Skiing: It's never too late to learn - Skiing - Travel - The Independent

Skiing: It's never too late to learn

Have the joys of skiing passed you by for ever? Roger Mills says it ain't necessarily so

SKIING USED to seem to me a bit like playing a musical instrument. If you wanted to do it you had to start young. Having reached the second half ofmy thirties without having got going, it never occurred to me to think about trying. Then, at the ripe old age of 38, I married someone who could skirather well, and a year later I was heading for Passo Rolle, a small resort in the Italian Dolomites.

SKIING USED to seem to me a bit like playing a musical instrument. If you wanted to do it you had to start young. Having reached the second half ofmy thirties without having got going, it never occurred to me to think about trying. Then, at the ripe old age of 38, I married someone who could skirather well, and a year later I was heading for Passo Rolle, a small resort in the Italian Dolomites.

I had heard that ski resorts were full of distressingly able five-year- olds and, even though there was a handful of other anxious-looking oldie beginnerson the slopes, sharing the discomfort didn't seem likely to make the self-consciousness any easier. But within half an hour, the problems of stayingupright were taking up all the mental capacity I had available.

What I wasn't expecting was how fundamentally unnatural the physical experience of skiing would seem at first. Take turning corners. Like mostpeople, my feelings about cornering were based on being on a bicycle, where, if you lean to the left, you go to the left. Nothing so simple for the skiworld. On skis, when you lean to the left you go to the right.

Then there is the question of what to do on a steep slope. Faced with a slope, my instinct was to lean back. But if you lean away from the slope whenyou are on skis, your legs shoot from under you. Making yourself lean forward is the trick, instantly producing a sense of stability. But try gettingyour body to do that on day one.

"Adults think too much," says Fiona Coats, an instructor who runs one of the ski schools at Aviemore. "Teaching children is easy because they justcopy what you do without really realising it. With older people you can see them concentrating too hard, trying to grasp the technique intellectually."

Chilling out is all very well, but skiing, at the very beginning, can be quite alarming. The abiding image I have of my first day is of standing at the top ofthe nursery slope feeling both distinctly uneasy, and that I was rather pathetic to be feeling distinctly uneasy.

So when, exactly, does the fun start? It didn't take long to acquire a degree of competence. Unless you are critically lacking in co-ordination, almostanyone, however old, is getting down the nursery slopes comfortably after four or five days. Another week and you're weaving past stricken beginnersand wondering if it's time you went back to the hire shop to get your equipment upgraded.

"Getting fit before you start helps enormously," says Fiona Coats. "Many people come here having done no exercise at all, thinking that skiing is justeffortlessly gliding downhill."

Coats recommends running, cycling or any exercise that gets the legs moving. Another, personal tip, is going for one-to-one tuition in the early days. Itmay be more expensive but it will have you on your feet (and staying on them) much sooner.

If you are wondering how many years you'll get out of it if you start at 40, remember that in their downhill racing competitions, the Norwegians have anover-80s category.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week