Can you learn to ski in 6 hours? 5 things we learned when we tried

What good is the apres-ski if you can’t enjoy the skiing itself? Here’s what happened when we tried to learn to ski in just six hours.

Picture yourself in the Alps on your next ski trip, getting cosy by the fireplace after a long day on the slopes, drinking hot chocolate before winding down in the hot tub.

The only trouble with apres-ski is that it comes after a full day of skiing and if you’re not confident zooming downhill, you might not have much fun.

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To combat this, Chill Factore in Manchester – the UK’s longest real snow indoor ski slope – have come up with a six-hour Guarantee To Ski course.

They promise to get you up to Level 3 standard by the end of the day, and if you don’t quite manage it you’ll get a free two-hour lesson to make sure you're up to speed.

Here’s what happened when we put a total ski beginner to the test...

Lesson 1: Walking in ski boots is hard

As a newcomer to the slopes, I am set to fall at the first hurdle. I can’t work out how to get the boots on and then once I do, I realise just how limiting they are.

Off to a great start.

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Lesson 2: Skiing is hard

I am a Leo which, as anyone who knows their horoscopes will understand, means I hate anything I’m not good at.

I don’t know why I expected to have some natural affinity for snow sports, but ultimately I didn’t and found myself feeling rather embarrassed when I was the worst skier of the group and fell over - even when stationary.

My stress was not helped by the number of groups on the busy smaller slope given that I hadn’t yet managed the art of stopping. I crashed into other skiers more times than I can count. Less ice princess, more Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.


Lesson 3: You can’t compare yourself to others

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Our instructor, Peter, was incredibly patient and kind and I desperately wanted to enjoy skiing.

I was getting frustrated that my snow plough seemed to be completely ineffective at regulating my speed while the rest of my group seemed to be picking it up with much less difficulty.

My annoyance at myself and my inability to understand how to change direction resulted in tears and I had to leave the snow to gather my thoughts.

It transpired that though this was a beginner class, I was the only total beginner. Everyone else had at least had one previous attempt at skiing, even if it was 35 years ago and I sometimes felt as if I was holding everyone back.

Lesson 4: You can’t care what anyone else thinks

My finest hour came when I fell flat on my face off the ski lift on the main slope and then couldn’t get up despite two people trying to lift me up.


Once you’ve hit rock bottom the only way is up and eventually Peter’s gentle encouragement overtook my own feelings of doubt and I began relaxing into snow-ploughing downhill.

Lesson 5: This course is probably not best for total beginners

By the end of the day, my ability has gone from barely being able to stand in ski boots to being able to snow plough down a gentle slope.

It’s a start, but I wouldn’t say I’m a confident skier. I didn’t pass Level 3 but not because of anything our instructor did.

I did manage to pass Level 1 and 2 though and would be entitled to another lesson to give Level 3 another go.

Ultimately, it’s a great idea to try and get as much practice under your belt before hitting the slopes at a ski resort in the Alps or some other far-flung winter wonderland, but it’s a tall order to get a total beginner like me skiing confidently in such a short time frame.

If you once skied on a school trip, this is probably the course for you. Beginners like me would probably be better suited to a couple of private lessons.

Have you ever tried skiing? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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