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Skiing is enormous fun but if you are going for the first time a little knowledge of what you will need in advance makes for a more enjoyable experience.  Below a brief but easy to understand guide to help you make the most of your skiing holiday compiled by Obergurgl’s The Chalet, at 11º East.

Equipment: You will need Skis, Boots and Poles

If you have never worn a pair of ski boots before then it’s a strange feeling and it’s well worth going to try a pair on in England just so you understand how they feel.

It’s often better to hire your equipment in the resort so you can change it if it’s not right (not least because it’s heavy and you usually get charged to fly it over) but by trying on and wearing for at least half an hour in shops like Snow and Rock, you will have some understanding of what a comfortable and uncomfortable boot feels like. The better your understanding of how it’s meant to feel, the less time you have to spend doing this on your precious holiday.  Seek out a helpful rental shop: Riml Sports in Obergurgl is handy for The Chalet’s customers and offers expert advice.

Boots:

Should be snug but not tight, and you should be able to wiggle your toes whilst your heel stays fixed.  If that’s not your experience, or if they hurt, feel restrictive, or give you pins and needles, you need a different pair. Often you won’t discover they aren’t the right fit for you until perhaps lunchtime or the end of the first day. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for a different pair.  It’s quite normal to change equipment and critical to you enjoying earning to ski. You must have proper ski socks, ordinary socks won’t be long enough, and will cause blisters and shin pain. Buy a pair when going to try out boots in the UK. Trying them with ordinary socks is pointless.  Most novices don’t know that just one pair of socks should be worn inside ski boots, more than that hinders warmth and leads to rubbing.

Skis:

As a beginner, you want a pair of skis designed for beginners, these are usually softer, which means bendy, and therefore more forgiving than advanced skis. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will be getting better equipment if you say you are an accomplished skier, it will just make it harder to learn.  As a beginner, the skis should come up from the floor to no higher than your nose. Shorter skis are generally more manoeuvrable. Longer skis may make you go a little faster but are harder to learn to turn on.  If you are very nervous get an even shorter pair, say from the floor to your neck, and it will be easier still to control.  In the guide below women should go for the lower end of the scale, men the higher end.

Skier Height in feet & inches Skier Height in centimeters (cm) Suggested Ski Lengths (cm)
5’4″ 163 150- 165
5’6″ 168 155-170
5’8″ 173 160-175
5’10” 178 165-180

Poles:

Poles help you turn and give you confidence.  To choose the correct size of ski pole wear shoes or stand in your ski boots. With the poles upside down—grips touching the floor, hold the pole just underneath the basket so that the top of your thumb touches the basket. Your elbow should now be at a 90° angle. If the angle is less than 90°, try a shorter pole. If the angle is greater, get a longer pole. Most poles are sized in 2” increments. If you’re in between sizes, go with the shorter pole.

Helmets:

It’s no longer cool to ski without a helmet.  Good rental shops usually hire them to children free but if you have to pay, don’t skimp on this essential item.

Clothing:

The following are essential to wear:

Ski Thermals: both top and leggings.  Buy thermals that are designed for skiing. They should be made of synthetic materials. Cotton is not suitable as it will get very damp and cause you to get cold quickly. The fabrics need to wick away moisture pushing it to the outside. Ordinary leggings and jumpers may seem like a common-sense alternative, but when you’re ten minutes into a ski-lift ride in minus 10 degree temperatures, you’re going to wish you’d bought something more technical.

On top of your thermals try and wear several thin layers rather than one thick layer as this will keep you warmer and allow you to remove a layer if you get too hot.

Ski Jacket: there are numerous types but typically you need an insulated synthetic jacket made from fabrics that are waterproof, breathable, less bulky and therefore easier to move around in. The more fashionable brands usually associated with every day fashion clothing often offer limited warmth, waterproofing etc.

Down jackets sound nice, but do not perform well in wetter or damp conditions.

Salopettes (ski pants):  like the jacket, you want to choose ones that are warm and made from synthetic materials specifically designed for the slopes. Shell (hardshell) ski pants are normally made from polyester or nylon. They are normally waterproof, windproof and highly breathable. Although they will be lightly insulated they won’t offer the same level of warmth as insulated ski pants. It is important that your ski pants are a good fit. This means they should not be so tight that your movement is restricted or so loose you have to pull them up often. They should be loose enough to allow freedom of movement especially around hips and knees (remembering to take into account any layers you may wear underneath.) Adjustable waistbands are useful for adjusting the fit based on the layers you may/may not be wearing.

Hat : As mentioned a helmet should be worn during all skiing or snowboarding.   Complement this with a scarf or soft muffler to keep the neck area snug.

Gloves: A critical piece of your equipment for both warmth and protection. Like all other ski clothing you need specialist ski gloves.  Popular in recent years are so called lobster or three finger gloves.

Goggles or sun glasses: if you are unsure of the weather or on a budget buy a pair of goggles. These will be fine in both wintry and sunny conditions where sunglasses are hopeless if it’s snowing heavily and inclined to fall off when you fall over.

Good UK shops to try on and or buy ski equipment and clothing:

Snow + Rock
Ellis Brigham

Best shop to hire equipment from in Obergurgl, and closest to The Chalet, at 11º East is

Riml Sports:   https://www.rimlsports.com/en

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