Monday 16 September 2019

Ask the Expert: What are your tips for first-time skiers?

How to ski stress-free

First time ski tips. Photo: Deposit
First time ski tips. Photo: Deposit
Alan Moynihan, CEO of Highlife Ski & Snowboard

Alan Moynihan

Thinking of hitting the slopes for the first time? Alan Moynihan, CEO of Highlife Ski & Snowboard, shares his tips.

Hitting the slopes for the first time is super-exciting, but let's face it. It can also be a little daunting looking at an empty suitcase wondering what to pack…

What should I bring?

Invest in a good-quality waterproof ski jacket that is windproof and breathable along with ski pants and a fleece. You don’t need to spend a fortune.

Shop around for the best value - good quality gloves are also essential for first-time (and regular) ski and snowboarders.

 A 'bum bag' or small rucksack can come in handy to carry small essentials such as water, snacks, sun cream and sunglasses onto the slopes.

Don’t forget your swimsuit for your chalet hot tub!

Should I borrow skis?

No. We advise avoiding borrowing skis or snowboards from others since they are typically designed based on someone's height and weight.

Also avoid buying skis for your first trip. All good ski shops rent skis and tour operators will be able to offer ski packs tailored to your requirements.

Will it be super-cold?

It can be cold in the mountains, but you'll heat up when you ski.

Alan Moynihan, CEO of Highlife Ski & Snowboard
Alan Moynihan, CEO of Highlife Ski & Snowboard

At Highlife, one of our top ski tips is to wear layers. Bring a warm hat/helmet, long woolly ski socks, and plenty of warm clothes.

For the colder creatures amongst you, pack thermal undergarments (long johns and vest) to keep you warm from head to toe

Is the sun an issue on the slopes?

When skiing at high altitude you are exposed to stronger sun rays - so protect your skin with a high factor sunscreen (30+ at least) and carry it with you at all times to avoid coming down from the slopes with a bright red nose and burnt cheeks.

Another top ski tip is to apply sunscreen under your chin and eyebrows, as the sun reflects from the snow and hits these spots. Pack a protective lip balm also and apply daily.

A good pair of sunglasses is a must to protect against the strong rays.

How should I prepare physically?

Skiing & snowboarding can be demanding so the fitter you are, the better you will do and the lower your risk of injury.

Here are some skiing exercises:

  • Knee bends - Flex down through 45 degrees, then push back to standing. Keep your heels on the floor. Try 20 times.
  • Abdominal raises - Lie on your back with slightly bent legs, and your hands clasped behind your head. Lift your shoulders, keeping your lower back on the floor. Try 20 times.
  • Leg raises - Kneeling on all fours, bring one knee in toward your chest, then push the leg back behind you, toe pointed. Raise the extended leg. After 20, repeat with the other leg.
  • Triceps raises - Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your palms on the floor behind your hips, fingers facing forward. Relax your stomach muscles and lower your body towards the floor, keeping your back straight. Bring your body up again by straightening your arms. Try 20 times.
  • Lunges - Lunge forwards onto one leg, flexing the knee through 45 degrees. Make sure your knee doesn't go in front of your foot and stays in line with the middle two toes. Push back upright and lunge forwards onto the other leg. Try 20 times.

How can I stay safe on the slopes?

Always stay in control to ensure you are able to stop and avoid other people or objects - and remember that people ahead of you have the right of way. That means it is your responsibility to avoid them.

Look uphill and yield to others whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail - and don't stop where you may cause obstruction if you are not visible to people above.

Observe all posted signs and warnings and do not enter closed trails.

How should I pace myself?

Take a break – don’t push yourself too hard and stop to have a hot chocolate and enjoy the views!

Any other tips on planning my trip?

Seek advice from your tour operator in advance of your trip. Highlife can arrange ski lessons and ski packs ahead of your holiday, ensuring your planning is hassle free and that you are fully equipped to hit the slopes as soon as you arrive.

Highlife Ski & Snowboard ( has been running chalet holidays for 13 years, call 01 677-1100 or email for more details.

NB: Skiers should always take out travel insurance, and ensure winter sports are covered.

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