10 Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Ski Trip - The Influence Journal

Influence Journal covers news and current events related to the people and companies that shape our modern world. A leading digital publication that connects readers to the content they seek and tells the stories that matter in a clear and direct way.

Starting to ski for the very first time can be both exciting and a little scary. To become good at skiing, you need to spend many years learning all the special words, rules, equipment, and movements involved. For beginners, learning about ski culture and avoiding common mistakes can sometimes be just as hard as staying upright on your skis. Here are 10 pitfalls that new skiers should try not to fall into, so your first experie­nce on the slopes is fun and you don't feel embarrassed or let down.

1. Failing to Plan Ahead

Many ski areas require purchasing lift tickets and booking lessons well in advance these days, not allowing walkup sales on the day you arrive. Even when day of purchases are an option, planning your ski trip ahead of time can frequently save you money. Look into multi day lift pass discounts, packages that bundle lessons and lift tickets, or season long passes that provide access to multiple ski resorts at a reduced rate if you plan to ski for several days or at various mountains. Booking through a ski vacation provider like Alpine Elements also offers better prices on lift tickets, rentals, lessons, and lodging packages compared to booking individually at the last minute. A little planning goes a long way toward saving money on your ski trip.

2. Choosing the Wrong Resort

It can be very tempting to want to tackle the most challenging slopes right away, especially if you've seen experienced friends skiing down extreme black diamond runs. However, as a first-time skier, you need to be realistic about your abilities. Choose a resort that has a dedicated beginner area with a good number of green circle runs designed specifically for novices learning to ski. Look for a mountain that has ample easy terrain to allow you to gain experience and confidence before attempting more difficult trails. Picking a resort level above your skills sets you up for frustration and potential injury.

3. Not Familiarizing Yourself with Resort Rules and Trail Signs

While most ski areas use the same trail rating system of green circles for beginners, blue squares for intermediates, and black diamonds for experts, each mountain has its own specific rules and regulations. Take time to understand the guidelines as well as proper on-mountain etiquette like how to load chairlifts and right-of-way for skiers. Your instructor can help explain the policies and lay off the land at whichever ski destination you're visiting.

4. Renting the Wrong Gear

Most skiers rent their skis, boots, and poles, but you'll need to have your outerwear and accessories. At a minimum, get a ski helmet, goggles, warm jacket, ski pants, gloves/mittens, neck gaiter, and thin wool socks. Pay special attention to ensuring your boots fit properly, as poor fit leads to discomfort and potential injury. Invest in quality goggles and gloves to stay warm and fog-free.

5. Dressing Improperly

Dressing for a day on the slopes is all about layering. Start with a warm, moisture-wicking base layer, followed by an insulating middle layer (down or synthetic fill), and topped off with a waterproof and breathable outer shell. Don't forget to layer appropriately on your lower body as well, with a thin base layer beneath your ski pants or bibs. The key is to dress in layers that can be added or removed as needed to maintain a comfortable body temperature throughout the day.

6. Forgetting Fuel and Hydration

Skiing is a physically demanding activity, and you need to fuel your body accordingly. While resorts offer food and beverage options, it's a good idea to bring your snacks and water to avoid purchasing overpriced lodge fare or risk running out of energy on the slopes. Pack high-protein, high-energy snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or chocolate-covered nuts, and invest in a lightweight, insulated water bottle that can be easily carried in an inner jacket pocket.

7. Underestimating Sun Exposure

When you're up in the mountains, the high altitude and the bright snow can make the sun's UV rays stronger. You need to protect your skin well. Be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and that is water-resistant. A mineral-based sunscreen is a great choice as it can also help keep your skin healthy and moisturized. It's also super important to wear high-quality goggles that have interchangeable lenses so you can see clearly in different light conditions.

At higher elevations, the thinner atmosphere filters out less of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, the snow's reflective surface amplifies UV exposure by bouncing and scattering the rays. Polarized sunglasses are another must have as they'll cut down on glare from the snow and prevent eye strain and headaches.

8. Skipping the Ski Lesson

Learning to ski comes with immense joys, but it also brings risks. For beginners, taking lessons proves invaluable. Skilled instructors ensure you grasp proper techniques, vital for safety and enjoying the sport. They guide you through essentials like equipment usage, turning maneuvers, and stopping methods. With their expertise, you'll navigate diverse terrains confidently. Additionally, these lessons educate you on crucial on-slope etiquette and acquaint you with the rules and layout of your resort destination. While self-teaching might seem tempting, professional guidance maximizes your experience.

9. Letting Ego Trump Common Sense

Learning to ski is an exciting journey, but it's important not to let early success go to your head. Even after a few lessons and picking up the language, overconfidence can be a beginner's worst enemy. Skiing is a lifelong pursuit, and even the most experienced experts never stop learning and refining their technique. In fact, one of the biggest challenges in learning to ski is accepting that falls are a normal part of the process. No matter how skilled you become, there will always be times when you lose your balance and hit the snow. The best skiers are those who embrace humility, learn from their mistakes, and ne­ver stop striving to improve. Ego has no place on the slopes. A willingness to learn and a resilient attitude are essential for any aspiring skier who wants to truly master the sport.

10. Pushing Too Hard

While it's important to challenge yourself and continually progress, it's equally crucial to know when to call it a day. In ski culture, there's a superstition about never announcing your "final run," as that's often when accidents occur. Fatigue can severely impair your judgment and reaction time on the slopes, so be honest with yourself about your energy levels, and don't be tempted to squeeze in "just one more run" when you're already feeling spent. Injuries are far more likely to occur when you're tired, so it's better to err on the side of caution and save your remaining stamina for another day on the mountain.

Final Words

Beginning the exciting adventure of skiing needs getting ready and having an attitude open to learning new things. If beginner skiers are careful and take steps ahead of time, they can avoid mistakes that many other new skiers make. It's important to remember that skiing rewards people who keep trying hard and are willing to learn from the mistakes they make along the way. Make this journey with respect and care for the mountain, and be excited to feel the thrill of gliding across the snow.