Why it pays to learn to ski

Submitted by Rachel on Wed, 10/04/2017 - 05:56
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It's been said that ski and snowboard lessons can be expensive, but they don't have to be, especially if you do your research and find somedeals.

Some ask: why bother? The answer is easy.

Instruction helps you gain control on the slopes, and the more control you have (over your body, your speed, your direction), the more fun you have. Note that control is not the same as slow. Rather, its the difference between terrifying and exhilarating.

When to start?

I grew up skiing, love the sport, and have no memory of first clicking into bindings. This is probably why Ive been putting my sons, who are now three and five, in lessons since age three. (It also helps that I write about skiing for a living and have gotten discounts on lessons over the years as a perk of my work.)

Some say that three-year-olds dont have the muscle control to manage their boards and that its not worth the money to put them in lessons. While I see the logic, I actually disagree with it. I recommend putting your young kids in at least one or two lessons when theyre preschoolers for two reasons.

First, a professional has extensive training in breaking down technique into language a kiddo can understand. Secondly, repetition is key for learning anything, and the young tykes spend much of their lessons lapping the magic carpet. For hours. Its tedious (for grown ups) but important, and the pros keep it fun.

Lessons arent only for kids. Adults looking to take up the sport should absolutely invest in one (or several) lessons before letting loose on the slopes. A friend in her mid-30s who grew up in Florida but now lives in Colorado and wants her family to take up skiing put it this way, Sliding downhill fast on snow sounds as terrifying and fun. I need someone to teach me how to ditch the terrifying and keep the fun.

Group think

Another tremendous benefit of ski lessons is that students learn from one another. Whether youre six or 36, it helps to have a buddy when youre tackling a new skillnothing like a little peer pressure to convince you to hit a mogul line, ride a new chairlift, cruise a groomer top to bottom, or venture into powder.

Budget talks

A few considerations when thinking about the cost of ski lessons: they are a short-term cost because once you know how to ski or snowboard, you wont take lessons all the time; they are a compounding investment (the more you learn, the better you ski; the better the ski, the more you ski); and they can be exceedingly effective. One or two lessons might be all you need to figure out exactly how to edge your boards or hold your upper body.

Personally, I shell out for lessons for my kids because I do not enjoy teaching them myself. Though Im an experienced skier, I dont know how to explain what Im doing and I risk frustrating my kids when I try to coach them. Ive signed Henry, my five-year-old up for multi-week lessons at Winter Park ($299 for three sessions) because I want him to get more confidence and skill so the two of us can expand the terrain where we ski.

Heres how I do the math: his Rocky Mountain Super Pass cost $30 (mine was more expensive, obviously, but its an expense I budget for). We try to ski about 25 days a year. Paying $300 now for lessons is going to make those 25 days more fun.

I know. Ill never win any major debates. But the point Im trying to make is this: having several lessons a year has an incremental benefit for Henry, who can now ski blues and some blacks.

Deals

The good news is that deals do exist, particularly in January, the official Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Most resorts offer discounts on Sunday lessons. Some offer first-time lesson/gear rental packages for 30% off the ticket price (or more!). Call the snowsports school directly and ask if they have any beginner packages.

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