As a ski instructor, I recommend that ski lessons should be factored into your ski holiday. Ski lessons aren’t just for beginners and can help everyone to get the most from their holiday, whatever their goals.
However, some things are even more fundamental than the technique or tactics that instructors can pass on – equipment.
Along with your physical capabilities, the equipment you use will determine what you can achieve on the slopes, and how much fun you will have whilst trying. Equipment includes clothing and protection, but in this piece we’ll just look at ski hardwear.
The Most Important Bits- Boots
Keen skiers need their own boots. Once you are cruising the blues, you should be looking to buy your own ski boots. Good deals can be found online, but great boot fitters cannot work remotely. Uncomfortable boots can ruin your day – trust me.
A good boot fitter will match your foot shape to a particular boot (not all boots are the same shape on the inside). If there are any further modifications needed to accommodate your feet, then the boot fitter will be able to re-shape the inside of the boot to make them comfortable, they may also recommend a footbed which can help to keep the foot comfortable. If you suffer from very cold feet, then heated insoles are possible.
A good boot fitter will also match your skiing ability and power to the flex of the boot. An off piste boot will have different forward flex, lateral flex, delta angle, forward lean and insulation levels to piste boots. Balancing all of this can be tricky, that’s why we use boot fitters.
The Flash Bits – Skis
Pick a pair of skis for what you do, rather than what you dream of doing. If you’re doing something exceptional, you can hire something different.
Piste skis need to be stable on their edges. Fat skis don’t do this, and can create some awkward leverage on the boot and the lower leg.
Pure piste skis will be 70 mm wide underfoot, and off piste skis over about 100mm. Anything in between is a compromise. If you want skis to perform well in powder and grip hard on the piste, you need two pairs of skis.
The Forgotten Bits – Poles
Poles aren’t as important as boots or skis, but they’re still important. Without covering all the possibilities, here are my top tips:
Fat baskets for deep snow
Longer poles for skiing steep and deep
Grippy handles, not shiny ones
Shorter poles for freestyle
Stiff, not bendy
Photographs Giles Lewisby