A couple of years ago if you asked me whether I wanted to go skiing or snowboarding, I would have straight away said no. Why? Because for one, my first winter in DC was me trying to avoid black ice as I walked to the metro, slipping numerous times, and just being way too cold for comfort. Let’s face it, I’m a beach bum who worships the sun, and me being subjected to snowy weather can literally be compared to a fish out of water.
I’m also up there being the world’s biggest klutz…I’ve twisted my ankle slipping down my staircase, tripped going up staircases on multiple occasions, and I often find mysterious bruises on my body from bumping into things. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and it seemed smart to stay away from sports that could potentially immobilize me… ?
I have a number of friends that go skiing every winter, and instas always look so fun. Thanks to FOMO, I slowly started to change my mind, and when in Austria last November, Victoria & I decided to spend a day learning to ski. The ski resorts were just opening back up for the winter season, and since we were in Salzburg for a couple of days, the ski resort of Kaprun was only an hour away. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the weather wasn’t co-operating the one day we could head to the resort, and we had to scrap our plans.
SKIING IN DUBAI
I was back in Dubai attending the 2016 Arabian Travel Market and had the chance to spend some time exploring the city I grew up in. It’s so different exploring a city as a tourist as opposed to when you’re living there. I realized how much I haven’t done or seen in Dubai that can only be chalked up to I’ll get to it soon. Which I didn’t. And as luck would have it, I had never been to Ski Dubai since it first opened at Mall of the Emirates in 2005. Eleven years later and I finally get the chance to check it out, and go skiing in Dubai!
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Maybe it’s cliche that I’m quoting Elizabeth Gilbert, but I don’t care because the quote really resonates with me. Sometimes in life you just have to be fearless, and signing up for a skiing lesson was my way of doing just that; overcoming my fear of getting injured while skiing. Accidents happen, but that doesn’t mean I should skip opportunities and experiences on the off-chance that it does happen. That’s no way to experience life, and coming to that conclusion has actually helped me grow, and say yes to more experiences.
Who would have thought that skiing in Dubai would be my way of being fearless?
Dubai is one of the few places in the world where you can spend the morning skiing, the afternoon at the beach, and the evening in the desert. Ski Dubai is a 22,500 m² indoor ski resort that’s part of Mall of the Emirates, which used to be Dubai’s largest shopping mall, until it got overthrown by Dubai Mall.
In addition to the ski school, there’s also a ski lift that takes you through the resort, a 3,000 m interactive Snow Park and Zip Wire, as well as two cafes – Avalanche Cafe and St Moritz Cafe – for when you’ve worked up an appetite after a morning on the slopes. Ski Dubai caters to enthusiasts of all levels, but I do have to say if you’re an expert skier who’s used to outdoor conditions, a run down the slopes will leave you rather unsatisfied.
SKI SCHOOL LESSON
As I had no experience whatsoever skiing, I chose the Discovery Ski Group lesson for Adults which costs $50 and lasts approximately an hour.
Once you check-in for your lesson, you’re given all the equipment you require – ski boots, skiis, and appropriate clothing. With a slope pass, you’re given socks, but not gloves or a hat, which you can either bring from home and save your $, or purchase at the retail store within the resort. I was a little surprised they don’t make helmets mandatory, but if you want one, you just ask for it.
You’ll have a locker to keep your personal belongings, and you get prepped for the slopes in this huge area in the middle. The day I was visiting, there were a number of school groups on their field trips, so be warned, it can get quite chaotic and certain areas can be closed off – Black Diamond run was on my visit.
Walking up to the slope with your ski boots on has to be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done – it weighs you down, and at times, feels like you’re going to topple over because your center of gravity has shifted. A piece of advice from my instructor that helped me was walk heel to toe. Made it A LOT easier.
Your lesson begins by learning the basics – how to put your skis on, how to take them off, how to stop, walk straight and sideways with your skis on. And, most importantly, you learn what to do in case you fall, which if you’re like me, will happen more often than not. After you have it down, you’re made to practice on a mini slope one at a time, so the instructor has time to work on your technique specifically.
My instructor, Kumar, is CSIA Level 1 Ski Qualified with over 5 years experience as an instructor at Ski Dubai. He was so great, extremely patient, answered all my questions about skiing, and gave me some great tips on how to control my skis so I wasn’t veering off to the left. Every time I fell, he’d ask a series of questions to make sure I was alright, make me stay down for a little bit, and show me the correct way to take off my skis and get up again – and thanks to his teaching, on my last try, I was able to ski down the mini slope without falling or veering in the wrong direction. Success!
At the end of your lesson, everyone is given a Skiing Passport booklet where the instructor documents your progress at what level you’ve completed. The passport has pages for the various ski school lessons – Discovery, Beginner, Intermediate 1 & 2, and Advanced 3 & 4. I need another Discovery lesson (or two) to get comfortable with the skis and techniques before I can move on to the next level.
I’m not sure why I thought of skiing as this terribly difficult sport that was out of my reach. After my experience at Ski Dubai, I can honestly say that it isn’t – yes, I will fall a lot, but that’s just a part of learning. My morning at Ski Dubai turned out not only to be a lesson in skiing, but a lesson in personal growth as well. Getting up, and trying again and again taught me the importance of persevering and being determined – it helps you accomplish anything which in my case was skiing down the slope in a straight line, unaided.
If you’ve never been skiing before and need a discovery lesson or even need to refresh your skiing skills, then Ski Dubai is the perfect option for you. You’re away from the elements that exist outdoors if you were skiing in say, Colorado, and that really helps you just focus on learning how to ski. The snow is always perfect because it’s created in-house. Real snow all year round in the middle of the desert – where else in the world do you have that option?
As for me, it’s safe to say, I can’t wait to sign up for my next lesson and begin to fill up the pages of my Skiing Passport. ?
Thanks to Ski Dubai for having me try out their Discovery lesson. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.