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10 tips for your first winter ski holiday

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A man using a Sit-Ski on the slopes with blue cloudy sky in the background

The thought of being on ice and snow when you have a disability terrifies people, especially those who are able-bodied, who could never imagine putting themselves in your position. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work, it takes a toll on your body and mind, but it’s also the most exhilarating thing you can do, especially if you are taking the plunge and going on a winter holiday.

How do disabled people ski

It all depends on the type of disability you have, for instance wheelchair users who ski use something called a sit ski.
Sit ski’s also referred to as monoskis are skis that have a moulded bucket seat suspended above them that the user can sit in. There is a shock absorber below the seat, which makes the ride more comfortable for the user, and the seat is attached to the ski by a sturdy metal frame.

Using upper body movements and out rigger skis (gadgets similar to crutches that have a ski attached to the base) attached to the hands, the skier can control the speed and motion of the skis they are traveling on. Other forms of sit skis involve non-disabled skiers skiing upright and manoeuvring a seated disabled person in front of them as they zoom across the ice and snow.

If you are a first time skier, here are 10 tips to get you started and conquer your fear of skiing for the first time:

1. Real snow is the way forward

Plenty of people hit the dry slopes (a man-made carpeted slope) it’s great for beginners to practice being on skis or a snowboard, getting used to the weight and movement under your feet. However, nothing truly beats real snow, and there are plenty of UK and worldwide indoor ski slope‘s that have the real thing for you to try out.

2. Skiing or snowboarding?

If you don’t have a preference: skateboarders prefer snowboards and ice-skaters prefer skis, that’s a general rule of thumb, of course it is up to you how you choose to hit the slopes. As someone with very limited ankle and knee movement, I have always gone for skis, they protect your ankles and put very little strain on them when you are traversing the mountains.

3. Protect yourself

It might not look cool to wear a Ski helmet but skiing and snowboarding are adventure sports and you should always take care of your body. Bumps, scrapes and broken bones do happen on the slopes; be careful but still have fun!

4. Take it easy

Start on the nursery slope‘s,: these are for beginners And young children. I would also suggest getting there nice and early because most mountains only have one or two and they fill up pretty quickly. There is definitely a technique to skiing and snowboarding, it will take a lot of practice and it’s okay to rest or go at a very easy pace.

5. Eat, eat, eat!

Eat often, and as much as you can, skiing is a very physical Sport, you use muscles you never knew you had and it’s apprising how many calories you burn speeding up and down the slopes. You definitely build up an appetite, so don’t be afraid to go for that second piece of cake!

6. Early nights are your new normal

It doesn’t matter whether you are on the slope for 2 days or 2 weeks, the exertion your brain and body is under means that you will be tired and The party animal in you will need to take a back seat. I would also suggest staying off the alcohol, you need to keep your body as hydrated and as rested as possible, and alcohol interferes with that.

7. Moguls are the enemy

Moguls are A small pile of hard snow, hidden and usually covered up by softer snow, on the mountain. These nasty little blighters will crop up on you when you least expect it, even those who are experienced will get caught and go flying. I hit quite a few on my first ever ski holiday. Going at some speed: I caught one, did a front-flip in the air, my right ski went for a little jolly, and, I landed flat on my back with a soft bump. It was quite funny, I thought I was the new Eddie the Eagle!

8. You are going to fall over a lot!

Skiing on real snow for the first time is so much fun, but you’ve gotta take the rough with this move, and that means falling over, and being on your arse, a lot! Embrace it, don’t stress and struggle to stay upright, if anything, allow yourself to fall over and take the time to figure out how you are going to get back on your feet with those long heavy sticks attached to them! The first time I fell over, was for such a pitiful reason, I had been on the nursery slopes with my teacher, and we were heading up on the button lift, for the umpteenth time that day.

Because my arthritis was really starting to hurt my feet, I lifted my foot off the ground, and lost my balance.
As the button lift isn’t there to hold your weight, in a sitting position, it flipped from underneath me and flew in the air. I had one leg twisted to the left and my other. Was stuck in the air with my ski attached and stuck deep into the ground! The entire button lift was stopped and my teacher had to wrench my foot out of the snow in order to free me! And then instruct me on how to get in a good position to get myself back on my feet. Oh the humiliation!

9. Mountain moods are A thing

A few days of early starts and late nights (what did I tell you about those early nights being essential). You are going to hit a wave of exhaustion like no other; you won’t be able to focus, your limbs won’t be working as you want them to, and you will probably collapse on the snow in a heap, with snotty tears for good measure–Or is that just me?

Unfortunately, the only way is down, so you have two options: ski/bum ski all the way down, or grab the Cable car lift and ride back down to the bottom of the mountain. This happened to me on day four and I had to take the remaining afternoon and following morning off. It’s better to rest and recuperate, than to struggle through and make the experience sour for yourself and others.

10. Be proud of yourself

The excitement you feel when you finally manage to stay on your feet / upright on the snow, tackle a slope you never dreamed of, and surviving (and hopefully enjoying your first ski holiday) leaves a happy and wholesome burning in your chest that will make you want to relive the experience all over again. Be proud of yourself that you have taken the leap, and tried something new, and even if it isn’t for you, at least you can say you’ve given it a go!

Writing about my ski experience has got me all excited for winter, I might just have to book myself into my local indoor ski slope to get my fix!

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