After returning from my first ski holiday in 15 years, I discovered I had a lot to learn about skiing both mentally and physically. My confidence was shattered before I went due to being off the slopes for so long and saddled by all the extra weight I have put on over the years, I started off on the nursery and blue slopes. Yet after half an hour the passion and adrenaline I have always felt when in the mountains returned and soon my Bambi legs became sturdier, and it all started to fall into place. With the help of my wonderful Swiss ski instructor, I finally gained the confidence to slide from the top to the bottom of the blue run, perhaps not as graciously as I had hoped but the fire was in my belly and the passion had returned and I felt like I wanted to progress more. My goal before the end of the holiday was to attempt a red run. Having been on two ski holidays and worked as a representative, I have attempted harder blues and easy reds in various resorts in the Alps, but after over a decade and a half away I really lacked the confidence. Personally, I worried that the absence of recent experience would make me a liability, particularly as I was in the presence of Olympians, so I stayed on the bottom of the blue slopes. However, after an hour or so of tuition, my confidence returned, allowing me to abandon the standard snow plough and glide down the fall line again. Eventually, I was able to ski down to the restaurant from a chairlift at the top of the mountain and it felt great. I loved the wind whipping through my hair and the feeling of nearly flying.
Despite this progress, I still felt that my self-belief was lagging, age had made me creaky, and I forgot key etiquette like how to carry my skis, but the passion was there. I just needed a little pep talk. I wish II had prepared myself more psychologically ahead of the trip – something many of us may have found due to the two-year hiatus due to covid. My memory of ski etiquette and safety needed refreshing. This meant that even when the muscle memory gradually returned, I had so many gaps in my knowledge. It was almost like building a Lego set without the instructions; I got there in the end but without the underpinning knowledge. I believe I could have been even more confident had I prepared myself in advance and known more about ski etiquette and refamiliarized myself with some of the equipment. This would have not only helped my confidence but also allowed me to appear more knowledgeable in front of my travelling companions who were all seasoned skiers.
After returning from my trip, I sought out a new book called Ski A to Z, written and illustrated by Kimberley Kay. The book arrived just in time to help me develop a strong knowledge base for the following ski trip. Opening the package, I discovered that this was so much more than a ski manual; I was struck by was the vibrant cover, which was designed and illustrated by the author. As both illustrator and writer, Kimberley is a very talented individual. This is a book you almost need to read twice, first for the beautiful pictures and then the information. What sets it apart from other ski manuals is the visual feast that lifts the words off the page as your eye darts from the words to the image – as a visual learner, I was engaged by this approach a lot more than any other book and I couldn’t put it down. Over the past few weeks, I have found myself returning to thumb over the illustrations as well as the text, each time ensuring that I learn something new. As a result, I am sure next time I am back in the mountains, I will be a more confident, knowledgeable skier, and I am spending much more time down the dry ski slope too.
Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but the information also is well-written and concise. Organised in an A-to-Z format, it is a handy reference book for the whole family. It can be read cover to cover or picked up for a quick knowledge check. I read it cover to cover myself and then read it again to my own six-year-old, who was as captivated and engaged by the book as I was, so it appeals to all ages, it is ideal for children of most reading abilities.
Inside the pages are all the answers to the most pressing questions any aspiring skier has. What do I wear? How do I stop myself safely to avoid collision on the slopes? How do I carry my skis? What are ski edges? How do I spot the fall line? The book covers everything from handy tips about your kit and ski maintenance to safety on the mountain, making it a great refresher but also an opportunity for me to learn about what to do when indicating an accident, instruction and etiquette and other knowledge I did not know before. It is described as a ‘well-knowing friend’ in the introduction and indeed it is: I wish I had this before I attended my first ski trip, as it would have made me sound so much more knowledgeable and feel so much more secure in my abilities.
Kimberley has over forty years of ski experience including racing, teaching, and heli-skiing, as well as ski holiday promotion during a 20-year career in travel PR. She learned to ski at age five at the dry slope at Ski Rossendale, Lancashire, and in Mayrhofen, Austria. Now based in Yorkshire, Kim creates art and illustration under the brand of Inspire by Kim.
With many skiers out of practice due to the covid winters off the slopes, there’s a heightened buzz of excitement around skiing this first season. Interest in winter sports has also been fuelled by the excitement and exhilaration of last year’s Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Ski A to Z is an illustrated introduction to skiing that aims to demystify the sport with information, advice, illustrations and helpful tips; an ideal way to refresh knowledge of all aspects of skiing. The book is intended to answer the questions new skiers may have and to help prepare them for mountain experiences, whilst demonstrating the fun to be had on the slopes.
The book is available to buy now and is being published by Europe’s leading sports publisher, Meyer & Meyer Sport.