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Hitting the slopes
(From top): A tourist on the slopes at Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; for many, Interlaken is the ultimate skiing spot

It looks dangerous and it’s an easy way to break bones. So, is it worth going on a skiing holiday' The answer is undoubtedly, yes if you have a taste for adventure. Just think of hitting the slopes and racing down acres of white pristine mountains with the crisp air literally in your face.

As with any other sport, you do not have to be a professional to get on the ski trails. Of course, you have got to get a hang of it (unless you want to learn it the hard way — that is zoom down and land in a mess).

The key then is to go for ‘fun skiing’. “For those wanting a taste of skiing and yet loathe to spend their entire holiday learning it, fun skiing is the answer. Here you do not go cross-country, but simply downhill skiing and that too on hard snow, because powdery snow is more for professional skiers to negotiate,” says Major S. K. Yadav, managing director, Wanderlust Travels.

So here are five ski spots that make for a perfect stress-free getaway.

Interlaken, Switzerland

Less than two hours drive from Geneva is Interlaken (which is between the lakes, Thun and Brienz), the town that Lord Byron apparently called a “dream”. The Jungfrau Top Ski Region here boasts more than a hundred miles of trails in ski centres above Grindelwald.

They are all linked to Interlaken by a mountain railway included in a ski pass. With the pass, it’s possible to ski in a different area every day for a week. A package from Wanderlust Travels featuring two weeks in France, Switzerland and Austria has a few days of skiing thrown in. Including equipment, instructor and three hours of skiing a day, the package costs $150 a day.

Davos, Switzerland

Davos is in effect two villages — Davos Dorf and Davos Platz — and these have five independent ski areas, all of which are connected by one ski pass.

A&K has a seven-night, eight-day package at 760 euros per head, which includes double occupancy at a hotel of your choice, two meals a day and a six-day ski pass. The same at an apartment comes to about 495 euros per person. And a four-night, five-day stint with the same add-ons (except that instead of a six-day ski pass, there’s a three-day one) comes to about 415 euros for hotel stay and 260 euros for an apartment stay.

Saalbach, Austria

This large, well-linked ski area known as the ‘Ski Circus’ boasts an impressive lift system and is an intermediate skier’s paradise. It comprises the Saalbach and Hinterglemm villages sitting side-by-side in the heart of Salzburgerland. Stic Travels packages a ski holiday here that starts at £269 per person with accommodation at Hotel Reisinger for seven nights and eight days that also includes ski and boot fitting guidance. Also included is a complimentary ‘Ski Coach’ CD ROM.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada

Whistler’s special feature is in the form of two mountains — Whistler and Blackcomb. Abercrombie & Kent offers luxury skiing in this ski resort in British Columbia (that has been selected as the site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games). The seven-day package, offering five days of skiing and stay at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Whistler, is priced at $3,705 (double occupancy in a premier room) and $10,965 (double occupancy in an executive suite).

The package is inclusive of all taxes and accommodation, private transfers, breakfasts, private ski guide for one-half of each ski day (for minimum two persons). Also thrown in are lift tickets for each ski day, high performance ski equipment and an exclusive Snow-cat excursion. An added attraction: you can even ski on a glacier here. The town has three glaciers, more than 200 marked trails, 33 lifts and 12 alpine bowls with a vertical drop of more than 5,000 feet.

Wellington, New Zealand

Snow sports are relatively cheap in New Zealand and there are plenty of travel agents in Wellington from where you can book an entire day’s ski package for about $350 a day. The package includes a four-wheel drive to the slopes, lunch, some snacks and a return drive thrown in along with ski equipment. And you get a ski guide too. But do not mistake the guide for an instructor. Says Yadav, “If you want a ski instructor, opt for the special packages for beginners where instructors teach you the basics of skiing.”

Now if you are a beginner, the snow-filled slopes might be a bit difficult to tackle on your own. However, do not shy away from a skiing holiday just because you might be a novice. Learning skiing is not that big a deal, especially with ski instructors and ski schools ready to school you into the sport. So here’s to some fun skiing!

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