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Alpine skiing

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(Buy: jacket hood should fit helmet)
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*[[Austria]] see [[Skiing in Austria]]
*[[Austria]] see [[Skiing in Austria]]

Revision as of 19:27, 23 February 2010

Alpine skiing in Blue Sky Basin, Vail, Colorado

    This article is a travel topic

Alpine Skiing, also known as downhill skiing, is a popular sport involving sliding down snow-covered terrain with skis attached to each foot. Alpine skiing is one of two skiing disciplines the other being Nordic skiing.


Skiing is a major travelling activity with many enthusiasts, occasionally known as "ski bums," planning entire vacations around skiing at a particular location. Sometimes nearby resorts that can be skied with the same ticket are grouped together.

Major skiing destinations include:




North America


Canadian Rockies

United States of America



See also Winter Sports in Australia

New Zealand


Virtually all ski resorts have a ski school where you can sign up for lessons. It's recommended that you learn to ski at a smaller, cheaper mountain nearer to your location before going off to a major ski resort so you won't have to pay a large fee (at least for a skipass) to just use the bunny hill (which would be the same more or less anywhere).

Some tips that can help you in choosing a right skiing school:

  • it helps a lot if a school don't allow adding members to group in the middle of course (i.e. on 2nd and later day of group training)--it guarantees that you won't repeat the same basic set of excercises every day some new member joins
  • it's best if your instructor is a native speaker of your first language (or other language you are very fluent in): otherwise if instructor skeaks only basic language most instructions are "do like me", but it's difficult for him to explain what exactly are you doing wrong / what you should change in how you ski


There are many types of skiing within alpine skiing, from contests to downhill (going straight without turns) to moguls (going around the bumps). Cross country skiing is usually also available. Nowadays most resorts allow snowboarders as well, but if you plan to do so double check beforehand.

Most resorts also offer a variety of other activities such as horseback-riding and ice skating. There are also usually great stores for shopping and wonderful restaurants in the area that are worth looking into after a day of hitting the slopes.

Ski resort areas are also frequented during the summer months because of their numerous hiking, mountain bicycling, etc opportunities.


Any serious skier has their own equipment, which consists of the following:

  • Skis with binding
  • Poles
  • Ski boots

If you're not certain of if skiing is right for you or you're travelling a great distance, consider renting your equipment (which should be very easy to do at the resort area). Also consider renting equipment, particularly ski boots, for small children because they will continue to grow and need to change sizes.

Cold outdoor equipment (such as heavy jacket, hat, mittens, etc) are a must because of the typically cold conditions--regardless of if you buy or rent your ski equipment.

! Also invest in a good pair of snow pants as you only need to fall once in order to be wet and miserable for the rest of the day should you not have them. Ski goggles and/ or sunglasses are also highly recommended to keep your eyes safe from the glare off the snow.

When buying a jacket, make sure its hood fits over the helmet--this is especially important if you ever try skiing on a glacier where weather is colder and winds can be very strong.

Stay safe

Skiing takes place in some of the most treacherous terrain in the world under very cold conditions. Be sure you are properly protected against the cold so you will not suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. When you are skiing you will be exposed to the elements all day and need to act accordingly. If you feel particularly cold, particularly if you begin to shiver, call it a day and head indoors to warm up.

When the sun comes out, the reflection from the snow around you can cause serious problems as well! Be sure to wear snow goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from snowblindness and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn. Snow can reflect more than 50% of the light that hits it, so wear sunscreen even if it's cloudy outside! You'll thank yourself later.

Ski terrain can often be very dangerous and can lead to hazards that can potentially injure or kill a careless skier. Do not ski any terrain that is above your skill level and pay attention to all signs and Ski Patrol instructions. Also heed avalanche warning signs and avoid areas where avalanche buildup can occur. Also always ski in a group or let someone know where you are.

If you injure yourself on patrolled terrain, ask a fellow skier to fetch the resort's ski patrol for you. Lift operators can help contact them. Mark the location of an injured person by planting skis or snowboards in an upright cross just uphill.

See also Altitude sickness.

With children

Normally children are accepted to a skiing school from 3 years old.

When choosing a destination and accommodation to travel with a 1..1.5-years toddler, consider the following aspects:

  • dining in your hotel is much easier and time-saving than going out. Consider half-board packages or at least a hotel with its own restaurant (but not full-board, as you'll likely prefer to have lunch in a restaurant near the slopes)
  • distance from hotel to skilift matters twice, as it will count twice as much in reducing your time on the slopes, compared to skiing without children (in the case parents change in babysitting in the middle of the day)
  • make sure you'll have enough activities for a toddler at your destination (and even better at hotel): child-friendly swimming pool, open-air playground; rent sleds and ride him on a small childrens slope
  • apres ski is rarely compatible with travelling with a toddler; instead, apres-ski destionations better avoid--you'll likely find yourself looking for quiter streets and cafes in the village
  • make sure there is no apres-ski disko or bar that can be heard from your hotel (or at least from your room) in the hours a toddler normally have to sleep
  • make sure there is a babysitting service and/or a kindergarten, and personnel there speaks your toddler's native language