Up Front Skiing

Are Ski Lessons Worth It?

If you’ve never strapped on a pair of skis before and you want to learn how to ski, you may think that lessons are expensive. You may even convince yourself that skipping them is OK. The equipment, the resort, the lift ticket, they cost money. You might think this is one place you can cut corners and save a few bucks.

Please don’t.

Now, I love to ski. I’ve been skiing since I was very small. So I can say this with a lot of confidence: you really, really need to know what you’re doing out there. You could be a danger not just to yourself but to everyone else going down the mountain with you. While skiing is not considered dangerous (in that you probably won’t die), you can still seriously hurt yourself or someone else if you aren’t paying attention or don’t know what you’re doing.

You need to spend some time getting familiar with equipment, lingo, mechanics, and technique. It depends on where you are and how much you want to pay as far as what type of lessons are offered. You may have a private instructor or be in a group, If you’re in a group, you will be with people at the same skill level as you, so you have no reason to feel self-conscious.

Some of the first things you’ll learn in a lesson are how to carry your skis, since they’re so awkward, and how to put them on and take them off properly. Once you’re sure you can do that, you’ll probably be asked to walk around, bend your knees, and that sort of thing. This way, you can get a feel for how to move with the skis on. You’ll learn sidestepping (a way to position the skis as you walk so you don’t slide down the mountain until you want to) and how to hold the ski poles. You’ll also be shown the proper posture and positioning. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. Then you’ll get to ski down a small slope. The more you practice, the better you get. Keep taking lessons if you still feel uncomfortable or are really enjoying the learning experience.

Other advice: start out slow. Don’t go straight from the bunny trails to black diamond runs. Work your way up to more challenging runs. Don’t go off the trails (we call it off-piste). Your risk for serious injury goes way up. While it may look like a great ride, you never know. There could be dangerous rocks or other obstacles, difficult drop offs or turns, or a serious avalanche risk. Plus, if something happens to you, who is going to think to look out there for you? If you do fall, please get checked out, especially if you bang your head. I’d like to say that it’s common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people write off a fall and then find out they have a concussion only later when it becomes more serious.