Thanks to the Beast from the East, many of us enjoyed snow days last week. Keen to make the most of this proper snow and the time off school and work, children, families, and even adults took to their local hills with sledges for some winter fun.
But some, like Team GB’s Billy Morgan, who recently won bronze at the Winter Olympics, decided to take it one step further by heading out with their skis and snowboards.
No doubt, seeing these thrill-seekers effortlessly whizzing through the snow made you pine for the pistes. If you’re new to the slopes, we’ve put together an essential guide to help you get to grips with this winter sport.
Where to go and when
As you can imagine, the opening and close of ski season depends on the snow and where you are going. For example, the Arapahoe Basin in Colorado typically runs from late October to early June. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the season tends to start in mid-June and ends around mid-October. So, where should you head and when?
This is one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe, with more Brits heading there every year than any other location. It has 300km of pistes and has high quality snow, making it an ideal playground for skiers of all abilities. It also has a pretty long season – opening at the end of November last year and closing on May 1.
St Anton, Austria
If you’re more interested in après ski, St Anton is the place to go. Located in Arlberg, one of Europe’s snowiest areas, St Anton has over 300km of runs. The challenging terrain here is better for more advanced skiers. If you’re new to the sport, you can ski at Lech (a past favourite of Princess Diana) and then head to St Anton for après ski thanks to lifts connecting the two areas. St Anton opened in December and will close on April 22 2018. Lech opened at the end of November and will also close on April 22.
Ideal for beginners, Bansko also offers great value when compared to popular resorts in Austria and the French Alps. It has the longest ski season in the country, lasting from December 15 to May 15.
Niseko is thought to receive more snowfall than any other ski resort in the world, the Culture Trip claims. With a range of pistes, the resort is great for all levels, boasting plenty of runs for families and beginners. Niseko is actually made up of five different resorts. Typically, the season for Hirafu and Annupuri is late November to early May, while Hanazono and Niseko Village runs from mid-December to early April.
If you fancy heading to North America, Breckenridge is an ideal spot for absolute beginners. But, with nearly 3,000 acres of slopes, there’s plenty for the more advanced skier, too . The resort has a high altitude, at nearly 3,000 metres, so stay in the city to help yourself acclimatise. The resort opened in mid-November and will close on April 22.
Skiing jargon buster
The skiing world has a vocabulary all of its own. Here’s a run-down of some of the most common phrases, so you don’t feel left out in the cold while you’re on the slopes…
Après-ski – This has become as synonymous with skiing as the sport itself! It refers to the social activities and entertainment taking place once everyone heads off the slopes. Think bars, food, and plenty of gluhwein!
Black run – If you’re a beginner, you’re going to want to avoid black runs. These are steep slopes suitable for advanced skiers.
Blue run – New to the slopes? Head to the blue runs. These are ideal for learning the basics.
Fakie – Skiing or snowboarding backwards – you might want to hold off trying this if you’re a beginner!
Off-piste – These are unregulated ski zones that are snowier and less crowded than the pistes but, as the snow is not really managed, there is a greater avalanche risk.
As exciting as skiing and snowboarding may be, it’s not without its risks. You’ll need to make sure that your holiday insurance covers skiing. As Broadchurch actress Sarah Parish recently found out, not all accidents take place on skis! Give yourself peace of mind on the pistes and get a quote today.