New To Ski

About Sergei Poljak

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Lives In Telluride, United States

Role Ski Writer

Expertise Backcountry

Experience

Sergei made his first snowplow at the age of 10. Over the years he continued to perfect his french fry and spent a season in France after graduating from college. After deciding to pursue a life in the mountains, he moved to Telluride, Colorado, and traveled the Western U.S. in his adventure van. He is now based in the French Alps and can be found skiing, climbing, mountain biking, writing, reading, and getting to know inspirational people from around the world.

Education

Colby College

Q&A

What First Sparked Your Interest In Skiing and How Did You Get Into It?

I first skied at a tiny mountain in Connecticut and liked it, but I wasn’t immediately hooked. Several years later, when I was in high school, I visited some family in Chamonix and that’s where I really decided I loved skiing. It’s been an evolving love affair since.

What Is Your Favorite Type of Terrain to Ski On and Why?

My favorite terrain to ski is by leaps and bounds the backcountry, far from other skiing humans. At this point in my ski journey, I no longer enjoy the curated experience found at resorts. I’m still a sucker for lift access though - I love skiing too much to spend all day hiking!

What Has Been Your Most Memorable Skiing Experience and Why?

I’ll never forget the first time I skied powder properly with fat skis - it was like my soul had floated off into the clouds. There’s been a million powder days, icy days, and everything in between since then. However, it’s not necessarily the experiences themselves, but also the people I share those experiences with that stick with me over the years. Joking with my friends on long Chair 9 rides in Telluride and having massive dinner parties in our tiny apartments in La Grave are experiences I cherish.

What Is Your Favorite Ski Resort and Why?

My favorite ski resort in the world is definitely La Grave, located on the north end of the Parc National D’Ecrins in the western French Alps. This is a no-frills area, with no trails, commercialization, or wealthy tourists. It’s just the purest form of lift-access skiing there is. I think most skiers wouldn’t like living in La Grave very much. However, some people will never be able to look back once they ski here.

What Is Your Go-To Ski Gear and Why Do You Love It?

My favorite piece of ski gear is far and away my ZipFit custom boot liners that I purchased at BootDoctors, in Telluride. They are like a skintight glove on my feet and give me an incredible feeling of control. My boots respond to every little movement like my feet are directly connected to my skis. Overnight I improved my game. This piece of gear has made more of an impact on my skiing than anything else I own.

Do You Have Any Ski-Related Goals or Aspirations for the Future? If So, What Are They and How Do You Plan On Achieving Them?

Firstly, at this point in my life, I would like to continue to be able to ski. As you move away from your twenties, every day in the mountains is a bit more of a gift. Yet you’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge and still have the physical strength to reach new heights. I don’t want to stagnate as a skier - I want to continue to refine so many aspects of my skiing. There is always something to learn in this sport and so many people from which to draw inspiration.

Do You Have Any Tips or Advice for New Skiers Looking to Improve Their Skills and Enjoy the Sport More?

Watch a lot of YouTube videos and practice, practice, practice. Go out and ski until you can’t ski anymore. Build up strength in your legs. Hone your technique with instructional videos at night. If you can afford it, take lessons. Take rest days. Ski in a variety of conditions. Try to hang with ski partners who are better than you. Stay focused, and challenge yourself without hurting yourself.

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