Slobodanka Graham


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How to pack right: successful skiing anywhere in the world

How to pack right: successful skiing anywhere in the world

Pack right for skiing

Skiing is not a sport I know much about, but I found someone who does!

Susanne: journalist and skier

Susanne: journalist and skier

Susanne was born in Sweden - of course she's a skier - and came to Australia at the age of ten. She's had an interesting and full career as a journalist, communications specialist and public relations expert.

As The West Australian's accredited ski writer, Susanne contributed regular ski travel stories – a gig that took her to some of the world’s best ski resorts. So who better to talk to? Listen to the interview below and read the audio transcript to find out about ski holiday destinations, dressing for the slopes and more.

Hello Planepack listeners and readers. Welcome to another episode of Planepack. I'm sitting outside, it's spring in Canberra at the lovely My Café in Manuka and I'm joined by Susanne. Welcome Susanne.

It's lovely to be here.

Thank you so much. So, I believe that in January you're going to Canada for a ski trip. Why there?

Canada is a great destination for skiers because it's welcoming. They understand the Australian sense of humour, unlike sometimes the Americans. Terrific snow of course, and lovely accommodation. Bigger and more luxurious really than most Australian snow accommodations. So ... and great value. Lift tickets, and ski hire, it's great value. We enjoy it a lot.

Where in Canada are you going to?

We're going to a resort called Big White in British Columbia, where we have been before. I think last time we were there we didn't see the sun very much but there was lots of snow and we liked it. It's not one of the biggest resorts. The village is not one of the biggest but the ski fields are terrific. And all standards and ... I'm pretty sure we can be guaranteed great snow.

Big White, Canada - image courtesy of  Snowpak

Big White, Canada - image courtesy of Snowpak

Lovely. So how and when did you first start skiing?

Well, I was taught to ski by my father, a Swedish Army Officer, in the grounds of Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm. Now, I don't remember that unfortunately but I do have photos so I know it's true and my brothers can confirm that. In those days, on wooden skis, straight wooden skis, and because I'm quite old really, I'm in my 60's. When we moved to Australia, it took me a long time to get back to skiing but for the last 20 odd years, my partner and I have skied both in Australia, New Zealand and really all over the world. At least once a year.

So what is it about skiing that appeals to you?

Well anything covered with snow is beautiful, and it takes me back to my heritage really. It's fun. It's outdoors. Yes, its cold but if you dress properly for it, you're not cold. And it just makes me feel terrific. It's a bit like yoga really. You concentrate on what you're doing in your space and its just lovely.

Winter at Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm

Winter at Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm

You mentioned that you've skied in quite a few places around the world, what's your preferred destination?

That's really, really hard to answer. As I come from Europe I do love the European cultural experience that comes along with skiing, but skiing in Australia this last season was terrific. Skiing among the snow dams on a good day is wonderful. Thredbo's great, Falls creek, Mount Hotham, Mount Buller, just lovely. Perisher, great. We've skied in South America, even in Chile and that was an amazing experience, too. So I think just wherever I go, as long as there's snow, I'm happy.

When I was thinking about what questions to ask you, I consulted my husband and he said, "Ask her if she's ever skied at night?"

Not really, it's a big deal at some resorts and its really mainly for families with kids who enjoy that experience. I mean, for one thing, at night it's colder. Children, perhaps, don't feel the cold as much as we do.

As, older women do.

Yes, exactly. I prefer really at night to be having a good dinner. Maybe some wine, rather than to go skiing.


I know a lot people who do enjoy it. There are fireworks at some resorts, to sort of mark it as a special thing. So, yes, it can be very fun I'm sure.

So what's the most exciting thing that's ever happened to you, when you've been skiing?

Well, I'm not sure.

Well maybe let's put that question another way. I personally think, imagine, that skiing is very dangerous. Now clearly, you don't have that same feeling about it, or is it dangerous for you? Or can you understand that it might be dangerous for someone like myself?

Oh absolutely. The thing is, these days, with very good equipment and good instruction, you learn what to do and what not to do. I mean, as a beginner skier, you don't go on the more dangerous slopes. I have on one occasion, it wasn't at all on a dangerous slope it was at Thredbo, I don't know what happened. I managed to fall and knock myself out and got carted off the mountian and had some short term concussion. No pain or anything like that, and I was wearing a helmet of course, which everyone should be doing. But that did shake me up a bit, and I tend to be, now that I'm older, fairly cautious. I'm a cruiser, I'm not a [inaudible 00:05:21], no downhiller, by any means. I just like to cruise around and make nice turns and enjoy the nature.

Beautiful. You look elegant on the slopes I'm sure.

Well I try to. Sometimes I'm more elegant than others.

Well, lets talk about packing.


Susanne - packing right and light; rocking it on the ski slopes

Susanne - packing right and light; rocking it on the ski slopes

Packing for a ski trip, what's that like?

Well the first thing to do of course is, if you're going overseas, leave your skis behind, because no one needs oversized luggage with them. It's far better to hire skis at the resort and then you can also hire according to the conditions. If there's been lots of fresh snow, you'll hire fat skis. That goes on the snow better than your normal old mountain skis. Take your own boots of course, because once you've worn in a pair of boot, it's a good thing for your skiing. No ski boots are comfortable but your own that you've worn in are more comfortable than those you're going to hire. Of course, dress in layers. Good thermal wear is absolutely essential. And a good ski jacket and good ski pants. Jeans, of course. Forget about the high heeled shoes or anything like that because you won't wear them. Wear good walking shoes with thick soles. Colourful ski jacket, which lets your partner pick you out from all the others on the slopes.

You've been doing for such a long time, I think you pack off [inaudible 00:06:52]. It would be interesting for perhaps another skier to have a packing list that they could use to check off the items.

Well you start off with your ski gear. With your jacket, with your pants, with your boots, with your socks, thermal underwear and use the space in your boots to stuff your socks and your underwear basically. Around your boots in perhaps your carry on bag, most boot bags are carry on. Goggles, of course, and helmet will also, most of the time, go in your boot bag. Mine certainly does. They are pretty heavy boots, I think mine weigh about 3.7 kilos. So, packing a boot bag as carry on luggage is just about ... most of the gear should go, really, in there.


And then your après-ski stuff. I mean, you know.

That was going to be my next question. I've heard about this famous après-ski entertainment and social life. Please tell us about it.

Well, It's not as glitzy or glamorous as you might think. You really dress warm and comfortable. Think about that you're sitting around tables having diner or having drinks or something so, some detailing on your jumper, a bit of glitz on that perhaps is a good thing. But jewellery and things like that, don't worry about it. Very simple jewellery if you take any at all. And of course, a beanie, and a good light down jacket to get you around and good fur-lined boots possibly, to get you around the resort. From place to place.

Yep. You kind of answered my next question, which was what's your non-ski wardrobe. But I think if you're going to the ski destinations, it's mostly the ski wardrobe and then just those few accessories?

Yes that right. If you think about, places inside are very well heated. So, you don't need overly thick jumpers. You need probably a thermal, a light jumper under a down jacket, possibly a neck warmer. A scarf if you'd like. And certainly a beanie. Because even if you have ... Beanies are actually really good walking around, yes. But also, lots of places have hot tubs outside. Now, that's all very well and you're warm up to your neck, but put a beanie on your head and you'll be warm all the way through.

Apres-ski party - retro style

Apres-ski party - retro style

That's pretty good advice. How long do you go for when you go on your international ski trips? What's the duration?

Well, some people stay at resorts for weeks and weeks. We find that we go for eight nights or something like that. That's enough. We've then been around the resort, been to restaurants we want to go to and we've skied the place pretty well. So we tend to be pretty intense about that and ski every day, if we can, if the weather allows us, so that's really enough time for us.

Yes. So, if you're not skiing, if you're going on holiday, are you a light traveller?

I do try to, on trips across country, back to Perth [inaudible 00:10:24] I tend to travel, if its only for a few days, just with a carry on. Especially in summer of course, with Perth's mild climate. In winter, I do like to have a couple of jackets, and scarves, and a few changes of shoes, things like that. So, I certainly don't over pack. I try to be pretty economical and I match things with [crosstalk 00:10:53]

One thing goes with another.


Yes. So, what tips do you have for someone whose keen to start skiing?

Do it. Absolutely.

Just do it.

Just do it. Go locally first, and if you live in the eastern states obviously, terrific ski resorts here. Don't buy equipment, hire first and see if you really like it. The very first you must do is take lessons. No one is a natural skier, and you need to only take lessons for say five days. Ideally go for a week, take lessons in the morning, practise in the afternoon, and after that time you should be able to cruise around most of the mountian. Leave the black runs to later. Then just enjoy it, it's not an extreme sport really. Yes, there are kids doing somersaults off jumps, but most of us just enjoy getting around the mountian and stopping for coffee or hot chocolate and enjoying the view, meeting other people, and it's a really lovely way to have an active holiday.

Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Australia

Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Australia

Sounds so inspiring, you've almost persuaded me to do it too.

Oh you should.

I should.

Everyone should.

Everyone should. Well it's been terrific. Do you have any other comments or feedback you'd like to give to the readers and listeners?

No, not really. I think Australia offers really wonderful opportunities. All kinds of holidays, so we're very lucky. We've got fabulous beaches and we've got really lovely mountains. And they are lovely in summer as well, of course. If you don't want to go skiing, go hiking, and enjoy the change of scenery and really beautiful nature that we have in this country.

Thank you Susanne. It's been lovely talking to you.


You've certainly given me an insight into skiing that I've never had before. So thanks once again for your time.

Lovely. Thank you.

Unites States ski resorts

If you want to take advantage of the terrific US snow season, have a look at some of the best ski resorts on offer. And have fun!

Shopping for ski gear

Planepack went window shopping at Amazon for ski gear. What do you think of this selection? Maybe the colours are a bit garish . . . but as Susanne says, you want to be seen on the slopes.

About the author

Slobodanka in 1981, Sutherland, South Africa

Slobodanka in 1981, Sutherland, South Africa

I'm Slobodanka Graham, digital publisher, content entrepreneur and blogger. Sadly not a skier, but I did see snow once . . .

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