How to learn to ski as a total beginner - by Charlotte Hartley
A few months ago, I hit what could only be described as a quarter life crisis. I realised I’d had the same hobbies for most of my adult life, and they consisted only of watching the soaps and avoiding the gym. I’d entered my 30’s and no longer felt as lithe and energetic as I had in my 20’s. My social life had all but diminished - what with having a house to run, a job to uphold and a husband to keep happy. So I set myself a challenge - learn a new skill. Surprise yourself.
So I hit Google for the answer.
Learning to ski at 30 (plus)
I grabbed the laptop and investigated all the crazy and exciting things I could learn in my 30’s. Horse-riding - tried that, didn’t work. Scuba diving - can’t swim. Skiing - actually that could be a possibility. I typed into the search engine: learn to ski near me and came across Chill Factore’s website. The longest real snow slope in the UK. Beginner courses. Professional trainers. Progress cards to help you get to grips with your development. Based in Trafford City near Manchester, it was easily accessible. And I figured I could nip into the Trafford Centre for a bit of retail therapy if all didn’t go to plan. Within minutes, I had booked my three week course. And just like that, I had committed to learn how to ski at 30 (plus).
How to Ski Day One: Mastering the Basics
I was fairly apprehensive when I rocked up at Chill Factore’s Changing Village to get my boots, ski jacket and salopettes. I was introduced to my instructor, Stuart, who was subjected to multiple excuses about my inevitable poor skills way before I’d even got my boots on. He told me to relax, get geared up, and come out onto the snow. I did as I was told. Stuart explained how to stand correctly in my boots. I had to bend my knees and lean ever so slightly forward to maintain my balance and keep control. I was soon a dab-hand at getting my skis off and on too, without falling to a pitiful mess on the ground. I learned to ski on a flat - like a small child in a playground, using my poles as leverage. I learned how to waddle in a side-step up the gradient and how to adjust to my incredibly long feet (I wasn’t allowed to refer to my skis as ‘skis’ otherwise I would consider them a separate entity. So now my skis are my feet). Then I was shifting my long feet and knock-knees into the snow plough position. Success - suddenly I was moving down the hill in a controlled way, not a slip or fall in sight!
How to Ski Day Two: Controlling Speed & Mastering Turns
I returned the following week full of confidence, ready to tackle anything the snow had to throw at me. Proficient with my equipment (no thank you Stuart, I can handle this one on my own) I geared up and made my way to the top of the beginner slope. There I moved into my trusty snow plough and headed downhill like a graceful swan on an icy lake. If the excited squeals were to be ignored anyway.
After a few runs, Stuart headed up the slope himself with a few plastic animals. He placed them at random intervals down the slope, looked at me with a wry smile and informed me I would now be learning how to turn. Unfazed, I took my place at the top of the slope once more. At this point, I needed a little pep talk. Stuart told me that when learning how to ski as a beginner, the best thing to do is to allow your body to respond naturally to the snow and the various gradients. Soften your posture and lean into the turn. It will come more naturally that way, and you will progress more quickly.
So, I set off down the slope.
To turn right, I shifted my weight to the left and aligned my snow plough as Stuart had taught me. I did the opposite to turn right. Then left, then right again. I cleared all the obstacles - no animals were harmed - and then it was back to the top to try again. A little faster this time.
Now a fully fledged, practically professional skier, I hit the snow the following week with renewed vigour. I carried my skis like a pro - oh so casually - and popped my boots into the ‘lock’ with ease. I took my usual place waiting for Stuart, only to find him waving at me from the main slope. He gave me a cheery smile, and I slunk over to him like a nervous puppy. I would be introduced to the button lift today, Stuart informed me. We were only going about a quarter of the way up the slope - but still, the hustle and bustle of other skiers and boarders was a little unnerving. Nevertheless, I knew I could crack the main slope, so I grabbed the next poma as it came around and hopped on.
Jumping off at the right point was a bit of a squeaky-bum moment - I certainly didn’t want to be stranded at the top of the slope with only my snow plough for company. So I made it my mission to get off at the right point. This time I would be making my turns a little wider - Stuart popped some poles into the snow to be used as markers. Absolutely no problem at all, I assured him. Until he took my own poles from me, told me to hold my arms out and then balanced them across my forearms.
What a cheeky devil this guy is.
So I set off down the slope, balancing my poles as best I could. I confess I did have to grapple for them a few times, but I didn’t drop them so I was pleased with that.
The next challenge? Take them away entirely. This one I managed with no issues whatsoever. I sped down the slope with ease, cruising around the obstacles and even narrowing my snow plough into a slightly more parallel position to gain speed. When I arrived at the bottom, I was pumped with adrenaline. Who says you can’t learn to ski in your 30’s? Who says you can’t learn anything new in your 30’s? I pointed up to the top, asked Stuart when we could get right up there and come down the whole slope! He gave me a gentle pat on the shoulder and pulled out my progress card. “Lets sign you off your beginners’ course first, eh?”
How to learn to ski with Chill Factore
If you fancy learning a new skill on the UK’s longest real snow slope, book a Beginner Ski Lesson
at Chill Factore today. You can learn over 1 day, 2 days or 3 weeks,
depending on your learning style and your schedule. Contact our team of
expert advisors for more information.