Now that you’ve decided to embrace winter by learning to ski or snowboard, choosing a resort, getting there and finding your way around are your first challenges. Here’s what you should know before your first day trip.
Choosing a Resort
Go online. The Website skisnowboard.com gives subjective reviews and pertinent information for all major resorts in North America. Look for those with strong first-timer ratings. Then browse individual resort sites for specifics or call with questions. Large resorts with separate beginner slopes and dedicated learning areas with slow lifts like Copper Mountain’s Union Creek in Colorado and Mount Sunapee’s South Peak in New Hampshire are ideal for novices. So are smaller areas where all runs funnel to a single base with one main lodge. These day areas are less intimidating with fewer people, less walking and no confusion as to where to go for rentals, lessons and lunch. Go with a friend who skis.
Choosing the Lesson
Don’t even think of not taking a lesson, or worse, letting your friend, spouse or cousin teach you. While online, search for Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard packages. Each package usually includes a two- or three-hour lesson, rental equipment for the day and, if appropriate, a lift ticket. The newest trends are lesson packages for families to learn together, such as “Family First Trails” in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire and Family Adventure Clinics (level 2 and above) in Crested Butte, Colorado. Save time by booking your lesson and downloading release forms online.
Make sure your car is equipped for winter travel and that the driver has the skills for driving on ice and snow. While it may be balmy in the city, storms can begin swirling in the mountains without notice.
Most large resorts have free outer parking lots with shuttles to the base area or pay-parking close in. But close is a relative term. Generally, there’s a fair amount of walking involved getting from the car to the slopes. Sometimes you’ll find drop-off points – a good option for first-timers who want to get started on the rental process while a friend parks the car.
Walking to the Lodge
If you bring equipment, don’t walk in ski boots. You likely are not used to them yet, and you can slip easily on ice and snow. Carry your boots to lockers where you can store your stuff and gear up. Boot bags are handy for hauling and storing boots, gloves, googles, helmet, hat, hand warmers and extra clothing.
A Day at the Resort
Once at the base area, look for signs directing you to Skier Services, where you’ll find everything from rental and retail shops to ski-and-ride school to lift ticket windows. Or ask a uniformed resort “ambassador” for directions. Here’s where you’ll begin your first day. After your lesson, practice a bit but don’t overdue it. Above all, relax, take it all in and have fun – talk to other skiers and snowboarders; watch them on the hill; begin the transformation…
Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and snowlink.com.