Instructor Tips: Your First Ski or Ride Lesson

By Alessandra Tortorello

Ski and ride school lessons are available at every base of every mountain. They service lessons from beginners to advanced, providing snowsport education and mountain information. These lessons are learning opportunities for anyone who wants to further their ski / ride experience. If you are curious about partaking in your first lesson, here is some advice and tips from a ski instructor’s experience.

Everyone has to start somewhere

ski instructor tips, first ski lesson
Photo: Skylar Hoellein/Flickr

Whether you want to improve a specific skill or are looking to tune up your overall performance, lessons are meant for everyone. Nobody is too old, too young, or too good for a lesson.

Pro Tip: Come with a goal to your lesson. Having an end result in mind helps instructors shape the entire day around achieving it. Your goal can be to improve bump skiing or feel more comfortable on certain terrain, or even just to have fun. The more information you can communicate about the day’s expectations, the more you can get out of the lesson.

Why should I take a lesson?

With that goal in mind, there are endless reasons why you should take a lesson. Lessons can be whatever you want them to be; a skill tune-up from last year, a generalized bettering of personal performance, even just a fun day shredding with a few pointers.

Who should take a lesson?

ski lessons
Photo: Ski Star/Flickr

Ski / ride lessons are for everyone; for kids, adults, seniors, families, and groups of friends. There are endless possibilities on what you can achieve and learn during a ski lesson.

Lessons are generally catered to your skill and age, so that there are similar goals and physical performances in the class. One of the great, overlooked aspects of lessons is the social chemistry that can come from a group lesson, for both kid and adult lessons. Meeting new people, finding similarities and differences in each other, and learning together contributes to a meaningful day and fun on the slopes.

Which lesson is right for you?

Once you know your goal for a lesson, you can decide which type of lesson is best for you. Looking to meet people your age and socialize a bit? Group lessons are the way to go. Want some one on one time with an instructor to hone in on a certain skill? Maybe a semi-private or private lesson is worth the splurge. In need of some family bonding? Family privates are great to get the whole family shredding together.

Where should you take a lesson?

snowboard lessons
Photo: Ski Star/Flickr

The obvious answer is, where ever there is snow! Every mountain comes equipped with a ski and ride school. If you are itching to feel that powder burn, there are expert instructors at every mountain to teach you.

If you are lucky enough to be in an area with a choice of schools, take advantage and shop around for the best fit. There are regions with multiple resorts and resorts with multiple peaks, and thus a ski and ride school for your specific need. Research the strengths of certain locations and schools. There are schools with certain focuses and advantages, such as terrain variety, beginner learning areas, and adaptive programs. For example, Beaver Creek’s Ski and Snowboard School features a world-class, slopeside children’s beginner facility and hand-selects their children’s instructors based on personality and patience. If you are interested in learning freestyle riding, Copper Mountain provides an acclaimed freestyle program and training facility. And if you are in the Aspen area, there are four ski areas with an abundance of terrain options. Check out our post, 7 Top North America Resorts To Learn To Ski, for more information on the topic.

Pro Tip: Shop around for an instructor too. If you want the best of the best, request a highly certified instructor. Many instructors have age-group certifications, too. Ski and ride school staff can always point you in the right direction. Explain your requests, ask questions and find the perfect instructor for your needs. There may be some limitations to guaranteeing an instructor, but requesting one is always an option.

When should you take a lesson?

Ski and ride schools are open every day, from the start to the end of the season. Lessons are always available, from advanced bookings to day-of, walk-up lessons.

You and your party should take a lesson if it is your first time ever with the sport. Instructors are professionals in their sports’ education, and are here to maximize your learning while also keeping you safe.

But just because it’s always there, doesn’t mean it’s always the best time for you. If you or anyone in your ride group is feeling under the weather, save the lesson for another day. You can’t get the most out of a lesson if you aren’t feeling your shredding best. Additionally, if you had a poor night’s sleep prior, a lesson may not be the best thing the next day - you won’t be at your best.

Pro Tip: Skip the ‘first day on vacation’ lesson. From the changing altitudes to travel weariness, taking it easy on the first day is key to vacation-activity longevity. Let your body adjust to the new climate and rehydrate after traveling in the first 24 hours. Then conquer the hill once you have fully settled in.

Additionally, instructors are a wealth of knowledge! We hold some of the best kept secrets of our mountains. From hidden pow stashes to the best happy hour deals, we love sharing about our home mountains and convincing our students why we work at the best slopes.

About the Author, Alessandra Tortorello

I am a designer / marketer / ski instructor currently based in Summit County, CO. I design and write for print and web, working across a range of disciplines including user experience, layout and branding. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science, specializing in Advertising, from Boston University’s College of Communication in 2013. I have since worked in numerous communication environments, from internal and b2b marketing to creative departments and freelance design. Additionally, I have experience with social media, blogging, strategy, research and broken ski bindings.