Perhaps the title’s slightly overdramatic, but for me, learning to ski as an adult was a somewhat terrifying experience – but one I’m glad I overcame, cause’ the sense of achievement I now feel when gliding down a slope is so worth it!
I remember googling ‘how to overcome fear when skiing’, after my first day on the slopes, and now that I’m a bit less of a novice, I thought I would pass on some of my own words of wisdom.
Before you book…
Choose a resort that accommodates skiing for beginners. If you choose a resort that only has nursery slopes and a couple of green runs. Chances are your progression will either be stunted through being unable to move on to more difficult runs, or you’ll be forced to try a harder run, and be demoralised if you struggle or start to panic.
The length of your ski trip will also have a direct impact on your progression. For the first few times, I would advise going for around a week, and buying a six day ski pass. Of course this isn’t always possible, but when learning to ski, for most, the first ½ to 1 day is just ‘finding your feet’. *Add internal link* [Take a look at my post on the top 10 ski resorts for beginners if you’ve yet to book.]
Takeaway: Select a resort that suits your abilities and a longer trip will help you get better faster.
Time with a Ski Instructor is money well spent
I realise that this is probably advice you’ve heard hundreds of times, but lessons are truly invaluable. Even if an experienced skier has offered to teach you, there’s a definitive lack of empathy for the natural fear first time skiers feel. The prospect of strapping waxed blades to your feet and approaching a steep decline is an uncomfortable one, but something that ski instructors fully understand. The key to conquering skiing is in your head, not your blades’. Ski instructors will help you gain confidence and overcome this fear.
Takeaway: Half the battle is mental rather than physical, instructors understand this, they’ll be able to help you build confidence and provide you with peace of mind.
Control is Key
Being in control was a major turning point for me when learning to ski as an adult. Unless you can confidently turn left and right, and come to stop using the snowplow or ‘Pizza’ method. Steep gradients are going to feel daunting. As soon as I had the ability to comfortably stop and turn; skiing with my skis parallel no longer filled me with panic. Also remember that balance is everything when skiing, ensure your feet are never in front of your body, and that your line of gravity is centred. Having control and having confidence grow in conjunction.
Takeaway: Remember that having control has a direct impact on your confidence.
You’ve got the Power
Every first time skier needs to fully understand that any action you perform on the slopes must be done using your muscles and your force: the skis will not do the work for you. When turning; body weight needs to be physically shifted to the outside leg whilst physically adjusting the direction of your inside leg. Remember skiing is a sport, you wouldn’t rely on your racket in tennis!
Another rookie error when learning to ski is being reliant on your poles. When learning to stop and turn, it’s best to lose the poles and learn without them. Almost every ski instructor uses this technique to get newbies feeling comfortable on their skis, and although initially terrifying you’ll be thanking them when you get them back and they just feel like dead weight!
Takeaway: The skis won’t do the work for you, treat skiing like any other sport and ensure your body is doing the work!