Skiing can seem a fairly hard sport to get into. Quite aside from the high cost of equipment, you have to be in the right part of the world at the right time in order to be able to do it. But if you’re a newbie, don’t let that put you off. As long as you make sure you get yourself some ski travel insurance, there’s no reason you shouldn’t pick a destination and give it a go.
In this article, we’ll give you a brief introduction to four different ways of hitting the slopes. While you won’t come away an expert, it should at least cut through the jargon and give you some ideas how to explore the world of winter sports.
Alpine or Downhill
The most common and well-known form of the sport, alpine or downhill skiing is the cornerstone of almost every resort’s offerings. It’s also needed before you try to explore any other type of skiing, as it’s the best way to learn the basics of turning, controlling speed and movement.
As the name suggests, downhill skiing involves being taken to the top of a slope and making your own way down. The most common way up involves lifts, which are usually some form of drag lift, chair lift or cable car. Others include funicular trains and even helicopters. Once there, skiers navigate runs of varying difficulty. European resorts grade their pistes with colours, with green the easiest, blue and red intermediate and black the hardest.
Back-country or Off-Piste
Once you’ve explored the basics, you might want to move on to something harder. Those with a taste for adventure could consider going off-piste – making your way off the beaten track and tackling a wild mountain with fresh powder. (Even with a guide this can be fraught with difficulties, however, so comprehensive ski travel insurance is a must.)
For those who take on the challenge, it’s so well worth it. You can make your way through scenery most people would never lay eyes on, and many people find great fulfilment in overcoming the challenges of unpredictable terrain.
Freestyle refers to any version of the sport involving tricks, jumps, timed challenges and so on. Many intermediate and advanced downhill runs will have small jumps to the side, and skiers can challenge themselves and each other to complete routes in a given time. But for the full freestyle experience, you’ll need to find a dedicated area. While these are less abundant than regular runs, resorts often have one or two snowparks with grind rails, jumps and half-pipes.
An outlier on this list, cross-country or langlauf skiing involves pushing yourself across flatter terrain. While you need the ability to propel yourself across flat ground, it’s often in short stretches. Those who commit to the older, Nordic style, however, tend to seek out longer flat routes. It’s a tough but rewarding exercise, working out most major muscle groups in a truly punishing way. It’s also a great way to see landscapes even off-pisters wouldn’t. It requires specialist skis that allow you to lift your heels and push off.
Ski Travel Insurance: Be Prepared
It’s not hard to see how winter sports can be seen as dangerous in some instances. After all, in many cases you’re throwing yourself down a mountain with a couple planks and some poles. While the vast majority who go out on the slopes don’t have any serious incidents, it always pays to respect risk – much of which is beyond your control, like changeable weather, unpredictable snow conditions and other hazards.
To ensure complete peace of mind and to get the best experience out of exploring winter sports, it’s crucial you organise a good ski travel insurance policy before you leave home.
You’re bound to find a version of this exciting sport that appeals to you, so find time to give it a go soon. Stay safe, have fun and enjoy the snow.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family, annual, cruise travel and winter sports insurance. If you’re looking for the best ski travel insurance, InsureMore will cover you for any destination worldwide. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.