It might still be cold outside and the thought of leaving a cosy bed to brave the elements is the last thing on your mind. However do yourself a favour and put on some suitable warm clothes and think about learning to ski before the temperatures warm up. The exercise and the cold will actually do you good. Really!
If you have never been skiing before now is a great time to make your first venture on to the snow in Europe. It is easier to learn in cold snow than softer spring snow so plan your first alpine escapade sooner rather than later. The daylight hours are slowly increasing and the sun getting higher so it won’t feel like you are getting up in the dark.
You may well be wondering why anyone would venture into alpine regions and risk freezing themselves to death. But cold brisk air can actually beneficial to your health and wellbeing. It’s important for children and adults to have some fun outdoors during the winter months. If you can’t bring yourself to heading to alpine regions, you might find inspiration for getting out and about in winter from other winter lovers.
- Cold temperatures can be great for bringing people closer together socially. We tend to seek company of friends and family for comfort.
- Winter reduces the number insects around to annoy us in winter and summer.
- Colder temperatures reduce inflammation. There is a reason sports people dive into ice baths and use cryotherapy after gruelling sport events.
- Scientific studies report that our brains function better in cooler temperatures.
- Moderately cold temperatures can be good for our skin vasculature by forcing blood vessels react quickly to changing temperatures. There is something to be said for rosy cheeks being a healthy glow.
- Getting warm in cool temperatures helps us get fit and burn calories. Just make sure you have good clothing that wicks moisture away from the body and breathes to ensure you stay warm and dry as you sweat.
- And getting outside in sunshine will ensure you get daily dose of Vitamin D and also keep Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the shadows.
Here are a few features to look for in a resort that will help you learn and enjoy your first experiences.
- Look for a great ski school with well trained international instructors that speak in a language you understand. In the beginning you may have enough problems to stand on skis let alone translating instructions.
- Look for a ski hire that cares. The resort should have good ski hire equipment that is modern and well maintained. Cramming your virgin feet into ski boots is difficult enough without ill fitting equipment causing pain and agony. Also hiring equipment will mean you get try different gear to see what suits you best.
- You should stay somewhere it is easy to access the ski slope. Beginners always seem to struggle to look cool carrying their skis. Get someone to show you how. It will make life much easier!
- You should choose a place that has lots of beginner and intermediate slopes. When you look a ski slope guide you will see different coloured lines down each area to indicate the difficulty for skiing down each run. In Europe green, then blue are the easiest, then red, flowed by black and black diamond. You are looking for place that has lots of green and blue on the map.
There is always an element of risk when participating in outdoor sports, but if you take regular lessons, stay on relevant slopes, learn good skiing etiquette and wear a helmet, you should be fine.
The Best European Resorts for Beginner Skiers
Portes du Soleil is one of the most accessible ski areas in France. It is very close to Geneva airport so within a little over an hour you can be at your resort. Both Morzine and Avoriaz are imminently suitable for beginners - adults or children. Taking the whole family to Portes du Soleil is easy.
Avoriaz is at the higher altitude so can be assured of the most snow in any season. However, Morzine some hundred metres below usually has good coverage. Both areas have good choices for ski schools.
Tignes in Val d”Isere, high in the French Alps also has great slopes for beginners. There are “Ski Start” learning zones so you can learn with the help of a professional ski instructor and then practise independently in a safe environment.
Almost half of the slopes in Cortina are suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers. There are even slow zones to make sure you are not distracted by more experienced skiers zipping past you. The whole area is well maintained and groomed daily to give you perfect piste conditions to help you progress quickly.
For those of you who want to learn to ski but also appreciate the finer things in life might enjoy the ambiance of Lech. It has superb crowd free learner slopes with few trees to avoid en route. And surprise, surprise! - there are even some heated chair lifts. Now that is luxury!
Another perk for any beginner skier is that you do not need to commit to a whole day pass with shorter options available to purchase.
Obergurgl is also another Austrian resort that caters well to beginners and families. There are wide crowd free slopes with lots of spac to practice your snow plough turns.
Mayrhofen also has gentle slopes. The nursery slopes are separate from the more difficult pistes so you practice in peace. It has a vibrant après ski life too so you can take a turn dancing on tables after a day falling on snow.
Slovakia has a large ski area at Jasná with inexpensive prices and easily accessed slopes close to hotel accommodation. The altitude gets up to over 2000m so there is usually good snow to be found each season. There are over 45km of piste and 26 lifts, so plenty to keep you occupied in the snow.
The skiing is surprisingly good in Bansko there is a well respected ski school on the slopes to make sure you keep your tips from crossing. There are plenty of beginner slopes in the 75km of piste groomed daily.
Get Moving and Learn to ski this Winter
I hope this article has motivated you to get out of that warm bed and explore some options for enjoying the outdoors this winter. It is vital for the health of your mind and body. Learning to ski is easy if you do it the right place with the right people so make a plan to enjoy some snow activity now.
Hi! I’m John Miller, a travel blogger who loves travelling in all seasons and writing about my experiences. When I’m not travelling I enjoy hanging out with family and learning new languages to communicate with my new found friends. You can check my blog at pretravels.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter .