When searching for a skiing adventure, you would not usually head to the flat streets of central London.
Yet despite its lack of mountains, a cosy Alpine-inspired bar in Soho is hosting a one-day skiing event to test what happens when you drink alcohol before hitting the slopes.
Over the past five years, around 3.8 million holidaymakers have injured themselves on the slopes as a result of consuming alcohol, according to new figures from insurer Direct Line.
Amelia Murray tests out a ski simulator in Soho to see how much a few drinks affects her ability
Around 1.3 million of these travellers ended up with broken limbs.
But you might just find you’ve done serious damage to your bank balance too — facing a bill for thousands of pounds because most travel insurers turn down claims if they think you have been drinking too much.
Transporting someone off a mountain in Europe costs between £500 and £3,000, according to specialist insurer AllClear.
If the injury can be treated at a facility on site you then face a bill of up to £1,500 for treatment — but if you need to go to hospital it could run into tens of thousands of pounds.
But does having a few tipples really impact your ability to navigate the slopes? Fortunately, the only skiing I will be doing during this experiment is on a simulator, so I won’t be able to do too much damage.
Over two hours I will have three tries on the machine, which is set up in front of a large screen.
The first go is a ‘dry run’ — so no booze. I must then drink three units of alcohol (the equivalent to a double and single gin and tonic or two small glasses of wine) before taking to the simulator again.
On the piste: Amelia downs another G&T – for research purposes
After another three units, I will have my final turn. Each time I will be scored on my speed and how many obstacles I crash into.
The test will show how much more likely you are to have an accident after drinking.
When I arrive, a man is already on board the simulator, wearing a futuristic headset and making some amusing facial expressions.
As a relative novice, I’m nervous. So for me, the dry-run is by far the most stressful, with my hands sweating as I grip the rail.
At one point I fear I have accidentally killed myself after a red mist descends — it turns out I’ve just run into a red flag.
While I don’t want to be a party pooper or skew the results of the experiment, I decide to have just one drink in between each turn on the simulator — six units is a lot for me to drink in two hours. Plus it’s only 4pm.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my confidence grew with each drink and, suddenly, I was flying down the slopes.
On my first try it took me 141.2 seconds to make it down the virtual mountain. By my final go, I had almost halved my time to 75.8 seconds.
I also missed just one gate on my last descent, compared with seven on my first.
And it turns out that I’m not alone. Almost three in ten travellers say they think booze makes them a better skier, according to Direct Line’s research.
However, the reality is that you are 43 per cent more likely to have an accident after enjoying a few drinks, according to the experiment’s results.
So while I may have bucked the trend, this is probably because I drank far less than six units (and after such an appalling first attempt, I had more room for improvement).
And while six units is the average amount that skiers drink, some one million people claim to knock back more than ten.
Risk: some insurers will not cover claims arising ‘directly or indirectly’ from the consumption of alcohol. Others specify an exact blood alcohol level travellers must not breach
Experts say this is dangerous, leaving you at serious risk of accident — and insurers take a similarly dim view.
The small print in each travel insurance policy varies but the message is the same — if you drink too much you risk being denied a payout.
Research by campaign group Fairer Finance found some firms use vague phrases such as ‘excessive’ drinking or will not cover claims for ‘reckless’ acts where alcohol is involved.
InsureandGo’s Silver and Gold policies state they will not cover any claims where ‘you have drunk so much alcohol that your judgment is seriously affected and you need to make a claim as a result.’
It uses the example of when, in the opinion of the treating doctor, ‘excessive’ alcohol consumption is the cause of the accident.
Direct Line’s terms and conditions include a similar clause under its ‘deliberate harm and recklessness’ exclusion.
And insurers Staysure and Axa state they will not cover claims arising ‘directly or indirectly’ from the consumption of alcohol.
Others specify an exact blood alcohol level travellers must not breach. For example, Saga will not cover customers if doctors (or the police) record a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.19 per cent — around four pints of beer or four 175ml glasses of wine.
Transporting someone off a mountain in Europe costs between £500 and £3,000, according to specialist insurer AllClear
The same requirement applies to Post Office Money customers with its Classic, Superior and Superior Plus policies.
James Daley, founder of Fairer Finance, says: ‘If you opt for a policy with a vaguely worded alcohol clause then the insurer’s decision on whether to pay a claim or not boils down to what is reasonable.
‘This is set at a high bar. But those with a stated limit are more prescriptive. The insurer will not care about the context.’
He adds that some insurers can try to use even moderate alcohol consumption as an excuse to wriggle out of claims they should really be paying.
As a rule of thumb, just keep reminding yourself that plunging into the après ski before you’ve finished skiing can be a very slippery slope.
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