What is it like to learn to ski as an adult? I experienced this earlier this year when I went to the Alpe d’Huez ski resort in France for a few days. I had never been on winter sports before. Only in New Zealand I once stood on a snowy slope near Mount Ruapehu, while Daan went off a volcano on his snowboard (how cool?!). But since we were only there for one day, I didn’t see the point in taking ski lessons.
That totally changed in France! I can only say that I found it quite exciting to learn to ski as an adult. I’ve really thought that I would see myself fall off my skis a thousand times or disappear completely into a heap of snow. But it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I loved it! And that’s why I like to tell you about my experience with skiing.
- 1 Learning to ski as an adult, that’s too scary, isn’t it?!
- 2 Ski lessons between toddlers
- 3 Learn to ski within a few hours
- 4 With self-confidence on the green slope
- 5 Tips for learning to ski as an adult
Learning to ski as an adult, that’s too scary, isn’t it?!
That was my biggest concern that kept haunting my head all the time. From a young age I wasn’t used to go on winter sports every year. In my family it wasn’t a habit and also in my former circle of friends no one ever went to a ski resort on winter vacation. Therefore, I couldn’t really picture it and I didn’t necessarily feel the need to go on winter sports either. ‘Much too cold for me, I’d rather go to the sun,’ was always my answer when someone asked me about it. And at that moment I really meant it. Because you can’t miss what you don’t know about.
When I met Daan, he told me that he had been on winter sports many times in his life. Not only him, but also all his friends around him. Didn’t I even want to go on winter sports with him? Due to all their stories, winter sports came to live for me and I thought it would be cool to do it someday. But… then I had to learn to ski, as an adult! And as the only one in a group! Was I able to do that without breaking anything?
In the end we stayed too long on the other side of the world to go on winter sports as a group, and somehow I was a little bit relieved. It seemed quite intense to me to learn to ski as an adult. I mean, kids are still flexible and adventurous enough, but was I? Shouldn’t I be afraid that a helicopter would need to pick me up within in hour because I already got myself into trouble?
Ski lessons between toddlers
At the beginning of this year I finally got the chance to take ski lessons in Alpe d’Huez. With my knees shaking I reported to the ski rental of the resort where I was staying in the morning. The adrenaline shot through my body! And I have to admit that I even hesitated for a while. With my heart beating down my throat, I grabbed the ski boots, skis and sticks that had been set up for me and walked out. There were dozens of experienced skiers ready to go to the slopes. Younger children were shooting past me at high speed. And I joined the small group of adults who were desperately looking around. I was clearly not the only one who was nervous.
The first thing the ski instructor said when he came our way was, ‘You don’t need those sticks today!’ Right… The only thing that gave me a bit of grip was taken away from me immediately. With a heavy feeling in my body, I followed the instructor and my group to the beginner’s field on the outskirts of the village. To be honest, I felt a bit stupid. There we walked with some nervous grown-ups on a ski field, surrounded by children of the age of four.
When we were in the middle of the field, we fastened our ski boots to the skis. And hey, that wasn’t too bad. Because the ski boots reach far on your shins, you’re quite stable and you have some grip. We started by stepping sideways and sliding forward and less than ten minutes later we were supposed to slide down a very, very, very small slope. Um, already?
Learn to ski within a few hours
What surprised me the most in the end? How quickly you’ve actually mastered the basics of skiing. Less than half an hour later I really managed to keep my balance and move forward on my skis. And I was able to slide down a small hill without falling. After that we had to go a little further up the ski field towards a green piste. So the snow hills became a bit steeper as well.
And then the ski instructor thought it was time to take the drag lift. Yikes! But even that wasn’t too bad at all. At a steady pace the lift pulled me up, up the ‘Rifnel’. We first practiced on the lower part of the piste, until we took thelift to a higher part again. We learned to brake, slalom and steer. And to my great surprise this actually went quite well. Because you have to squat on your skis a bit, you lean with your shins against the edge of your ski boots. That provides a lot of stability and a little bit of security.
We practiced a lot and skied down several times, in a straight line and slaloming. And I started to really, really like it. Within a few hours, my nerves had turned to self-confidence, and my ski instructor shouted at me (with a laugh) because I was going way too fast on the slopes (but that was just so much fun!). I was also really sorry when he said it was time for lunch. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so disappointed (and that while food was involved).
With self-confidence on the green slope
Luckily we also had some time to ski after lunch. After about five hours of skiing lessons, I skied off the green piste confidently. Without falling down even once. I was so proud of myself! For years I thought it would be terrible to learn to ski as an adult. That I would definitely break one of my legs, couldn’t stand or would be far too clumsy to neatly slide off the slopes. But really, all my worries were unjustified. The skiing was really great and I can’t wait to go on winter sports again.
Would you like to learn to ski as an adult? All I can say is: go and do it! Maybe it seems as exciting to you as it seemed to me. But I can promise you: once you do, it will be so cool to do. And you can learn the basics of skiing in just a few hours. Okay, after that you shouldn’t want to go off the blue, red or black slopes. I also need to practice a lot more for that. But it’s a great start. To help you with that as well, I have some more tips for you.
Tips for learning to ski as an adult
Take lessons and don’t try it yourself
Some people think: skiing, that’s easy peasy. But skiing really involves a bit of technique. And it’s really the best to teach yourself that technique right once you start. And of course skiing is not without its dangers. You want to prevent that you don’t know how to slow down and bump into other people or fall off the slopes. That’s why you want to learn skiing the right way straight from the beginning. You can only do this by taking lessons from a qualified ski instructor.
Go on winter sports in spring
Spring skiing can have many advantages, especially if you are a beginner. If you go skiing in spring, you can count on softer snow and less crowds. So if you fall over during your lessons, you will fall a lot less hard. Also, there are often high discounts in spring. In France they organize Skiing into Spring every year, where you get free ski lessons, equipment and a ski pass from one paying travel companion. That really saves you hundreds of euros.
Don’t care about others
Yes, you might feel a bit dull when you are overtaken by a group of toddlers. And yes, it is also intimidating when you see all those confident skiers and snowboarders around you. But practice makes perfect. Don’t care about others and make your own plan. Before you know it, you’ll be skiing down the mountain at top speed. And don’t forget: everyone has had to learn it once. No one has ever been born being a top skier straight away.
Take your time
Skiing is exhausting. Even if you are in good shape, it takes a lot of energy. Also, your body is not used to the posture you have to stand in, so you can expect a lot of muscle pain in the first days. Keep this in mind beforehand. Don’t plan your whole day, but take it easy. By taking your rest in between, you’ll learn the quickest.
Can you already ski or would you like to learn to ski as an adult?
Read more about Europe?