How many times have you enviously watched those skiers gliding down snow covered slopes, perfectly balanced and having the time of their lives? They make it seem effortless but in truth, every one of those seeming experts had to start from the basics.
Let's take a look at what you need to get started with skiing. Before you rush out and book that skiing holiday, the best advice is to take professional skiing lessons. Whether you've done some basic skiing before or you are a complete beginner, a professional ski instructor will get you started and help you avoid the wrong techniques right from the beginning.
How do you pick a good instructor? Do your homework and consider the following factors, what is your budget, do you want group or individual instructions and what are the qualifications of the instructor?
Remember that you are not limited to the outdoor slopes; there are several indoor ski facilities, even in South Africa, the land of sea and sun, that will enable you to get the basics right before you hit those mountain slopes.
Another alternative to get you started is to join a ski club. These will often offer discounts and you will have the chance to share your experiences and get advice from other club members.
Part of the excitement of skiing is choosing the right equipment, your instructor and ski club. For a beginner it is better to hire your ski equipment until you gain more experience, but sooner or later you will want to acquire your own gear.
Basically you will need three layers of equipment to keep you warm and safe. The first layer should consist of thermal underwear and ski socks, to transfer moisture away from your body. The second layer provides padding and more insulation and includes your ski boots. Finally complete your gear with head protection, such as a helmet or beanie, ski goggles, gloves and a good quality waterproof jacket.
Of course you will need skis, these should be matched to your boots and bindings to make sure that your skis remain connected to your feet. Match your skis to the type of skiing you intend to pursue, downhill skiing or cross-country skiing, for example.
In South Africa the main skiing area is located at Tiffindell, in the Southern Drakensberg. It is a relatively high ski resort at over 2,800 meters. Just over the border in Lesotho is Afri-Ski, which has a one-kilometre slope open during the months of June to August.
Skiing is a world-wide sport, with resorts in many countries. Your new interest can add an exciting, fun dimension to your travels.
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