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Learning to ski is one of those experiences you’ll simply never forget. It’s not just about honing a new skill but also about being immersed in nature. You’ll have soaring mountains, glaciers, and wild pine forests rolling all around; not to mention fresh air and time to contemplate life as you whiz from slope to slope.
This is a skill for life and you’re not too late to the party
certainly true that skiing is easier done the younger you are. My girlfriend
was carving by the age of six! It just comes naturally then, like languages.
Still, that didn’t stop her from dragging me to a ski slope when I was 23. Older-age nerves played their part but they were soon conquered. The upshot? Don’t be put off because you think you’re past it…You’re not! In fact, the average age of skiers in Denver in 2013 was estimated at about 38.5 years. What’s more, those 55-64 made up a whopping 12% of the ski force. This is a skill for life, folks!
There are loads of ski destinations that are perfect for learning
One of the keys to learning to ski fast is choosing the right resort. Thankfully, there are oodles of perfect ski destinations for beginners all around the globe. In the states alone are a whopping 476 potential ski destinations, with over 50 in New York and 30 in California.
This guide will help you focus in on the places that lean towards offering something for the novices. They might have tried-and-tested ski schools. They might have a lot of soft green runs. They could come with tree-lined pistes for extra protection. Whatever it is, they are the top-rated spot to go snow plowing down the mountainside if you’re eager to join the 10 million US travelers who regularly choose ski destinations each year!
So, you’re looking to get a-skiing? Fantastic. There’s really nothing like it. What’s more, your 20s are the perfect time to start. It’s when I did and I’ve not looked back. From the Alps to the Carpathians, I’ve enjoyed adrenaline-pumping rides through pine forests and down peaks, not to mention lots of après parties fuelled by Austrian schnapps.
But where to go to start learning? Below is just a selection of some of the world’s best ski resorts for beginners. They qualify because they have excellent nursery slopes, snowsure conditions, areas to graduate to as you edge into the intermediate category, cheap rates, and acclaimed ski schools. Let’s take a look…
Les Deux Alpes, France
It’s all in the architecture at Les Deux Alpes. Not the style of the buildings, no. The design of the ski resort. This is one of the few places where you can enjoy the feel of a true Alpine ski holiday as a complete beginner. Usually, nursery slopes are located somewhere near the base level of a resort. That’s bad news for views and for snow quality. But in L2, the place where you’ll learn sits at a whopping 3,000 meters+, meaning you get 360-degree panoramas of the French ranges and excellent powder from the get-go.
Winter Park Resort, Colorado
Check the infographic below – Americans love skiing in America. And when it comes to that, no guide could go without a mention of Colorado. There are a grand total of 31 resorts in the Centennial State. But none do it better for beginners than Winter Park. A family-friendly resort that’s tucked just behind the Front Range close to Denver, it’s accessible to the T. More than that, it comes with a web of nice green runs right by the main station. Just hitch a ride on the Gemini Express chairlift and, bingo, you’re on the nursery slopes!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the skiing in Poland is nigh on perfect for the beginner. At just a fraction of the cost of a pass in the Alps, you can get on the slopes in the so-called winter capital of Zakopane ($25/day is a normal rate). And talking of the slopes…boy are they easy-going. Reds in these parts are more like blues in other European resorts. That means the blues are even easier again. So, check out the likes of Bialka Tatrzanska and Polana Szymoszkowa to find places where you certainly won’t be daunted by the gradient of your first run.
Stowe Mountain Ski Resort, Vermont
The mountains of New England have a reputation for being just a little softer, smaller, and less demanding than their compadres on the Continental Divide. Right in their heart is Stowe Mountain Ski Resort. It’s got whole sectors dedicated to beginner riders. Make for the slopes of Toll House (easy to find on the ski map) on Mountain Road leading to the south to find long, wiggly greens where you can practice from morning until close.
La Rosiere, France
One of the key skills for learners is the snow-plow turn. Also called the pizza shape, it sees skis angled diagonally in front of the rider, creating drag and slowing up the process. To practice those, wide, open pistes are a doozy. That’s why France’s La Rosiere is worth a mention. It’s a got a whole beginner area, but the real draw is the sheer width of individual runs. Good berth for honing that snow-plow!
Cheap and cheerful Bansko has made a name for itself as one of Europe’s most affordable resorts. Deep in the Carpathians, it’s got a lot going for it on the beginner front. The base level, where you find the bulk of the learner runs, is largely covered in trees and forest. That adds good protection from adverse snow conditions and wind, so you can practice without distractions. What’s more, the local ski tuition is a bargain – coming in at under $50 for a whopping four hours!
Start learning OFF the slopes
The key to skiing is technique. You can work on that before you even see a snowflake (Yupp, even in July!). Just bring up YouTube and search ‘how to ski’ and you’ll be inundated with videos of pros showing how it’s done. The slick productions from Ski School by Elate Media helped me no end, but there are others.
Increase your fitness
This could be an actionable step for just about any sport. For skiing, the focus has to be on core strength and reflexive leg strength. Sorry, but that means loads of squats, lunges, and rowing.
Get your ski gear
Every skier, beginner or not, will need the right gear. As a starter, you’ll want to look to the resorts that boast good snow coverage. That means low temperatures. And that, in turn, means you’ll need thermals, waterproof-rated outer layers, and salopettes.
Choose the right resort
The selection above is just a taster of what’s on offer for beginners in the skiing world. To start, it’s important to pick a destination with good nursery slopes (at least 5-6 is wise) and a ski school with strong ratings.
Read more about beginning to ski
Delve into the where to Ski and Snowboard series for in-depth information on individual resorts across Europe and North America. Each is rated for its ability to cater to beginners. Ski in Control is also a good place to start before you pull on the sticks – it can help you understand the mechanics and skills of the sport.
Since bagging his English and Ancient History degree, Rich has traveled from the canyons of Mexico to the surf-splashed bays of Bali, done five interrails, toured India, Indonesia, Thailand, and New Zealand, hiked in Italy and France, skied across the Alps, and lived in countless countries for a month or more at a time. Now at five continents and upwards of 50 countries (gaining a TEFL certification along the way), it’s safe to say he is a seasoned traveler. Full Bio | Connect With Rich | LinkedIn