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    New Year resolutions: learn to ski

    Learning to ski is a life-changing experience. For the absolute beginner, there’s the prospect of discovering an exhilarating new sport, sampling the bracing mountain life, freezing your extremities and a guarantee that you will permanently compromise your fashion sense.

    If you’re up for the challenge of spending a couple of days feeling like Bambi on ice, you’ll find it’s an extraordinarily rewarding sport – and one that you can pick up relatively quickly.

    So, if your aim for 2004 is to be more active and learn a new skill, skiing is a winner.

    Click here to read novice skier Susannah Osborne’s entertaining and useful account of how she got down the mountain, and here to read her top ten tips for beginners.

    And click here to find an avalanche of advice for the snow curious.

    Meanwhile, we detail three of Europe’s best resorts for the beginner below. Happy skiing!

    Les Arcs, France
    Read factfile
    Of the four villages (2000, 1950, 1800 and 1600) that make up Les Arcs, Arcs 1800 is the best for beginners.

    The sunny spacious nursery slopes at 1800 are situated just above the village. When it’s time to move onto the harder runs there are ‘easy alternatives’ on most routes.

    The new ‘Paradiski’ link to La Plagne makes Les Arcs the place to ski this season.

    Erna Low (0870 750 0820; offers a self-catered two-person studio in Vacantel Apartments, Arcs 1600 for £333.

    Price based on self-drive. Includes return ferry crossing from Dover to Calais. Erna Low is the official UK representative of Les Arcs.

    Saas Fee, Switzerland
    Read factfile
    The pretty village of Saas Fee is particularly good for beginners. There is a large quiet learners’ area on the edge of the village.

    A beginners’ pass will give novices access to the short lifts in this area. When you are ready to go higher, head for gentle blue runs on Felskinn or Längfluh. But take the Alpin Express gondola home.

    Ski Deals (0800 027 3158; offers seven nights in catered chalet, Hotel Collina, Saas Fee for £409. Including flights and transfers from London Gatwick. Based on two sharing. Valid for departures on Jan 24th 2004.

    Soldeu, Andorra
    Read factfile
    This is one of the best places to learn. The Espiolets learners’ area is huge and has moving carpets to get you up the hill, instead of the dreaded draglifts.

    he ski school comes highly recommended and has a special British section. Andorra is relatively cheap, making it even more attractive, especially for après-ski.

    Ski Wild (0870 746 9668; offers seven nights half board in four-star Hotel Himalaia for £509 per person based on two sharing. Including flights and transfers. Valid for departures from January 4th 2004.

    Ten top tips for beginners »
    One woman’s descent down a mountain »
    Skiing too tame? Learn to bobsleigh! »
    Daily updated snow reports »
    European resort guides »

    Last updated 02 January 2004

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