the recommended practices (downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, etc.), but also the rental of equipment or the choice of an instructor.
Where to go for a first experience?
learn skiing first step, the choice of the station. No need to book in a large ski area where you will rub shoulders with experienced skiers and find steep slopes: it is rather advisable to set your sights on a small family resort, generally less frequented by top athletes, and where you will have the choice between many green and blue runs (the easiest according to the coding in force, which assigns the colors red and black to the most difficult routes). In the Alps, you find for example Vellore, Megève or Les Saisies, in the Pyrenees Guzet Neige or Les Angles, and in the Massif Central all the resorts are suitable for beginners’ learning.
Which practice to choose?
You have never skied before but you want to discover the joys of the snow. Depending on your desire and your physical skills, you have the choice between several solutions:
Snowshoes: very easy to use, they allow you to hike in soft snow and have access to varied landscapes. They attach to the walking shoe and do not require any special equipment, apart from poles.
Downhill skiing: it is often recommended that beginners learn to downhill with scooters, which are shorter and lighter than traditional skis, and which also gain less speed. The downside is that they are also less stable, and the skier will very quickly be stopped in his progress. Therefore, prefer a normal ski with a length well suited to your size and your status as a beginner: the rental company will be able to advise you usefully.
Cross-country skiing: it is a very complete and physical activity, and, contrary to popular belief, having a technique that is not necessarily easy to acquire. Cross-country skiing allows you to go downhill, but also to climb certain slopes, and changes of direction or braking cannot be mastered straight away. It is advisable to warm up before any ride and to start with green runs. There are now two techniques for cross-country skiing: skating, or the traditional alternative step.
Snowboarding: trust the rental company to choose your board, you just need it not to be too big for you (maximum chin height) and that the edges are properly sharpened. Choose to start a time when the snow is not too hard (midday) because you will fall a number of times! The easiest way is to take lessons to avoid getting discouraged too quickly, but if you are in good physical condition, then three days will be enough to then enjoy the pleasures of skiing!
Where to rent your equipment?
downhill skiing ski resorts have their rental shops, where traders can advise you on the equipment you need to best practice the technique you have chosen: they can also adjust this equipment according to your weight, your physical characteristics, and ensure its maintenance or modify the settings if necessary.
However, there are other solutions, such as the possibility today of renting your skis online: Ski Republic, for example, offers you one free day for one paid day, and you find your equipment when you arrive at the resort, with a single price whatever the season … obviously on condition that franchised stores are set up there! There are currently more than 30 in the Alps. Other brands are much more widespread, and also quite interesting financially: let us quote Intersport, Skimium or Alpiski. On the same principle, one site also offers reductions of 40 to 50% for young people: these are Ski Rentals 18-25.
How to find your way on the slopes?
For those new to the world of skiing, finding their way on the slopes is not necessarily easy. It is, therefore, useful to know that these trails are signposted and that their level of difficulty is codified using colors: green for a very easy trail (therefore not very steep and without bumps or obstacles), blue for easy, red for medium and black for difficult (steep, narrow and bumpy slope).
You should also know that there are a number of rules to follow on the slopes and that they also apply to the beginner that you are. In short: everyone must master their speed; it is up to the skier who is upstream to choose his path to protect the downstream skiers; it is up to the skier who restarts after a stop to ensure that he can safely enter the track; you must not park in narrow passages and you must get out quickly in the event of a fall; if you have to walk you must use the edge of the track; we must respect the markings and signage (danger, weather, closed track, etc.); assistance must be provided to an injured person, in particular by giving the emergency services alert.
You will have the choice between the ESF (French Ski School) which is present in all the resorts and whose lessons are homogeneous from one resort to another, or other schools, the most competitive being the ESI ( International Ski School). Anyway, there are three solutions available to you to start your learning: integrate beginner level group lessons, where you will have the advantage of sharing your difficulties with others, at a relatively leisurely pace because of the number, or register for semi-group lessons (4 or 5 people for the same instructor), which allows more individualized attention and a slightly more sustained pace, or even take private lessons, which is very efficient and undoubtedly more tiring, more expensive too.