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It’s a good idea to layer up when skiing.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Skiing virgin? Daunted by the sheer volume of gear required and techniques to learn? Don't worry – we've put all those idiotic "first-timer" questions to Jordan Smith, an instructor at Whistler Blackcomb, so you don't have to.

What do I need to hire when I get there?

"Well, it's more than just skis," Smith says. "You're also going to need ski boots, some ski poles, and a helmet is a good option. You can usually rent goggles as well and in some places you can hire your full outfit, including jacket and pants." A word of warning, though: Getting kitted-out does take some time and ski gear is pretty heavy, so choose a rental shop near your lodgings.

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Can I walk around in ski boots?

"Oh yes," Smith says. "The best après is to be had in your ski boots." In fact, she explains, there's often no choice but to wear your ski boots as you're either in a bar on the mountain or in one at the bottom and no one's been back to their room to get changed yet. "As soon as people come down the hill, the first thing many of them think about is getting that first beer," she says.

What do I do with my skis when I go into a bar?

"In Europe, people tend to just leave their skis everywhere, but in Canada there are lots of ski racks," explains our expert. But skis do get stolen – it happens quite often, which is why Smith recommends buying a ski lock so you can secure them to a rack. "They're pretty much universal and you can use them anywhere," she says.

How cold is it on the mountain?

"You want lots of layers," Smith says, "because you can always take them off if you're too hot. But don't forget that you can also get sunburnt." So always remember, she says, to put on strong sunscreen before heading out for the day.

Is snow soft, or will it still hurt if I fall?

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"Well, it definitely doesn't hurt as much as something like gravel," Smith says, "but it still hurts and you can still do some serious damage." Not only does she advise making sure you're properly insured, but she also thinks you'd be wise to have an introductory lesson, too. "It's not as easy it looks," she says, "and I've lost track of the times I've been skiing down at the end of the day and had to help people who decided to give it a go and can't get back down."

Are the slopes closed in bad weather?

"No, not at all," Smith says. "If it's too windy to run the lifts then yes, but it's meant to snow in the winter, and unless its pretty horrendous things tend to stay open." On any given day you could find yourself with a fair amount of wind and snow blowing at you – so make sure to wear the goggles. "It's not blue skies every time you go up," Smith says.

Can I get away with using words like 'rad'?

"You know, I do still hear 'rad' quite a lot," Smith admits. "There's a lot of words that still get used: On the mountain, anything goes. As long as you're having a good time and whatever you're saying sounds enthusiastic, you'll be fine!"

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