It’s so exciting to be planning your first ski trip! You’ve done your research, but there are still many details to take care of before the trip such as acquiring clothes, booking lessons, choosing a ski resort, getting your body in ski shape and deciding on protective equipment. Hop on board with us as we share the following tips for beginner skiers before your trip so that you’ll be set up for success and feeling like a pro by the time you hit the slopes.
Tips for Beginner Skiers Before the Trip
You need proper ski clothes to keep warm, but don’t go out and buy expensive ski clothes for your first trip. Borrow waterproof ski clothes to save money and to give you a chance to see what you like and don’t like when it comes to ski clothes. If you do not have any friends or family members with ski clothes, try to rent or buy used. Check out ski swaps, garage sales and second-hand stores for good deals. Maybe invest in a good pair of ski socks before the trip, but everything else you can borrow or get used.
Stay at a Hotel
Several months before your journey, book your ski hotel so that you can get a jump on a good deal and a good location. Maybe you want to stay at a ski-in/ski-out hotel on the mountain to make things easier, or maybe you want a little more space off the mountain for a better price, a kitchen to cook your own food or an outdoor heated pool. Either way, book early. Undercover Tourist has hopped into ski hotel reservations to help you get a jump on lodging at popular family ski resorts, plus you can bundle lift tickets with lodging for even more savings!
Let Someone Else Do the Heavy Lifting
One of the challenges of skiing is lugging the equipment around. Find out if you can leave skis at the kids’ ski school overnight so you don’t have to carry them. Check your skis with a ski valet or concierge at your hotel or ski mountain. Choose a resort with perks to make life easier like the wagons (good for equipment AND tired tadpoles) in the Village at Northstar in Lake Tahoe.
Leave Teaching to the Pros
The most important tip for beginner skiers is to learn from the professionals. And the good news is that you can find the greatest deals on first-time, or "Never Ever," ski lessons, which usually include lift tickets and equipment. This saves money and the effort of worrying about bringing equipment with you. If you are new to skiing, then you might want a little mom advice for preparing your tadpoles for their first day of lessons.
Work on Conditioning
Are you in good ski shape? Skiing (and snowboarding) really works the muscles of your entire body, but especially the lower body. You will have the most success and feel better if you are in reasonably good shape to ski. You’ll want to be strong in your hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps and have good cardiovascular fitness. You can never do too many squats and lunges to prepare for a ski trip. If your gym has a BOSU, which looks like half of a therapy ball that is flat on one side, spend some time standing on the round surface. Do some squats and balance moves on it, and you can do your upper body weights while standing on the BOSU. It may sound crazy, but your feet will thank you when you ski — it’s a tool ski teams use to train. When you train all of the small muscles in your feet to work to balance you, your feet will relax and have an easier time keeping you balanced on skis. When I do my BOSU work at the gym in preparation for a ski trip, I do not get that first run foot burn and I notice my feet feel great while skiing. My leg workouts really make a difference in my endurance and in keeping me from feeling sore later. Lets face it, beginner skiers (and snowboarders) fall down, so exercises that work muscles that get you on and off the ground are also helpful because those moves are a lot harder to do in snow. Yoga and core classes help in that department.
If you want to learn anything, you do your research. Luckily, in the modern world you can turn to YouTube to learn how to do almost anything, and that includes watching tips for beginner skiers for the first day of skiing. There are videos that train you how to get up after falling. You will cover this in lessons, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research and practice at home. You can also access some ski workout videos to build strength in those ski muscles if you need inspiration or do not have a gym membership.
Learn the Lingo
You want to understand what your ski instructor and ski buddies are saying, but you want to seem cool. We get it. Here are a few ski terms that you can get acquainted with so you can throw them around and don’t have to keep asking questions when you hear others use them:
- Alpine Skiing: Downhill skiing
- Après Ski: It’s the afternoon and skiing is done, but the fun is not over yet. It’s time to kick back with some drinks and appetizers to swap stories and relive the ski day.
- Backcountry: The area outside the boundary that is not patrolled. You do not want to be there as a beginner.
- Balaclava: Face mask or covering to protect the skin
- Binding: It’s what connects the ski boot to the ski. They are set to release easier for beginners to protect knees.
- Black Diamond: Difficult or expert run.
- Blue Square: Intermediate trail that is usually, but not always, groomed.
- Bunny Hill: The beginner learning area that is flatter and easier.
- Cat tracks: Flat paths (like roads) on the mountain for reaching other areas or offering an easier way down than the runs in that part.
- Corduroy: The grooves in snow on a freshly-groomed trail.
- Cross-Country Skiing: Part of the Nordic Skiing family with thinner skis and bindings that allow you to lift your heel. Can be done on flat ground.
- Edge: The sharp metal edge on the sides of skis and snowboards. You use your edges to push into the snow to gain control and hold an edge when turning.
- Fall Line: The most straight or direct line between you and the bottom of the hill.
- French Fries: When skis are parallel (compare with Pizza).
- Gondola: Like a chairlift, but enclosed. You remove skis to enter.
- Green Circle Run: The easiest trails on the mountain, usually wide, flat and with slower traffic.
- In-bounds: The ski area inside the boundaries of the resort; opposite of out-of-bounds.
- Magic Carpet: A conveyor belt you stand on to be transported a short distance on the bunny slope when learning to ski and snowboard.
- Moguls: Bumps carved into the snow.
- Nordic Skiing: A form of skiing where the heel releases from the binding as in Cross-Country skiing.
- Out-of-Bounds: The backcountry.
- Park: See Terrain Park.
- Pizza: When skis are tilted in toward each other in a wedge to slow you down. Also called snowplow. Compare with French Fries.
- Powder: Fresh, dry, fluffy snow.
- Quad: Chairlift that carries 4 people
- Rope Tow: A rope that beginners can grab onto to be pulled up the hill.
- Snowcat: A vehicle that moves around the ski resort to groom runs.
- Snowplow: See Pizza.
- T-bar: Surface lift that pulls you up the hill.
- Terrain Park: A freestyle zone that is roped off from other ski runs with obstacles like rails, jumps, boxes and maybe a halfpipe.
- Triple: Chai lift that carries 3 people.
- Tram: Large aerial lift that holds many people.
- White Out: When you lose visibility due to fog, heavy snowfall or a combination.
- Yard Sale: When you crash so hard that your hat, poles, skies, and gloves end up everywhere (like when Lucy pulls the football out from under Charlie Brown and his clothes go flying).
Learning to ski is not a race. You can start slow and progress at your own pace. Everyone learns differently, and you want to start slowly, develop good habits and posture, and work on your turns. You don’t want to go too fast and get hurt. Taking it easy and staying low on the mountain in the beginning of the trip can help you adjust to altitude more easily and prevent altitude sickness. Take plenty of water and snack breaks to stay well-hydrated and keep your tank full of fuel.
Don’t Worry About Age
An old frog CAN learn new tricks. We’ve even seen adults who have skied their entire lives take up snowboarding, which is an entirely different thing. You can learn to ski, and nobody knows how old you are anyway because you are all bundled up. You will probably learn at a different pace than your tadpoles and you need to be okay with that. Definitely condition yourself for skiing and use safety equipment.
Acquire Safety Equipment
Beginner skiers fall down quite a bit, and beginner snowboarders fall down A LOT! Both skiers and snowboarders can benefit from wearing compression pants with pads built in to protect the tailbone and hips. Everyone should wear a helmet. You can borrow or rent them. Make sure you wear goggles to protect your eyes from the sun, snow and cold air. The other thing you need to protect is your skin. If mountains are new to you, you might not realize the power of the sun even in the dead of winter. Make sure to put sunscreen all over your faces, reapply it and use a lip balm with sun protection. Nobody likes burnt, chapped lips!
Pick the Right Resort
There are so many factors that can go into choosing the right ski resort. The best resorts for beginners have a lot of green runs and good lesson deals for learning to ski. We like a resort that offers fun things to do off the ski hill such as tubing, snow play areas for the tadpoles and a nice après vibe, whether we are sitting around a fire pit with s’mores, listening to live music or getting our après on at a fun restaurant. There are a number of family-friendly ski resorts like Northstar in Lake Tahoe, Keystone (where kids ski free with lodging) and Breckenridge in Colorado and Park City in Utah. Check out our handy-dandy comparison of a few of the best ski resorts.
Look at Airports
When you are still in the early planning stages, look at the closest and largest airports that are near a ski destination. See if you can get affordable direct flights there. If you are flying in, you may need to look for a discount car rental. Do you have airline credit cards for airlines that fly to your destination? You might be able to get free checked bags or earn free flights, so look into these perks well before the trip.
Research Lift Tickets
When you are a beginner skier, you do not want to make the rookie mistake of showing up to a ski resort and buying a one-day lift ticket at the window each day. There are many ways to save on ski lift tickets, from buying an Epic Pass pre-season to bundling lift tickets with hotel stays booked though Undercover Tourist. As mentioned earlier, you might find beginner ski lessons that include a lift ticket, but always ask in advance so you know if you need to buy lift tickets so you can book early enough to save. As a beginner, you might benefit from the less-expensive beginner tickets that access the easier runs only. And if you are needing to purchase from the resort, you should buy tickets online at least seven days in advance. Multi-day tickets are generally cheaper per day than single-day tickets.
Hopfully you are ready to get into ski shape, hit up your friends to borrow some ski clothes and feel confident in using some of these hopful tips for beginner skiers before your ski trip! By the way, saving green is our thing. You’ll also want to research tips for saving on a family ski trip, because nobody likes to pay too much for a ski vacation. Ready to shred? It’s going to be epic!
Related: 10 Tips for Skiing During Peak Times