Like golf, skiing and snowboarding have a learning curve that can seem daunting to first-timers - So much so, that many adults who didn’t learn as children feel they have already missed the boat.
The good news is that newly designed equipment and improved instructional techniques have dramatically trimmed the time newbies need to move from the beginner slopes to the chairlift.
Industry experts know that working with an experienced instructor is key to having a successful first day, and also that having a horrible first day can lose a potential skier forever.
With this in mind, mountain resorts around the country designate January as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM), offering packages designed to turn novices of all ages into fans.
In addition to acquiring technique, knowing one’s limits is an important step in achieving that positive first experience, said Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) ski instructor of the year Ashley Sifers.
“Recognize when you’re tired,” said Sifers, an instructor at Ski Granby Ranch. “Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your body. You don’t have to eke out every minute of the day to have a successful, awesome day on the hill.”
The January deals typically include deeply discounted lessons with professional instructors, equipment rentals and lift tickets that can be bundled in with accommodations and other package components. Last season, more than 153,000 children and adults took advantage of these deals to take lessons in the month of January alone.
CSCUSA resorts from Arapahoe Basin to Wolf Creek have beginner specials on tap this month, including a $59 Beginner Ski or Ride Package at Crested Butte Mountain Resort for first-time skiers and snowboarders aged 15 and up. The deal includes an Adult First Time Beginner Adventure Ski or Snowboard lesson, a one-day adult lift ticket valid for limited lift access on the day of the lesson and 50% off rentals.
At Aspen/Snowmass, a Beginner’s Magic For Adult Skiers And Snowboarders package at Snowmass and Buttermilk is priced at $199 for a lift ticket, equipment rental, and full-day lesson when booked at least seven days in advance.
Similar packages are also available in Alaska, Oregon, California/Nevada – including Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley -- the Midwest and virtually every resort in Utah.
East Coast resorts are also participating in the program. Ski Vermont is offering a $29 lift, lesson and rentals package at nearly all of its resorts, for example, and Ski New Hampshire is going all out with free a learn to ski or snowboard lesson, free equipment rentals and a free beginner terrain lift ticket from January 11 to 17 at both alpine and cross-country venues.
Targeting novices makes sense, and helps retailers cast a wider net when suggesting winter vacations to their clients, but why in January, when some resorts open as early as Thanksgiving, depending on Mother Nature?
The snow is less reliable and fewer runs are open early in the season, and by January there is also an attitudinal shift that industry insiders call “the snow-in-the-backyard phenomenon”: Once snow appears in your yard, or on the news, as it has in abundance this holiday season, winter sports enthusiasts from the expert to the wanna-be turn their thoughts to the slopes.
For more information visit: http://www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org.