The 5 Best Places to Learn to Ski
The aim of the novice skier is to join the experts that are riding the steep chutes and powdery bowls with supreme grace and agility. But like any sport, there is a way to go between that and strapping on the skis and taking those first faltering steps out onto the snow.
Everyone has to start somewhere and some resorts are better suited for learning than others. Complete Ski gives us a rundown of five resorts that provide excellent facilities for learning to ski.
Pamporovo – Bulgaria
Of the main ski resorts in Bulgaria, Pamporovo has the best facilities for learning to ski. Only three hours flight from the UK, Pamporovo nestles into the pine-clad mountain scenery of the Rhodoppes and has a definite Alpine feel. The resort has a 2.4km beginners run known as the Tourist Trail that descends gently from the summit of Mount Snezhanka. There are a number of ski schools based in the resort and one of the best introductions to skiing comes by way of a learn to ski pack. These usually incorporate ski and boot hire plus around four hours a day of group tuition. Taking a seven day break means that a six day learn to ski package would be an ideal introduction to the sport.
Saint Francois Longchamp – French Alps
Sited just inside France near the Swiss and Italian borders, this resort is exclusively for beginners. Here you can learn to ski safe in the knowledge that you will not be put off or made to feel like a newbie as expert skiers sail past you. The best thing about this resort is that you get much more than just one beginners trail with 65km of pistes plus 20 km of cross-country trails. At over 2500m, the elevation guarantees good snow throughout the season. With good restaurants, bars, spas and access to other activities such as Paragliding, you are guaranteed to have a great time both on and off the ski slopes. Access is via the airports Chambery (about an hour away) and Geneva (two hours away)
Obergurgl – Austria
This high mountain resort in Austria is well geared up for beginners with its own ski school that has a great reputation. The village is a traditional Austrian village with a range of decent accommodation. The meeting place for the group tuition sessions is just a short walk from the village and the training there has been the proving ground for many of the current crop of expert skiers. The resort has one of the most consistent snow records which can make it suitable for a late season break. Being generally crowd and queue free, it makes for a non intimidating place to take to the skis for the first time.
Breckenridge – Colorado
Often described as the perfect mountain town on the perfect mountain, the authentic mining town of Breckenridge is a fantastic place for the beginning skier. With a number of ski schools and special facilities for children, the novice skier or nervous intermediate, it has all of the necessary tuition and guidance available to improve both technique and confidence. To access this resort you need to fly into Denver airport which is around 100 miles away and then take one of the many shuttle services available. Breckenridge opens up for early visitors during the second week of November and conditions will provide for great skiing right into late spring.
This incredibly picturesque Swiss resort has been welcoming skiers of all abilities since 1889. Not particularly high at only 1274 metres, snowfall can be inconsistent. Over 50 artificial snow cannons ensure that skiing is always available. Very suitable for families and children, the party atmosphere of some bigger resorts is blissfully absent and yet there are still more than enough off piste facilities available. Instruction of beginners is well catered for with some easy slopes to build confidence on before challenging the more difficult runs. Flying in, you should head for Bern which is only around 70km from the resort. Many people then travel the rest of the way by train, Opening times are between December and April which makes for a short but very rewarding season.