The last time I skied, I was aged 13 and on a family holiday over Christmas to Ellmau, Austria. Unfortunately, I only had one day on the slopes when I came down with the flu and spent the rest of the trip hallucinating with a temperature of 103 degrees. Prior to that holiday, I’d had a couple of half-day beginners lessons, but since it was such a long time ago (and I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast) I considered myself a beginner.
Marc had no prior experience of any kind of snow sports so was a complete novice. He’s always been in two minds about going on a skiing holiday, preferring a beach and hot weather. Somehow I managed to convince him he’d love the experience as much as I did, once he’d mastered the basics. We had decided to do a skiing holiday this winter, so when Chill Factore offered us the chance to spend a day learning from scratch together, it was the perfect opportunity.
Chill Factore have perfectly comfortable salopettes and jackets available for hire at about £8 per person. You need to also wear gloves, which are £5 to purchase there. I wore a sports bra and a thin long sleeved top under my jacket, but next time I’d wear a wooly hat because for the first half of the day, there’s a lot of waiting for your turn.
The most important thing is to protect your feet, so wear thick socks and pull them up so they don’t bunch (which can cause blisters). You need to be able to move freely and comfortably in your clothing. If you want to wear trousers under your salopettes (I didn’t), go for running leggings rather than any restricting denim.When its time to get fitted for skis and boots, you stand on a machine that scans your feet, posture and weight to select the perfect gear for you.
Learning the basics
We met with the other six in our group and Kev, our instructor. After explaining the plan for the day, Kev took us through a few balance exercises to get us used to wearing the skis. It felt very unnatural at first, particularly for Marc as he’d never worn them before, but gradually it became more and more comfortable and we all started to relax and enjoy it.
With the one day lesson, you spend the morning learning how to plough. To do a snowplough is to make an upside down V with your skis and use the inside edges of them to dig into the snow and control your movement. We side-stepped half-way up the training slope in a line, and one-by-one, had to step forward and maneuver into this position with the point of the V facing down the slope, and hold it before slowly easing the grip and sliding down. This may sound simple, but for most of our group, it was the hardest thing to master.
After a tea break, we worked on our confidence and balance, gradually starting from higher and higher up the slope. This proved to be too much for one lady who kept panicking and just couldn’t master the control so decided to drop out. We gradually worked our way up to being able to control our speed, practicing on stopping safely and by lunchtime, we were able to make turns. There were a few tumbles along the way but that was all part of the fun.
Kev was welcoming from the start and made us all feel at ease by taking things step-by-step. You could tell that he was a passionate skier and was very keen to get us to relax and enjoy it. It was practical all the way so we were always doing something and learning from others. The lessons were structured so that we didn’t move onto the next stage until we’d all managed to complete the tasks (balance, stopping, turning etc) and we never felt out of control or unsafe in any way. We even learnt how to fall and get back up safely.
We took an hour’s lunch (pizzas or jacket potatoes are included in the price of the day lesson) and swapped stories of travels. Afterwards, we were all ready to move onto halfway up the main slope.
Once Kev was happy we’d mastered control on the faster and steeper slope, he took the more confident of us up one-by-one to the very top of the main slope, and had us follow his tracks. Having had the previous experience, I was the first to reach this point. It was so exhilarating, and totally addictive. The last couple of hours of the day I spent building up speed independently and getting more and more confident each time.
In the last half an hour Kevin took Marc to the top of the main slope and he managed to ski down steady and controlled. He was so happy to have grasped the basics and now it’s hopefully just a matter of practicing. From having never skied and being able to just about stand up at 9am, to being able to do multiple turns under controlled speeds on the main slope by 4.30pm just shows how much the lessons worked for Marc.
We both felt like we’d been hit by a bus that evening, but nothing a Five Guys burger, a soak in the bath and a bit of a foot rub couldn’t fix.
We both highly recommend Chill Factore Day Lesson for beginners, and we can’t wait to go back and get in some more lessons before our trip in January! Any recommendations on where to go?
With thanks to Chill Factore for a fantastic experience and complimentary skiing lessons. As always, my views are completely honest.