Skiing / Snowboarding holiday advice for absolute beginner please!

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  • Skiing / Snowboarding holiday advice for absolute beginner please!
  • Sue_W
    Member

    OK, have never skied / boarded before, but would like to give it a go this winter. But there’s a confusing mass of information out there on t’interweb, and I don’t know where to begin!

    There seems to be a fair few folks on here who ski / snowboard, so any advice would be welcome. Got some initial questions, but feel free to add any other info you have:

    – Ski or snowboard? Which is easiest / best for an absolute beginner?(think bambi on ice impressions …)

    – When to go? Christmas is appealling, as it would be a fun way to spend the festive period, but would January be better (quieter / cheaper / more likely to have snow)?

    – Where to go? Good for beginners? Early snow if I go at christmas? Not really after the biggest party town as I’d rather focus on the skiing, but a nice bar or two would be good. Is Austria / Italy cheaper than France?

    – What companies do ‘learn to ski / beginner’ weeks for solo guests? (Would be nice to share the holiday with a group of people who are also learning at the same time)

    – Is it worth practicing the basics on a ski slope here (the one near me has a ‘perma snow’ slope and offers classes for beginners)? I know is apparently not the same as snow, but might it teach me the ‘how to put you skis on / basic moves etc?

    Over to you guys for your pearly words of wisdom …

    Ski.
    Avoid school holidays.
    Neilson are awesome for single folk, but their flights suck.
    Resort? Oh, man… can is open, worms everywhere! I’d always happily plug Serre Chevaliere. Excellent pistes for noobs, great fun without being OTT, no Russians, and you can use the awesome ski school at Ski Connections (Davina and her team are simply superb!)

    jamiep
    Member

    Avoid the French school hols at all costs.
    Italy is cheaper than France.

    There was a thread on here a week or two ago…

    nbt
    Member

    1) sign up to snowheads, kind of like STW but with different arguments

    ski or snowboard, doesn’t matter. Snowboard hurts more while you’re learning, but once you crack it it’s easier. Take a longer time to get to the same level on skis. takes years to be truly good at either

    january will be much cheaper and quieter. Slow start to the season means there’s some resorts already worrying about opening dates, so the later you can leave it the better. March is really good as the days are longer

    Austira and italy can both be cheaper than france, depends as always where and when you go. Italian food is immeasurably better than french though

    Learn as much as you can before you go. If you can do it on a permasnow, doing it on realy snow will be a piece of piss and you’ll get much more out of your holiday

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    +1 for trying to get some dryslope lessons before you go.

    derekrides
    Member

    As a tip, visit a fridge and get some early training in, Escape at Milton keynes or Tamworth there are more maybe there’s one near you, if not do the dry slope thing, it’ll make your vacation more worthwhile.

    Ski is easier than Snowboard in the initial stages, learning to Ski is just learning to stop and change direction, learning to Snowboard is quite tricky just learning to get going, then you have to learn to stop and change direction.

    Both will use muscles you’ve never used in that way before so will exact pain after a couple of days, another reason to prepare yourself at the local facility.

    Resorts, I’d go high I have a feeling in my water it’s gong to be a bad snow year, i was out there last week and I can’t ever remember the Alps looking as devoid of snow as they were, maybe that’s just me.

    Reliable? Tignes/Val D’Isere plus lots of apres ski. Cheap is Andora but unreliable for snow.

    Go with others or go to something like a catered Chalet where you will meet others, it’s a great activity but it’s also great when it stops and you need something to occupy yourself with other than crashing..

    No-one should go through life without a winter sport holiday they are great fun, but like I said you do need to prepare yourself.

    MarkyG82
    Member

    French alps are more expensive but the ability to step straight onto the snow from the doorstep. 3 vallys is good for this but has mixed ability slopes that lend to the more seasoned skiers. Tignes is good.

    Definately try skiing first unless you have previous experience of riding other types of boards.

    Leave dry slopes alone. Snow domes are much better and reflected in the price. One quick lesson there and you’ll have the basics mentioned. Although its not necessary.

    One big bit of advice is fine boots that fit. I have narrow feet and take insoles with me. Do NOT over tighten boots. Do NOT undertighten boots. Firm, proper fitting is the target.

    Hope this helps.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    – Ski or snowboard? Which is easiest / best for an absolute beginner?(think bambi on ice impressions …)

    You will progress quicker on a board than skis, but to me thats not a reason to discount one for the other. Does your local snowdome offer taster sessions where you can do both?

    – When to go? Christmas is appealling, as it would be a fun way to spend the festive period, but would January be better (quieter / cheaper / more likely to have snow)?

    Christmas is quite expensive, and IMO doesnt have the chocolate box feel of Christmas that you might imagine (although I have only spent Xmas in France)

    I would recommend March/April for your first holiday. Its warmer, and tends to get more sun. Skiing in flat light, in very cold temps (Dec/Jan/Feb likely) is no fun for a beginner and can really put you off the sport. The 3rd week in Jan tends to be the cheapest in the year.

    – Where to go? Good for beginners? Early snow if I go at christmas? Not really after the biggest party town as I’d rather focus on the skiing, but a nice bar or two would be good. Is Austria / Italy cheaper than France?

    Italy cheaper than France, but to be honest any ski holiday isnt going to be cheap! Just about any resort will be ok for beginners, get a shortlist and then come back for a recommendation 🙂 I would definately go catered chalet IMO its better value for money in the long run. Look for a resort that has a ‘free’ beginners lift.

    – What companies do ‘learn to ski / beginner’ weeks for solo guests? (Would be nice to share the holiday with a group of people who are also learning at the same time)

    Sorry cant help on this.

    – Is it worth practicing the basics on a ski slope here (the one near me has a ‘perma snow’ slope and offers classes for beginners)? I know is apparently not the same as snow, but might it teach me the ‘how to put you skis on / basic moves etc?

    I wouldnt bother with a dry ski slope (Perma Snow) they are nothing like snow, and you almost start from scratch again when you get on the real stuff. (I’m an ex dry slope instructor)

    Its worth going to a snowdome to test whether you prefer skiing or borading as above, but they are certainly not cost effective ways of learning to ski or board.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    basically it’s all been said already.

    ski or snowboard – doesn’t matter, some people take better to a board than skis and vice-versa. Can you skate or surf? if so snowboarding will be easier to learn. both hurt, but you’ll want to go back for more.

    If you learn on a dry slope over here, rather than a big fridge, when you get on the snow it will be a doddle! but dry slope hurt even more. Indoor snowdomes are still good though.

    http://www.darksnow.co.uk is a good forum for snowboarders, some skiers on there as well. they’re a very knowledgeble lot though.

    mossimus
    Member

    IMO as a beginner ignore the resort advice above RE 3 Valleys or Tignes, yes they are both fanatastic areas but you pay a massive premium to go there and as a beginner you will not be able to take advantage of the large ski areas these resorts offer. Thsi goes for all the resorts in the Tarentaise.

    As a beginner I would look at Andorra or Italy,cheaper then France/Switzerland/Austria.

    January will be the cheapest time, earlier in January the cheaper.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    action-outdoors are pretty hard to beat for value.

    accomodation is basic (dorms unless you pay extra for a twin/double) but the food, tuition and company is great.

    globalti
    Member

    DO NOT go to a dry ski slope a few weeks before your holiday and try to learn. You WILL fall awkwardly and very likely wrench or dislocate a thumb in the matting; I’ve seen it so many times.

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    You WILL fall awkwardly and very likely wrench or dislocate a thumb in the matting

    wear decent gloves?

    learn to hold ski poles correctly?

    Premier Icon leffeboy
    Subscriber

    If there are two or three of you going together then hire an instructor rather that doing ski school. You will learn way faster

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    “wear decent gloves?

    learn to hold ski poles correctly?”

    Nope its nothing to do with that its about natural reactions when you fall and putting your hands out to brake your fall. Its the old style dendix matting with the diamond shape that causes the broken thumbs, hand goes out and thumb gets caught in a diamond and gets wrenched back.

    It happened to countless people (myself included) who used to race on dry slopes.

    b a c o n
    Member

    If you Board, the first week WILL be painful. Buy some inmpact shorts if you can, that will help. Plus don’t let the first few days put you off.

    Learning in a group really helps.

    globalti
    Member

    Thank you.

    You don’t learn to fall properly until you’re an experienced skier and even experienced skiers can sometimes suffer a tumbling fall.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    If it’s the dendex stuff then yeah it can be a mare, but the newer snowflex surface is totally thumb friendly.

    batfink
    Member

    If you are a complete beginner, look at the UCPA.

    It’s a french “ministry of sport” initiative to produce affordable outdoor holidays – it’s french, but the place is full of Brits, Swedes and Germans. There is a UCPA in the centre of most French resorts (I can recommend Tignes)

    Everything is bundled in (acom, all meals, hire, ski pass and full time lessons). Acomodation is basic (think youth-hostel) but clean. The tuition is superb, and the package cost is only (from memory) about 500 Euros.

    There is one catch: it is only accessable to “young people”, which I think they define as being 43 or something…… not going to ask you how old you are!

    If you are starting from scratch, really don’t bother having a lesson before you go: you will be starting in the debutants group anyway, so will just be treading water whilst the others catch up.

    Anyway – just annother option!

    Elfinsafety
    Member

    Sue; one option you might consider is XC Ski-ing. Actually you might quite like that.

    Snowboarding seems to involve an awful lot of falling over, and to me is just skateboarding on snow.

    I got to try XC ski-ing in Norway, and it was fantastic fun. After two sessions of a few hours each, I’d learnt loads, could move about fairly easily, and the gradients involved weren’t at all daunting. It’s a lovely gliding movement too, feels really serene. A proper workout though, uses loads of muscles!

    I’d imagine it might be a better ‘starter’ activity than downhill ski-ing. Less popular, but less chance of get mash-up, and takes you away from the madding crowds on the slopes. More chilled out I reckon.

    Plus historically it’s ‘proper’ ski-ing. And XC skiers are some of the fittest people in any sport.

    I got a sense of doing something the ancients wooduv done to get about in the frozen wastes. Felt really quite ‘natural’.

    I woon’t go to Norway though unless you are very very rich… 😯

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    action-outdoors rep UCPA in the UK.

    I’m pretty sure the age limit is totally ignored, there have always been oldies every time i’ve been.

    its great for mixed ability groups too.

    globalti
    Member

    Learn to ski downhill to a reasonable standard of defensive skiing and you can go ski touring, which combines XC with downhill and gets you into some very remote places with minimal effort.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    Snowboarding seems to involve an awful lot of falling over

    Then you’re clearly not doing it right! 😀

    Elfinsafety
    Member

    Maybe, but with a limited amount of time for a holiday, I’d rather do something which is relatively easy to learn and does not in any way involve lots of falling over. It takes some time to be able to snowboard proficiently, whereas XC skiing you can learn the basics very quickly indeed.

    I’m curious as to why XC ski-ing isn’t more popular tbh. Image problem? Marketing? Fashion?

    clubber
    Member

    Do whichever you like the look of. Both are good.

    I went skiing for my honeymoon. I’d never skied before… I did 7 2 hour lessons on the local dry slope and then went on honeymoon – very happy I did that as it meant that I could ski right from the start of the holiday with my wife 🙂 Real skiing is much easier than on the dry slope so it worked very well.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    “I’m curious as to why XC ski-ing isn’t more popular tbh. Image problem? Marketing? Fashion?”

    Because its **** hard work and not sexy. Total respect for Telemark DH skiers though.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    Ski-ing is IMO easier to learn than boarding but harder to master. Either way you will fall over a lot in the first few days so be prepared for that!

    infidel
    Member

    WRISTGUARDS – and good ones at that. I say that as a failure to have decent ones resulted in 2 operations and a titanium plate holding my wrist together. Docmeter/flexmeter or the level biomex system are the only 2 that are clinically validated. Check put the ski-injury website for further info. They are expensive but worth the cost IMIO
    I also found my 661 knee pads useful when learning as you do spend alot of time falling!!
    Persistence is required too – I found the first 2 days frustrating but it suddenly clicked.

    Sue_W
    Member

    You guys are great! Thanks for all the advice – keep it coming.

    Conclusions so far …

    – probably going to opt for skiing

    – going to have at least one lesson at my local dry ski slope (well, I can bike to it, so it’d be rude not to!), but will take care to not stick my thumb out!

    – will check out action-outdoors / UCPA (Jam-bo – are you the person I’ll end up speaking to?)

    – go in either mid-Jan or March time

    – Italy sounds good … mmmm coffee and italian food mmmm

    – hadn’t thought about xc skiing, but love the idea of being in a more wilderness environment … (goes off to start checking out yet another option)

    hammerite
    Member

    Sue, as the others have said get yourself on Snowheads.

    On picking a resort, don’t get too hung up on numbers of runs, or kms of piste. In your first week you’ll spend most your time going up and down the same few runs. Try to get accommodation next to or near to ski school meeting point or a lift, ski buses on your first week just add to the complexity of the whole trip. Austria is slightly more expensive to get to, but cheaper in resort – resorts are usually very attractive, skiing tends to be lower down and a bit prettier. France tends to be less attractive as resorts are higher and in many cases purpose built. Never been to Italy – that’s my Christmas holiday. Andorra is great for cheap and cheerful, tends to be really good tuition, I’ve only been to Pas de la Casa which is not an attractive place!! Could consider Eastern Europe if conditions are good.

    If you are not tied to going in school holidays avoid them, you can probably pay twice as much during school hols. Plus you end up queueing longer at lifts. Watch out for holiday times elsewhere though. First two weeks in Jan tends to be popular with Russians, Italians have the first week or so in Jan off too. Different areas of France have hols from Mid Feb-Mid March.

    Action Outdoors/UCPA is a good shout. If not all of the package type companies do learn to ski/beginner packages. I would go with a package holiday rather than a DIY holiday for your first week, that way you can get plenty of advice on the complexity of a ski holiday (lift sytems, maps, ski hire place etc…). Neilson are a Thomas Cook company, Crystal/First Choice are with TUI and share the same reps. There’s also Inghams, Snowcoach, Warner, Olympic, Skiworld.

    Definitely go to a fridge/dry slope, even just knowing how to put ski boots/skis on properly will help.

    hammerite
    Member

    You could also get some advice here

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    If you do fancy XC skiing, think what you like in terms of views. I know people who have done it in Norway etc, and the terrain has been pretty flat and featureless (I just like the big mountain feel) You can still get the isolation feeling but in much more impressive scenary in the Alps. You could even combine it in to a weeks DH skiing, but to be honest that might be too much to do in one week…

    Where ever you go, make sure you get boots that fit properly, if the 1st pair your are handed dont feel quite right then dont be afraid to hand them back and ask for another pair. Boots should fit snugly around your foot and lower leg without any pinch points. You should be able to wriggle your toes slightly but certainly not move them up or down, your heel shouldnt lift at all. Any boot that doesnt fit snugly ie is either too tight or too loose will cause you no end of discomfort.

    karen805
    Member

    hofnar are doing a beginners ski week this year in Morzine in March. I don’t ski, but I went with them for this years Alps MTB holiday and I have already booked next years with them, and I imagine their ski holidays are as much fun as their summer ones. It’s a lovely chalet and Dan’s cooking is amazing.

    http://www.hofnar.com/index.php/winter-stuffmorzine-french-alps/beginners-and-improvers/

    Philby
    Member

    Lots of good advice above. Most resorts have lots of facilities for the beginner. I would suggest Italy as a good place to start – the runs are generally more scenic and food much better and cheaper than in France. Some of the French resorts are huge and can seem quite intimidating. I really enjoyed Courmayeur in Italy (though it may be one of the more expensive Italian resorts).

    If you book skiing lessons make sure they start on the first day of your holiday (in Tignes this year our ski school started on the second day which proved a problem on the first day for a couple of people in our group who had never skiied before). Also try and book accomodation as close as possible to the ski lifts or cable car / gondola that will take you up to the slopes as it will save you a lot of hassle in the morning.

    I_Ache
    Member

    Im in kind of the same situation.

    I am going to Morzine in Jan and really looking forward to it. However I cant ski and I did a boarding course about 7 years ago at Tamworth Snowdome where I achieved the high accolade of ‘Recreational Boarder’. I have only been a few times since then but certainly not for about 5 years. Everybody else in the group, apart from my 4 and 2 year olds, are accomplished skiers.

    My wife thinks I should learn how to ski before we go out and apparently I will progress much faster at skiing and it is more social. Now I agree with her that it is probably more social but I don’t know what to think about the progression. It will cost about £75 for me to just about learn how to plough turn and maybe start on the parallel skiing, it would also take up a whole Sunday of witch there arn’t many of left before we go. Now I’m pretty sure after about an hour at Tamworth I can probably get to where I was 5 years ago, and that involved getting down the slope OK most of the time but with the occasional big fall when my enthusiasm exceeded my skill. In short if you put me at the pop of the hill I could get down on a board after falling a few times but I wouldn’t even know how to put on skis.

    I don’t know what to do learn to ski or go boarding. I am genuinely torn.

    Chris S
    Member

    Regarding progression

    You will progress faster snowboarding.

    I learnt to board at the snowdome 10 years ago. On my first day in the Alps, in Tigne, I was off-piste in powder(in control ) within 500 yards of the start of my first run. I understand it takes a lot longer to progress to that level on ski’s.

    hammerite
    Member

    I Ache – no idea what you personally will progress quicker at. But you will be quicker on skis. So if you do spend time together as a group on the slopes, regardless of your ability level you would hold them up less on skis. If none of the others are boarders they won’t be able to give you any advice or tips, as they are skiers they will be able to.

    Can you do a learn to ski over say 2 x 3 hour sessions at an evening rather than a Sunday? I did this at MK and it worked quite well.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    I dont understand why skiing is more social, thats a new one on me. I wonder if what she truely means is that the skiers will get hacked off with a relatively in experienced boarder? To be honest you will find it hard on a board with a bunch of skiers if you are inexperienced.

    Skiers use their poles alot to get around. Boarders struggle more and often are getting clipped in and out to get places, that becomes frustrating for skiers. You will end up very tired trying to board all day with skiers.

    It sounds like your ability either way will be lower than others in the group, and what ever happens you will end up more knackerd for trying to keep up, and they will get frustrated for waiting for you.

    IMO you progress quicker boarding. On a board in a week you should be able to get down a red easily in control, on skis probably just a blue run.

    IMO go to ski/board lessons in the morning, meet up for lunch, and then ski/board with the others in the afternoon, but be careful how much you do in the afternoon as you will end up getting tired and then having big accidents.

    Whats the day rate charge in ski school abroad compared to snowdome?

    Then again you dont even need lessons, just get a book and learn the basics yourself. I got to international race standard and became an instructor myself without a single lesson.

    I_Ache
    Member

    Thanks guys.

    Whatever I do I will be fully committed to learning and progressing as fast as I can and will be very annoyed at myself if I don’t manage a red run at the bare minimum.

    Forgot to say that the £75 is at the local dry slope, I could do a course 1 night a week at the same place but its about 30 miles from home so that would pile on the cost and time. I wouldn’t plan to have any lessons in Morzine. I agree on the hints and tips things you say and that is part of my dilemma.

    I_Ache
    Member

    Oh and I very much doubt we will be skiing in a big group probably just me rolling down the hill most of the time with my wife trying not to get squashed.

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