Getting started – help for winter sports newbies

08/15/2013 - Selina Sauerland

Everybody has to start somewhere and mostly getting started is the hardest part. But it doesn’t have to be. No matter if you are still a child or already a grown-up – going on ski holiday for the first time means preparing well in advance. That helps immensely to get beginners started successfully:

Children’s ski school

The right choice

The choice of a suitable ski area is a key factor for learning how to ski and enjoying it all the same. Beginners should stick to smaller, more manageable ski areas. If you are not dependent on school holidays then it is recommendable to go outside these busy times.

You never stop learning

If you are looking to improve your skills quickly then it is wise to take part in lessons. Professional tutors can identify errors quickly and can help beginners learn the correct way right from the start. A good ski school should offer group lessons for children under 6 years with a maximum of 8 participants, for all beginners older than 6 years with a maximum of 10 participants.  In France, all tutors who work for the large ski school chains ESF and ESI have a state diploma for teaching winter sports.

Be informed

If you want to get going on the piste make sure you know the equipment and the vocabulary. Go by a sports equipment supplier  or talk to your friends who have knowledge of skiing and ask the relevant questions: Which equipment do I need? What should I look out for when choosing and picking up the equipment? What differences are there? What types of lifts are there? How do I read a piste map?

Muscle work

A long day on skis can easily wear you out. If you want to make sure that you are not sore the next day start your training well in advance. Strength, stamina and mobility are key factors here. You can best prepare for your holiday by going Nordic Walking, jogging, inline skating or cycling, recommends the DSV. Ski gymnastics are also an option. For those who feel confident, they can practice their first swings in an indoor ski hall.

Clothes make the man

Taking along the right clothing is essential. The clothes should keep you warm – and dry. It is important that the trousers and jacket leave enough room to move freely. The material should be water-proof from at least 5,000 mm water column. According to the European EN standard EN 343, water proof materials start from 1,300 mm water column. Winter sports fans prefer breathable materials and functional clothing which transport humidity away from the body. It is sensible to dress in layers for the piste: if the afternoons become warmer or you feel flushed after the first few minutes you can start peeling off layer for layer and avoid extensive sweating.

Rent or buy

Especially beginners and occasional holidaymakers profit from rental equipment. If you feel skiing is not so much your idea of fun, you will surely not have spent so much money on rented gear as opposed to buying the equipment. Ski resorts generally have a few competent places to go where you can pick up everything, from board, via helmet, right up to the boots. The advantages: individual customer service, the possibility to change the equipment if something doesn’t fit and access to the newest technology. Customer service is a focus point especially beginners should make use of. To choose the right and especially most comfortable equipment, you should plan in enough time.

Once you have arrived in resort, the following recommendations you should always bear in mind:


No sport without rules and the same applies to winter sports. On the pistes there are the 10 FIS rules you should follow. Read through them carefully beforehand and try to remember them. For avoiding accidents on the piste, it is vital to show consideration for all the others in the snow with you. Make sure you adapt your skiing/boarding to your skills, but also to the weather conditions and the amount of traffic on the piste around you.

Info board


To keep your orientation in the ski area it is always to wise to carry a piste map with you. Winter sports enthusiasts have to be able to understand the markings on the map and in the terrain: blue means it is an easy piste, red is for intermediate pistes and black pistes should be best avoided by beginners – these pistes can be very steep and full of bumps.


There are 2 major risks winter sports fans can take precautions against: accidents and the sun. Beginners should ideally wear protectors. Wearing a helmet nowadays is almost a must. It has to sit comfortably and should fit to the ski goggles. A back protector is recommendable. Wrist and knee protectors and passed trousers are an options, but sensible addition. Further, sun blocker is essential in your day pack. Dermatologists recommend at least factor 30 for effective protection against sun burn.

Take a break

Especially beginners should not exceed their strength. Therefore: make sure you get enough sleep, and start the day with a few warm-up activities. The first run should loosen the muscles, so it should be an easy piste. Take breaks regularly and remember to drink lots. Due to the high altitude the body looses more water. When you feel tired and exhausted, be wise and end your day on the piste.

And the most important rule for beginners: remember to have fun! Then the holiday can only be a success.

We also offer some ski areas suitable for beginners. Book your ski holiday now – equipment hire and lessons can often be added directly in the booking process.


  • Thursday, 15. August 2013
  • author: Selina Sauerland
  • category: Winter Sports
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