SKIING GUIDE FOR DUMMIES FROM DUMMy
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My snowboarding experience started when I was 12. My parents took me on the mountain back home in Latvia to ski, when we were renting out the gear my mom asked me: "what do you want - to ski or to snowboard?". And I said: "Snowboard!". My mom asked me: "Do you know how to do it?" - and I said: "Of course!". For some reason, she believed me. I don't understand how on Earth she believed me, I was 12 and knew how to snowboard from a game that I played on my phone! So I took a snowboard and off I go into a fence! After I fell down, hurt myself pretty bad, I decided not to give up and give it another go, so I tried to go up the mountain using a drag lift, pretty much a piece of rope that goes in between your legs and drags you up the mountain. That didn't work and I was rolling down the mountain half way through going up. My mom till now hates this trip and cannot forgive herself for letting me go down without double checking if I knew how to do it. Now, when I ask her why in the world would she let me go down, she is saying that I sounded very convincing.
So my introduction to winter sports wasn't great…After that I tried a few times to do it again but was always failing, I started to have a fear after this childhood accident, also a few times my legs were getting stuck in a drag lift and I was dragged up until I was falling… anyways I kinda started hating snowboards, skis and all of that. Until last year I was invited to attend a skiing school in France! Wow, I had a chance to start from the beginning, conquer my fear and finally learn how to snowboard properly. I jumped onto this opportunity without thinking twice and then spent 4 days in France and Italy boarding in different winter resorts. I finally kinda learned how to ski and thought to myself okay check, done, bye …but no…my boyfriend got too excited hearing about my boarding achievements and challenged me to go on a ski trip with him to Austria this year.
and I said yes… Hereafter bruising myself for 3 days, seeing all the ski instructors, how people learn and fail I realised one thing…srsly ski instructors have no idea what they are talking about…they have no idea how to teach people like me…cuz they are simply too professional, they simply don't remember anymore what it is to fear and to go down from the mountain thinking about where is the freaking breaaaak. So I decided that only skiing dummy can create a ski guide for dummies! So there you have it, I honestly think that it might be helpful for you peeps.
let's get started with those tips!
This guide is for those who can snowboard or ski at least a little bit ( I mean if you know how to break you are good) my experience now is 6 days and I feel like a pro!
Set Yourself Goals. I found it so freaking boring to go up the lift and go down the mountain and over and over again. This is what most people are doing, just going down the same mountain again and again…nope! It is not for us adventurers, right? Get a map, find places that you think are exciting and go there. Every morning I was going on a cable car I was always looking down, then trying to find places that looked interesting and was heading there. Also, every day I was trying to hit at least one mountain bar. Nothing can get you more excited than that mulled wine, right? Try to find new routes, new views, new places to hang out and skiing will never be routine.
Red Slopes. My problem at first was that if I saw that the slope is RED won't go on it eveeeer, until one day when the only way to go to the bar was to go through the red slope… and from now I am not scared because RED doesn't mean it is super scary and you will fall and die, it means it is tiny more advanced than others. If you know how to break you can go and don't be afraid at all.
Phone on the Slope. I am addicted to music, but while skiing I was too scared to have my phone on me, because I thought I will fall on it and break it, but I soon realised that there is higher chance that you will break your neck than phone, as normally you fall on parts that stick out like head, knees, butt and there is a little chance you will fall on your pocket. So now I carry my phone with me, take pictures and listen to music, which makes it even more fun and also definitely has a calming effect on me.
Some Riding Techno. I am not gonna talk about technology of snowboarding, cuz who I am I to talk about it, yesterday I fell so bad that my butt is a huge bruise now. I will just mention that the success of snowboarding is in a movement of the back leg and applying pressure to it. Don't even try to glide straight down the hill, as you will definitely end up somewhere in a ditch, instead try applying slight pressure on your back leg to turn. It will make sense when you try.
Falling. Don’t even think that you might avoid falling. Be prepared for it and don’t be scared, it will happen, maybe buy a protection for your knees and butt and always wear a helmet, even if sometimes it doesn’t look cool. I always carry a bruise ointment, which eases healing, so I recommend you carry one on your trip as well.
Water. This might not be obvious but carry water. I never thought I can get so thirsty surrounded by water and snow, but it happens and bottled water can be pretty expensive up there.
Chairlift! My biggest nightmare until now! With skis, it is not a problem, but with snowboard, it can be quite tricky, and there were so many times when people had to stop chairlift because I was getting stuck somewhere…embarrassing..terrible..shameful..but has to be done. There is no tip here, once you get used to it you will be fine, but before I got used to it every single time I was getting off it I was just falling on the side away from moving lift and people. In that way, I wasn’t bothering anyone and was already prepared to fall anyways :D
Friends. Come with friends (better with those who can already ski)! If you don’t have friends you are screwed. Friends are very useful on a skiing trip, they will buy you a beer, they will help you to get up and get off the chairlift! Also on my previous ski trip, we even managed to save money on ski passes. It was 5 of us, 3 people bought ski passes (that is pretty expensive btw) and went up, 2 people were waiting down, 1 person came back with 2 ski passes from people who stayed up there to pick up the rest. 5 ski passes for the price of 3! WIIIIN
Backpack. A very useful thing, there you might pack your lunch that you stole from your hotel breakfast. If you don’t like carrying backpacks- give it to your friends (see the previous tip)
Clothing. Another pretty obvious one. You don't want to get yourself an all-white outfit, cuz if you gonna fall into the ditch no-one will ever find you! Get colourful!
Some weird things that might surprise a newcomer
During this trip to Ischgl, Austria I realised that there are few weird and funny things about winter resorts that I cannot wait to tell you about.
It is hard to recognise your friends cuz everyone is wearing the same stuff. One time I fell in front of someone who I thought was my friend (because he was wearing the same jacket). I was like hellooooo and then realised it wasn't my friend at all. Imagine you met a girl of your dream in winter resort? Auf wiedersehen, you never gonna find her again cuz she is probably wearing the blue jacket like 99% of people there.
Awkward conversations in a gondola lift. You are going to a gondola and the door is just about to close when someone goes in and sits in front of you. You and a random person in a gondola going up for 20 min, do you start a conversation, do you pretend that he doesn't exist? The second option almost never works, as people are too friendly and would gladly tell you everything about their life during a 20-minute ride.
In Austria, light food doesn't exist. Even green salad comes with bacon and greasy potatoes fried in pigs fat with some meaty sauce. I ordered the only vegetarian meal in a menu and it still came with bacon and when I said:"What is bacon doing in my food?" the waiter was like: "Is bacon not vegetarian?" Meat lovers, I urge you to come over as this is def your heaven!
Naked sauna. I 've already had this experience before both in South Tyrol and in Scandinavia where it is ok to have mix naked saunas. Like you cannot come in sauna wearing clothes and until you are ready to see your friends body parts.
Now Some real tips!
What to take with you? You obviously will need gear and proper clothing. After last year I bought my own helmet, goggles, gloves, jacket, pants and of course some thermals. You cannot ski in a sweater, you will get too hot and sweaty and can get sick, you need proper thermals to control your body temperature. If you are planning to do winter sports for more than once, I recommend investing in those- it would be cheaper to buy it once than to rent it every year, you can transport it in your carry on, you can get your fav stylish design. I rent only snowboard and boots and it comes to around 100£ for 5 days. As I mentioned before get yourself a backpack, water bottle for hot or cold water, get chapstick (EVEN IF YOU ARE A GUY) - your lips will get really dry and cracked, get ointment for your bruises to help with healing.
Which ski resort to visit? This is the hardest one. Last year I have been to Chamonix and Sain- Gervais Mont- Blanc in France; Courmayeur in Italy and this year to Ischgl, Austria. France is the most expensive, Italy the cheapest- but sometimes can be not enough snow. Austria is just in between not too expensive and with perfect snow, but for me the problem was food. Unless you are eating in the expensive restaurant they only serve meat as a to go food, not vegetarian-friendly at all.
How many days to go for? As a beginner, you will get very tired already after the 2nd day. My whole body was bruised, I couldn't feel my arms, my legs were falling off. It is good to mix skiing with relaxing in a good spa or sightseeing in that was you won't get too tired and will have a break to start missing riding mountains.
What to choose skis or snowboard? That is a hard one and probably you will never know until you try both.
“Skiing is easier to learn but harder to master - whereas snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.”
That's what people say, I am not planning to become a champion here, but I think that snowboard is more fun and fits better young people...cuz it looks cool! I also thought that it is easier to break your legs on skis because on a snowboard, whatever happens, I can always land on my butt. This is not true because when you fall while skiing your skis will get unclipped and you won't break anything, but still, that was one of the reasons why I choose to snowboard. You need to be properly fit to do both, but trust me even if you train every day you will find some muscles in pain that you didn't know ever existed. I guess if you want to avoid falling as much as possible choose skis if you want to have more fun and adrenaline go for a snowboard. The biggest pain in the ass for me is that sometimes when you go too slow you can just stop on the slope and you either have to remove your board and walk, or jump towards the edge...with skis you have poles that will help you to move further. But at the same time carrying them around everywhere can be pretty annoying as well. Also, skiing boots are hundred times more uncomfortable to walk around than snowboarding boots.
And finally I wanted to finish off by showing you my bruise on my butt, but I thought it would be too inappropriate, so instead, I will show you my bruises on my knees! Happy skiing guys!
But honestly, by all means, do not be scared of going, do not push yourself too much and I am telling you will have an amazing time! Enjoy fresh air, stunning views and being surrounded by nature.