Christian’s Sports Beat: The month to learn to ski

By Christian Deiss

A Snowshoe instructor shares slope pointers with young skiers. Courtesy photo

I have started my third season of skiing after learning at Winterplace Ski Resort in January of 2016.

I didn’t do it on purpose, but I learned during the ski industry’s annual Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month that takes place at all the ski resorts across the country and starts next week.

This is an important month of awareness for the industry, as they try to convince folks that playing on the resort’s slopes is a lot of fun for everyone. This was made perfectly clear to me by Terry Pfieffer, president of Winterplace, who said, “We need to introduce more people to the sport of skiing and snowboarding so that they have a fun and fantastic time and come back to the slopes again and again. We need more lifelong enthusiasts.”

Pfieffer also serves as president of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association that includes, along with Winterplace, Canaan Valley, Oglebay, Timberline and Snowshoe Mountain.

The first thing I did when I hit the slopes as a member of Hurricane Middle School’s Ski Club was to take a lesson. That’s exactly what Pfieffer recommends, saying, “We encourage everyone to take a lesson if they haven’t skied before or even if they haven’t skied for a while, we would encourage them to take a brush-up lesson. We use a teaching method called Terrain Based Learning, which is focused on the fun on the slopes.”

Winterplace is one of 30 ski resorts in the country that use this style of instruction, that gets first-timers turning and understanding the sport a little quicker. For more information on the program, go the resort’s website: winterplace.com.

During this special month, resorts offer special learn-to-ski or snowboard programs. I checked in with Steve Drumheller, general manager of Canaan Valley Resort, about what his resort is offering.

“Day in, day out, we offer beginner programs that teach the basics for everyone to have a safe, fun time on the slopes. For Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, visitors during the midweek during January, when a new skier purchases a lift ticket, a free beginner lesson will be provided to them,” Drumheller said.

All of the programs at Canaan Valley Resort can be found at canaanresort.com.

My dad has been skiing or snowboarding since 1985, and when I asked him to teach me to ski, he just laughed. After talking to Drumheller, I found out why.

“Family members or friends will just abandon newbies. A friend or family member will say you don’t need that lesson, come with me and before you know it, the so-called teacher is bored. The next thing you know, the newbie is at the top of the mountain and they are scared to death. That doesn’t help the beginner skier learn the sport the correct way. That’s where a professional ski instructor comes in; they are patient and will stay with you so that you learn the correct way,” Drumheller said.

Every ski resort in West Virginia has a qualified ski school made up of members of the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

One way I keep up with the sport is through the Internet, and the best site that I have found that offers webcams from resorts all over the region is skisoutheast.com. I have made turns with the site’s owner and editor, Mike Doble, and he likes that skiers and snowboarders use skisoutheast.com to find out more.

“There’s an adage that says pictures are worth a thousand words. You can tell people how great skiing and snowboarding are all day long, but I don’t think it would make a big difference to them. But when people can see it, they see people having fun on the snow, it gets them excited and they think they may want to try the sport for the first time,” Doble said.

If you want more information on skiing or snowboarding in West Virginia, check out GoSkiWV.com. Hope to see you on the slopes.

Christian Deiss, 13, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.

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Joe Stevens
Joe is well known around the southeastern ski circles. Stevens was Director of Communications at Snowshoe Mountain Resort for 16 seasons with another 15 years prior to that in Richmond, Virginia newsrooms. Joe serves on numerous boards and committees and currently is a spokesperson for the West Virginia ski areas.Joe has been a featured columnist on SkiSoutheast since 2005 and has written numerous articles for us, as well as for others promoting all of the southeastern ski resorts. Joe resides in Charleston, West Virginia, with his wife, Angie, and son, Christian. He is an avid snowboarder and marathon runner.