Christian’s Sports Beat: Let gravity be your friend

Preparing for a recent ski lesson at Winterplace are, from left to right, instructor Michael, Christian, Logan and Jake.

Story by Christian Deiss of Scott Depot, WV an 11 year old, sixth-grade student at Hurricane Middle School.

Last month was National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and, due to a lack of snow one time and too much snow on another occasion, causing school to be canceled, I finally got have my first experience on ski slopes.

I have been snowtubing a bunch of times, but this was going to be my first time skiing, and, while I was excited, I was also a little scared.

My ski club at Hurricane Middle School traveled to Winterplace Ski Resort, located about 20 minutes south of Beckley right off of Interstate 77, on Friday, Jan. 29. My dad has been in the ski industry for over 30 years, so I was depending him to help get me prepared for the slopes.

That's my dad on the left with his buddy Tom Wagner of Winterplace Resort on the right.
That’s my dad on the left with his buddy Tom Wagner of Winterplace Resort on the right.

A good friend of his is Tom Wagner, Winterplace’s Executive Vice President, who also gave me some tips about the equipment needed: “The first thing you need is clothes that are appropriate for being in the outdoors, so it’s always good to dress in layers and, most of the time, three layers is the best. Once you are dressed right, you are ready to have some fun in the snow.”

Prior to my bus arriving at Winterplace, my dad actually snowboarded for the first time in over two years with Wagner, after getting his hip replaced in September 2014.

I knew before I got to Winterplace that I was going to be taking a group never-ever lesson. The lesson really helped enjoy getting to know the sport, and, afterwards, Wagner agreed on how important that first lesson is for a first timer. “It’s always good to take a lesson when you are learning any type of new sport, whether you are learning to swim, playing on a team sport or, in this case, skiing, it’s always good to take a beginner lesson so you can learn the basics, so that the new sport is more enjoyable.”

Teaching first-timers is a proud tradition at Winterplace. Winterplace is a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, with over 100 skiing and snowboarding instructors.

When I went snowtubing, I didn’t have to worry about any of my equipment other than my tube. With skiing, it’s a lot different, with having to get skis, poles, boots and helmets.

Wagner said it’s best for beginners to rent equipment. “Most ski areas have state-of-the-art equipment, so it’s up to date, so you are on the newest equipment that you can get. It’s nice to get familiar with the sport by renting and not having to pay a lot of money for your own equipment.”

Winterplace has 27 trails for skiing and snowboarding. On my first time out, I went on three of the trails, and my instructor had me and friends Logan and Jake turning and stopping by the end of the night.

I had heard a lot about Winterplace and how much fun a skier or snowboarder can have at the resort, which is the closet ski resort to where I live in Scott Depot. I asked Wagner what he thinks makes Winterplace a good place to learn to ski.

“Well, the resort was voted the number one place to learn how to ski and snowboard in the southeast region by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine,” Wagner said, “and we have specially designed slopes that are ideal for those who are learning how to ski and the mountain is spread out so every skier and snowboarder gets plenty of variety.”

Winterplace offers a free night lift ticket with the purchase of an all-day lift ticket.

I can’t wait for my next trip to the slopes and learn even more about the sport and continue to let gravity be my friend.

For more information on Winterplace Ski Resort, go to

Christian Deiss of Scott Depot, 11, is a sixth-grade student at Hurricane Middle School. He was voted the 2014 Best Sports Columnist by the West Virginia Press Association for Division IV weekly newspapers.

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of, and Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.