The prospect of taking to the snow on skis for the first time is daunting, even for the bravest holidaymaker, but this list of essential tips will keep you upright and hopefully smiling too.
Before you go
Spend a little time planning your trip - as a beginner you may have slightly different preferences to an experienced skier. Consider your accommodation needs carefully. For example, a self-catering apartment will be a cheap option, but if you're a little tired and achy after a long day, you might prefer to have dinner cooked for you - in which case a serviced chalet could be much better.
Get yourself kitted out with essential gear - thermal base layers, waterproof and warm salopettes and ski jacket, thick socks, good quality ski gloves, goggles and a helmet will all be vital. If luggage space is at a premium, can you hire anything when you get there?
Lift passes, insurance, equipment hire and instruction should be booked before you go. None of these items are dispensable!
Hitting the Slopes
Group lessons are great for most first-timers, but if you are naturally clumsy or lacking in confidence you might benefit from one or two private lessons first. Within a couple of hours you will start to get the hang of what you need to do.
Expect to fall down frequently. If you can, try to fall sideways, lean into the hill and fall onto your bottom. This makes getting back up (marginally) easier, in that you can often use your ski poles to propel yourself into a squat and then back to an upright position.
Going downhill will seem terrifyingly fast at first, so practise the snowplough manoeuvre to give yourself better confidence and control. This takes a little work, but by bringing your knees close together and pushing your heels out, your skis will come together at the front in a snowplough shape, and as they tilt inwards they will naturally slow you down.
Achieving smooth turns will come later, but it's never too early to start attempting the basics of this technique. Essentially turning occurs when you transfer your weight to one foot, and move your body to face the direction you wish to turn in - the weight shift should result in a gentle change of direction.
The End of the Day
Your first few days on the slopes will be exhausting, and you may well feel quite sore as well, so have a ready supply of painkillers, books and bath foam. Probably the best way to relax, however, is to enjoy some local food and drink, and laugh about the experiences of the day. Before you know it, you'll be hooked!