Our latest blog post comes from Jenny Hyndman, Community Manager at Ongosa, who specialise in searching and booking qualified mountain guides and snowsports instructors. Here are Jenny’s thoughts on the best resorts in which to hone your skills this coming winter.
This is the season to take your skiing up a level!
It should be very difficult to progress in a sport when you only spend a couple of weeks (or days!) a year practising it. Therefore, any improvements that skiers make, year-to-year, are remarkable. Most skiers have been at the same level for years; everyone’s comfort zone will be slightly different, but most commonly, good weather, comfy boots and a fulfilling breakfast contribute to enjoyable skiing. However, this season we want to move up a gear and improve! Hopefully this list of tips and ideal European skiing locations will help beginners, confident skiers and off-piste skiers to take their skiing to the next level. We’ve included suggestions of where to go, and even what you can do at home.
Beginners, move off the blues and learn about your turns
Are you moving on from snowplough, and beginning to admire your tracks from newly-mastered parallel turns? Our top tip is to get someone to actually explain the theory behind how your edges turn your skis: it will transform your turns, balance and understanding! Head to a resort like La Plagne which is in a natural bowl, so you can head to the pistes on the steeper sides once you’re feeling brave (and hurry back to the central plateau if you’re not!). La Plagne is a British favourite, so has a really good supply of encouraging, English-speaking instructors, who therefore have to price lessons competitively.
Secondly, the colours of the piste poles don’t always do justice to the grade of the slope! Alpe d’Huez is reported to have the best ‘nursery slopes’ in the Alps, but like we say – don’t feel restricted to greens and blues. This is because often (especially in France) pistes can be graded irregularly and you’ll be missing out. If you hire an instructor, or get some local advice, they’ll show you the runs that are quiet, straightforward and have good snow conditions on the day, regardless of colour grading.
And what can you do at home? Book a visit to a Ski Plex, dry ski slope, or ideally – a real snow centre, to get some practice and boost your confidence.
Intermediates, master the moguls to improve
It’s time to up the ante! If you’re comfortable on nearly anything pisted, that the mountain can throw at you, it’s time to venture to the mogul fields and leave your comfort zone behind. It won’t be pretty, but maybe go with an instructor who offers video feedback (or get your mates to film you) so you can see what you need to work on. Why not start learn about off-piste equipment? In order to venture off-piste safely you should know how to use a transceiver, shovel and probe effectively. Tignes has transceiver training park, and try La Sache for a long mogul run and thigh-burner down to Les Brevières.
Avoriaz is also a great resort for intermediates who want to venture off piste, or into more testing snow. It has ‘snowcross’ runs – which are marked and patrolled, but un-pisted, which presents challenging terrain. After a fresh snowfall they’re a good introduction to getting the sense of off-piste and skiing in powder.
And what can you do at home? If you’re almost guaranteed to be skiing at least once a year, we urge you to invest in your own ski boots. Get them properly fitted and your skiing will be transformed.
Advanced skiers and snowboarders go beyond the boundaries for a challenge
Leave the lifts behind – it’s time to get old-school and do some hiking or touring. Alternatively, go modern and heliski! If you’re a confident skier, with experience off piste, you can discover even more of the mountain if you put a little extra effort into finding the best routes. Hire a professional guide in Chamonix and you can tick some famous routes, like the Vallée Blanche, off your ‘ski bucket-list’. The Vallée Blanche gets very busy due to its popularity, so a guide will also be able to lead you safely away from the beaten track, and prove why Chamonix is packed with serious Alpinists from freeriders, to ice-climbers. Unlike France where heliskiing is banned, and Austria where it’s limited, Switzerland offers the widest range of heliskiing in the Alps. Head to Verbier for the experience of a lifetime, and be inspired in same resort as last season’s Freeride World Tour.
And what can you do at home? A little extra work on your ski-fitness will make a big difference to your performance at altitude.
Get in touch with our team of Ski Specialists for more advice on where to ski this winter and to book your tailor-made ski holiday now. Call the team on 0131 243 8097 or request a tailor-made quotation online.