Inspired by Sochi, our in-house adrenaline junkie fancies a trip to the slopes, but those mountains don’t come cheap.
When Wimbledon’s on, the tennis courts are packed; during The World Cup, more jumpers are muddied from being used as goal posts than ever and during The Olympics running shoes are dusted off, diving boards are bounced on and old judo outfits – that no longer fit – make a brief appearance before usually heading straight to the Sue Ryder shop.
The Winter Olympics in Sochi have been plagued by controversy — a topic I will leave for writers far more cerebral than me — but they may just have (to borrow a phrase) ‘inspired a generation’. They have certainly inspired me, but maybe not in quite the same way (I’m pretty sure you won’t see me with a gold medal, singing the national anthem in the next few years); I simply want to go on a skiing holiday.
Seeing the athletes compete, the snow glisten in the sun and the mountains tower over Sochi has made me want to escape this wet and grey land (I am going to try and steal as many advertising / marketing slogans as I can in this piece — that was Land Rover by the way) and head to some kind of alpine retreat. I am day dreaming about getting the skis on, breathing the air and drinking and dancing in my ski boots (conveniently forgetting the aches and pains that tend to follow). However, there is one small problem: money. Going on a ski / snowboarding holiday is no longer only for the rich and famous, but it’s certainly not the sort of holiday you can do when things are tight.
But time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted, so I thought I’d do some digging to see what last-minute, snow-kissed deals are out there for anyone — like me — who gets sucked into sporting events and all of a sudden thinks they’re Alberto Tomba:
1. Firstly, you don’t have to go to Switzerland, France or Austria. Slovenia, Bulgaria and other eastern countries are far more cost-effective (cheaper) and someone like Crystal Ski has deals around the £200pp mark
2. Last minute — if you do want to go to France and eat amazing food, look chic and paint the town red, then it may be best to go last minute as that way you can really keep initial costs down. Igluski (at the time of writing) has a deal for four people sharing an apartment in Tignes for £199pp departing on March 8th
3. Lift passes can really hurt — try to factor your lift pass into your initial outlay if you can. Ski Solutions has a deal for 2 for 1 lift passes which can really help as the pass can be an unwelcome surprise when you arrive
4. But we’re a family! If you’re willing to risk the wrath of the education Minister and take your kids skiing outside of half term, there are actually some great deals around. Esprit Ski has a deal for a family of four (flights, accommodation, fully catered and with as much wine as you can drink!) for £1499 which I know seems a lot, but this is a skiing break
5. What do I use to ski? Yes, another annoying cost you can forget is you need skis to ski on. Slopefox is a site offering decent discounts on ski and snowboard hire in all main European resorts. It’s not going to save you a fortune, but every little helps (Tesco).
A few smaller tips for you if you do decide to head off to the slopes:
1. Eat a good breakfast and pack a lunch because eating in restaurants on the mountain is painfully expensive
2. The later you go, the better the weather tends to be. This means you don’t need state-of-the-art clothing to keep warm and sometimes a t-shirt will suffice
3. Wear sun screen — the sun burns at that height so please take care and wear as much protection as you can
4. Alcohol — if you are going to drink, don’t have too many. Lots of accidents are caused by drunken fools skiing too fast and at that height the booze hits you harder
5. Check with your bank about insurance. Lots of banks now offer snow cover as part of their standard policies and you may already be covered
6. Wear a helmet – say no more.
7. Make sure your boots fit — boots that don’t fit cause blisters which leads to no skiing and probably a trip to the Dr
8. Lessons — take some lessons if you haven’t skied for ages or are new to it. It’s worth the cost and something not to scrimp on
9. Know your limits — skiing is about confidence as much as any sport. So go steady for the first few days building your confidence. Then you can tackle the reds and blacks
10. Look where you are. The mountains are magical, so enjoy, take in the scenery and have a safe and amazing time