Before, Before, Before
If you don’t like the word, before… listen to the cracking song Before, Pet Shop Boys.
Before you read this
I was an absolute beginner, so see it like that, really I put myself in the position of helping people (the wife) who never had been on skies.
Before you start on your own
Lessons are always good! It’s just money!
Before you go outside
This is a brief summary of lessons I learnt whilst trying skiing for the first few times. By the way I (and the instructors say I’m an intermediate) where I can do parallel turns without too much difficulty. I assume that most complete beginners would be happy to reach this stage ! This text is organised in a ‘before you’ do something, it’s not a bad idea to anticipate what will happen next and try to think of it before it happens, it won’t prevent you from doing something it just won’t be such a surprise !
Before you reach the slopes
Get suitable equipment, most importantly boots that fit and waterproof clothing (for falling down) get some lessons, I think most people would agree in any area, even if your friend is an excellent skier an instructor can check the skis, the bindings, adjust the boots and generally tell you all sorts of useful stuff, more of that later, but book at least 4 hours of lessons in a group or private and you’ll get the best start possible. There is also some controversy about which is better, I think it makes very little difference to a beginner.
Before you start to move
So if there’s one lesson to be learned it’s to get use to the skis and the boots, walking in the boots is odd at first, the heel touches the ground much earlier than normal shoes and it’s odd !! Loosen the bindings while walking, it sounds odd but no-one tells you this !!! So some advice (which I didn’t do) put the boots on and walk around a little first, of course if you have bought some it’s easier, for rented pairs – try and get used to them, wonder around. There is an
extra benefit here one can do some warm up exercise, leg kicks, hip rotations at the same time. Standing up straight is uncomfortable !! I felt pressure both on the front and the back of the shins, this is normal when one stands up straight in boots but is odd, try and keep the knees a little bit flexed and you’ll be better off (it helps if the boots are undone).
Before you try going downwards
So get on the ski’s on a nice flat piece of snow, don’t try on an incline (I lesson I learned too), make sure there is no snow on the boot, especially if you’ve been wandering around (I rub it off on the back binding) and place the front of the boot in the binding so the little lip goes below the binding and then press down quite hard in one action with the heel, if you don’t press hard enough it won’t go in. Use the poles to steady yourself, one on either side. Feel the ski, lift it up, turn it from side to side, slide it in the snow. It’s like have gigantic shoes on. Same procedure for the second one. Hold yourself with the poles and slide both feet forward and backwards like an exercise machine.
Next, try and walk, if you like push with the poles and glide a little. One thing that helped me was to walk up an incline, this is quite difficult for the first time, I admit but is a good warm up exercise and helps alot. Start on the flat and turn the skis out about 45 degrees each then pick up one ski and place it front of the other and repeat, this way you go up the hill. You will inevitably cross the ski’s and put one on the other, but just lift it off and forward.
Before you try the lift
Then, slowly edge the ski’s round until your parallel with the hill, you will slip a little but just keep going 5 degrees at a time. Once parallel start to turn the hill and feel the speed if you can keep going until you stop. Although rather unexciting this helps, both instructors and my friends started me this way, it helps you get used to the skis, warm up and even when on runs (middle stages of blue ones) you have to walk sometimes. Keep doing this until your comfortable, flex the knees a little and steadily go higher, if you slip just keep moving. This is obvious but later when you do parallel turns and the fish hook and up backwards on the hill i.e. facing upwards it’s easy to forget. Get as used to the skis and boots as possible, I think it’s easier without the poles, they are a distraction but they may help steadily yourself.
Before you fall
You will fall over, place the ski’s down the hill and push on the snow, here a friend can help for the first time, if your alone just keep trying, push with the hand closest to the slope, try and make yourself at right angles to the slope so when you get up you won’t start sliding again.
A posting of mine to the net caused some controversy about the best way to start learning, this was regarding whether one should learn the plough or not.