Winter is here, and this wonderful season embodies two of the most fun and thrilling activities: skiing and snowboarding. Nothing beats cruising down the mountain, surrounded by fresh powder and cool mountain air. While it all sounds delightful, you may not focus much on your surroundings if you’re feeling a little wobbly.
Perhaps you’ve been skiing since childhood but still feel like you can improve your form. You might even be an expert rider but not keen on complacency. Maybe you’ve never been on the mountain before, and have reservations booked to ski for the first time ever next month. If you’re agreeing with any of the above right now, it might be time to book a lesson.
Regardless of whether you’re a beginner who’s never been on the mountain or an intermediate looking to finely tune your skills, you can find a lesson to fit your needs at several Ikon Pass destinations this winter.
ARE LESSONS STILL AVAILABLE THIS SEASON?
With safety a top priority, many destinations are still offering lessons this winter. All participants and instructors are required to wear a mask or face covering for the entire duration of the lesson – including on the lift and in the lift line.
With new limitations on group sizes, it is extra important to plan ahead and book accordingly. Advance reservations are required at most destinations for private and group lessons, just as reservations are required for lift access at select Ikon Pass destinations. Lessons are to be booked separately and can easily be done online on the destination website – not the main reservation platform on account.ikonpass.com.
We recommend pre-booking early so you can reserve the date and time of your desired lesson. Remember to double check with the destination prior to your visit, as policies are subject to change.
ARE LESSONS NECESSARY FOR BEGINNER SKIERS AND RIDERS?
Now that we’ve confirmed that lessons are still available to book this winter, let’s get down to the basics. Lessons are an important checkbox to confidently cruising the slopes. Stepping into bindings for the first time can be a daunting task, which is why it’s best to have a professional instructor at your side.
As a new skier or snowboarder, lessons teach you the skills needed to comfortably and safely get down the mountain. Whether in a group lesson or private lesson, your instructor can show you how to properly step or strap into your bindings, get on and off the chairlift, and carve your way down the mountain.
As a beginner, don’t compare yourself to others: some people just “get it,” while others may require months or even years of repetitive riding before getting to that feel-good level. A safe bet is that it will take a couple days on the mountain to feel confident enough to cruise down on your own – so don’t let yourself feel down if you’re not ready to tackle a blue on your second day. That day will come, and you will be stoked when you accomplish it.
If you’re new to the mountain and need to rent equipment, you can rest assured that your rental gear is clean and sanitized. Destinations such as Solitude Mountain are taking all of the steps necessary to ensure guest safety by sanitizing rental equipment thoroughly after each use, including disinfecting with electrostatic sprayers.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRIVATE AND GROUP LESSON?
At most destinations, adults and kids can sign up to take either private lessons or group lessons (adults are typically categorized as anyone over the age of 13 or 14 and up). Both private and group lessons are offered either as a half day or full day lesson. Half day lessons run about three hours, and full day lessons run about six hours.
Private lessons are the most personalized type of lesson, as it is one-on-one with an instructor and designed entirely around your unique needs. Private lessons benefit not only beginners, but experts looking to tune their skills. This type of one-on-one training does cost a pretty penny, though: private lessons can cost upwards of several hundred dollars for a half day.
Looking to take a lesson, but not ready to fork up your savings for it? Group lessons are a less expensive alternative to private lessons. Group ski or snowboard lessons offer the chance to make socially distant friends throughout the day and chat from afar with fellow students – including having a few laughs at yourselves together.
While group lessons cost significantly less than private, you can still expect to pay over $100 for adults and kids. Check out your favorite destination ahead of time to learn more about the lessons offered and to book the best type for your needs and budget. Group lessons may not be available at all destinations this winter, so it is important to check online and call ahead to find out more information and availability.
WHAT’S NEW FOR WINTER 20/21
To ensure the best experience for all guests this winter, Winter Park has capped their group lessons at 5 students max. This limit is for both kids and adult group lessons and has been implemented to ensure the safety of students and instructors.
To provide more flexibility for guests, Steamboat is now offering half day lessons for kids and teens/adults broken up into 3-hour blocks in the morning and afternoon. Make sure to pack a lunch or use your Ikon Pass app to scan the QR code for mobile F&B ordering. Unlike a typical year, group lessons this season do not include lunch together.
LESSONS TO ADVANCE YOUR SKILLS ON THE MOUNTAIN
If you’ve got the basics down when it comes to learning to ski and ride, you may be looking to invest into a lesson or two to further your stamina and skillset. Look no further than destinations like Deer Valley, where on a typical year you’ll find the Steeps and Stashes ski clinic. Ready to take you to lesser known off-trail terrain, this clinic will thrill. While not offered during winter 20/21, this program should be on your must-do list when available to skiers again.
Looking for an available option this winter? Head to the Pacific Northwest and sign up for the Crystal Mountain Freeride, where you can learn a challenging style of skiing or snowboarding set on natural, un-groomed terrain. If your kids are ready to take it to the next level like you, sign them up for a program they won’t ever forget: the Freeride Development Program for kids ages 7-15.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LESSON
Get the most out of your lesson by having an open mind and a great attitude. Respect the rules and policies put into place by each destination this winter. Don’t over analyze things and be too hard on yourself. Be sure to have fun and be open to change. Your instructor is only trying to help you, so try to be as receptive as possible to his or her feedback.
When it comes to lessons, they are not one size fits all. With no definite timeline to how long it will take you to become a master at your skills, we can assure you the transformation doesn’t happen in one day.
There’s no true answer to whether skiing and snowboarding is easy or not, because everyone’s ability is different (and that’s A-OK). There’s also no scientifically proven data that shows whether or not skiing is easier than snowboarding to learn, and vice versa. Bottom line? It’s best to have zero expectations when learning to ski or ride the first time.
Lessons are beneficial for all skiers and riders, regardless of what you classify yourself as on the mountain. Even if you’re an expert, lessons can help build confidence on the slopes and improve your technique. Whether you’re a first timer or intermediate looking to brush up your skills, a lesson will leave you feeling stronger and ready to tackle whatever adventures come your way this winter.
All winter 20/21 activities are subject to change due to fluctuating protocols and regulations mandated by individual counties and states due to COVID-19. Please check with the destination prior to your visit for updated operations, policies, and procedures.