/ Beginner advice re instruction and resorts

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BHound - on 20 May 2017

I'm interested in learning to alpine ski, with the goal of eventually being able to do some touring in a couple of years and would appreciate people's advice on where to go for some good quality instruction or course. The main reason I'm asking now is that I'm reasonably serious about it and so want to start saving ready for the next season. I would rather avoid over crowded resorts and if necessary would be prepared to go to North America for a couple of weeks. Background wise I have only done some easy down hill, nothing more than Blue runs, but I have done a reasonable amount of cross country multi day trips with a pulk.

Thanks in advance.
Post edited at 20:10
JuneBob on 06 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:

If you're not restricted by school holidays, check the holiday dates in the various European countries and pick a week that falls outside of those dates. That's the easiest way to avoid the crowds and to pay less.

I would pick a resort in one of the big ski areas, Port du Soleil, 3 Vallees, 4 Vallees, or any of the other big places and sign up with a local ski school. Private lessons will get you the quickest progression and a more tailored program, but a ski school that limits class size (e.g. <6) is a good alternative.

From your level I would expect you to be able to ski parallel down reds after 5 days coaching. Being good at side-slipping is very useful, as that can get you down almost anything if needed!

Good luck.
John W - on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:
Avoid Switzerland unless you have money to burn, and France unless you love piss-poor service. My advice would be to go to a smaller but pretty much snow-sure resort in either Austria or Italy (thinking somewhere like Obertauern or Gressoney/Monte Rosa).
Trangia on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:

As a beginner you don't have to go to one of the big resorts with 100s of kilometers of runs, because you will be paying for something you don't need. Small Austrian resorts can be very friendly and a nice atmosphere for apres ski relaxation, because as a beginner you will get very tired and need to unwind, although not to the extent that you miss ski lessons the next day!

It's important to choose an instructor who speaks fluent easy to understand English as it's much better for you to learn the techniques from someone you can understand and converse with easily. This where America would be a good choice. Also the Americans are much better at policing the pistes so that you don't get intimidated by faster skiers coming by close to you. Some Continental resorts get overcrowded with too many out of control people all over the place which often worries beginners.

A couple of sessions at a dry ski slope before you go is worth considering as it will get you used to the concept of you feet sliding away under you and you staying over them!!

Be prepared to fall a bit to start with but you will get the hang of it very quickly. If you get in with a nice group of fellow beginners it can be quite a laugh. I've been skiing for over 60 years and metamorphosed from 2 meter plus wooden skis with fixed cable bindings to modern carvers and release bindings, but I still look back on my first week as having been the one of the best fun wise

Good luck
mysterion on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:
Andorra, Arinsal, small resort, simple layout, beginners/intermediates, blues and reds, English instructors, get the miles in, parallel on red on day 3 onwards is realistic (parallel on red is a baseline for touring/off piste)
Post edited at 10:56
richlan - on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:

Take a look at Skivo, excellent accommodation and food with 2 hours of tuition every day, based in Courchevel, La Praz

If you want to improve i can also recommend their performance courses in Kaprun early season:

No connection to Skivo, just a happy past customer.....
BHound - on 07 Jun 2017
In reply to BHound:

Thanks for all your advice, my plan now is to research your suggestions and get something booked. If possible im also going to try and attend a couple of sessions at one of the indoor slopes prior to actually getting on the slopes for real as well.

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