Learning to ski with #ThisGirlCan

I’m a huge fan of the #ThisGirlCan campaign, inspiring us all to get fit and explore outdoors. Now Snowsport England are encouraging sport lovers to GO SKI GO BOARD and try their hand at snowsports in the UK. I sent newbie skiier Mary Spender to hit the pistes for her first lesson.


“I spent two hours learning to ski on the slopes of Mount Hemel Hempstead with #ThisGirlCan and #GoSkiGoBoard for The Girl Outdoors. The centre boasts real snow, so whatever English weather we are having to grin and bear, you can get your skis on in the proper conditions. Here’s how I got on!

Skiing had always meant one thing to me. Money. When I had heard stories about how much it cost to have a week away in the Alps, I just couldn’t fathom taking the financial plunge to try something I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. I attempted dry slope skiing when I was about 10 for a friend’s birthday party and hated it. I couldn’t keep my balance, fell over and grazed my hands. My experience 15 years later was another story – real snow does make it easier. The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead is London’s closest indoor real snow centre and boasts the UK’s largest teaching slope. With expert instruction available, all levels are kept entertained on unrivalled indoor terrain.

Greg, my silver-fox instructor, was very clear about each step as well as being incredibly patient with his group of complete beginners. I didn’t have much confidence before we began and my heart was racing when I was being strapped into my boots. We started off learning to clip in and out, as well as sliding along just on one ski. It was wonderful to be part of a well-matched team of beginners. Even though there were five of us, we all got some individual attention and there was a lot of camaraderie within the group, especially when things went wrong!


It was a fun, yet bizarre experience shuffling onto the conveyor belt lift but I kept getting a little more confident each time, going higher up the slope. By this time we had graduated to having both skis on. Two hours was just enough time to show some improvement and get a confidence boost or two, without getting too tired. Our last challenge was doing a mini slalom, which was nerve-wracking as it was the first time there were obstacles to avoid, rather than metres of clean, empty snow. Charging down the slope really hit the spot, as I’m a bit of a speed freak (hence my love of road cycling), however, Greg taught me that speed doesn’t make you a good skier. It’s all about control and not letting emotion getting in the way. The slower the better! I soon found my pace and had enough confidence to go down the slope holding my phone and filming my final run. Vlog coming soon!

I met some lovely ladies after the session thanks to #ThisGirlCan. Many of them had been been late starters to skiing, some had even progressed to be instructors. They all said the social aspect of the sport was really encouraging and that they all help each other out at the top of the daunting advanced slopes, as they have all had melt-down (excuse the pun) or two in their time. It was fantastic to hear about their love for the adrenaline and adventure of snowsports.

My day at The Snow Centre proved that it’s possible to try snowsports and get your fitness up in an enjoyable and affordable way, and my first time skiing was wonderful even without the mountains, chalets and hot chocolate. Although now I can’t get that thought out of my head. Better start saving my pennies!”

Find out more about GO SKI GO BOARD and how to try snowsports in the UK.


I’ll be on my own snowsports adventure with This Girl Can and GO SKI GO BOARD this coming January, heading to St Anton am Arlberg in the beautiful Tirol region of Austria to hit the slopes.



  1. November 6, 2015 / 10:13 am

    I’d love to learn to ski! There’s a ski centre in Plymouth but I’ve always been a bit too nervous to give it a go and all my friends and family seem to have skiied a lot already so I feel like there’s no-one of my ability to go with. Alice xx


  2. sian
    November 6, 2015 / 10:37 am

    Ooh Alice you should definitely have a go! I’m sure Mary would agree. I used to find it quite scary but it feels amazing when you pick it up. One good idea is to go on holiday with friends and have lessons in the mornings, then ski when them in the afternoons. Let me know how you get on. Love your blog by the way x

  3. November 10, 2015 / 2:39 pm

    #ThisGirlCan is a brilliant campaign. I love the idea of trying new sports and potentially activities you never would have considered before. I tried skiing once, rather disastrously as a young teenager and that has destroyed my confidence to try it again as an adult. Having said that Mary sounds like she had a blast…so I’m slowly being convinced to try it again!

  4. sian
    November 11, 2015 / 1:45 pm

    Totally agree Donna, love the campaign! I’ve been really enjoying your blog by the way, we should get together with Mary for a cycle some time xxx

  5. December 13, 2015 / 4:58 pm

    Really pleased to find your blog Sian. I’ve been chosen as a Crystal Ski Ambassador and will be off to Austria at the end of January. Very excited and very nervous, hitting the slopes in my forties … eek! Think I’m going to be more snow plough than snow bunny! Keri x

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