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Q&A with qualified ski instructor Alexandra Simkin

BY STYLE EDITOR, ON 3 FEB 2011 14:45 AUTUMN/WINTERCOMMENTS

Ski

As the ski season enters its final stages and people across the UK plan their annual or their first trip to the slopes, we thought it would be useful to get some advice from an expert! Meet Alexandra Simkin. Although currently working in London (not many ski instructor jobs here) Alexandra has been a skier since the age of three and still skis multiple times a year. She maintains that she’s always looking for great powder and a new ski challenge. Who better to get some advice from before this year’s trip!

We started by asking Alexandra what every skier should have in their ski bag? Speaking of which, for everything you need check out our great ski wear range right here!

What are the ski essentials that every skier should have?
The essentials are:
-    Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants
-    Waterproof and warm gloves
-    Good socks – you only need to wear 1 pair of socks. Layering socks is a mistake, you will get very sore feet as the socks move and cause creases in your boot.
-    A good breathable under layer, sits on your skin and allows sweat out. Therefore if you do sweat and then cool down, you don’t get cold.
-    Warm hat
-    Good eyewear – whether it be sunglass or goggles, they need to have UV protection and wrap all the way around your eye.

Top tip?
Don’t give up! Both skiing and snowboarding can be frustrating at times. If you’re a beginner, it’s frustrating trying to get to grips with the equipment, the different feelings and the concepts. Everyone hits a ‘plateau’ at some stage. Everyone gets frustrated, but keep going!

Skiing or snowboarding?

Skiing! I did try snowboarding when I was a teenager, but I just never got good enough to do all the things I can now do on skis… and I feel like it takes longer on a snowboard to get to a level where your comfortable to go down anything (I mean anything!) and get around the whole mountain. And I felt that falling when snowboarding hurt more than falling when skiing, so I switched back.

What is a good age for kids to start skiing?
I think the earlier the better, as soon as kids are able to walk. I started skiing when I was 3. Getting them on the snow at an early age allows kids to have time to get familiar with the snow, the equipment and the new sensations of sliding and gliding. It builds their confidence for the future.

Living in Britain, how often do you get to ski?
I try to ski 3 times a year. I normally go skiing over Christmas with my family, and then another 2 long weekend trip with friends.

If you take a ski trip every year how long does it take you to remember how to ski each year?
It takes a couple of days the first time of each season. I went this Christmas and I didn’t get my form back until the end of the second day. It was very frustrating, but I just had to push through.

How fit do I need to be to go on a skiing holiday?
The fitter the better. But you don’t need to be super fit. I try and do a few runs, lunges and general fitness before I go skiing because it makes it more enjoyable for myself. I feel like I’m not huffing and puffing just walking to the lift! The fitness you need actually all depends on what type of skiing you want to do.

If you’re a leisurely skier, then you don’t need to be very fit. You take your time down slopes and stop and start as many times as you want. If you want to make the most of all the days you have on the slopes getting out at/before 9am and finishing when the last lift closes, pushing yourself down every slope, or if you’re thinking of doing some off-piste during your holiday, then you should think about getting fitter.

I feel like I’m wasting my time if I haven’t at least done something before my ski trip. I want to make the most of it, so I feel like I need to strengthen my core and legs in order to ski as well and as much as I can.

Do all resorts have beginner’s slopes?
Yes, all resorts have beginner’s slopes but some resorts are better than others for beginners. If you are a beginner, this is something you really need to look into. It’s also not only about looking at the beginners slopes, but seeing what the resort is like once you’ve conquered that beginner slope, so look at the Beginner-Intermediary slopes (mostly “blues”). These are the slopes that you can graduate to once your confidence has improved and you feel you want to take the next step.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to an injury?
In the first week of my training in NZ, one of my peers on the course and myself collided at very high speed. I don’t really know how it happened, but we collided head on. We both went flying in opposite directions. Luckily, neither of us was hurt. It didn’t actually hurt that much when we collided and it happened so quickly, but the landing was pretty painful. I remember thinking about moving each of my limbs and then moving my head and just felt relief wash over me as I couldn’t feel any real pain anywhere. As soon as I realised I was ok, I rushed over to my friend, and thankfully she was ok too. We were both in shock, but got back on the skis straight away and continued. We were both pretty sore the next day!

What do you look for in ski wear?
I look for good quality, the jacket and pants need to be fully waterproof and windproof. I look for equipment that is going to last me a long time. As you buy more ski equipment you start to know what you like and what you don’t like about different brands, so I tend to stick to what I know. I also buy ski wear that I know will last me a few seasons. Also, everyone cares about what they look like on the slopes… so style is something I look at what I’m buying new gear!

Don’t forget: If you are going away don’t forget travel insurance. Debenhams always has great deals and regular competitions too. We also offer 0% commission on travel money, hurrah!

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