The mountains, for so many of us, represent a place where we can escape. They’re a retreat from the BS and monotony of the day to day, a chance to take in gorgeous sightlines, and an opportunity to hone the skills of shredding. However, as most of us know, skiing can have a couple yuge barriers to entry. First off is the cost – at $200 bucks a pop for some of the biggest mountains, that first experience does not come cheap. Second, not everyone is looking for a blower pow day, especially when they are learning. Finally, the act of skiing itself can be quite daunting when things like bumps, slush, or a weird fall line come into play. With all that in mind, we’ll go over a few things today that’ll help ease any first-timers into the wonderful sport that we all love and share.
First off, timing is everything. Having switched to telemarking in the past couple years, your author was able to see first-hand what sort of conditions make for a great learning day, and which ones get in the way of progress. Perhaps it seems obvious, but sunny, warm days are far and away the best ones on which to learn. Your author decided to pick up the tele skis on a powder day at Copper Mountain a few years back, and within a couple hours every groomed slope had turned to chunder, and my legs had turned to spaghetti noodles from having to account for all of the inconsistent snow surfaces.
The following week though? An easy-peasy bluebird day, where some real fundamentals were able to be laid down, and the frustration that comes with making your friends wait for you at each lift was able to subside a bit. While a powder day will provide soft snow to the learner, it’s much easier when you’re not fighting the elements at first, especially because you’re going to want to embrace the second point of learning to ski, which is to savor the lunch break.
A Relaxing Break / Rewarding Progress
We all operate better when we have a clear goal, or something that we are aiming for. Skiing is no different – it becomes much less fun when your tum-tum is full, and each turn seems to be taking much more effort than it really ought to. What this says is to not forget to take a nice break while learning to ski! The body is using new muscles that don’t necessarily get worked out in other forms of exercise so cut it some slack! It can be such a treat to have schlarped down a few high-effort runs and follow that up with a beverage of choice outside an on-mountain lodge. The sunlight streaming in is rejuvenating, just don’t forget your sunscreen!
On a more immediate note, don’t forget the little rewards that make skiing (and life in general, really) worth doing. By that I mean, pocket Starburst and other candies. As a young tyke these sweet morsels were often the difference between your author (and his twin brother) being whiny little wretches or being the powder-hounds that my parents knew we could be. Little snacks or rewards not only make the ski day more fun, but it’s just a good rule in general for life – if you’re not rewarding yourself for taking care of business, what even is the point of doing anything??
Cheap, Humble Mountains
The last point for ensuring that a learner has a good first few experiences with skiing is to make sure that they are not spending an eye-watering amount on the lift ticket. While we love our big mountains here, from Jackson Hole to Palisades Tahoe, we also advocate for the little guy and independently-run mountains in general. These dot the landscape and a few that we love include: Mt. Shasta Ski Park in California, Ski Cooper in Colorado, and charming little Sipapu in New Mexico. Small mountains, aside from having oodles of charm, typically have cheap lift tickets, nice slow lifts, and a good beginner territory to root around in. What’s more, if you find yourself in the position of teaching somebody, it’s always fun to have a new place to explore while your friend/accomplice is making their way slowly down the mountain.
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