Few sights in nature can be as perfect as a clear blue sky, spectacular scenery and the brilliant whiteness of newly fallen snow. Little in life can compare with the exhilaration, pure freedom and oneness with your surroundings gained from skiing those first tracks through impossibly light, sparkling fresh snow.
Skiing, in any of its forms, offers much to scouts of almost any age. It's good exercise both for body and mind, offers opportunities for learning about your environment, nurtures team building and encourages healthy competition. Most importantly, it's great fun!
The most commonly practised form of skiing is known as Alpine or downhill. Wearing stiff boots clipped onto a ski on each foot, this involves using lifts to gain access to ski runs all over a mountain or series of mountains, which you then ski back down. It's exhilarating and fun!
Blading is the latest skiing phenomenon. Also known as mini skis, blades are very short skis, which make learning skiing technique quick and easy. In contrast, Nordic, or cross-country skiing (also known as Langlauf, or Ski de Fond) is often undertaken at resort level, on prepared tracks often on a fairly flat course, and could be likened to taking a walk or jog on skis. It allows you to enjoy your surroundings at a slower pace, often away from the crowds of the Alpine slopes.
Skiing might have an expensive image but the reality is that you don't need a lot of equipment to get started: just a simple tracksuit (plus waterproofs for indoor snowslopes) and a pair of gloves, and the rest will be provided by your nearest snowsports centre. Indoor snowslopes may also provide suitably insulated clothing for their environment. The UK enjoys the largest concentration of artificial slopes in the world, so scouts can experience the thrills and spills of skiing year-round in virtually any weather, relatively cheaply at many locations around the country.
There are various types of artificial slopes: some consist of brush-like synthetic matting, some are more like a carpet, whilst a few are indoors and actually generate artificial snow. Modern slopes are also equipped with towropes, button lifts, moving carpets and even chair lifts, to make climbing back up the slope easy. Some slopes also offer cross-country skiing on specially prepared tracks. Most slopes are open to group use, providing equipment and instruction in groups. Many are open for extended hours accommodating scout group meeting times. Artificial slopes might also offer snowboarding, tobogganing, or snow tubing to add to the experience.
With the fundamentals picked-up at home, you will be a big step ahead when you get to the mountains, whether in the UK or abroad. But you don't need a bigger plan in mind to be able to enjoy the experience of learning to slide down or along a hillside balanced on a pair of long feet. Even after an hour most first-timers will have mastered the art to this level, gaining a sense of achievement, having had a laugh with friends, and quite possibly finding out that they do indeed have two left feet!
The National Governing Bodies for skiing are:
Factsheets on skiing
The following activity factsheets are relevant to this activity:
Rules on skiing
The following activity rules are relevant to this activity: