The first thing to do is to get your trip booked well ahead of time to give you plenty of time to get ready. Here are our top ten things to thing about:
1. UK indoor ski slopes
It’s very worthwhile to book lessons at an indoor slope. There are different sorts of slopes, from very old and decrepit to new and pristine.
Highly recommended is a trip to a ‘real snow’ slope, where snow is made and the temperature is kept low.
It makes a fun day out, especially as often you’ll find the slopes positioned close to shops, cinemas and restaurants. It is possible to get a feel for skiing in one day, but many slopes offer a short course to give you confidence before you go. If you are taking children to the slopes, you’ll be pleased to know there are often relaxing areas overlooking the slopes so you can keep an eye on your child’s progress, and have a moment to yourself.
We recommend the following slopes:
Manchester’s Chill Factore
Hemel Hempstead’s The Snow Centre
Milton Keynes’s Snozone
You may also come across mini-slopes like those at Chel-Ski and at We are Vertigo, Belfast. There are also some in the UK under the Skiplex brand. Did you know these are very popular in the Netherlands, where they are two-a-penny in Amsterdam. These facilities are fantastic for beginners. The slopes are small revolving carpets and you start by holding onto a bar at the foot of the slope, looking into a mirror. Your instructor guides you often one-to-one or at most one-to-three skiers. As the slope is turned on, you are helped to understand how to ski on it. The instructor controls the speed and elevation of the slope. To give your legs a rest, after a few minutes, you’ll step off the slope to rest.
2. Online tips
Back in the day it was possible to learn to ski using books and videos and DVDs. Now it’s easy to watch tips and listen to advice on YouTube and podcasts. Look out for Darren Turner’s Insight ski coaching online or Warren Smith’s Ski Academy online.
3. Helpful ski sites
There are a number of great ski websites for news, information and debate. Try:
Sites start to come alive in September and tail off in February.
4. World Cup Skiing
Officially the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, this is the top international series of ski racing each winter. The BBC broadcast Ski Sunday with fab presenters Graham Bell and Ed Leigh. They cover the World Cup ski races from around the world. Though it’s elite racing and not for us amateurs, the shows give a good view of the resorts, and an update on the ski world in general with news on snow conditions and latest news. Bansko, Bulgaria hosts Ladies downhill on Jan 25th 2020 and Ladies Super G on Jan 26th 2020. Book now to take any remaining available hotel beds if you want to be part of the ski fun that week.
The Telegraph London Ski & Snowboard Show is getting bigger and better every year now. Held at Evolution in Battersea Park, it runs from Thursday to Sunday of October half term. This is the place to come for a taster of a ski resort vibe, with food and drink, live music plus a display slope of crazy displays by boarders and skiers. There is an advice clinic for all your questions and Balkan Holidays have a team available for all questions on ski.
Make a list of clothes you need and start asking around to borrow them. This should include, socks, thermals (long-sleeved top and bottom), ski trousers and jacket, hat, helmet, scarf or buff, waterproof gloves, goggles and sunglasses and very high factor sun cream. Start looking for kit in September, and by Christmas many of the shops’ stock will be sold out.
Try Snow&Rock, Ellis Brigham, Decathlon and Blacks. Brands to look out for –
7. Packing tips
Once your ski kit is in your suitcase, you’ll have previous little space for anything else so think simply! A pair of jeans for après is fine, with a few t-shirts. No heels are needed in ski resorts!
Many people will pack their boots in their suitcase, some will take their boot bag as a carry-on hand luggage. Check with your airline that you can take your boots on board. Don’t wear them to go in, you’ll soon regret it!
On your transfer bus (assuming you’ve booked with a tour operator), your rep will start to give you all in the information you need for your week away. Often, they will have your lift pass, if you have pre-booked one. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, it’s time to go and get your skis, boots and poles. This involves a trip to the local supplier and will be pretty stressful. Go knowing your height and weight and ski ability as you’ll be asked. It’s important because it means your equipment will be adapted for your level. (What this means is if you’re a beginner, your skis will release quickly when you fall, preventing injury. The more advanced you are, the less likely you are to want to be parted from your skis often, so the settings will be tighter).
Once done, you’ll need to take all the bits back to your hotel and store them in the locker room. This is all pretty stressful the first time you do it. But it’ll all seem routine by midweek. Really look after your kit, ensure you pick up your own skis and ensure your boots are in a warm place overnight or it’ll take you a long time to get them on in the morning.
9. Your first day
This will be a day of pfaffing and taking lots of deep breaths. You might be dropping off children in their groups, and/or trying to get to grips with your own instruction. But take a look upwards look at the beautiful mountains and breath in the crisp clean air. And look forward to a wonderful evening of lovely food and a few drinks.
You might ache somewhat in the evening, but it’s all worth it once you have some success on the slopes, feeling an edge sink into the slope, or being clearer on your body position.
10. Book again with loyalty benefits
When it’s all over and you’re skiing like a pro, it’ll all feel a bit flat on your return. With Balkan you’ll get a 5% loyalty discount, so it’s high time to secure your next ski trip. Balkan offer 3 ski countries and lots of resorts and hotels, so there’s something for everyone.