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Ski lesson: confessions of a ski virgin

“We’ve arranged a top instructor for your first ski lesson,” enthused Vince, the organiser of our trip to Sauze d’Oulx, in the Italian Alps. “Hmm,” I thought, “He’s going to earn his salary with me.”

I usually have difficulty walking in a straight line so staying upright on silky smooth skis, while navigating snow and ice, always seemed a broken limb away from Mission Impossible.

Sarah was with me, and looking forward to her second ever ski lesson. “It’ll be fun,” she said. While I was having difficulty placing skiing and fun in the same sentence.

First of all I discovered that just getting into the gear is a mission in itself. To say the rock-solid boots were uncomfortable is an understatement. But making our way to the chair lifts I discovered the next challenge.

With all the grace of a docker in high heels I plodded along the cobbled path to get the free bus to the lifts. It was tough enough to walk in the boots, which threw your weight forwards and forced you to bend your knees slightly – the perfect position for skiing I was told. But then I had to carry my skis and poles too.

I felt like a baby penguin taking its first graceless steps across Arctic ice.

On skis I think I’ll always be more Frank Spencer than Franz Klammer

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Next up – the chairlift. I’ve been on plenty of cable cars, but never on a chair lift where you’re expected to ski-on, then off, at the top.

As this was my first ski lesson (at Sportinia, a plateau looming 2,000m above Sauze d’Oulx) I got onto the chair with skis still in hand, and set off for my meeting with destiny.

Fellow starters on their first ski lesson

Reaching the top we ungainly dismounted the lifts, jumping to one side to avoid being walloped by the seat.

With a sense of foreboding we wandered to Sauze Scuala di Sci beside the nursery slopes to meet our instructor Marco Amorosiani.

His generous face beamed as he welcomed us with a rich, lyrical Italian accent.

As he began the task of transforming me from Frank Spencer into the next Franz Klammer, it was clear Marco was a very skilled teacher. His reassuring presence instilling great confidence in both Sarah and I.

Spot the ski virgin. Apres ski after my first ski lesson

Sarah basking in the Alpine sunshine

Could my ski lesson turn me from virgin to Olympian?

On the level I was doing well, next we started on a gentle slope, and… oh dear – I became all too well acquainted with the snow.

It was made worse for me by the fact that Sarah was doing so well. She shouted encouragement as I tumbled forwards, backwards and sideways into the snow.

Marco had the skills of an Olympian, the patience of a saint, and the great misfortune to have me as a client. After picking me up from the snow for the fourth time, his patience remained in tack, but my pride melted away.

My dreams of gracefully racing down the slopes, feeling the mountain air rushing by my face lay crushed on the snow.

To add to my skiing torment, Sarah filmed it…

But I have to confess, despite my battered pride (and body) it was good fun, and I managed to learn a little technique.

I knew I was a million miles away from Sauze’s black runs but after my first ski lesson I felt a little more confident staring down the mild humps of the nursery slopes.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to call myself a skier, that I’ll always be more Spencer than Klammer, but thanks to Marco and my first ski lesson amid the soaring slopes of Sauze d’Oulx, I’m ready to give it another go.


We travelled by train from London to Sauze d’Oulx with Snowcarbon, an aid to booking rail travel to the Alps from the UK, conceived on a tedious flight and transfer to Sauze d’Oulx. The website provides information for skiers to plan their rail journey to a large selection of Alpine ski resorts including resort, rail and transfer details. It not only allows for easy recognition of which train to take but also allows booking of rail journeys to the Alps and features tour operator deals in selected resorts. Fares to Sauze d’Oulx start from £121 standard class return with RailEurope.


LiveShareTravel's co-founder Terry has never met a country he didn't like. In fact the more he has travelled the more he appreciates the world, and realises that people are largely reassuringly similar. He also enjoys discovering new cultures and has an endless wanderlust only matched by his passion for bathing in beer with new friends. Oh yes, he's most at home in the spa. Terry is also co-author of the The Luxury Traveller's Handbook.

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8 Responses to Ski lesson: confessions of a ski virgin

  1. Made me smile so much! It’s so long since I skied & I was in Sauze d’Oulx a long, long time ago. Even though I had an accident (er….with that chair lift, in fact, not on skis!)it’s still the best ski holiday I ever had. Snow, skis, and Italian food!! The nightlife was excellent back then but of course no idea if it still is…..hmmmm…..thinking I should go find out!

    • Hi Linda, I’m glad you liked it. Sauze is a great destination and you should go again, then you can tell us if it differs from your last visit. Better luck next time with the ski lift, I fell off it as well.

      • Hmm…I actually didn’t so much fall off it as get stuck on it. Left dangling by one arm about 8ft above the ground! I’m sure it’s much safer now!!

  2. Oh how I can identify!! I began skiing when I was about 20 (27 years ago….) and never really took to it. Oh, I can get down the every challenging blue square terrain, but I won’t look pretty doing it. Frankly, the lunch in the middle of the day is my highlight!
    Then a few years ago I thought, “Why not try snowboarding?” Very cool gear, and after all, I can ski, couldn’t I snowboard?? In short, no… I can not snowboard. I’m only thankful that my friend did not video me!
    Loved your post, it made me smile!

    • I’m glad you feel my pain Kim. It was good fun and I want to try again, but I fear I will spend more time in the snow than on it.

  3. The vid reminded me of my first day’s lesson and I was exactly like you. On my back most of the day making people laugh. Don’t worry it soon comes easier and you get more confident and can go faster on steeper slopes. Then when you fall it is even funnier.

  4. I’ve only been the once many, many years ago but would love to try it again despite the fact that I spent must of my time falling over or screaming as I zoomed down the slope completely out of control. Even so, it’s not the skiing that worries me.. I’m terrified of the chair lifts!
    Enjoyed reading your experience. It certainly made me chuckle and brought back a few memories! 🙂

  5. I’ve been downhill skiing exactly twice. The first time was great and I really enjoyed it. The second time I popped my knee. I was done! I’ll stick with snowshoes and flat cross-country ski areas from now on. …well, maybe I could try snowboarding. 😉

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