Swiss slopes are perfect for skiing – and during winter the place is glorious. Whether you’re an experienced skier or totally new to the scene, it’ll be an unforgettable experience (in a good way). However, if you’re a beginner, there are a few things you need to know about trip preparation, conduct and skiing in general. So in this blog we’ll discuss skiing in Switzerland, and share some tips for beginners.
Preparing for a skiing trip
There are some things you need to know before going on your first (or even second) ski trip. These will help you stay protected, and make the most of your vacation.
1. Listen to your body
Are you in good shape? If you have joint trouble, muscular pain or a heart condition, you should probably reconsider your decision to go on a skiing trip. The activity is very physically taxing (although you won’t realize it while you’re having fun), and if physically taxing activity would be a bad idea for you, don’t go. Just because you’re having fun doesn’t mean your body won’t take a beating.
2. Get in shape
We’re not talking about losing weight – mountains don’t care how you look. However, if you’re lazy and tend to spend your free time lazing on the couch with junk food, you may find yourself out of breath and tired very quickly. Going to the Swiss Alps and skiing won’t be cheap, so you want to make the most of every moment – which you can’t do if you aren’t in any shape to ski. Start exercising a month or two before your trip.
3. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is a must when going overseas, especially on a ski trip. While you should do everything you can to educate yourself and be safe, let’s also admit the fact that sometimes we get carried away in the moment. You might feel competitive or overconfident, and accidents can be deadly. For a small cost, you can protect yourself from hefty hospital bills. We don’t mean to scare you – this is just a preventative step.
4. Wear the right gear
For warmth, comfort and safety, make sure you wear the right gear. This includes a helmet, good boots, snow pants, gloves, and a warm jacket or two. You might want to take it off if it’s sunny, but before you get warmed up you’ll need it. Most novice skiers fall down again and again – it’s a part of the learning process. You don’t want icy snow down your back or – shudder – in your pants, so dress right! A helmet will keep your head warm and it could potentially save your life.
5. Stay at a beginner-friendly resort
Wondering which Swiss skiing resort to stay at? Go with a place that states they’re beginner-friendly on their listing. Ideally, a beginner-friendly resort would have gentle slopes, lots of space, smallish crowds, and good instructors. Reading through reviews and articles online should give you a good idea of which places fulfill these criteria. Fake reviews are a thing, but if the article lists multiple places (all of which have plenty of reviews) and doesn’t sound over-the-top, it’s probably legit.
6. Don’t worry about having a bad first lesson
If you’ve never tried skiing before you might be worried you’ll make a fool of yourself. You will, let me tell you that. However, the thing is, everyone does. The first cycling lesson, the first swimming lesson, the first skiing lesson, the first day in a gym… You’re going to be slightly overwhelmed, tired, and you’ll fall down over and over. Don’t worry about it. You’re a novice, and that’s great because it means you’re learning.
In addition to these, go over the ten commandments by the FIS. These include respecting others, skiing in a controlled manner, prioritizing others’ safety, general etiquette rules about overtaking and choosing routes, etc. These are common sense tips much like looking left and right while crossing the road, but it’s a good idea to go over them nonetheless.
Skiing tips for beginners
Now let’s get to the fun stuff – here we’ve listed some tips for skiing in Switzerland. Things you need to do when you’re there and ready to roll (or rather, ski).
1. Don’t learn from your friends!
Beginners should always hire a trainer. If your friend’s excellent at skiing and offers to teach you, graciously turn their offer down because for starters, skill doesn’t guarantee teaching ability. Just because they can ski doesn’t mean they can teach people how to. And secondly, since this is your first time, you’ll doubtlessly fail – learning isn’t instant. You might get angry and embarrassed if this happens in front of your friend. A trainer is a neutral person, and these problems don’t come up if you hire one.
2. Communicate with your trainer
Your trainer will be able to guide you based on your skill level and the slope you’re skiing on, so it’s important that you communicate with them. Listen to their instructions, and ask them questions. If you think a language barrier is affecting communication, you can ask a local to help. The Swiss are a friendly people, and will gladly help you if they can.
3. Look forward
Don’t look down at your skis. Not only is it dizzying watching them speed over the snow, but looking down will also make you lose your focus and you are more likely to fall. You don’t want to fly right into an obstacle and cartwheel your way down the hill because you were busy looking at your feet.
4. Don’t lean forward
If you lean forward, you’ll mess up your center of gravity and won’t be able to use the entire ski. This can be bad for beginners, because it makes turning difficult. People tend to lean involuntarily because of the pull of gravity, but it’s like posture – if you’re aware of it, you’ll be able to correct yourself in time. Pro skiers need to lean forward to go faster, but they’re able to control their skis while they do it.
5. Bend your ankles
You’ve seen photos of people skiing and know you’ve got to bend your knees, but what many people don’t realize is that they need to bend their ankles too. When in the Swiss Alps skiing, you want to bend your knees and ankles to get the right posture. Just like standing straight, bending your ankles will help you control your skis, and absorb shocks better.
6. Don’t apply moisturizer
Avoid moisturizer because unless it’s locally bought it’ll probably freeze on your face due to the cold wind. It can be really uncomfortable (even painful), and can cause you to get distracted. Do apply sunscreen, however! Buy some locally so it doesn’t freeze.
You might think this’ll make skiing feel like work, but it doesn’t. In fact, it helps you get immersed in the experience and shut your mind to everything else. The result is a very intense, memorable experience! You’ll have fewer accidents if you remember your trainer’s instructions and concentrate on skiing. Talking to friends and looking around while skiing are absolute no-nos.
8. Be prepared to give first aid
Accidents come without warning, and first aid is a necessary skill. Firstly, educate yourself on the best ways to contact rescue services. Always carry your phone with you. If you find someone lying injured, check their pulse and breathing, and if you don’t find either start CPR immediately. Apply pressure on wounds, and avoid moving fractured limbs.
So these were our tips for first-timers skiing in Switzerland. Safety, focus and communication are paramount. And of course, have fun!