Skiing and snowboarding are totally different from any activity you may have participated in before. Skateboarding, surfing, rollerblading – these can all give you a good sense of balance, plus some isometric strength in your legs (that will come in handy). But beyond that, they won't really prepare you for the fundamentally unique activities of skiing and snowboarding.
From your first alarm clock to your final collapse into bed, this article will guide you through everything you can expect from your first day as a skier.
The best time of day to ski is in the morning. That's because the snow has not been churned up yet. So, wherever you're staying, the morning routine is geared toward making it as easy as possible for the eager beavers to make the first ski lifts when they open around 0845-0900. This means breakfast will usually be served somewhere around 8am.
Intermediate skiers burn around 400-600 calories per hour while skiing. So, purely in terms of the energy used, a full day on the slopes equates to around six trips to the gym, all in one day. That means you'll need plenty of fuel. So get a big, hearty breakfast that doesn't sit too heavy in the stomach.
If this is your first ski holiday, you will need ski or snowboarding lessons from a qualified professional. If you're staying with us at Delicious Mountain, we will be happy to organise your lessons for you at no extra cost.
Beginner lessons usually take place each morning and last around 2-3 hours (you can also opt for full-day lessons). Around 10am, you will meet your instructor at a designated meeting point for their ski school, and then they will guide you through everything you need to know from there.
Your first lessons will cover attaching, detaching and carrying your skis/board, before addressing how to start, stop and turn.
Your first descents on skis will take place on beginner-level ski pistes. Initially, you will find your feet on the entry-level 'nursery slopes'. Then, quite soon, you will graduate to 'green' pistes. The colour follows an international coding system and indicates that the slope is wide, short and has a shallow gradient with few undulations. In other words, it's the perfect place to learn.
If you slide downhill on skis or a snowboard, how do you get back up? Well, eventually, you will be using sit-on chair lifts which shoot you quickly up the mountainside. For now, though, you will be using fairly basic ski lifts which are pretty easy to get on and off. The most common of these lifts is known as a 'magic carpet' — a slow-moving conveyor belt which you stand on, with skis still attached.
Even the most experienced skiers and boarders fall over sometimes. But, as a first-timer, you're obviously going to fall over a lot more. If you can laugh at yourself falling over, then you will have a great first day of skiing. Sometimes, you will be tired and cold, and you might not feel like laughing anymore. There may even be times when you don't think it's funny, but your friends do. The important thing is just to keep laughing it off and enjoy the process.
Nobody starts out as a confident, proficient skier. We all have to start with no skills at all and learn from there. Within a few days, you will be gliding around like a pro. So just stay patient and laugh at yourself along the way.
On a catered chalet holiday, all meals are usually provided except lunch. This gives skiers the chance to explore the many fine eateries of the resort centre or, more commonly, stay out on their mountain adventures by eating at a piste-side restaurant. In The Three Valleys ski area, there are many of these and the standard is generally very high. Inevitably, prices can reflect these high standards. If you're looking to get the best bang for your buck, ask your chalet host for recommendations. Here at Delicious Mountain, your host will even make a reservation for you – just let them know at breakfast time.
Skiing and snowboarding both work your legs very hard, especially to begin with when you don't yet have an experienced skier's technique to rely on. As your body begins to get tired, it's okay to take a break. Find a mountain café and get yourself a coffee (and a large water!). Enjoy the view. If you're feeling like you've had enough, there is no shame in heading back to the chalet and getting the first and biggest slice of the cake.
If you're staying in a catered chalet, then you will probably find afternoon tea waiting for you when you return to the chalet. Exactly what you get can vary a lot from chalet to chalet (at Delicious Mountain, we offer hot savoury options and other extras). But, wherever you go, there is almost always a delicious, homemade cake. One of the best things about a chalet holiday is that golden hour or so when everyone is returning to the chalet, trading stories from their day on the slopes as they refuel with a hot drink and a generous slice of cake. There's nothing better.
If you had just done a heavy gym session, you would probably rehydrate and stretch off. Well, it's a holiday and not everyone does, but it's generally a good idea to spend a little time helping your body to recover ahead of tomorrow's big adventures. Before dinner is the perfect time to hit the sauna and/or hot tub to relieve those aching muscles. Drink plenty of water and spend five minutes stretching if you can. You'll be glad you did tomorrow morning.
If you're staying in a luxury catered chalet like ours here at Delicious Mountain, then you can expect a full three-course evening meal with drinks included. Indulgent and restorative, this is the perfect way to cap off a great day on the slopes. Life is good.
After your first day skiing or snowboarding, you will be very tired. The indulgent dinner, the cosy setting and a comfortable king-size bed will leave you ready for a big night's sleep. You may find that you dream a lot. You may even dream about skiing. That's normal – it's just your mind using your time in REM sleep to make sense of what on earth just happened. For the first time ever, you were literally sliding down a mountain at speed, with planks attached to your feet. After a good night's rest, you'll be ready to do it all again. So enjoy your second day on the slopes: you're now a skier or snowboarder!