A necessary part of getting the most out of any Skiing holiday is attending a dedicated ski school. Ski schools while putting the emphasis on skill acquisition do tend to be good fun and should not be viewed as exclusively for beginners as whatever your level of skill you can always learn from those better than you, and even professional skiers take lessons and advice from their coaches. A good ski school will have lessons for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced skiers, and if you are attending a ski school at a particular resort the instructors will have an in-depth knowledge of the mountain and will be able to offer suggestions and tips for improving and or adapting your skiing style to the terrain. Skiing is one of those hobbies where no matter how much you spend on gear, or how trendy you feel in the latest winter fashion you will really need to practice if you want to look good.
Virtually every skiable area of the world will have a ski school of some description attaching, and at the bigger resorts there will often be a choice of schools to suit different skill levels and most will be fully accredited and carry insurance. Some may even offer language-specific instruction and or limited class numbers, and this is something you may wish to consider particularly when starting out as smaller numbers lead to better tuition and have to progress and obviously it’s important that you can understand what instructor is telling you.
You can book a place ski school prior to your arrival either through your tour operator assuming the services offered, or they are often available online. This option is preferable if you are looking for specific class types, however, it is possible to book for the following day on the night you arrive at the resort, or you can even book a class on the day, although the latter is not advisable if you are looking for specifics such as English-speaking instructors or a specific class standard. Given that there will be little or anything saved by booking at short notice it is always advisable to book in advance whenever possible. This will also make lifelike less hectic as your first morning on the piste tends to be quite chaotic. However if you have not been as well-organized as you should be you should be able to find ski school representatives in the hotels in the evenings, and some may feel spaces available canvas the chalets, so you can normally sort something out. If you are prepared to look at the last minute and are an intermediate skier there are advantages from taking this strategy in that you can get the chance to speak to the instructors in a less formal environment which may allow you to choose an instructor whose style you like.
Typically a ski school will offer different lesson options including daily group lessons, which are a good choice for beginners as you will normally find some group camaraderie; given that most people will begin at the same level and have the benefit of working with the same instructors over several days. On this point, though we would strongly advise against joining daily group lessons with more than 10 skiers in them as you will find that the instructor’s attention may be spread too thinly, or that a particularly attractive or charismatic individual tends to monopolise the instructors time.
An alternative to a public group lesson is a private group lesson which tend to be one-offs organised by yourself with an instructor and either your family members or traveling group. This setup has the advantage of providing a more comfortable environment for those who would prefer to learn with people they know, however, if the group members are at different levels of ability progress can only be made at a pace suitable for the least experienced member of the group.
A final but more expensive option is to have one-to-one tuition; however, this is normally only suitable for complete beginners who really need one-to-one tuition to get started or for advanced skiers who need the concerted time of an instructor to improve the skills they already have.
If you are beginning the process of learning to ski and have enrolled in a class, it is important to know what to expect from your initial endeavour. Basically, unless you are blessed with natural talent or have spent a considerable amount of time on the dry ski slopes you can expect to spend a fair bit of your first day’s lessons brushing snow off yourself after a tumble. Fortunately, you should be on relatively sedate slopes so normally the only thing which will be hurt is your pride. Two or three days into your holiday through you should start to feel a little more confident and fall over considerably less and by the end of a week, providing you have focused on your lessons and done some additional practice should be able to navigate fairly confidently around an easy slope.