There are two types of families: those that partake in winter sports, and those that don’t. My family falls into the latter category. So as a result, my childhood encounters with the snow were limited to a toboggan ride down the closest patch of sleet my parents could find.
As a teenager, school ski trips came and went, but my interest was never piqued. Perhaps this was indicative of my preference for sedentary activities (not much has changed), or you could maybe even put it down to pure consideration of my parent’s finances.
Now as an adult, I’ve finally made the trek to Falls Creek and had my first proper snow experience. I gained basic ski skills, some minor(ish) injuries and learnt a few unexpected lessons. If you too are yet to indulge in some winter sports, please allow me to guide you through my newfound wisdom.
You won’t get put in a class with toddlers
First up, let me dispel your fears. Contrary to my long-held belief, beginner adult skiers do not get put in the same class as children. By the time I hit adulthood, most of my friends were already competent skiers. I assumed that if I were to join them on a ski trip, I’d be demoted to a class with three-year-olds. Not the case. Ski resorts generally run multiple adult classes per day for total beginners. Chances are you won’t even be the worst in your class. My class was made up of brave first-time adult skiers of all ages, and (non-existent) abilities.
You’ll never be as good as all the mini skiers
Don’t feel bad about all the three-year-olds zooming past you on the practice runs. They basically skied out of their mother’s wombs, so you’re starting at a serious disadvantage. And they all learn with no poles, it’s nuts! Anyway… you’ll never catch up, so don’t bother trying. Just focus on doing you.
You need invest in proper gear
This is an area in which you cannot afford to skimp. Before you head off on your snow adventure, make sure you have the appropriate clothing and equipment. As well as being important for safety reasons, the correct gear will ensure you stay warm all day. A soggy skier equals a miserable skier. If you can, find a rich friend that goes on regular trips to the Swiss or Italian Alps and borrow their fancy ski equipment.
If like me, you don’t have any rich friends, hiring gear is not as expensive as you may think. And there are generally deals available where you can package it all up with your ski lessons. While the standard-issue ski gear probably won't have you looking like 'sexy Flanders', it does the trick.
It’s not recommended that first-timers buy a whole new getup – unless of course Aldi has one of its famous snow specials the weekend before you go skiing. In which case – as a big Aldi fan – I say go for it.
Getting on the lift is actually kind of hard
I’m not sure if it was just me that struggled with this, but getting on the chairlifts was hard. It seemed like there was so much room for error. You need to sit down at the right time, hold on to your poles, lift pass, goggles, and selfie stick (if you’re that way inclined). So much pressure.
You are not ready to tackle a run after a one hour lesson
I learnt this lesson the hard way. It’s easy to get cocky and lulled into a false sense of security, but please take my advice: after a one hour lesson, you are not ready to attempt your first ski run. Keep fine-tuning your art on the practice slopes with an instructor or friend that can offer some tips and tricks.
As the self-appointed dux of my beginner’s class, I felt I was ready to take on an easy run. It turns out, I had not acquired the skills necessary to make it down to the bottom of the mountain in one piece. While I did master skiing fast and uncontrollably, I learnt very quickly that I had not yet obtained the essential skills of a.) slowing down and b.) stopping. I was punished for my bravado with a sprained shoulder, acquired when I fell in a heap approximately 20 metres from the end of the run.
As a first-timer, it’s important to stay somewhere nice
This was perhaps my most important revelation. As a novice skier, you’ll inevitably spend a lot of time falling over, and this can become tiresome very quickly. Once you’ve had enough of the slopes/face-planting, it’s pretty spesh to have somewhere nice to retreat to and kick back with a hot chocolate.
I was fortunate enough to stay at QT Falls Creek. It’s a ski-in, ski-out resort, which I discovered means you can walk straight from the resort doors to the chairlifts. This is particularly handy for novice skiers – I seriously struggled to walk more than 20 metres in my ski boots. It’s way harder than it looks.
The resort’s accommodation ranges from one to three bedroom apartments, with all 39 equipped with full kitchen and laundry facilities. I was most impressed by the fact that there’s a hot tub on the balcony of every apartment. And for the hygiene freaks/germaphobes out there, yes the hot tub water is completely drained and replaced after every guest. And yes, I was that person, and I did bother the poor receptionist with that query. Tip: bring some thongs or slides, so you don’t have to make a bare-footed dash across your snow-covered balcony into the hot tub.
But perhaps my favourite thing about staying at the snow? The heated flooring. I’m starting a petition to make them mandatory in all new building projects south of Sydney. A true gift from God.
The day spa will become your best friend
If you can make some room in your budget, I highly recommend you book in for a post-ski massage. After a long day learning the ropes, you’ll hurt in places you didn’t know existed. I was treated to the Thermal Massage at SpaQ. The massage uses both warming red pepper and cooling essential oils to reduce inflammation. There’s also a full range of services available including facials, waxing, nails and body wraps.
You’ll get really, really hungry
In terms of hunger-inducing capabilities, learning to ski is akin to a trip to the swimming pool. It makes you ravenous. For the budget conscious, I’d recommend packing snacks and going all out at dinner time.
I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of dining options on the mountain at Falls Creek. Stingray is my pick for a moderately-priced light meal and après-ski cocktails and entertainment. Bazaar Marketplace serves up a broad selection of cuisines in a buffet-style setting. In the past, I’ve been burnt (let's face it, who hasn't) by traditional buffets. However, Bazaar turns the concept on its head, with a massive range of beautifully presented dishes on offer – some of which are made to order. There are chefs on hand at each station to guide you through dishes, and the expert waitstaff assist you in choosing the perfect accompanying wine.
Leah was a guest of QT Falls Creek, and despite coming off a little worse for wear, she's already planning her next ski trip.
Illustration by TwylaMae.