Editors Note: We are pleased to introduce one of our new contributors, Wendy Clinch. She is the founder and operator of The Ski Diva, a place for women skiers/snowboarders in this male-dominated industry. The women’s only forum at The Ski Diva is a valuable resource for all female skiers of all abilities.
When people ask me how long I’ve been skiing, I actually have to give it some thought. Because it’s really not that simple: I skied for a number of years, then stopped for a while, and then took it up again.
This isn’t uncommon. A lot of people take breaks for one reason or another. Jobs, family, personal commitments get in the way. Then one day a friend asks you to go on a ski trip. Or it snows and you find yourself remembering a special day on the slopes. Or you watch some ski racing on TV and get caught up in the excitement.
If you feel nervous about getting back into skiing, rest assured: This is completely normal. But with a little bit of preparation, you can make your return to the mountain safe, happy, and fun:
Check your equipment.
If you already own gear, don’t expect to just dust it off and be ready to ride the lift. After a long hiatus, you’ll need to get your skis tuned and waxed so they’ll perform to their greatest advantage. Even more important is to have your bindings checked by a professional ski technician. They’ll be able to determine whether or not they’ve deteriorated to the point that they’re no longer safe. They’ll also make sure they’re set to release properly at your current weight (let’s be honest: it may have changed). Also, be sure not to neglect your boots. Ill fitting boots can turn a day of fun into an absolute misery. Since feet can change over time, you’ll want to try your boots on to make sure they fit. I recommend wearing them around the house for a while to gauge how they feel. If they’re not right, find a skilled bootfitter in your area. They may be able to make adjustments that can make them comfortable and responsive.
If your gear isn’t up to snuff, try something new.
Ski shops are often quite happy to let you demo equipment, usually for a nominal fee. In some cases they’ll even deduct the cost of the demo from the purchase price if you decide to buy. If new equipment isn’t in the cards, you might want to consider a season rental. It’s a great way to have the latest and greatest without spending a lot of money right away. Check Liftopia for lift ticket + rental packages.
Get a helmet
Years ago no one wore helmets, but all it takes is a quick look around the mountain to see how much this has changed. Helmets are the new normal, and that’s a good thing. If you’re worried that they’re big, bulky, or cold, you’re in for a surprise: They’re actually quite comfortable and warm. Helmets come in a variety of styles and colors in a wide range of price points. It may take some looking around to find one that has all the features you want. Some have brims, some don’t. Some have vents, some don’t. Some can even be wired for sound, if that’s your jam. But if you’re going to invest in just one piece of ski equipment this year, this would be my top recommendation.
If you do, great. But be sure to check to make sure they work with your helmet. Older goggles may not be helmet compatible. If there’s space on your forehead between the top of the goggle and the bottom of your helmet, you may want to investigate getting a new pair.
It’s all about the base.
Layers, that is. Base layers come in a wide range of high tech fabrics that can keep you both warm and dry. Whatever you do, don’t wear cotton. Cotton gets wet and stays wet, and that can make you get cold a lot more easily. High tech fabrics, on the other hand, draw perspiration away from the body so you stay warmer longer. And that means you can ski longer, too.
Thinner is better
It may seem counter-intuitive, but thinner socks are actually warmer – and more comfortable – than thicker socks. Thick socks can hold moisture closer to your foot, which will actually make it feel colder. They can also bunch up to reduce circulation and make your feet cold. Thin socks, on the other hand, move sweat away from your foot to the liner, which is designed to wick moisture away from your body. The bottom line: You stay warmer!
Take a lesson
Not from a spouse or significant other, either. There’s too much emotional baggage that comes along with that. Whether you take a group or a private lesson is up to you, but put yourself in the hands of a certified ski instruction professional who can help you brush up on your skills.
Investigate lift ticket opportunities
Years ago just about everyone paid the walk-up window rate. But why spend more than you have to? Discount ticket sites like Liftopia can substantially reduce the cost you’ll spend for a day on the slopes. Sure, you have to pre-pay. But the savings are definitely worthwhile.
Take it slow
If you haven’t skied for a while, it might not be the best idea to take the chair to the expert terrain at the top right away. No matter what your friends say, stay safe and give yourself a gradual start. Warm up on some green runs and see how that goes, then take it from there. Know your limits and work with them.
Don’t forget to have fun!
Too often we get caught up in being perfect or worrying about little things that aren’t that important. Skiing is a fun, joyful experience. Take in the scenery. Enjoy being outdoors. Have fun meeting people on the chairlift. There’s so much about skiing that isn’t actually skiing. So take it all in and have a great time. I’m sure you’ll be back.
Read more from Wendy at The Ski Diva.