It was clear to me that after several years of not skiing it was essential that I booked a refresher lesson before hitting the slopes of Bulgaria for a holiday - after all I didn’t want to hurtle down the slope out-of-control and end up breaking my leg.
Skiing very infrequently from the age of 16 meant I’ve never surpassed beginner level and it’s four years since setting skis on a slope so I felt the need to improve my rather limited skillset.
With that in mind, I headed to Tallington Lakes on a chilly evening for a refresher lesson with instructor Chris Finch-Wale on the 20 metre dry ski slope.
After collecting my ski boots and skis from inside the main building, I headed out to the slopes where Chris soon put me at ease by going through the basics of the sport in great detail.
During a gentle introduction on the nursery slope - a gentle slope where beginners learn to ski - Chris went through everything ski-related for a beginner.
He told me how to put on my skis and advised me that leaning forward is the best way to have control over the skis due to my weight being put on the front of them.
Importantly, he taught me the snow plough, a braking and turning technique for beginners which saw me position my skis in a v-shape . By putting my skis in a wide V-shape I was able to slow down. To turn I would start with a V-shape and push the tail of one ski further outwards dependant on which way I wanted to go.
And when I’d got to grips with that, Chris turned up the heat by playing a game designed to encourage me to look ahead while skiing - which of course is much safer!
As I made my way down the slope, Chris, who was stood in a stationary position, tossed his gloves to me and asked me to pass them back. Although it felt slightly daunting at first I was soon able to easily take my eyes of the ground after a few runs down the slope.
Each task Chris set me I passed with flying colours and he remarked that I was doing very well for somebody with limited experience and hadn’t skied very much in my lifetime.
My confidence was buoyed by his words so when he then said it was time to hit the main slope I felt I could cope.
As I stood at the bottom of the slope, I had visions of me tearing down it from the very top with the cold wind in my hair and a smile on my face - but Chris soon brought me back down to Earth when he told me that I would be practising my skills at lower points of the slope.
In order to get up the big slope you have to first know how to use the rope tow lift, whichworks on a pulley system and sees you gripping a handle attached the rope. I found it very easy to use - all you have to do is grip the handle and lean back as you’re gently pulled up the slope
I followed Chris up to around the quarter way point of the slope where he asked me to practice turning and braking as I skied down to the bottom of the slope.
Chris gave me a handy tip on how to improve my snow plough turn - pushing on the inside of my ‘steering foot’ and when I did this my turning was much crisper. As the lesson progressed I was taken up to higher points of the main slope, each time practicing my turns and braking on the way down. By the time the lesson ended I was three quarters of the way from the top and felt ready to go higher.
Chris was a great instructor who made me feel at ease and gave me very detailed instructions. He told me I had had an excellent first lesson and after a few more ,where I will learning more advanced turning and braking techniques, I will be ready for Bulgaria.
I will certainly be returning again for more lessons and it’s fantastic to know that such a facility exists in the area. While I don’t think I am likely to make the Great Britain alpine slalom team anytime soon I do feel I’ll be safe on the slopes of Bulgaria, thanks to the excellent tuition I received at Tallington.
Chris explained the slope attracts everything from novice skiers, to groups of schoolchildren and those who are letting their hair down celebrating a birthdays.
“It is a good place to learn on here - by the time you go on snow it is much easier.
“I even teach a 76-year-old who hasn’t been skiing for 15 years!”
And it’s not just skiers that flock to Tallington - snowboarders also use the facility - and there is the chance to enjoy recreational tobogganing on the nursery slope.
It isn’t all just action on the slopes at Tallington - the business also has a workshop where it maintains skis and snowboards, which Chris says has a great reputation and is much-used by people wanting to make sure they are well-equipped for their winter holidays.
There is also a pro shop on site which offers a range of equipment and clothing, selling everything from skis to jackets a salopettes (trousers used for skiing and snowboarding), which was even visited by British Olympic skier Jenny Jones recently.
For information and prices visit www.tallingtonlakesproshop.com