How to Pretend You Know What You're Doing on the Slopes
The lift tickets are bought and your bags are packed. Your co-workers have planned a ski trip for this year’s annual getaway and there’s no backing out now. You cringe because you have no idea how to ski, aren’t a fan of the cold, and the cute human resources worker from down the hall is going with the group. There’s no escape — and you’re sure you’re going to make a fool of yourself out on the slopes. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to at least pretend you know what you’re doing — even if you don’t.
Take a Lesson
Skiing is definitely not one of those things you can look up on YouTube and teach yourself. It involves an awkward attachment to gear, serious balance, and basic physical skills. If you’ve never skied before, you’re just going to have to face the music and take a lesson when you first get to the resort, or you’ll end up embarrassing yourself the entire weekend.
A few key skills to focus on: learning how to ride the chairlift, stopping, and avoiding other people. While you’re not going to develop pro technique in one lesson, if you can at least master those basic skills, you might survive with your integrity intact. Don’t overlook proper skiing etiquette — check out this article for some tips that might save your integrity— and your cool factor. Tip: if you’re shy about taking a lesson, book in advance and head out early while everyone is still in bed. When asked about it later, you can tell the others you just wanted the first taste of fresh powder.
Learn the Lingo
The best part about resort skiing? The fact that you actually only spend a small fraction of the time on skis. The rest of the time is spent riding the chairlift, hanging out at the lodge, and chatting with friends. This gives you a distinct advantage — learning to talk like a skier is a huge part of the experience, and will likely give you some major cool points. Here are a few key words to use in conversation:
Shred: A shredder is an accomplished skier or snowboarder who knows exactly what they’re doing. ‘Shredding’ is to tear up the slopes — talk about shredding and it will seem like you know what you’re doing.
Gnar: The shortened term for ‘gnarly’, essentially meaning ‘super cool’. The two terms are often used in conjunction — after a successful day of boarding, riders often say they ‘shredded the gnar’.
Carve: To carve is to make a clean turn. Even though you probably won’t be carving that well right off the bat, you can still use the term in conversation. If you see your buddy skiing well, tell him you saw him ‘carve some wicked turns’.
Dump: The term for fresh snowfall. Saying ‘I love big dumps’ is completely acceptable at a ski resort.
Recover with Grace
You’ve never skied before? You’re going to fall down — no doubt about it. You’ll probably spend a huge chunk of your time with your legs in the air and snow in your mouth, but the key is to try avoid your coworkers seeing and recuperate gracefully. If you’re headed out on a run that’s above your experience level, hang back and opt to start out last. This way when you fall, none of your buddies will be behind you watching. After a fall, untangle yourself and get back up on your skis as gracefully as you can. When asked what took you so long at the bottom, you can say you were helping a fallen comrade.
Dress the Part
One of the biggest ways to draw attention to yourself is to dress conspicuously. If you don’t know how to properly layer for cold weather, do some research on the internet. Make sure you purchase an appropriate pair of ski pants or bibs for the occasion and don’t forget a hat and a waterproof pair of gloves. Tips: Don’t wear bright colors (even if they’re in vogue right now), don’t tuck your ski pants into your boots, and make sure to use the wrist straps on your gloves so you don’t have to worry about losing one. Dress the part so at least you look like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t feel that way.
Retreat to the Lodge
Think of the lodge as your refuge. Who can resist the undeniable pull of an escape from the cold, couches, a crackling fire, a cafeteria, and, likely, a bar? It’s a perfectly acceptable resort practice to seek out a drink to take the edge off trying to look cool and unwind after a hardcore pretending session. The lodge is your friend — and no one will question you making an excuse to hang out there. It’s more than likely one of your buddies will even offer to join you.
Just remember: skiing is supposed to be fun. Try not to stress — and pretend your best. You’ll develop skills with a few lessons over time. Until that time, fake it until you make it.