Skiing is one of life’s great thrills. Those who take to it wish summer away, so that the snows can fall. We chat to Cristina Fernandez del Valle, an experienced skier and snowboarder, about what we need to know when learning the art of skiing.
1. Hydrate & Boost Immunity
Altitude sickness can strike when skiing too high, too fast. The air is thinner at high altitudes, which means that the body is deprived of sufficient oxygen. Breath becomes faster and you feel like you have the mother of all hangovers. You’ll feel weak, tired, nauseous and head-achy, and you’ll struggle to sleep at night. It can happen to anyone, even to fit and regular skiers. The best way to prevent it is by staying hydrated. If it hits, it’s advisable to avoid caffeine, salt and alcohol until you feel better. Eat food rich in potassium to help with acclimatization. It usually only lasts one to two days – thereafter the body adjusts. If it doesn’t get better however, ibuprofen and ginger chews also help. Take vitamin C at least one week before your ski trip to boost the immune system.
2. Exercise Before Hitting the Slopes
Start exercising at least one month before going skiing. When skiing you use your upper leg muscles most, so it’s vital to build these muscle before departure. Lunges are excellent for strengthening upper leg muscles, while other good choices include split squats, deep squats, step ups, running, pushups, and cycling. Also focus on strengthening abdominal muscles and calves.
3. Know your Equipment
Make sure your equipment fits properly! Your boots should be tight – if they’re too loose it’s hard to control movements. Don’t let socks wrinkle inside boots (it will hurt your calves) and use high quality anti-fog goggles. As a beginner, opt to rent gear instead of buying. The essential items on your skiing packing list should be:
- Sunscreen and lip balm (your lips get very dry in the snow and can crack easily – protect them!).
- Ski pass.
- Goggles (choose good quality ones; the cheap ones fog up easily.
- Ski gloves.
- Ski socks (never wear a double layer of socks).
- Neck gaiter.
- Waterproof ski jacket and pants.
- Thermal underwear
- Ski/snowboard boots.
- Skis/snowboard to suit your size, weight and level.
4. Sign Up for a Lesson
Take lessons from an instructor for the first day or two. A good instructor will show you how to prevent accidents and injuries. He or she should teach by observing your style and providing constructive feedback. A good instructor will also encourage you to reflect on progress and make sure that everything is understood.
5. Stay on the Baby Slopes
Do not venture to the bigger slopes until you are ready. You should be completely comfortable on the baby slopes, before progressing. Accidents can happen on the bigger slopes especially when skiers are tired. All major ski resorts have special areas for beginner skiers and snowboarders. There are marked runs for all levels – stay in the easy runs until you’re able to turn properly and stop easily.
About Cristina: Cristina is originally from Mexico. She’s spent her last 20 winters skiing and snowboarding and she’s also worked at ski and snowboard schools in America. She is married to a South African and now spends most of her time along the South African coastline. Follow Cristina on Twitter & Instagram: @cristinafva