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I'm a non-skier right now but am thinking of going on a ski trip. As far as I can tell there are two options for learning.

  • On a dry ski slope before I go
  • Start my trip with learning

What the the advantages of either option?

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When you're talking about a ski trip are you referring to go skiing for some days or are you referring to ski mountaineering? –  RoflcoptrException Oct 28 '12 at 21:39
    
There's a third option - learn on snow at a ski centre before you go (fewer of these than dry ski slopes, but many do exist) –  Gagravarr Oct 28 '12 at 21:43
    
@RoflcoptrException I'm referring to going skiing for a few days, not mountaineering –  Matt Oct 28 '12 at 21:53
    
@Gagravarr I would consider ski centres and dry ski slopes to offer the same service in this instance: learning beforehand –  Matt Oct 28 '12 at 21:53
    
What exactly are dry ski slopes? –  RoflcoptrException Oct 28 '12 at 22:25

4 Answers 4

I've only gone skiing on a non-snow surface once. I was attending a ski jumping competition in Salt Lake City during summer, and they had this tiny ramp set up at the bottom of the K120 hill, so that 5-year-olds could give ski jumping a try.

The jump itself went well, but I tried snowploughing to stop, rather than just running out of momentum, and I stopped too suddenly and fell over. I got a slightly grazed knee as a result.

If you're learning skiing, then odds are you're going to stack, and I suspect it's better to do so on snow than on an artificial surface!

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From the perspective of getting the most out of the trip, you should get some learning in beforehand:

Your first lessons are likely to be the least exciting - how to snowplow, basic turns, stops etc on the beginner slopes. So you won't get to appreciate the ski trip as much as if you already have these basic skills.

Many cities now not only have dry ski slopes, but artificial ski slopes...None quite so grand as the ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai:

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That said, it can be fun to learn with a group and go through the steps together in a new location.

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The first time I went skiing, I found the camaraderie of Absolute Beginners Ski School to be brilliant - and formed the nucleus of a great apres ski.

I've also tried the dry ski slope back home, and it doesn't come close. And hurts more when you fall over (as you will!)

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Given that it will be your first time, no amount of preparing on a fake hill, will turn you into a snow-shredding powder dog. Your first days on a mountain WILL be difficult, painful, and short. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

Also, consider there are so many different types of snow one encounters on a real mountain that invariably it will take some re-learning of what you thought you learned on the rug anyway. Hard-pack is a whole different animal from powder, ice, slush, or anything in between.

Rather than waste your money on fake skiing, you might do better to spend your weeks before your trip doing leg and cardio exercises: wall-sits, squats, plyometrics, and good old-fashioned jogging. Then, take a lesson when you get to the ski hill.

Provided you have a good attitude and are in good physical condition, you should be feeling pretty comfortable on your sticks by the end of the first day, and tackling some more spicy runs within 3 days.

All that being said, learning the basic mechanics on a dry slope probably can't hurt.

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