Work on ski legs before you go
If you’re heading off on your annual ski trip this winter, or considering it for the first time, there’s plenty you can do to prepare at home.
First up is the Ski Club in Kilternan, Co Dublin. It’s now known as the National Snowsports Centre for Ireland, so if you haven’t been in a few years it might be time for a visit.
With the help of funding from the Sports Council, it has recently expanded. Now, alongside its 180m main slope it has a 130m intermediate slope and two dedicated nursery slopes, plus a new travelator lift, all of which is fully floodlit.
The club, which is manned entirely by volunteers, is open from now until Easter, with a range of ski and snowboard classes suited to everyone from beginners to practised piste-artists. One of the most popular courses is its Learn to Ski in a Day option.
“It doesn’t mean you won’t need lessons when you get to your destination, but it means you will be able to actually get around the mountain when you are there, rather than have to stay in the nursery slopes area all the time,” explains instructor Kathryn Mason. “You’ll get much more out of your ski holiday as a result.”
She recommends novice skiers take a course of four lessons before going on holiday. If you haven’t yet booked, but are thinking of it, even one lesson could be money well spent.
“Skiing is not a cheap holiday so it’s important to see if you will like it before you go. It is also useful for kids if you are considering bringing them,” she points out.
The one-day introductory course costs €150 for adults and €90 for those aged 13-18. Four one-and-a-half hour classes cost €150 per adult and €90 per child, including boot and ski hire. All you have to bring are warm clothes.
You can also check out the Ski Centre in Stillorgan Business Park, which is an indoor facility which opened four years ago. Rather than have a long traditional-style slope, here lessons are taken on a short rotating surface that runs for 10 minutes at a time.
“It means you get 10 minutes of continuous skiing and no waiting for chairlifts or queuing up for your go,” explains Ski Centre fitness instructor Brona Kelly.
Lessons are restricted to a maximum of three, with your instructor only a few feet away from you. There’s also a giant mirror in front of you, so you can see how cool you look. Or not.
The facility also has a ski gym, with machines designed to mimic the muscle movements involved in skiing. “An awful lot of people book a ski holiday without giving any thought to the amount of activity involved,” Kelly says.
“You are more likely to suffer from sore muscles, or injury, if you don’t prepare,” she points out.
Kelly recommends a course of six classes for a complete beginner. These cost €190 for adult and €175 for children.
There is plenty you can do elsewhere in the country, even without a fancy rolling carpet – or even at home.
“Work on your lower body and your core strength,” Kelly recommends. “You’ll find plenty of lunges and ski specific squats posted on YouTube. On top of that, do some balance exercises such as standing on one leg with your eyes closed. This helps work all the little muscles you’ll need and you don’t need any equipment to do it.”
If you think the discipline of a group might help, check out Fitsquad. It runs outdoor training boot camps in Dublin and Galway. A six-week programme costs €99.
Fitsquad instructor Mark Cribbin, an avid skier, is due to bring a group of Fitsquaddies to Bad Hofgastein in Austria in February – places are still available – and is helping them develop their ski-legs in advance.
“It’s not about being super fit,” says Cribbin. “For skiing, it’s all about your quads. Anything that helps build up the thighs, whether its squats, running or even walking, will help you enjoy it more.”
Whatever preparation you make, give yourself plenty of time, says Brona Kelly. “We recommend you don’t do anything you’re not used to doing the week before you go.
“The last thing you want is to pick up an injury before your ski holiday.”
Ski Lessons And Get Fit Sessions
National Snowsports Centre for Ireland, Kilternan, Co Dublin, tel: 01-295 5658,
Ski Centre, 26 Rowan Avenue, Stillorgan Business Park, Co Dublin,
tel: 01-293 0588,
Fitsquad, tel: 087-7914876, fitsquad.ie