Managing the Ski Hire Maze

Worrying about your first ski holiday is bad enough without people asking you confusing questions such as ‘where are you going to hire your skis?’ It’s a hard question to answer when you don’t really know what skis do, or how you make them do it.

I remember one beginner explaining that skiers walk stiffly because they’re wearing thickly padded clothes. She wasn’t the brightest icicle on the eaves, admittedly, but until you actually try on a pair of ski boots, which hold your feet and ankles safe from twisting, you wouldn’t possibly know that they clamp your feet so tight it’s impossible not to walk like a robot.

Reading books and magazines in advance just makes you anxious about possible pitfalls. Will it hurt when I fall over? Adults fall so rarely in their day-to-day lives that the prospect is a worry. How will I stand up again? Will I die? Rational decision-making on the technicalities of ski equipment is impossible.

One time-honoured way for dealing with the prospect is to ignore it until you arrive in the ski resort and a smiling Rep helpfully points you in the direction of a ski shop, hands you some coupons you probably paid for months earlier, and it’s all arranged seamlessly while you simply stand, sit, bend your knees and fill in a form at the till.

Others prefer to plan their equipment hire as if their holiday were an assault on Everest – only with extra budgeting. In the past it was perfectly natural for the ski shops in a resort to compare prices with one another – after all they were probably cousins – and set their prices accordingly, rendering shopping around futile. Nowadays the enterprising Brit has put an end to such familial conniving, and the bargain hunter will find his or her reward, usually in shops owned or part-owned by a ski-lover from Aberdeen or Arundel who arrived to the Alps in his teens to wash dishes and never went home. These days, internet deals offering two sets of ski equipment for the price of one are undermining the cosy cartels and keeping prices down 무주스키장.

Val d’Isère, probably the most famous ski resort in France, has the whole range of ski shops for the whole range of skiers, from bargain-hunter to technophile. There are shops owned by families who go back generations to the farmers and shepherds of the tiny hamlet which this plush resort once was; there are smarter shops set up in the last decade by French and British partnerships who have studied the market and aim to be the best, and there are new shops which are undercutting everyone, grabbing as much of the market as they can, and enjoying the returns while they last.

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