As you read this you should know that Team Keany is on its first ever ski holiday but before we jetted off to “Europe’s cheapest ski resort” in Borovets, Bulgaria we took some friends’ advice and headed to the surprisingly-impressive and well-equipped artificial resort in north Wicklow.
Over the last month or so (since we spontaneously booked the trip) we have begged, borrowed and stolen various skiing paraphernalia and clothing to equip us for the trip.
But considering I haven’t been on skies in 22 years since I broke my shoulder, my wife has only been skiing for one day in New Zealand since her teen years and our two girls have never even seen a ski, let alone worn one…we thought it would do us a lot of good to head to the facility.
They have loads of packages available but considering the short lead-in time (yes, we are that family leaving everything to the last minute) we opted for a one-hit wonder family beginners lesson.
It basically meant that the instructor was teaching us and no one else and we had access to the beginners’ slope for nearly an hour before the large groups arrived.
What we lacked in experience we more than made up for in enthusiasm as Chloe (11) and Mia (8) were genuinely giddy for days beforehand.
Once we got fitted up with the right skies and boots Tara, our instructor for the afternoon, took us outside and she brought us through all the basics.
There’s even an art to carrying skis, which I learned last weekend while being battered by Storm Eunice.
Luckily for all of us, Tara was very patient and knew exactly how to describe everything which meant that all four of caught on pretty quickly and we were soon awkwardly trapesing in our seasonal footwear across to the gentle slope.
We genuinely had no idea how much we were going to learn in an hour on the slope, but we managed to get through so many basics that we were all absolutely buzzing from the experience. But it helped that we managed to squeeze in around a half dozen mini runs before the group of kids arrived for their class. I challenge anyone, no matter how slow you are, to not feel a rush of adrenalin from skiing down a hill without falling.
The whole way along Tara was great with us and the seasoned skier (she’s squeezing in two trips this season) even gave us loads of tips and hints for the impending trip.
She had us parallel skiing, snowploughing, braking and climbing and on the last two runs even taught us how to turn gently! We were in our element and even though the concentration levels diminished slightly towards the end (to be fair there was a lot to take in and normally they recommend you do more preparation classes than just the one) all four of us feel like we came away ready to take on Bulgaria’s blue, green and maybe even red runs this week.
Incredibly, it was only after we left that we discovered that Tara and her colleagues are all volunteers. The infectiously-fun staff’s love for the sport keeps bringing them back sharing their wealth of knowledge and passing on their skills to newbies like us.
We were there to prepare for a trip but I guarantee you we will be back. It is a great family day out at amazing facilities and run by the loveliest people. Even if you don’t have a trip planned you should consider it as a weekend activity. I know we will be.
■ SKI Club of Ireland has lessons that start from €55 per adult and €40 per child. The more you purchase, the cheaper it gets.
■ FOR more information see skiclub.ie.