How to Get Back into SkiingPublished on 12/28/2021 · 7 min readTaken a long break from the slopes and nervous to get back out there? Ski Expert Kylie D. shares her seven easy tips on how to get back into skiing and have a blast.
Photo by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson
The snow is starting to fall in mountain towns across the Northern Hemisphere. Your buddy rings you up and says a group of people are getting together for a ski trip in February and wants to know if you’re in? The next thing you know, you’re out in the garage, looking for those dusty Dynastars from your college days or at least those goggles you bought a decade ago—they must be around here somewhere…
If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s probable that you’re asking yourself if you even remember how to ski anymore. Is it really like riding a bike? What do you even need to ski these days? How the heck do you get back into skiing? And is it too late?
Whether you’re looking to get back into skiing because you miss the fun of cruising the slopes or because your significant other/coworkers/friends wants you to ski with them, here are seven things that will smooth the transition:
1. Get in Shape
Even if you participate in other forms of physical activity, there are some ski-specific exercises and stretches that’ll help get you ready for your first day of skiing and beyond. The stronger and more flexible you are, the easier skiing will be—and the more fun you’ll have! Squats and wall-sits are great quick exercises. Riding a bike and doing yoga can help as well. My personal favorite is cross-training on either ice skates or roller skates, which works out very similar balance points and muscles. But there are plenty of great workouts for skiers out there, so find the ones that work for you!
2. Update Your Gear!
If you haven’t been skiing in a while, chances are you don’t have the gear that you need. Even if you do have skis from some bygone day or the ability to borrow old gear from a friend, you’ll want to take them into a shop to make sure that the skis are still in safe and working condition. As with all things, ski gear has a shelf life and those bindings that worked 20 years ago might be defective now, or at least not as safe as the latest technology. Even things like goggles get old. With the foam breaking down over time or the plastic becoming fragile, they can shatter in the cold.
Beyond safety, there are other reasons that you might want to look into new gear, and that’s the advancements that have happened in recent years. Decades of research have gone into perfecting ski technology that’ll help you cruise effortlessly down the slopes, and every year, there are more advancements that’ll feel noticeably different from previous years’ models. Skiing is still a workout, but if your last pair of skis was a set of long, straight skis you bought in the ‘80s, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to turn on a newer pair of skis.
Your best bet for safe, reliable gear is to either rent or buy a new setup. Of course, shopping for new ski gear can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been out of the sport for a long time. If you are looking to purchase a new setup (depending on how many days you’re planning on skiing for, this could be the more economical option), a Ski Expert on Curated can help you narrow down what will work best for you.
3. Grab Some New Baselayers and Socks
It’s not just skis that have changed over the years, though! Baselayers and even socks have come a long way in keeping you warm and comfortable (very few people are out there in jeans and tube socks anymore!).
There are a ton of well-known sock brands out there like Smartwool, Point6, and Darn Tough. $20 may seem like a lot of money to spend on a pair of socks, but when your feet are warm and dry all day, you’ll realize what a game-changer they are! Not only that, but many of these sock companies have perfected compression that’ll help blood move through your calves as you ski, keeping you skiing for longer without the same muscle burn and acid buildup.
Socks are just the beginning, though. A good set of wicking, warm baselayers can insulate your body against the coldest of days and are almost more crucial than a good jacket! Again, there are a ton of brands out there, but you can find cheap options everywhere from Walmart to Amazon if you’re worried about shelling out too much money upfront. Options run the gamut from soft and fleece-lined to odor-proof merino wool. I love this article that breaks down the differences!
4. Decide Where to Go
It’s possible that you don’t have any say in where you’re going—maybe you’re going with family or a group, or maybe there aren’t many options near where you live. But there are some locations that are more learner-friendly/family-friendly/etc. than others. Check out differences in terrain, as well as lift ticket prices. There are dozens of ski resorts across the United States, and they all have a slightly different feel to them.
It’s not just lift tickets that are more expensive these days, everything on the mountain will likely cost you more than what you used to pay, from lockers to lunches. A good rule of thumb is that the smaller/independent ski resorts tend to be less expensive. Opt for places like Loveland instead of Vail, or Wachusett instead of Killington if you’re looking to save. If you plan to ski for a number of days, look into season pass options, as they can sometimes work out cheaper than lift ticket options even if you’re not planning to ski more than three or four days.
5. Take it Easy
Although skiing, like driving a car, is a hard skill to truly forget, you’ll probably feel rusty on your first day back. Maybe you were shredding steep black runs your last time out, you’ll still want to dial back the terrain and speed until you get your feet under you again. Your muscles will need to build up to where they were before, and there’s a lot of confidence that goes into skiing well—confidence that you might be lacking if you haven’t skied in a while.
Likewise, if you live at sea level and are up in the mountains, you’ll find yourself getting tired and dehydrated much more quickly than you might have otherwise. Rather than risk the nasty symptoms of altitude sickness, take breaks, drink water, and listen to your body!
6. Take a Lesson
You might remember how to ski, but there’s also a high likelihood that your body, unused to the activity, will try to cut corners. A lesson will keep you from picking up new, bad habits so that you can safely enjoy skiing for years to come. Not only that, lessons can be a great way to get to know a mountain that you’re unfamiliar with. Instructors can help guide you towards everything from trails suitable to your level to the best après-ski spots!
Lessons can also help refresh key elements of the skier safety code, such as stopping off to the sides of runs and where you’re visible from above, or help familiarize you with crucial signage around the resort. If you’re unable or unwilling to take a lesson, many resorts offer short guided mountain tours. Check with the ticket office or Welcome Center at the resort you’re visiting to see if this is a service you can take advantage of.
7. Don’t Expect to Go a Full Day!
This goes along with taking it easy on your return to skiing. If you push yourself too hard the first day back, you might feel less inclined to head out again. Not only that, but statistics show that most on-slope injuries happen towards the end of the day—as people get tired, their turns get sloppy, and the snow conditions get less ideal as well.
Most resorts have a pretty strong après-ski game these days, with bars offering great happy hour deals on everything from drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) to snacks. Hot tubs are also around in many resort towns and are the perfect spot to relax your abused muscles at the end of a good day. You don’t need to ski from the first chair to the last chair to have a fun and fulfilling day!
Although getting back into skiing can be overwhelming, it can be done! If you need any help finding the right gear or if you need someone to cheer you on, reach out to a Ski Expert! Soon you’ll be cruising the slopes remembering all the things that you love about the sport, from the weightless feeling of the perfect turn to the warmth of a cozy fireplace as the snow swirls outside.