Highlights of 2016: The slope virgin and her first ski: A lesson in basics

So many events, so many faces, so much news…Checkedin has decided to post some of our 2016 highlights we had the privilege of sharing with you. For this week week we bring you our guest writer piece by Elisna Bergset…

By Elisna Bergset

The act of skiing can be very daunting for those who have never done it. I was a slope virgin when my partner and I decided to tick off ski holiday on our bucket list. I had never even seen snow before, much less ski on it.

Living in South Africa, I didn’t exactly have an arsenal of mates ready to impart their skiing wisdom. Instead, I relied on Google: Google informed me of the minus 8 degrees Celsius day-time temperature, and that sunscreen is still vital despite the sub-zero slopes. The rest I had to figure out on my own.

The ski holiday is all about foundations: From the clothing you wear to the basic techniques of standing upright on skis. The right clothing should however be where you start. You really want to get water-proof pants. Snow is wet, and your bum will make a lot of contact with it (whether you want it to or not).
Did I mention that snow is wet? That means you will also need water-proof shoes. The rest is pretty standard: some long-sleeve second skins, fleece top, warm socks, buff and again… water-proof jacket. Luckily you can purchase these at most outdoor retail stores.

Off to Val Thorens

Our destination was Val Thorens in the French Alps. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, and its 2300 metre altitude was a major contributing factor in deciding to go there. You see, you can’t ski without snow, and the higher up you are the more likely snow-fall becomes.

It almost goes without saying that those elevated views were absolutely spectacular. The entire town was covered in white, and the snow made my inexperienced winter senses feel like everything was squeaky clean. There are a decent amount of restaurants, pubs, and shops in the village, but the reason people go there is to hit the slopes.
The most important part for any beginner on a ski holiday is to go to Ski School. Ski School can be anything from two to five days, depending on your athleticism and raw talent. This is where you learn the basics, and once you know how to do the basics you can gradually work your way up the different slopes. It took me two days of Ski School to feel confident enough to hit the slopes on my own. I shared the beginners slope with mostly children and fellow South Africans, but after a few days, my lesson in humility turned into addiction to powder: The soft powder of the slopes.

Our days consisted of skiing, and our nocturnal activities revolved around dining and finding the most delicious Glühwein. The key to enjoying a ski holiday as a beginner is to shed any expectations you may have. Go with an open mind and willing body. Don’t be afraid, because the Ski School will teach you everything you need to know to love the experience. Go out and explore new food and drinks. Most of all open up a savings account because you will want to go back.

Who is Elisna?

Elisna is an amalgamation of contradiction: Afrikaans woman and English writer. Afraid of heights, but has a pilot’s license. She’s an ultra nerd with a love for rap music, and feels guilty for eating meat and being an animal activist at the same time. Having mopped floors in a student bar and flown with John Travolta on his private Boeing, she is an expert in the fickleness of success.

She’s been in the travel industry for many years, and travelling the world has been fortunate collateral for her career choice. Elisna loves how travel is fatal to intolerance of “others” and hopes to share bits of travel wisdom with others through her writing. She has a darker side too, but believes those stories should be read by those who aren’t easily offended and don’t have trouble falling asleep.

Get your travel writing career up and running by becoming a contributor to Checkedin. Email info@checkedin.co.za if, like Elisna, you have a special travel experience to share with your peers.

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