Anyone who knows me will tell you; I’m not a very sporty person, nor do I like the cold. But something in me was like “sure, why not give skiing a go.” I was fully prepared to hate it, break a bone and catch a cold. But to my surprise, I loved it. Skiing is like nothing I’ve ever done before and I can’t wait to go back!
I went skiing in Borovets, the oldest Ski Resort in Bulgaria. Located up in the mountains, about a 90 minute drive away from Sofia, Borovets is absolutely beautiful. Obviously, as a beginner, I stayed true to the Green Slopes. The Green is around 2 miles long, and throughout the course of the week I managed to get my completion time down from almost 2 hours, to around 40 minutes – proud. The Green slope is stunning, canopies of snow dusted trees and stunning views from the top of the mountain.
As a beginner, there are definitely a few things I wish I’d known before I hopped on the slopes;
- It’s probably best to have a lesson, even if you’re pretty confident. I told myself before I went that “I can skate and longboard, my balance is good I’m sure I’ll be fine without a lesson.” Let’s just say that was pretty naive of me… as soon as I saw the speeds people were zipping about it and more the height of some of the slopes, I thought I probably should get myself on a lesson. I did a 2 hours lesson which covered all the basics of how to fall – because it’s actually really important that you learn how to fall correctly or you’ll risk breaking something! – how to walk in skis and how to turn.
- Make sure your boots are on properly. Ski boots hurt – but there are some ways you can make your life a little easier. Make sure you have the appropriate ski socks on, they should come up to a little below the knee, and if you want to avoid agonising pain in your shins, make sure the lips of the boot are in properly!! Or else you’ll have the plastic digging into your shins and trust me – it hurts! If you’re not sure how to put your boots on properly, ask, it’s much better than suffering the consequences!
- Do NOT take your gloves off on the slopes… This was another lesson I learnt the hard way 2000 ft up in the mountains of Borovets where we’d stopped for a little drink (the green run has a cute little bar up the top so we stopped for a drink!) and I took my gloves off. The rest of the hour and a half journey back down I couldn’t feel any of my fingers and I was convinced they were all going to fall off a result of frostbite. Not a good look, keep those gloves ON.
- It takes time to perfect the ski lift… I’m pretty sure every ski or snowboarder has become a victim to the ski lift, myself included! Take some time to watch others getting on/getting off so that when its your turn, you don’t do what I did and panic, resulting in me missing the seat, ending up on the floor with the ski lift passing over my head… needless to say I caused the lift to stop. You have to be pretty quick with it, so make sure you’re confident in what you have to do before you hop on, but if you fall don’t worry, we’ve all been there!
- Don’t try anything too challenging if you’re not comfortable, but be confident! If you’re a total newbie to skiing like I was, the Green run is your bestfriend. The whole week I was skiing I only stuck to the green run, luckily there was a couple of other beginner lever friends in our group so I wasn’t alone feeling like the baby… But I will say it was only on the last day that I was feeling confident enough to go down the Blue run, by which time it was to late! So don’t go before you’re 100% comfortable, but at the same time – be brave! Truth if you’re going to fall regardless, you just have to be confident and get up each time.
- It’s all about the Après Ski. I’ve never quite experienced a holiday like a ski holiday, but I can honestly tell you that Après Ski lives up to its expectations. We had a few choice bars we chose to flit between which was a really nice was to reunite everyone after a day of all being separated off on different slopes. Even if you’re not going with a big group, I’d definitely recommend going out in the evening for some food or even just to a local bar for a few drinks, you’ll find out a lot more information and cool things to do from chatting to a few of the locals.
- Pick one session. Unless you’re feeling super confident, I’d advise beginners to stick to just one session; either morning, afternoon or evenings. Personally I stuck to the afternoon pass, that was I had time to get up, have some breakfast and catch up with everyone else before hitting the slopes at around 12. Each ski resort is different but up in Borovets the afternoon ski pass allowed you to use the ski lifts between 12pm and 4pm, giving you ample time to sit outside with a hot chocolate before heading back to the room for a nap and getting ready to go out in the evenings.
- Make sure you have downtime off the slopes. This sort of follows on from my last one – but Skiing is a super intensive sport on your body so definitely insure that you have some down time to chill and you’re not pushing yourself too far! You will probably ache regardless and you will definitely feel it after a week. Spa days are popular in ski resorts, but personally I chose to take a day just chilling in little cafe’s and exploring the town, giving myself a well earned rest!
- If you can’t stop- FALL. This one you’ll probably be taught in your lesson, but it’s one of the most important things myself (and Bambi-on-ski’s boyfriend of mine) learned during our first few days. If you’re going too fast and can’t stop you’re heading for that lovely looking tree, or worse, that massive cliff drop… fall. It’s much easier to pick yourself up off your ski’s on the slops than it is to peel yourself off a tree.
- Dress appropriately, layers are key. Be prepared for it to be cold when you’re outside but not skiing, boiling when you are skiing and bitterly cold in the nights. It’s a bit of a difficult one to suss (and if you manage to do it correctly first time please give me a few pointers!) but my advice would be to wear your thermals all the time. It’s gonna suck if you’re up on the slops dripping with sweat but it’s easier to unzip your jacket (a little, you don’t want to let all your body heat out at once) than it is to put on an extra layer whilst you’re out. Snow boots are also a key. Don’t even think about heading out in the evenings with Vans on.. you will slip on ice and put yourself out of action for the rest of the holiday! Also it’s super cold, be kind to your toes!
I hope these tips were helpful to any of you newbie skiers that’ll be heading to the slopes this year! I’d love to know where you guys are off and or if you’ve been skiing, let me know some of your tips you wish someone had told you before your first trip.