Born in Madeira, raised in Sydney, living in Melbourne and dreaming of Bali...
Published August 29th 2018
The Victorian ski season is not over yet, with many resorts extending their open dates until early October. And If you're a first-time skier now is the time to go!
The slopes may be softer and a little slippery (particularly in the afternoon) because of the warmer weather, but Spring conditions mean you won't have to battle wind and falling snow while finding your balance and learning to ski...
As a skiing newbie at Hotham last weekend, my first bit of advice would be to prepare yourself for the most terrifying and exhilarating experience of your life!
Depending on how busy it is, you may have park the car some distance and get the snow bus to take you to the hire shop (unless you stay on Hotham!). It will also take some time to get fitted into your hire gear. There are a limited number of lockers available to store your belongings too. We arrived just before 8am for our 10am lesson and that was just enough time to get everything sorted and grab a coffee and croissant at the cafe near the hire shop at Hotham Central. By 9 am the line-up of people waiting to check in and get their equipment was pretty long, so we were very thankful for our early morning wake-up call.
2. Bring sunscreen, gloves and sunnies: You can hire your ski jacket, pants, boots, helmet, skis and poles but you will need to bring your own or buy a pair of warm waterproof gloves and sunnies or ski goggles. It's pretty bright out there on a sunny day so you will need to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting on the snow. And like most other outdoor sports, you'll need to apply sunscreen! All of the hire gear was really clean and fantastic quality - the clothes kept us super warm and dry all day and the skis, poles and helmets were as new. I did have to swap my boots at one point, so make sure you get the right size, so your toes don't get squished and go numb.
3. Get a lesson or two: At Hotham, the $105 one-day learn to ski package allows you to attend 2 ski lessons - one at 10am and another at 1pm and gives you access to a bunch of runs. You can even ski for free the day prior after 3pm. We only went to the morning lesson but in hindsight, we really should have gone to both to cement our learning and get more practice. Instead, we rushing to the top of the Big D run and spent way too much time on our butts... The instructors will start from the basics on a fairly flat area - teaching you how to stand and walk on the skis as well as stopping and turning, before taking you part way up the run to start practicing on a real slope. Pay attention, ask lots of questions and don't give up OR think you got it too soon, like we did!
4. Enjoy the food and drinks: Skiing for the first time will be extremely tiring and even a little bit stressful. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, and take breaks. Head over to The Bird cafe/bar to enjoy the fantastic food and drinks on offer. Located directly beside The Summit run, you can slide straight over from your morning lesson for a well-deserved beer and burger for lunch. They have lots of other food and beverage options too. I had the halloumi and mushroom burger, with a side of fries which was fresh and delicious and fuelled me for the rest of the afternoon. The Bird is also a great spot to watch the ski-world go by, giggle at other wobbly skiers like you and admire the pros slicing their way down the mountain. It's a great vibe - I guess everyone is high on adrenalin and beer!
5. Build upper body and leg strength:
I'm a long-time yoga student and teacher, so my body coped pretty well with the physically demanding actions of skiing, but some others who don't do a lot of core or general body strengthening workouts found it really difficult and complained of sore and tight muscles the following day. Get into a regular yoga or pilates routine now and by next ski season, you'll be fit, strong and ready to take on all that Hotham has to offer.
Gliding through the snow was amazing, and almost like flying, but it was also hard work. Take your time, have fun and remember you can always drop to your butt like I did whenever I went a little too fast or got scared!
We booked late and stayed in a rental house in Harrietville, which was a 45 minute drive from Hotham, but will definitely aim to stay on the mountain next time for maximum convenience and of course skiing time. We'll all be pros in no time right?!