Eight tips for learning to ski as an adult
You’ve experienced the joys of après ski, enjoying the incredible view from a gondola as it cruises up to the top of the mountain, but you want a taste of learning to get down the hill. Maybe you’ve considered adult ski lessons but are worried you’re over the hill? Never!
The wonderful thing about being on the slopes is that it really is for everyone of all ages. It’s never too late to plough your first turns through the snow and breathe in that cool mountain air as you glide down the piste. The wonder of winter sports!
We understand any nervousness; the little ones seem to have no fear, magically going for it, as if there were no tomorrow. Maybe you’ll curse your parents for never putting you on a ski course as a child, but it is never too late to start.
Follow our eight tips for learning to ski as an adult, and nothing will stop you from making your way down your first blue run.
- Change your mindset
One of the hardest things about learning something new as an adult is the mental aspect. Having faith in yourself paired with some of that child-like confidence is the first step. Try not to overthink it in advance of your first lesson.
Of course, every activity involves certain risks, but if you follow a few basic things, the chance of your injuring yourself while skiing is slight. The important thing is to adapt your skiing to your abilities, and your instructor will help you judge this.
It doesn’t matter whether you are 20, 40 or 70 years old. Everyone can learn to ski as an adult, discovering how to parallel turn, glide comfortably through fresh snow, and feel safe on the slopes. You don’t have to go to the snow park and hit the halfpipe or whizz down a black run at a hundred miles per hour. Take it easy and do what you enjoy!
Are you worried about being the only person who is a ski beginner? Don’t let that put you off; everyone has to start somewhere, and it takes time. The key thing to remember is you have nothing to prove to anyone. Your only goal should be to experience the beautiful scenery, magic of the mountains and the wind whirling past your face.
One thing that helped us the most was to keep that beginner’s spirit when you start. You don’t have any experience yet, and you can take advantage of that. Just pretend you are the first person on earth to learn how to ski. Make your own experiences and leave any fears behind as you jump on the chairlift.
- Lower your expectations and eliminate any pressure
Granted, the chance of a career as a professional skier is most likely over for you (well, almost certainly). But, that should not be what you are aiming for. The beauty of starting to ski at a later age is that you can take your time and no longer have that youthful anxiety of caring what people think.
Your partner or your friends may brag about how they’ve plunged down an icy black slope, but don’t forget that this is not their first time on skis; they have been doing it for years. Don’t be pushed into anything you’re not ready for. Go at your own pace.
- Prepare yourself for skiing
You don’t have to be perfectly fit if you want to learn to ski as an adult. However, a little fitness can save you from very unpleasant muscle soreness. You will be using muscles that you never knew existed before, so before you leave, you have an opportunity to train like a pro and try doing these exercises by ski racer Lindsey Vonn while you’re at home.
If you don’t do much or any sport off the slopes, you can benefit significantly from balance and stretching exercises in the build-up to your trip. If you do Yoga or Pilates, you will already have much of what you need in terms of fitness for learning to ski as an adult.
Normal recreational skiing is not a sport for which you need to be particularly fit. However, a certain level of agility and strength is an advantage. This will make it easier for you to perform the still unfamiliar movements and give you more confidence in your body as you learn new positions.
- Don’t give up before you’ve even started
When you announce your intentions to learn to ski as an adult, you may well receive lots of well-intentioned advice from friends and family. It’s a lovely thing, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to hear about all the things you should pay attention to. Worse, there may be a few ‘horror stories’ from over the years.
Try to keep them at the back of your mind, and instead make your own experiences along with your ski instructor’s much more valuable advice.
Learning a new sport as an adult is always a challenge, but such a valuable one. Your bum might hurt after the first day from a few minor falls, but it’s all in the name of practice!
Any setbacks will be forgotten when you have skied up the mountain all by yourself for the first time and mastered your first descent. There is no better feeling than feeling the sun on your face and the snow under your skis as you smile at your achievement.
Practice makes perfect, don’t forget that.
- Make sure you have the right equipment
Before you’ve started, resist the compulsion to spend and don’t buy a complete set of ski equipment straight away. In our guide on how to dress for skiing, you will find all the important tips and tricks for being pleasantly warm but practically dressed too. If you get cold on the slopes, the fun will soon be over, but you can easily avoid that with our help.
As far as ski boots, skis, helmets and poles are concerned, it would be best if you rent them from a specialist shop the first time you go. Please resist the urge to borrow equipment from a friend, because a ski shop can put together the right equipment for your skill level. It can actually be dangerous if you use the wrong binding settings as a beginner, for example. Again, your instructor will also be able to guide you and double-check to give you peace of mind.
- Choose the right ski resort as a beginner skier
Do your research before you book. You want to make sure that when you’re first starting out, you head to a resort that is good for beginners rather than a ski resort where there are almost only red and black slopes.
The very first thing you’ll want to learn is how to use the lifts! When researching, try and work out where the beginners’ slopes and lifts are, making sure they’re easy to get to. Not sure where to start? We have compiled the best beginner ski resorts in the Alps for you here.
- Invest in ski lessons
Please, please, please resist the urge to have a friend or even your partner teach you how to ski if the relationship is important to you…We can pretty much guarantee you that this is a bad idea for any friendship or partnership.
It may be that your loved one is an excellent skier and really know their stuff. But that doesn’t mean they have the patience or the knowledge to teach an adult beginner how to ski, or that they’re immune to bad habits. The best way forward for this is adult group ski lessons and private lessons. Your friends may agree frivolously, but by the second day of the skiing holiday, they may regret it when they can’t hit the slopes in the way they’re used to.
Even more so, they are not professionals and won’t have the same expertise as a fully qualified instructor would if you took beginner ski lessons, knowing exactly what you need to learn and how!
Ski lessons for beginner adults have many advantages. Another big plus is being among other beginners who are in the exact same situation as you. At least a third of all participants in ski courses are adults learning to ski. So, you are by no means alone!
- Avoid too much après ski…
Having seen the glamour of partying on the mountain, it may be that one of the reasons you want to learn to ski as an adult is to join in the aprés ski. Après ski is part of the fun on the slopes for many. We don’t want to spoil it for you either but take it lightly until you have more confidence on the mountain. You’ll be resenting the night in the bar if you find yourself with a hangover on the slopes the next morning.
After all, you’re here to learn to ski, aren’t you? Keep a fresh face, reduce your risk of injury and save the party for the last night. The next time you go skiing, things will look very different, the time will come when you can combine both!