The best ski tips and resorts for beginners

Skiing Tips For Beginners

While we might all like the idea of flying down the steepest slopes on the tallest mountains, the reality is we have to start somewhere. If you are ready to strap on a pair of skis or a trusty snowboard and give being a snowbunny a first-try, here are some tips about how to make the experience a fun and safe one…

Rent skis and boots

You can rent skis and ski boots at ski resorts – saving you the trouble of transporting your skis and boots. Often you can rent skis and boots as part of your overall ski package. Buying skis and ski boots before you know if skiing is for you is an expensive investment, and the equipment for rent will be more than enough for the beginning slope-hopper.

But don’t expect to rent anything but skis and ski boots, jackets and ski pants. Don’t think you’ll be able to rent goggles, beanies, fleeces or thermal underwear. If you arrive in a ski town needing to buy these items, expect to pay a lot more than you would at home.

Choose goggles over sunglasses

Ski goggles aren't only safer, they're also warmer

Ski goggles aren’t only safer, they’re also warmer © Metziker

You might see some of the suave expert skiiers sporting sunglasses on the slopes, but for the beginner and the expert alike nothing is safer than a pair of well fitting goggles. Especially in places like Colorado where the sun is often shining on the powdery snows, you have to protect your eyes from snowblindness.

Wear a helmet

It’s not even for what you’ll do to yourself, it’s more what others might do to you. Skiing is dangerous so why not give yourself a little more protection.

Take lessons

Learn the correct way from the very start. Even if it’s just a short introductory lesson it’s better to learn from the professionals than friends whose technique is often questionable.

Group lessons are much more affordable than private lessons – often as much as one tenth of the price.

Sleep close to the ski slopes

Ski on, ski off hotels are the most convenient option

Ski on, ski off hotels are the most convenient option

Some resorts offer cheaper accommodation miles away from the slopes. But you’ll find walking in ski boots is hard – even seasoned veterans are known to slip on the ice – so ensure your accommodation is just a short distance away from the beginner slopes.

Be aware of where you are

Familiarize yourself with the piste map (ski resorts publish a map with all ski slopes labelled) first so you know where you’re going. Take a map with you. You wouldn’t believe how many skiers get completely lost on a ski mountain on their first day. Always look above before you start to ski. Although you MUST give way to all ski traffic below you, many skiers ignore the rules. You don’t want to start your introduction to skiing by being run into by an out-of-control skier. Stick to ski runs that suit your ability. Stay on the beginner slopes till you at least work out your turns. Once you’re on a long steep expert run it takes a long time to get down it if you’re unable to control your speed. Many resorts have a labeling system for the difficulty of the slopes, and you can take a look at the map to find the best way to get down the mountain using the Green (easier) slopes. But at the same time: don’t stay on the beginner slopes for your whole holiday. Ask around – find out which slopes are best for those ready to take the next step. Skiers are always happy to help – after all, they’ve all had to learn themselves. Ski resorts tend to be a bit far from the airport and sometimes the hotels aren’t right on the mountain. Renting a car can make your ski holiday less stressful. Compare car rental deals to save money.

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The best resorts for beginners in North America

We might be daydreaming of hiking up a back bowl somewhere in Colorado for a real back-country experience, but we all have to start somewhere. Here we take a look at some of the best beginner friendly slopes…

1. Eldora Mountain Resort

Eldora is a great place to learn to ski

Eldora is a great place to learn to ski © Robert Tadlock

Eldora is one of the best, and most affordable resorts in Colorado to learn to ski. The resort is 33 kilometres from the charming city of Boulder, CO and close to the weird and wonderful town of Nederland it is a perfect place to test out the snow and see mountain culture from a local’s perspective. With a nordic ski center, 680 acres of skiable terrain and 300 inches of snow a year you won’t be bored on your beginner slopes! Eldora offers beginner packages for children and adult, which includes a group lesson, rental, lift and lunch packages. If you ever nervous about hopping on your first chairlift, the instructor will help you feel like a pro at riding the chairs by the end of the day. The best way to get to Eldora is to fly into Denver, CO and make your way to Boulder, CO.

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2. Breckenridge Ski Resort

Breckenridge has nice long trails perfect for beginners

Breckenridge has nice long trails perfect for beginners © Ilho Song

Located west of the Continental Divide in Summit County, Colorado is the prettiest alpine ski resort in Colorado you might have never heard of. Not as flashy on paper as Vail or Aspen, Breckenridge is one of the most visited mountains in the western hemisphere. With a lift capacity of 46,800 people per hour you might think it would be an intimidating place to start, but the majority of the terrain is for beginners and intermediates with many long meandering trails (the longest at 5.6 kilometers). Children from as young as three start to ski in Colorado, but don’t be concerned if you’re a bit above your single digits, Breckenridge has something for everyone. The town of Breckenridge sports delicious gourmet restaurants and vibrant nightlife right at the base of the slopes. After a long day on the powder, you can sit down for some elk carpaccio and a Colorado micro brew with the locals.

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3. Telluride Ski Resort

Get that big mountain feel with beginner slopes at Telluride

Get that big mountain feel with beginner slopes at Telluride © Murray Foubister

For the big mountain resort feel,  Telluride Ski Resort can give you a taste of powder in an environment that is still safe for a beginner skiier. The southwest of Colorado gives you a test of the Old West, and the mixture of terrain at Telluride is an opportunity to test out intermediate slopes when you’re ready.

If you want to try out bowl skiing – skiing in a wide open mountain basin with few trees and opportunity for wide sweeping turns, Prospect Bowl is the place for you. Telluride also has several other beginner terrain areas like Ute Part Beginner Terrain Park and Meadows.

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4. Steamboat Resort

Steamboat has lodges right on the mountain to stop for a snack

Steamboat has lodges right on the mountain to stop for a snack © Murray Foubister

It’s no mystery why Colorado resorts appear so often on ski lists, with 21 resorts and almost 30,000 acres of skiing. Located on Mount Werner, Steamboat Ski Resort is a prime choice for the ski in, ski out experience. Ski in, ski out resorts have hotels right at the base of the slopes so you can go from your ski boats to your slippers in only a few steps. Steamboat Springs has a wealth of beginner terrain and low grade slopes.

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5. Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler is a great place to learn and has a cute village for après

Whistler is a great place to learn and has a cute village for après © Tourism BC

 

If you’re looking to stay a bit closer to home, Whistler Blackcomb has a surprising wealth of beginner slopes. Rated the number one resort in North America 3 years running, Whistler Blackcomb is a memorable place to hit the slopes for the first time. Take an easy valley run or take the gondola down to Whistler Creekside. The resort even features a practice lift for those unsure on their skis.

Want to know more about Whistler? Check out our ultimate guide to Whistler.

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6. Big Sky Resort

ski-big-sky

With 55 kilometres of beginner terrain at the foot of Yellowstone Park, Big Sky Resort in Montana is proof that America does things bigger. With less crowds than some of the Colorado resorts and ski in, ski out lodging the resort is a sublime destination for beginners.

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Love to ski? Check out our ski guide with the best destinations and tips to help you plan your ultimate ski holiday