The Perfect New Year’s Resolution – by Joe Stevens

Let’s Go Skiing (Or Riding)

Hello Everyone –

Welcome to 2009, a perfect year to either learn to ski or snowboard or the year to fine tune your skills on the slopes. I don’t think enough people that ski or ride in the region understand the quality of instruction available at southeast ski resorts. On many occasions during a trip out west, I have spoken with instructors that began their teaching careers at one of your favorite resorts in the southeast.

If you have convinced a friend, a significant other or your younger sibling to try to have fun on the snow, may I suggest putting the person into a ski or snowboard class and not try to do it yourself. The reason for that thinking is simple; you are not trained to teach someone the correct way to ski or ride. You don’t want the new skier or snowboarder to learn your bad habits right off the bat, do you? Okay, you may think you have the chance to compete in the next Olympics, but you and I know that just isn’t going to happen. Plus you are not paid to have patience and by no means should you try and coach a newbie down an advanced slope on their first day on the slopes. Believe me this happens everyday on the slopes and it is dangerous, pure and simple. Put that newbie in a class and go and enjoy yourself, meeting up later to see nothing but smiles on your favorite first timer.

Now let’s switch over to you wannabe Olympians out there – and you know who you are. You’re so-called expert skiers with no better than mid-intermediate ability. You don’t need to go into ski or snowboard school, right? Wrong! Let me give you the perfect example of the best always trying to get better. Up until his retirement six years ago, Tony Gywnn of the San Diego Padres was one of the best hitters in baseball history. Before every game he would take batting practice with his hitting coach closely looking at his technique. Despite being one of the best of all-time, he was willing to improve by listening to another person’s opinion that was being paid for such an opinion. The same can be said for listening to a ski or snowboard instructor. Just remember the better you get the more fun you will have on the slopes and that’s what it is all about, right?

If possible try to take that lesson during the midweek. You will find smaller crowds and for the first timers that will mean less intimidating situations on the beginner trails. Also during the midweek, I have found many times that you might be the only person in your class. That means you will get one-on-one instruction and there is nothing better. You have the full attention of the instructor. One final note, please be careful when skiing or riding near a ski school class in progress, if it is a first timer class, it is no time to show off, just get by knowing that new people are getting into the sport you already love.

That’s it for this week, more to come as winter is here. Just remember, whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes. 

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Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.