A ski holiday conjures up so many images of things I love: cosy ski lodges, snow, and majestic mountainous terrain to gawp at. There’s only one small problem – I can’t ski.
So when Inghams invited me along to Reading’s Skiplex Centre for a ski lesson, I figured this could finally be my way onto the first rung of the snow holiday ladder. I mean…how hard could it really be?
To celebrate 80 years in the business, Inghams took on the challenge of teaching 80 beginners how to ski. The Skiplex Centre is the perfect place to learn. With two indoor revolving slopes made of soft astro turf carpet, you don’t have to be running up and down hills to have another crack at staying on two feet. You simply pop on some boots, clip into your skis and hop onto the slope.
As it turns out, I’m not a natural skiier. If my whole skiing attempt can be summed up with just one photo, it would probably be this one:
Yeah, really not great.
One of the best things about the Skiplex Centre is that it features a bar for you to hold onto while you’re concentrating on getting your feet in the right place. Once you gain more confidence, you’re able to push yourself away from the bar in order to have a go at balancing all on your own. It took me a while to build up the courage to trust in my pretty shaky balance (and I’m still not sure I’ve mastered the most basic of moves: the snow plough), but it felt great when I was finally able to take my hands off that bar.
Encouragingly though, I only fell over once…although that was when the machine stopped, which is probably more embarrassing.
Here’s some pretty terrible pics of me trying to keep upright (with Char of Taylor Hearts Travel doing so much better in the middle…).
The basic technique of skiing is to keep your legs bent, as if you’re doing a squat. The snow plough involves leaning in on your feet, and pointing the front ends of your skis together (but don’t let them cross or you’ll fall over). Apparently it’s not a technique that’s widely used when you’re a pro, but it’s one that helps you to find your balance when you’re starting out.
Whilst at the event, I spoke to one woman whose husband was having a go on the slopes. Although he’s been a ski instructor for over 30 years, he had told her that the Skiplex slope really challenged you to perfect your technique. One small mistake, and you’re on your backside. Luckily, the instructors were on hand to stop the slope as soon as anyone had a wobble or went too close to the edge, which was a great comfort.
The centre makes it easy to keep track on your technique with a large one-way mirror in front of you. Everyone else can see onto the slope, but you don’t really think about this as you’re so intent on perfecting those skills in the mirror.
As well as ski lessons, Inghams also had an array of other activities to keep visitors entertained. A spread of sandwiches, hot drinks and pastries kept tummies fuelled in the centre’s relaxing ski lodge area, kitted out with comfy sofas, faux-fur rugs and wood burners.
So, while I may not be heading down a black diamond slope any time soon, it has got me thinking about the possibility of taking my ‘skills’ onto the next level. I’ve been looking at some of the fantastic ski holidays for beginners offered by Inghams. I thought these holidays would be outrageously expensive, but some of the holidays I’ve been eyeing up cost around £600 for a weeks’s accommodation, flights, equipment hire and lessons.
And, if all else fails, I guess I can just stick to snow tubing…
Many thanks to Inghams for inviting me along to this event!