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Top 10 ski tips by Chemmy Alcott

Ski jumper with skies crossed and picture of Chemmy Alcott.
 

Start preparing before you hit the slopes. Find the best powder spots, face shots and off piste. And be in-the-know with the latest lingo. Take a look at these top tips from Britain's number one Alpine skier, Chemmy Alcott.

Skies lined up on the slopes.

Tip 1: Rent vs. buy

Skiing has a reputation for being hugely expensive. I'd suggest renting skis rather than forking out on a pair, as most top resorts stock the latest and greatest. Boots are more of a personal thing so I'd suggest buying those before you fly. Break them in by sporting them in front of your favourite TV show before jetting off to the snow.

Skier skiing down the mountain.

Tip 2: Practice, practice, practice

If you've never skied before or feel a little rusty, head to one of your local artificial ski centres or one of the three indoor snow domes in the UK. This will help get your muscles used to the strains of skiing so you can ski harder for longer on your first day.

Tip 3: Work those muscles

Start preparing for your holiday a few weeks before you leave to avoid muscle soreness. A few daily leg squats and core exercises (Fit Balls are great) will improve balance and strength. Try standing with your back against the wall and sinking down so your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold that position until it burns. Then hold some more. But if the mere thought of going to the gym brings you out in a cold sweat, just do some running or hill walking.

Tip 4: Research your holiday spot

Check out your resort online before hand. It makes choosing a bit easier. I'd also recommend finding somewhere with a spa. There's nothing better than recovering in a pool, sauna or steam room.

Woman and man skier.

Tip 5: Pack layers

When it comes to packing, remember to bring lots of layers for when it's chilly. This helps trap the warm air closer to your body. You'd be surprised how many thermals I squeeze under my skin tight lycra race suit.

Tip 6: Wear sunscreen

As a patron for Cancer Research, I'm often surprised by how many people think you can't get skin damage while skiing simply because the air is cold. My skin is constantly red from sun and wind abuse. It only takes a second to apply sunscreen – so don't be lazy.

Tip 7: Keep hydrated

I know it might not take off on the catwalks but I always ski with a water bottle holder. Even though it's cold, your body still needs water. The travelling can dehydrate you too, so it's important to keep topping up your water during and after the flight.

Tip 8: Experience the après ski

If you want noise, energy and fancy ski-boot bopping to some seriously cheesy Euro songs then go to Austria. St. Anton gets particularly lively at night. The French and Swiss après ski is more civilized – rest your aching body in any of the countless spas and thermal baths. In Canada, Alberta's Lake Louise and the surrounding Banff is a draw for body pampering and shopping alike.

 

Tip 9: Discover the best spots

I've a few favourite places for skiing:

Whistler in British Columbia, Canada. Being on the Canadian west coast means this resort offers waste deep powder nearly all winter.

Flaine, a "bowl" in the French Alps, which might not be the prettiest place—but it gets snow when other places struggle.

Mount Hotham in Australia isn't a resort that's always under the snow. But a few years ago I did a winter season there and every day after training, we went cruising across all the crazy terrain.

Switzerland has some great off piste steep slopes which post new snow and can offer the best face shots in the world.

Tip 10: Learn the lingo

There are a lot of phrases in skiing which can flummox the beginner.

  • ‘fresh tracks’ – when you make your own line down the mountain.
  • ‘pinning it’ – when you straight run down the hill.
  • ‘riding the tails’ – when you basically only use the very back end of your skis. ‘benz ze knees’ – I hear ski instructors saying this all the time and it infuriates me. What they mean is feel shin pressure, which is done by bending your knees – but not sitting down.