If You Have Been Away From The Sport For A Few Decades, Welcome Back and SURPRISE!

If this is what you remember about your last time skiing, you have some catching up to do.

Remember the old days?  Long stiff skis?  Weighed a ton.  Wearing yourself out to jump them into the air to change direction?  It didn’t matter back then because we were young and fit.  Now look at us.   

Well, the good news is EVERYTHING has gotten better. Praise be, I don’t need to be the man I was, because I’m not.

The lifts are better, the slopes are better groomed, the clothing keeps you warmer.  Boots are more comfortable.  And this is key: Skis are lighter, bendier, and much easier to ski on.  They really want to make arcs for you. 

Five Essential Tips For Returning Skiers

  1. Be brave. You did it before, you can do it again.
  2. But be cautious, not reckless.  No matter what you skied before, spend more time than you might think is needed, on very gentle slopes.
  3. Aim to start slow and easy, and work up as appropriate.
  4. Of course you’ll be excited, you’ll want to “git started”, but don’t do too much on days one and two – you’ll get tired, your muscles will object, your control will slip away and you’ll wind up on a low, instead of a high.  Picture a rising graph, not a falling one.
  5. After the years away it will matter more HOW you ski, than WHAT you ski.

Get Your Mind Back In The Groove.

Don’t wait until you’re standing on the snow before you begin training your mind.  Read some good ski improvement book, it won’t take long, and it’ll add to your anticipation, like having an extra holiday. You might consider my own book “Ski In Control: How To Ski ANY Piste Anywhere In Full Control”. There are many more. Get an understanding of how a ski turn works by your fireside. It is incredibly helpful to have the concept down before you go.

Four More Useful Tips.

  1. Avoid buying new skis or boots before you go.  Wait until you get to the ski hill and visit the rental shop. Tell them what kind of skiing you hope to do.  Be careful not to let them “up-sell” you, using skis that are too advanced won’t help you.  Tell them you will want to try numerous different pairs during the week, if you have a week.  If you find a pair you like, say you’ll buy them if they deduct the hire fee. 
  2. Boots: Whatever else you do, avoid too-stiff boots like the plague.  They may make you feel more secure, but you won’t be.  You must be able to flex your ankles.
  3. Boots are different in the shop than on the mountain.  They’re thermo-plastic, they’ll get much stiffer when they get cold. Take that into account.
  4. The shop will offer you poles and will be insistent that they have judged their length correctly for you.  Ask them for shorter ones – even 4” shorter.  Just for a day.  Then exchange them later for a pair 2” longer than those.  Keep going until you find a length that a) you like, and b) don’t make you ski upright.

One More Thing: Lessons

If you plan to take lessons, never a bad idea, take care about private lessons, at least to begin with.  Why?  Because one-on-one gives you far less rest.  Private lessons are much more intense and tiring. It also means you won’t get a chance to get or give any feedback from or to others.  Try to find teaching in small groups.  You’ll get more out of it.

You’ll find a lots more useful information on bobski.com, or soon you’ll be able to subscribe to my new Youtube channel for a free online coaching course.


  1. highly agree with your comments on lessons. For most skiers a group lesson will be of much more value than a private. There is a place for a private lesson but not here.

  2. Robyn Cohen says:

    This is great advice, I am 77, skied last year first time in six years, my boots fell apart first day, hired a pair & enjoyed although a timid time on easy slopes. This year, hired everything, early in the season only choice was man made snow, had so much grief with the boots, for two days changed the boots as they were causing great pain on my toes, on the third day after a rest day tried my daughters boots on (we take the same size) such a difference I asked for this size, they told me they were too big & I would have shin problems,however I got them & enjoyed the last too days . One toe after three months is still black . I find the boots are difficult to get on, my broken ones were rear entry & so comfortable. I am in Australia where our snow is limited.

  3. An old man skier of over 80 rode with me up chair 6 at Kirkwood. I visited with him all the way to the top. Just before the top, I asked him what’s the most important rule he lived by to be able to handle himself on skis. He stated, confidence. He then stated confidence only comes with being in good shape with all your skiing muscles. So, whether you’ve been away for decades or you are an “old timer” skier get in GOOD shape before you jump on a pair of skis!

    • Hi cansnowplow,
      In coaching we address 4 (in my case 5 – I added one) issues – Physical like the old guy said, psychological, technical (to do with technique) and tactical.
      I added one more – understanding!
      They all matter, the trick is which to address right now. Don’t attack them all at once.

  4. Love reading all this. I am 71 and taught myself to ski in my early twenties. I have been skiing off and on thru the following years but had a bad knee injury several years ago. I would like to get in shape and hit the slopes this year.

    One of my biggest problems is finding rental boots that fit and are comfortable. How should they fit?

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