We have always wanted to learn how to ski so we were practically giddy with excitement when we finally got the opportunity at Niseko Village. And based on our experience as first time skiers, Niseko Village is probably the best place to learn how to ski.
We stayed at Hinode Hills Niseko Village (click here for our review), which is a ski-in, ski-out property, which means you don’t have to travel further than the front door to start skiing. All of Niseko Village’s hotels are ski-in, ski-out properties making it Japan’s premier ski resort. The slopes open from 8:30am in the morning and close at 4pm, so get to the inhouse ski rental shop as soon as it opens to maximise the amount of skiing time you have.
At Hinode Hills Niseko Village ski rental shop, we picked out the ski equipment we would need. Considering we had nothing suitable, we required everything! By everything, we mean gloves, boots, goggles, hats, pants, jacket, and, of course, skies. You name it, we needed it. We filled out our requests via the provided iPad and within a few minutes we were being fitted for our clothes before shuffling out to face the cold and riding the magic carpet (a ski escalator) up towards the beginner’s area for our first day of learning how to ski.
The snow in Niseko Village is like white powder and is so soft rather than hard and icy. Still, knowing all that doesn’t make the prospect of learning how to ski any less daunting. But don’t worry, you’re in the best hands.
Our instructor, Jan, was incredibly patient, competent and informative. After spending two hours in the morning getting to grips with the basics, which basically means learning how to stop, we were skiing, yes, actually skiing down some slopes alongside her by that afternoon.
Skiing is really quite a simple process. Everything is linked to your feet and legs, nothing to do with the snow poles. To slow down and to stop, you make a pizza shape with your feet by pointing the tips of your skis together to create a triangle. Don’t worry if you fall – the snow at Niseko Village is so padded that you’ll unlikely injure yourself.
If you’ve ever rollerbladed, this will help you as the leg movements are quite similar to skiing. Joe rollerbladed a bit as a kid and while he wasn’t that good at it, the muscle memories kicked into gear as he was able to use the experience to glide down the slopes. He actually didn’t fall once. Siobhan fell only the one time and it didn’t hurt at all.
We found that the hardest part of skiing was actually getting off of the chairlifts. Neither of us quite mastered it with varying success each time we tried to hop off, making for pretty funny moments as we kept tripping each other up. You need to keep your poles up off of the ground when disembarking off of the chairlift, and use your free hand to push yourself up off the chair, otherwise it’s like doing a dead lift squat. Don’t worry, there’s always someone on hand to help you get on or off.
The best advice we can give as you learn how to ski is that you hit the slopes with confidence and that you go at your own pace. Going down slow and steady and mastering the art of turning will make for a much more enjoyable skiing session rather than going down the slopes like a bullet train spiralling out of control.
We finally had the opportunity to learn how to ski while we were at Niseko Village and the only regret we have is that it took us so long to learn. Now we have found a hobby that we can travel for, and do and enjoy together.