00-20161215 Heavenly Ski

Where, Why, and How to Embrace Learn to Ski Month This January

Sure, there are meaningful New Year’s Resolutions like being a kinder person or eating more vegetables. But let’s get to the one that’s been on your list for a while: learning to ski or snowboard. As it turns out, January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and, as with any resolution, there is no better time to start than right now. Luckily, many resorts make it easy with special programs specializing in beginner lessons.

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While you can certainly learn the basics and begin making turns with either a half or full-day group or private lesson at just about any resort, places like Beaver Creek offer an Adult First Time Ski Series, in which you dedicate three days to developing the skills bound to transform into a lifelong passion. In a group format with like-minded fellow first-timers (often with a friend, since this fun scenario is a full-fledge bonding experience), you learn all there is to know from square one—your equipment, the mountain, how to stop, make turns, get on and off of lifts, and feel confident on green runs.

A photo posted by Vail Mountain (@vailmtn) on Feb 6, 2016 at 2:45pm PST

Vail also believes that three is the lucky number when it comes to learning to ski, especially in consecutive days.  Vail’s 3-D Series is not only geared toward newbies, but any level of skier looking to improve his or her skills, which, let’s admit it, is on many of our checklists for 2017. Three is the winning number because any skier who signs up for three days of consecutive ski lessons gets the third for free.

Speaking of bargains, if you happen to be visiting Utah in January, on Jan. 6 to be precise, Park City Mountain Resort is offering the deal of the year for first-time skiers and snowboarders or current Utah residents. On this day, never-evers can claim the pivotal first day of their new identity as a skier or snowboarder with a $49 lesson, lift ticket, and gear rental. Veteran Utah skiers with proof of their residency also get to cash in on the bargain.

At Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly, both first- and second-time skiers and snowboarders have an array of options for lessons, including full days and half days, the logic being that a half day of learning in the morning opens the door for displaying your fresh, mad skills to your friends or family in the afternoon. The other option is sleeping in and indulging in a relaxing morning before gearing up for your first (or second) ever crack at skiing or snowboarding in the afternoon.

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First or second timers can double down on their development by signing up for an Ultimate 4 all-day lesson—a popular option at several properties under the Vail Resorts umbrella—in which lessons are limited to no more than four skiers or snowboarders, all out there with the same goal in mind, in this case, gaining confidence 101 or taking it to confidence course 102, in which second-timers bring their fresh talent to fruition on one run after another. Where does this go? Obviously gliding down the wide, white road toward a long and beautiful relationship between you and the slopes.

Always putting families first and foremost, Camp Keystone teaches kids ski lessons disguised by game-play, beginning with being launched onto the snow down an indoor/outdoor slide. While everyone in the family might ski or snowboard at a different level, the instructor heading up Keystone’s private family lessons (full or half day) customizes tips for every individual in the group—families of up to six members.

At Lake Tahoe, Northstar has a program where kids can learn to ski or ride as young as 3 years old and first-timers from the age of 13 and older can sign up for a specialized full or half day group lesson.

If your kid is showing serious aptitude on the snow, he or she might be a good fit for the Breck Bombers programs in Breckenridge, Colo. It features recurring lessons on several weekends during which your pint-sized skier or snowboarder promptly becomes a ripper who can show you up on any slope.

Breckenridge, as well as Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Heavenly, Park City and Northstar, offer exclusive, all-female lessons, teaching ladies of all levels to learn to rip, the teachers being…ladies who rip. At Breck, the adult version of the kids’ multi-weekend Bomber program is the Bombshell lesson, designed by women, for women who not only want to keep up with the boys on the mountain but who usually end up leaving them in a cloud of carved snow.

So now you have some options. January is the time to make it happen. If it is your first time skiing or snowboarding and you’re embarking on the New Year’s Resolution of your life, here are some tips to keep in mind:

• As always in life, while on the slopes, keep your eyes ahead, not down or behind you.

• If snowboarding, your front shoulder will always point in the direction you are going. Turn your shoulder and the board will turn, too.

• If skiing, keep your hands up in front of you; it will help your balance.

• Dress warmly (it’s January in the mountains, after all), in waterproof outerwear that is easy to move in.

• Trust your instructor: They go through a lot of training to be in their position. They know what they’re doing

• Have fun. It’s why you’re there.

Featured image provided by USDA/Tom Schaefer

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