Category:New to the Snow
- 1 If you've never been before
- 1.1 Preparation
- 1.2 On Snow
If you've never been before
What can I expect?
You should expect a lifetime addiction to fun and expense. For the first couple of days you will wonder what on earth possessed you to spend a fortune to feel like a gumby, but after a couple of days and some lessons (from a professional instructor - NOT your mate who started last year) you will begin to see what is so wonderful about a sport that you can enjoy for a lifetime. It is, incidentally, a sport you can enjoy with your children and grandchildren. There are not many of those around.
A bit of persistence is worthwhile. There is a theory around that the people who get addicted are those who committed for a week on their first trip. After four days you begin to get a feeling of what it is all about. After two days most people do not achieve that epiphany.
Experiencing dangerous road conditions would be the first thing that you would be likely to encounter when travelling to a ski resort for the first time, although the roads to the Victorian resorts are much more interesting than those to NSW resorts. Once you arrive at a ski resort, you should be allocated to two different type of carparks, one for day trippers and one for the overnight stayers who have accommodation on the mountain.
Once you are on the mountain and planning to ski or snowboard, you should do the first thing first, get some lift and ski school tickets! Most ski resorts allow the customer to purchase lift tickets that are bundled with ski school admissions to reduce the hassle of handling multiple tickets for different purposes.
Is skiing dangerous?
Skiing can be dangerous. You are travelling at high speed near hard objects and other skiers and boarders with minimal protection and a set of levers on the bottom of your feet.
There are many things you can do to reduce the danger to relatively tiny proportions. Most of these are embodied in the Alpine Responsibility Code.
Make sure your bindings are properly adjusted and tested. You can also wear a helmet to reduce the potential for head injuries.
Before you go
Get in shape before you go
It's strenuous exercise. It is more enjoyable if you are fit and strong. General strength and fitness helps, but a focus on the legs, particularly the quads, abductors and adductors will help a lot. Bicycling and rollerblading are good dry land training.
Preparation is the key with young kids. Kids will get wet and will get cold very quickly so being prepared is an absolute must. Consider taking them for snowplay a year or two before introducing them to ski school. If they have already been to the snow and seen it all then they are usually super keen to get to ski school but if it is all new in the one trip it can be rather daunting. Here is a long list of hints for kids at ski school.
Alpine Responsibiity Code
This exists for everyone's safety. Read it, understand it, remember it and obey it.
Regardless of how you enjoy your snow sport, always show courtesy to others and be aware that THERE ARE INHERENT RISKS in all snow recreational activities that common sense and personal awareness can reduce. These risks include rapid changes in weather and surface conditions, collisions with other people as well as natural and artificial hazards such as rocks, trees, stumps, bare spots, lift towers and snowmaking equipment.
Know and Observe the Code below - It's YOUR responsibility
- Know your ability and always stay in control and be able to stop and avoid other people or objects. It is your responsibility to stay in control on the ground and in the air.
- Take lessons from qualified professional instructors to learn and progress.
- As you proceed downhill or overtake another person, you must avoid the people below and beside you.
- Do not stop where you obstruct a trail or run, or are not visible from above.
- When entering a trail or run or starting downhill, look uphill and give way to others.
- Always use chairlift restraining devices and always use proper devices to prevent runaway equipment. Ensure your equipment is in good condition.
- Observe and obey all signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails or runs and out of closed areas.
- Before using any lift you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
- Do not ski, snowboard, ride a lift or undertake any other alpine activity if your ability is impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- If you are involved in, or witness an accident, alert Ski Patrol, remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol.
Failure to observe the Alpine Responsibility Code may result in CANCELLATION of your ticket by the Ski Patrol or other authorised personnel
Good resorts for beginners
It is wise to go to small ski resort like Mt Baw Baw in Victoria and Selwyn Snowfields in NSW due to the small resort size and low lift ticket fee. It is unlikely that a beginner would need a huge variety of runs to choose from on the first day and making most of the lift/run ticket cost.
Should I ski or snowboard?
You will get a million polarised opinions. The only thing that matters is what you enjoy.
The conventional wisdom appears to be that snowboarding will get you to basic competence faster, but skiing rewards patience by eventually getting you to a higher degree of competence. In other words, the intermediate plateau of boarding is reached qickly but is harder to leave. The plateau takes a bit longer for skiing, but you spend less time there.
But what would I know. I am an old fart skier.
Other winter sport activities
Beginner's guide to ski jargon
piste, off piste, snow terminology etc
One of the most common questions asked by new drivers to the snow is "Will I need chains"?. If you are travelling in Victoria, it is mandatory (by law) to carry chains whether you have a 2WD or 4WD vehicle. Fitting the chains onto the wheels when needed is totally dependent on the road conditions, and in alpine areas conditions can change rapidly. It is strongly recommended (and law in some areas and times) that if you intend driving in alpine areas chains are carried by both 2WD and 4WD vehicles at all times.
Dressing for the weather
The snow is a cold environment. But you are exercising and getting hot. What to do? The best thing to do is dress in layers that you can add or remove to control your temperature. You may have a base layer of thermal underwear, a second layer of light fleece and a waterproof outer layer. The outer layer may be padded and insulated, or just a shell. Many people prefer a shell as they believe that this offers the greatest flexibility. You can buy parkas with zip out padding. Other parkas have "pit zips" - zips under the armpits that can be opened or closed to regulate ventilation.
One way to control temperature is with a hat and neck gaiter. You lose something like a third of body heat through your head and neck. If you are hot, take your beanie off or open your helmet vents.
Good gloves are vital - cold hands make you miserable.
If you are a beginner you will fall often. Snow can be wet, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer is vital. Jeans and footy jumpers will get wet. Wet cotton provides no insulation and you will get dangerously cold very quickly, particularly if it is windy.
You will also need eye protection. Goggles give wind and sun protection, and can generally be used in all conditions. Sunglasses do not give as good wind protection, and many make it hard to see in foggy or cloudy conditions.
You cannot hire gloves, beanies or goggles. You must buy, or borrow from friends.
Rental equipment tips
Most rental shops you can trust, but it is wise to shop around and compare prices in other rental shops around the area. Visit a range of shops and ask the staff questions about your needs. Ask your close friends who ski where they get their gear from, this may help you find a suitable shop that rents gear that suits your needs.
Should I take a lesson?
YES!!!!!!!! A lesson or 77 will get you to a point where you start to enjoy the activity, instead of wondering why you have paid a fortune to feel wet, cold and miserable.
You don't have to, but it is wise to have a lesson on your first day. Having a lesson is fun and an enjoyable experience while you learn all the important safety skills like snowplow and keeping control of your speed while on the slope in order to reduce a chance of injury. It is best to check with the resort you are visiting to find out about their ski school timetables and prices.
Much of skiing is counter intuitive (like leaning DOWN the hill). Most instructors say that 80% of their time is spent getting people out of bad habits and not developing good ones. Regular lessons when you are improving mean that you willl acquire good habits. Good habits mean control, and greater enjoyment. Many people with decades of experience still take the occasional refresher lesson to polish their technique.