Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Loulou's guide to your first ski trip

So here I am nearing the end (sob) of what has turned out to be an amazing holiday. For those of you unaware of my holiday plans I am currently in Canada. Whistler in British Colombia to be precise, one of the premier skiing locations in the world. They had the Winter Olympics here in 2010 no less so you can imagine the quality of the slopes...and yes I'm surprised they let me on them as much as you are!

I am holidaying with Mr P (otherwise known as the gorgeous fiancé) our very good friend T.C. and 5 of their skiing chums who until this holiday I barely knew or hadn't met. So far so good I think - I don't think I've offended, upset or annoyed anyone too badly which all things considered is quite an achievement as the long journey/sharing an apartment and being the only girl could have gone horribly wrong. But they boys are all so lovely (even if they can all ski and snowboard exceptionally well while I'm more akin to an uncoordinated elephant on planks but more about that later!!) and I've been having such a great time with them while we've been here.

There are many things I have learnt on this trip thus far and in case any of you are planning/considering taking a ski trip in the future perhaps my top tips will help you (as well as provide a handy reminder for me should I get to tag along again on a skiing holiday)

1. Having the right kit is essential. I don't mean expensive - if you are a novice like me there is little point in shelling out for top of the range ski wear when you don't even know if you are going to like the sport. Main essentials in my opinion now are of course a) thermals b) ski pants and jacket c) a fleece zip waistcoat/vest (I've worn this with a long sleeve T-shirt and been toasty each day only needing an extra fleece layer when it got down to -27!) d) good quality ski socks e) woolly hat f) goggles g) helmet - this I bought here in Whistler after a week skiing without but I am totally in love with it now because firstly it keeps my head dry and warm in blizzards unlike the woolly hat, secondly it keeps my ears warmer than said hat and thirdly when you fall and hit your head/your grip slips when holding your skis and they hit your head or you bang you head on a lift wall it doesn't hurt (yep I'm just as clumsy here as in blighty) h) snow boots for evenings. We've had loads of snow during our two weeks here and it's gotten really really cold on some days so my super gorgeous Christmas present snow boots have been super cosy and comfy, especially after the torture of the heavy ski boots you wear.

2. You are unlikely to need anything fancy for going out in - I mistakenly bought a few tops with me that are a) way too cold to wear and b) far too dressy! The après ski is casual and fun, no spangles or airs and graces required which is fine by me!

3. You are going to get tired! I don't think I've ever had a holiday where I've had nights where I'm ready for bed at 8.30pm as I can't keep my eyes open. You will however be up ridiculously early as well, both for lessons if you have them but also for getting the most out of your day on the slopes.

4. Your legs will hurt....take a rest day. I managed 10 days before taking today off, really I should have had a day off at the weekend but the snow was too good and I was enjoying myself too much to stop. But it meant my legs were killing me and when that happens you can't ski well. So today I'm chilling out enjoying a huge Starbucks, reading my Kindle, pootling around our resort and generally enjoying a rest day before I get to hit the slopes again.

5. The food and drink (at least here in Canada) is amazing. Any thoughts of loosing weight while I was here down to the exercise flew by the wayside with the discovery of Pomegranate Cider (unbelievably good) burgers the size of my head, melt in the mouth steak and a caesar salad that was the size of a small table! For a food piggy like me this is heaven :0)

6. It takes a while to get the hang of skiing. At least for me it did. I did not pick it up quickly because I kept getting scared. The fear factor is the thing that holds you back the most (other than tired legs) if you can master the belief you can do it then you'll be fine. This is where lessons come in - I arrived here having had 1 brief dry ski slope lesson. I could barely snow plough so it was absolute beginners school for me. And despite a hiccup on day 2 where I got put in a far too advanced group and scared myself witless and felt utterly useless from day 3 thanks to Rob and Helga the best instructors in ski school I have ended up skiing parallel, on mogels, wizzing down some green runs, traversing some easy blue runs and even skiing a tiny bit of a black run.....if I can do it anyone can!

7. Avoid child skiers at all costs as a) they will be far better than you from their first slide on snow and b) they have no fear so will cut you up without a second thought. The ski schools here take little ones from the ages of around 3 or 4 - sounds ridiculous but you see them wizzing around full of confidence down steep slopes while you are bricking it at the top of a green run! They may look like awkward Lego men while walking around the villages but trust me those tiny people can whip your ass on the slopes!

8. And finally be prepared to get hooked! I promised to go on this holiday with Mr P as he loves skiing and after missing the last 2 seasons one because we went to Egypt on holiday and then last years season due to the inconvenient C episode he had no intention of missing another one. If I'm honest I wasn't overly looking forward to it. I mean I was looking forward to seeing Canada and having a holiday together and experiencing something new but I never thought I'd enjoy the skiing part as much as I have. To be frank I figured do this holiday and that would be skiing ticked off my experience list never to be done again and he could carry on without me but come on some beachy holidays as well.

Well I've surprised myself more than even Mr P I think with this as I've fallen in love with skiing. I may suck at it most of the time, feel terrified all of the time, fall over a lot, look as graceful as hippo ballet dancing but it's addictive. Once you conquer the fear enough to realise going faster makes turning easier and stopping quicker then the exhilarating feeling of flying down a slope can't be beaten.

So here's me, a previously die hard beach holiday fanatic already hoping that the ski boys let me tag along next year as I'm well and truly hooked. So much so that I'm counting down the hours until tomorrow when I can get back out there.

So my lovely readers, do any of you ski? Any tips for places to visit, any technique tips or just any stories you want to share?