Videos and Tips


Tip #1 - Your First Lesson: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Learning to ski or snowboard can be an exciting life-changing experience. New gear and new lesson plans are making it easier than ever. 

Before arriving at your venue of choice, look at the trail map online and review the resort layout. Check out the beginner trails and the names of the lifts. Familiarize yourself with signs and find out where facilities like the base lodge, rental area and ticket sales areas are located.

The Ski and Snowboard Responsibility Code is like a drivers' manual for the slopes and good to know. It only takes a few minutes and it is important information.

Although you probably will get equipment as part of your newcomer lessons, consider visiting a local ski and snowboard shop in your community to familiarize yourself with equipment in advance. The retailer locator guide on is a good resource.

Just walk around and look at the gear. Try on a pair of boots to get the feel of them. They are not like street shoes. Walk around in them and learn how to use the buckles. Shop personnel can answer questions for you. ·You can learn about the different parts and components of your gear and what they are called—and hopefully their purpose!

When you get equipment that’s part of your lesson package, make sure that your boots fit comfortably before you walk out of the rental area onto the hill for your lesson. If you have questions on how to wear or use your gear, ask the rental area staff before going to your first lesson.·

When you are ready, you can proceed to your group or private lesson meeting area—there should be signs. Your instructor will guide you in what you need to know. As a first-time skier or snowboarder, your lesson will probably take place in a learning area.·Generally, this area is separated or marked off from the rest of the ski area for slower skiing and riding. The area is much flatter with more gradual terrain.·

Your instructor can help you get to know the equipment and how to use it. One of the first things you will do is learn how to walk, skate, and glide.·You probably will practice on flat terrain and learn how to slide on one ski before putting both of them on. Or, you will learn to glide on a snowboard with one foot. You will practice balance and what it feels like to glide on snow.

This may feel awkward at first because it is new and different.·Your instructor should give you tips to make it easier, but you can begin practicing this while waiting for your lesson to start. Becoming familiar with the equipment helps make your first lesson easier and more enjoyable.

Don’t be fearful but know that you probably will fall. Getting up is one of the first things you will learn.. ·How to stop is another basic maneuver. Instructors usually have students hike a short distance up the hill so you can practice gliding to a controlled, gradual stop on a very slight incline.·

When you are ready, your instructor will show you how to load and ride the uphill transportation provided by the ski area. This could be a Magic Carpet, rope tow, Poma, T-bar or a variety of chairlifts. The best lift to use for the first time is the Magic Carpet. This is a slow moving, rubber mat that you stand on with your skis or snowboard. It moves you up the hill slowly. You can look around and enjoy the view!

Other easy lifts to try are detachable, high-speed chairlifts. These slow down as they get close to you so you have plenty of time to get on or off. Many ski resorts in the U.S. now have Magic Carpets in learning areas to help beginners ease into their new sport.

Rope tows, Pomas and T-bars have been largely phased out in the U.S. The rope tow is exactly what it sounds like. You hold onto a rope that pulls you up the hill while your skis or snowboard glide. The Poma is a round disk that is placed under the buttocks. It also pulls you uphill. Don’t try to sit on it though. A T-Bar is actually an upside down “T” that enables two people to move uphill at the same time.··

Each of these mechanical devices is a little different. Take as much time as necessary to learn how to ride the lifts before you use them.·You can do this by observing others, asking the lift attendant and other ski resort employees for assistance.·There may also be signs in the lift lines indicating how to use the transport.

Remember you are learning something new and exciting when going into your first lesson.·It takes time. A positive attitude leads to a positive experience.·If something doesn't work the first time, try again.·This goes for everything—from your equipment, to your ski instructor, to the ski area and to the weather.·

Don't forget to check out the What to Wear information. It is important·to be prepared for the elements with the right clothing. Good luck and have fun!


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