Well, the Starks from Game of Thrones are right about one thing: Winter is coming. And with that comes ski season! If you’re planning to ski or snowboard for the very first time, you’re in for a great holiday. But before you run off to your snow adventure, here are a few tips to get you ready and, more importantly, to stay safe:
1. Research on slopes with good snowy conditions
You might be surprised to learn that snow, like rain, can be really unpredictable. At times, ski resorts postpone or close the parks temporarily because there isn’t enough snow. It’s not something you can control, but doing a little research on reputable ski resorts can help.
If you don’t want to travel too far, Niseko in Japan is a favorite amongst skiers and snowboarders because of its powdery slopes, which are perfect for beginners to learn in. Another great option near Singapore is Yongpyong in South Korea. It will be hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics 2018. Plan your trip mid-winter to avoid too little snow, but try to also avoid peak periods when thousands of people would share the slopes with you.
2. Pick a ski resort with enough beginner slopes to practice on
Ski resorts are not built the same; some are better catered to advance skiers, while some offer plenty of facilities and runs for beginners. When researching ski resorts, look for those with more beginner runs to make the most of your ski trip. The difficulty of slopes are charted in different colors. In Europe and Japan, blue is used to represent beginner slopes, while green is used by the rest of the world.
3. Pack lightweight but warm clothes
If you don’t have a ski jacket and pants, you can rent a set from the resort or any shop with ski gear hire. Ski jackets and pants are made to be waterproof and thick enough, so they will protect you from getting soaking wet and bruised all over (because, let’s face it, you’re going to be falling a lot).
Under your ski jacket and pants, wear a layer of thermal clothing and a fleece jacket to keep you warm. You’ll want to avoid frostbite, but be free enough of bulk so you wouldn’t be restricting your movement.
4. Wear a helmet at all times
When you’re renting your ski or snowboard equipment, get a helmet as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re skiing or snowboarding; you should always wear a helmet when you’re on the slopes. Again, you’re going to be falling a lot, so protecting your head can save your life. And this is important as you gain confidence in your abilities to ski or snowboard, because even the experts can fall and hit their heads on some ice.
5. Sign up for beginner classes
Now, you might be with a friend who knows how to ski or snowboard, and is willing to teach you. But if you’re going to learn the right habits and the proper safety measures, it’s best to sign up for a beginner class. Bad habits that you pick up are, after all, difficult to unlearn.
A group class can help you to save some money, all while learning the basics with other beginners like yourself. When you’re feeling more confident of your abilities and have a bit of time to spare in the class, ask your ski instructor if they can take you on the ski lift.
6. Never go on a lift until you’re confident of the basics
A lot of beginners make the mistake of getting on a ski lift with no idea how to get off. This can be dangerous, especially since the lifts do not stop. If you’re not confident of the basics, you might end up getting hit by the next lift that comes by.
Have your instructor take you on the lift at least once. And if you’re still not confident, you can always give a heads up to the lift operator when you’re approaching the landing. You will be fine, so long as you know the basics.
7. Get insurance to also cover this part of your trip
Skiing or snowboarding can be really fun! So long as you’re always in control and wear your helmet at all times. Just to be on the safe side, you should purchase an insurance package that covers activities such as skiing and snowboarding. Most travel insurances do not include this unless you specifically ask for it.
8. Try both skiing and snowboarding if you have time
If you’re going to at the ski resort for a few days, why not try both skiing and snowboarding? Most folks decide on one, but when their abilities are not as expected, they throw the towel in and decide the slopes are not for them. Travelling, for us, is all about adventure, so take your adventure a little further by trying both, and decide which is better suited to you.