Our first ski trip was last year and we set off having never even been on the dry slopes before. My Aunty owns a ski and snowboard shop and she had helped kit us out, describing the different layers we may need and showing us those handy sun-cream tubes with a lip-balm attached. We arrived in France looking the part but with no idea what we were doing.
I had spoken to family and friends that have skied about whether we should try skiing or snowboarding, and the overwhelming majority suggested skiing was the best way to start out on the snow so we signed up for daily lessons.
I think that the moment you become a parent, a cautiousness appears that may never have existed before. I have jumped out of planes and gone white water rafting down class 4 drops without a second thought, but stepping onto the snow after leaving my two boys in the creche was terrifying. Skiing is so different to anything I had done before and I was nervous about how I would manage and made a goal to confidently handle the nursery slopes by the end of the week.
It turns out skiing was hard work physically, but amazing fun. It only took a couple of days before we attempted the easiest runs and by day 5 the bloke and I were zooming down the green and blue runs without any assistance. Our tuition was fantastic and with two skis to balance on we felt like we had mastered the slopes. Being 26 I worried that I was too old to learn, but after our week I don't believe there is a 'too old' to try something new. We are heading back out to the Alps in January and I can't wait to see my biggest two little ones don some skis and have a go too.
I think there is definitely something appealing about snowboarding. Much as a teenager on a skateboard looks more cool than one on roller blades, snowboarding seems to be seen as the trendier version of skiing. Having never been the 'cool kid', I am more than happy to stick to having both feet working independently (so that I can snowplow down anything that scares me). As a nervous adult learner, I felt secure on skis and I knew how to control my speed. I can't imagine it being as easy on a snowboard and most of the snowboarders we saw were zooming past us at quite a speed!
I never had an interest in watching the winter Olympics but after our experiences on the snow, I love watching competitive skiing. I think because it is something I can relate to (the bloke and I are more than a little competitive too) I would always watch the skiing over the snowboarding. Being nervous on the snow means I wasn't keen to try anything that meant my feet came off the ground, but the bloke had a couple of rather disastrous attempts at the mini jumps. Watching the professional skiers zoom through the air is terrifying and exciting in equal measures and I can't look away.
I would definitely recommend skiing as the best way to start on the slopes. It was so much easier to learn than I expected and if you have good tuition then it is really easy to pick up. Most companies offer private lessons and Neilson have Mountain Experts that offer free top up sessions to help you get the most out of your time too. I can't wait to see my big two little ones try it out and we have started looking for salopettes and goggles that will fit them. After everything I have heard and seen I think skiing is the better of the two to learn and hopefully easier for children as well as adults.
Skiing holidays for us are about more than just the slopes though. It is a chance to get away with our family, to enjoy something different - hot chocolate around the fire, beautiful accomodation with breathtaking views out of every window, shared experiences and new skills. It is watching Archie make snowballs, marvelling at Dylan gaining physical confidence and this coming winter we will be giving Finn his first experience of snow. Neilson offer a great variety of family friendly packages for people of all abilities.
Where do you stand on the Ski vs Snowboard debate? Has anyone tried both? I stand firmly in the team ski camp.
Disclaimer: Collaborative Post