There's nothing quite like the rush of swishing down the pistes amid the blue sky and clear mountain air, and skiing isn't only for the youngsters. Whether you're a newcomer or experienced skier, here's how to make the most of a winter sports holiday in later life.
Do your research
To really enjoy your skiing holiday, it's essential that you go to a resort that caters for your level and ability. So whether you're experienced and trying a new area or a total beginner, take advice from friends, family or a reputable tour operator. There are plenty of online resources with information on the runs, altitude and likely conditions at varying times of the year, so try Where to Ski and Snowboard, Welove2ski or j2ski if you need to know more. Many resorts have their own websites too, which will allow you to peruse the maps and runs, plus what else there is to do in the area. It's wise not to go too remote, as if you feel tired or sore, or the weather means skiing is off, you may want to either go home or entertain yourself in other ways.
Skiing uses muscles you probably won't notice until they hurt, so getting fit before you leave is essential. It's a physical sport, and if you plan on taking to the slopes daily, you'll benefit if you're in good shape in terms of strength, stamina and flexibility. Brisk walking or slow jogging, and exercise classes such as yoga can help to build you up so that you'll both enjoy your time on the mountain and reduce your risk of injury. Nevertheless, it is also worth packing a first aid kit which includes anti-inflammatories, painkillers and perhaps knee or ankle support bandages, so that you're equipped should you start feeling the strain.
Get the kit
If you don't own your own ski gear, most resorts allow you to hire all the necessary kit for a fee. Whether you're buying or hiring, do make sure you take your time and get something that fits properly. Ill-fitting boots will have you back in the lodge in no time, so be sure to try them on with the gear you'll be wearing on holiday so that you can be confident your kit won't ruin the break.
Aside from the aches and pains you may well feel if you're skiing after a long break, winter sports come with their own set of potential health problems. Though the weather might be cold, remember that snow reflects sunlight, so a high-factor sunscreen is a must, and a supply of Vaseline or talcum powder applied particularly to skin where the bone is close to the skin will minimise any chafing problems that might arise. Last but most certainly not least, make sure that you're taking on plenty of fluids. Water, fruit juice or sports drinks will ensure you stay well hydrated during what can be a strenuous activity, and as tempting as those few glasses of wine with lunch might seem, if you're heading onto the slopes in the afternoon, you may want to stay 'dry' until the evening.
Go at your own pace
Skiing and snowboarding might not just be for the young and fearless, but it's important to listen to your body if you're a silver skier. Pushing yourself too hard or to do too much will only make you feel miserable in the long run, so take it at your own pace, doing a little more each day as and when you feel you can. If you're feeling the strain, take a day off to recharge and enjoy the area. Hopefully you'll be blessed with good weather, and there's no shame in simply stopping to enjoy the stunning surroundings every now and then.
Are you a silver skier? What advice would you give to others planning a winter holiday? Leave your comments below...