TIME TO LEARN by Joe Stevens

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Winterplace Resort Ski School


Hello Everyone –

Winterplace Resort Ski School
Photo from Winterplace Resort

Having excellent conditions at any ski resort goes a long way in helping get people excited to play in the snow. That’s ingredient number one that is needed, I will be the first to admit that fact. But you know what, there is something else that ranks right up there with good snow and that’s a good lesson.

LEARN TO SKI AND SNOWBOARD MONTHJanuary is national Learn To Ski And Snowboard Month (LSSM), a time when the industry comes together to encourage everyone, of all ages, to give skiing or snowboarding a try for the first time. This year there is an actual day to observe to learn to play on snow and that’s Friday, January 11. It’s not very often that the entire industry bands together on one issue, but to get more people interested in the sport it is a well worth the effort.

If you have made the trip to your local resort lately, the majority of the folks on the slopes are probably north of 30-years old. Now that thought is from the eyes of yours truly, seen through 62- year old eyes, but nonetheless, it is what is, as they say. I mean, the next time you head out on the slopes and are waiting in a lift line just take a look around at your fellow skiers and snowboarders. I am pretty sure you will be agreeing with me on the age factor.

A few years ago, a group of industry folks got together who were seeing the same thing as I was seeing on the slopes and said “let’s do something that highlights playing in the snow”.

The first idea was Learn to Ski Month, but you can imagine what snowboarders, like yours truly thought about that concept. The national promotion quickly became what it is today, that included us one-plankers. Hey, we don’t like to be slighted, because we pay the same thing as the two plankers to head downhill.

The biggest thing about learning to ski or snowboard is to learn the correct way and that is one of the biggest things that LSSM highlights. I always say, the best way “NOT” to learn to ski or snowboard is to learn from a friend. I need more than my two hands to count the number of times I rolled up to a couple of people arguing on the slopes and the argument stems from one significant other or friend trying to teach the other to ski or snowboard. Folks I am here to say, that is not the way it is supposed to happen. The friend or significant other isn’t being paid to have patience and on top of everything else, you are learning their bad habits. By the way, when I was working for Snowshoe and came up on the arguing twosome, I would send one on their way and get the other a lesson from a professional.

I know for a fact that every resort in the southeast region have trained professionals who can make every new skier or snowboarder’s lives so much better. Every ski instructor at every resort has been through the correct training to understand the amount of patience it takes to make sure a newbie is learning the correct way.

To take this thought a bit further, I am quite familiar with Winterplace Ski Resort’s five-week learn to ski or snowboard program. My son Christian entered the program when he was a sixth grader at Hurricane Middle School and before the kids in his ski club could hit the slopes all five weeks, they had to take a lesson from a Winterplace instructor. The cool thing is that most of the time, the same instructor was working with the same kids, so they know just how much they were progressing on the slopes. Christian is now a freshman at Hurricane High School and thanks to those three years of instructor through his middle school program, he can just about handle anything out there and handle it in a safe fashion. The folks at Winterplace and all of the southeast resorts understand the value of young people learning and learning the correct way.

That brings me to the safety aspect of learning to ski or snowboard from a professional instructor. It’s not just about getting down the slopes the fastest, just to do it again. I am sitting here thinking, how many of those straight line skiers or snowboarders have you seen out on the slopes and just pray that they don’t hurt themselves or somebody else on the slopes.

By taking that lesson from a professional instructor, you learn to make turns almost immediately, which prevents you from being one of those “stray bullets” on the slope. I admit, there is always going to be those skiers and snowboarders who only make turns on the way to their favorite resort and not on the slopes. Oh well, some things just will never change.

Getting back to the LSSM point of this column, if you have been putting off learning to have fun on the snow or wanting to start a new family adventure, you need to check out what is being offered at the closest resort to you these days. Every resort in the region is offering special Learn To Ski and Snowboard packages during the month of January. They are making it easy for you or any of your friends to begin to enjoy the sport.

I end up this week’s column by admitting that I am basically speaking to the choir on this website, but I also know that the veteran skiers and snowboarders would love to have some new blood in the sport. So maybe, just maybe, the next time you are waiting in that lift line, you will see a lot younger people, who now love the same sport that you do.

So I challenge every old-time skier or snowboarder to take a newbie out on the slopes to have some fun on the slopes. Just make sure they take a lesson.

That’s it for this week, of course, there’s more to come as the season continues. 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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