Over and over again, you’ve heard your friends talking about skiing/snowboarding in Méribel—the adrenaline rush, how beautiful the mountains are in the winter, bla bla bla bla. And you’ve finally decided to see what all the fuss is about. You imagine yourself gracefully gliding down the pistes, but suddenly this image gets hazier in your mind as you realize that a first-time ski trip is a lot more involved than you had first thought—you’ll need gear, some lessons and the question many first timers ask themselves is, “Where do I start?”
Have no fear, we’ve got you covered! Before you begin to feel pangs of newbie anxiety, check out these 5 tips to help you have the best first experience on the slopes possible.
Get in shape before the ski season
You don’t need to be in terrific shape to enjoy your first day on the snow, but the fitter you are, the faster you will learn and the more you will get out of it. If you arrive at the mountains in good shape, you give yourself the best possible chance. A bit of exercise certainly helps with coordination and stamina.
Doing cardiovascular exercise regularly in the build-up to your trip will benefit you tremendously. Lunges and squats will assist in readying your legs while your core (and stability skills) will benefit from exercises on a medicine ball. Blending in high-intensity sprints, with rest periods in-between, simulates active ski time interspersed with lift rides.
Dress for proper skiing/snowboarding
Technical ski & snowboard clothing is just hype—hey, people stayed alive without it in the 1900s… If you want Jack Frost to nip at more than your nose, then stick with cotton.
Jeans will get wet the first time you fall and it’ll feel like they’re freezing onto your legs. Cotton soaks up water (e.g. sweat and snow) and doesn’t let go of it easily, so the more it snows and the more you sweat or you fall, the more water your cotton garments will absorb. Wet clothes and cold temperatures work together to produce frostbite and hypothermia.
Sweatpants or warm-ups are possibly worse for the same reason. PLUS they also breathe, so the moment you go faster than walking speed you’ll feel as though you have “air-conditioned legs”.
Instead, kit yourself without breaking the bank by borrowing or searching eBay for suitable ski/snowboard clothing like synthetics or wool, which move water away from your skin and/or retain their insulation when wet.
Rent ski/snowboard equipment
No matter what anyone else says, you don’t need your own equipment when you’re first learning to ski or snowboard in Méribel—especially if you’re not sure how much you’ll like it yet!
Still, when renting ski and snowboard gear, the closer to the base of the slopes, the more expensive your rental is likely to be. If you plan ahead, however, you can equip yourself with lots of savings.
Many ski & snowboard rental shops encourage customers to commit to renting their gear in advance by offering sweet discounts. So, you can get 15 to 25% off if you reserve your gear online before getting to Méribel. Not only will you get cheaper skis and boards, but you and your group can avoid the hassle of filling out paperwork in the shop as you sweat through your turtleneck.
Sign-up for ski/snowboard lessons
The primary reason people say they hated skiing after one try is because they handed their fate to the untrained devices of their partner. Being a rad skier/boarder does not necessarily make your honey, babe, cherry pie and soulmate (or whatever cheesy pet names you’ll never admit using) a rad instructor and, with every helpful comment under the relationship microscope, this is just a bad call from the get-go.
Méribel Ski and Snowboard instructors are trained to understand progression, body movement issues, mental barriers, and overall ski dynamics. In other words, the return on investment in terms of how much faster you’ll learn is totally worth it, and a full-day private lesson is still much cheaper than a divorce…
Don’t give up
Everyone’s got different learning speeds when it comes to skiing/snowboarding. It can feel really tempting to give up, but just don’t! Ask your ski/snowboard instructor for tips on how to overcome the difficulty. Give yourself a pep talk, but make sure you give it another try. Eventually, you’ll figure out what works best for you, then be gliding downhill like a pro and loving every minute of it!
Falling is totally uncool—if you can’t laugh about it then you need to lighten up! Nobody gives a s*** if you take a few spills (or a lot); even the most advanced skiers/riders fall. As the saying goes: If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.
Other skiers/riders aren’t judging you, so take it easy on yourself. No one was born with skis or a board on their feet. Bottom line: skiing and snowboarding are playful sports – they go great with a smile.