I wasn’t one of those kids that went on skiing holidays, nor have I been one of those adults. I love winter and I adore being in the snow breathing in the gorgeous crisp air. I love snowmobiles and husky rides, frozen rivers and puddles shattered into ice. I love crunching along, my feet sinking in as I walk. I like my face feeling cold and the rest of me toasty warm as I wander about. Ice fishing is fun (especially when you catch something). But skiing or snowboarding had never appealed. I am risk averse and not overly enamoured with sports (my sport of choice is dancing, although I used to be quite good at trampolining in university for a while surprisingly!). I quite like to relax with a book and take it all in gently over a glass of hot wine.
With everyone else being so obsessed with skiing I did think that I must be missing a trick. Two friends have learned to ski in recent years (both separately and coincidentally in Morzine where I went). They both did week long ski schools and one managed to ski cross country to Les Gets at the end of it. She goes every year now. A friend suffered an horrific ski injury but she could not wait to get back to the slopes. It seemed time for me to give it a bash.
I was booked on a You Can Ski package at the ESF Ski School in Morzine (this has everything you need with a 5 day resort lift pass, 1 day Portes du Soleil pass (accessing all resorts), 6 half-day group lessons (mornings 09:30 to 12:00) with a qualified instructor 6 days and ski equipment hire suitable for beginners for €299. This is also available in Les Gets and the other resorts of Les Portes du Soleil). Life intervened and a couple of weeks before my trip I was hit hard with a bone shaking proper flu which knocked me out for that full two weeks, and so I couldn’t participate in ski school as I was still quite fragile by the time I arrived in France. I booked private lessons with the ESF for later in the week instead.
First things first, you need proper ski gear as it gets cold on the slopes and you will get wet also. So, ski trousers, a ski jacket, proper ski gloves and thermals. Something to keep your neck warm and something to protect your ears, that will also fit under your helmet. Ski socks are not essential but they are recommended as their padding makes the boots easier to bear. Lip balm, and I am not generally a lip balm girl, but the air is harsh on the skin and lips so pack some vaseline and apply it regularly.
Give yourself plenty of time to find ski boots that you can wear in comfort (although expect them to be a little uncomfortable, they are supposed to be rigid). Wear them for 20 minutes in the hire shop and walk around, just to be sure. I had lots of problems with my ski boots, this was my main lesson learned.
Surprisingly, the actual skiing was much more straight forward than I expected. Morzine has a gentle beginners ski area, we met there and my instructor very patiently showed me the ropes. It turns out that I am reasonably well co-ordinated and once I started I picked it all up quite quickly. I learned how to ski, how to walk back up the hill and how to turn around.
Sure, I never made it off the baby slopes, which I would have done if I had been well enough to do ski school. But I know I can and now, with confidence, I would try again and look to get to a stage where I could have fun with it. And I could get to the restaurants that only skiers can access.
Surprise yourself. I recommend it. Until next time!
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This post is brought to you in collaboration with Atout France and France Montagnes. I stayed with Peak Retreats (www.peakretreats.co.uk, 0844 576 0170) at Hotel Le Cret who offer 7 nights half-board from £495pp, including Eurotunnel crossing with FlexiPlus upgrade. Hotel Le Cret is a great option for families looking for a good half board option and activities for kids. I hired my ski equipment at Intersport Morzine and I learned to ski with the ESF in Morzine.