Beginner’s Intensive Ski Lesson at Chillfactore

Last week I had the best and hardest day ever! Chillfactore in Manchester obviously spotted my lack of skiing ability on my blog and kindly invited me down to a day’s intensive lesson with them. Obviously I bit their hand off and booked-in straight away. I opted for the beginner’s intensive ski lesson, which would take place over 1 day (you can also do a 2-day course or split the lessons over 3 consecutive weeks).

I figured that I might as well go full throttle and do a full day of lessons, in the hope that by the time I left, I’d be able to ski!

So off I went, arriving at 8.45am for a 9am prompt start…

Chillfactore – Intensive beginner’s ski course from Holly Wood on Vimeo.

I was on my own and a little apprehensive and nervous. The process on arrival was super easy. I checked-in, was given my ticket and shown the way through to collect my ski trousers, jacket and gloves (you can pay a nominal fee to hire these, or of course bring your own) and then on to get my skis and boots. You stand on what looks like futuristic weighing scales and follow the instructions on the screen. Essentially the machine measures your height and shoe size and then prints out a ticket that is customised to you and you alone. This ticket has your boot and ski size, which you then collect from the next desk.

I sat down to put my gear on and looked-around to see if there were any other fellow beginners that I could be-friend. I was ushered to the benches, where I joined 2 couples and the one other lady who was on her own, who instantly smiled and introduced herself. I knew straight away that we were going to be skiing lesson buddies!

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So there were 6 of us in our beginner’s ski lesson at Chillfactore and this was just the right amount to feel like we were getting a really personal experience, but so that there was also ample time between runs to catch our breath!

Stuart, our ski teacher, was funny and laid-back and helped with my nerves right from the off.

We head out into the snow…and it really is snow! It’s cold, white, fluffy snow, indoors at Chillfactore Manchester. Mental. We were measured up for our ski poles and shown how to get into our skis. After a slightly embarrassing moment where I tried to put my poles into the snow upside down (yup, fell at the first hurdle!), we were marched on to the beginner’s slope and the lesson began.

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What a lovely day for some skiing don’t you think?

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From there, you go through the basics of skiing step by step, in a safe and fun environment that feels like you really could be out there up a mountain on the slopes. You learn how to walk in your skis (fundamental really) and how to stand and work your way up a slope. You then work on how to go down a shallow slope, slowing down to a stop, without falling on your bum every time. From there, you are shown how to use the ski lifts (the notion of which terrified me completely, but was surprisingly easy!) and the rest of the lesson is from half-way up the main slope.

From this point, you perfect the snow-plough (basically ensuring you can stop from hurtling down the side of a mountain) and then snow-plough turns and then you link the snow-plough turns. This might not sound a lot to cover in a day, but it feels like a momentus achievement when you do this! It basically means you can safely go up and down a small slope and look like you sort of know what you’re doing! Sort of.

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The beginner’s intensive ski lesson runs from approx 9am – 4.30pm with a morning break, lunch and afternoon break (with refreshments and lunch included) – so it’s a jam-packed day. I’m not going to lie, the first two hours felt like forever! They were the toughest, both physically and mentally for me, as I was just a big ball of nerves. Then after our first break, I found the time started to fly by and the afternoon session went by in a whirl and I realised I was no longer terrified and quite happily making my way up and down the slope.

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My fellow beginner ski buddy Gemma! Made the day so much fun!

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Now be prepared for a physically exhausting day! I hadn’t been to the gym in about 18 months and there were some points when I wished I had! Wading your way through the snow and up and down the slope wearing skis is tough and works muscles you never even knew existed! I’m pretty sure I would’ve burned at least 2000 calories during my day’s lesson. But it was so worth it.

I finished my day having achieved Level 3 and couldn’t believe it. I could ski! I’m not saying I’m a ski bunny just yet, but I feel prepared for my next trip to the slopes and feel much more confident.

I plan to do the Improver Course next to keep developing my skills but Level 3 means I can now happily go to Chillfactore and buy a Lift Pass and ski up and down by myself. And I think this is what I need to do to keep it fresh in my mind and keep the momentum going.

In summary, if you’re interested in learning to ski or developing some basic ski skills, I highly recommend booking a ski lesson at Chillfactore Manchester. It’s a great, friendly and fun experience and I think is as close to the real thing as you can get without actually setting foot on a mountain side. Don’t forget to mention you heard about it here!

If you want to read more about why I need these lessons, then you can here, here and here.