Whether you’re a first timer on the slopes or a seasoned skier wanting to improve your mogul technique, it’s a smart idea to consider hitting ski school before blazing the trails. With some professional training, your ski legs will take you from bunny hill to black diamond in no time.
January is National Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month. Discounts and contests are the perfect incentive to squeeze in a little professional development on your next winter getaway or daytrip. At Vermont resorts, beginning skiers and snowboarders pay only $29 for a beginner lift ticket, professional lesson, and equipment rental. If you introduce a friend to skiing there is an opportunity to win a two-night ski-and-stay package at a Resort in Vermont. To enter, just share a photo of you and your friend on the ski slopes at a Vermont resort on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and tag it with #BringaFriendVT to win. And fifth graders get big time perks with the ski and ride for free Fifth Grade Passport.
Get your slope smarts at four of Vermont’s top resorts:
Killington Resort has Killington Grand for overnight visits, 155 trails and seven mountain peaks, including Pico Mountain. In addition to the $29 beginner day package, Killington is offering a 4-day adult Learn to Ski program for $249. After completing the 4-day ski boot camp you’ll receive a free pair of Killington Resort branded Elan eRise skis and bindings (valued at $499), and a discount voucher for new ski boots.
Any skier worth their ski wax and Dermatone will tell you that proper ski boot fit is critical to an enjoyable day out on the slopes. The last thing you want is painful bruised shins from an ill-fitting ski boot. Surefoot is an international ski boot store that provides custom ski boot fitting and design. This means a boot with greater comfort and circulation, as well as improved agility and balance. There is a Surefoot store located in Killington, a quick 10-minute drive from the Killington Resort.
Located in the Mad River Valley in Warren, Vermont, Sugarbush boasts six mountain peaks, 111 trails, and delicious locally sourced food. The pizza is a must-have after your workout on the slopes. Clay Brook is luxury accommodation at the base of the hill.
The Ski and Ride School offers first timer group lessons for skiers and snowboarders ages 13 and up. The First Timer to Life Timer program is a thorough 3-lesson series ($255) that takes you from clothing and equipment preparedness to riding the lift and linking turns. After completing the program you’ll receive a free Sugarbush All-Mountain Season Pass for the 2013/14 winter season.
3) Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Lodge, with ski valet and a new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center next door, is situated at the foot of Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont. The resort has 116 trails and 90% snowmaking coverage.
The Stowe for Starters program offers group ski & snowboard lessons for adults and children. There’s a team of 250 instructors ready to teach at all levels. The Stowe for Starters series offers a daily package valued at $130, which includes two 90-minute group lessons, all-mountain lift ticket, and a full-day ski or snowboard rental. Just remember to squeeze in some après ski time!
4) Mad River Glen
Mad River Glen is unadorned by fancy lodging and accommodation facilities at the base of its mountain. If you want vintage ambiance, a single-chair lift, sans snowmaking machines and snowboarders, check this one out, only a short drive from Sugarbush. Stark Mountain was named the most challenging terrain on the east coast of the United States by SKI magazine. It certainly lives up to its moniker – Mad River Glen: Ski it if you can.
The Beginner “You Can” Learn to Ski package is for adult first timers. One class includes beginner lift ticket, equipment rental, and a two-hour group lesson for $80. Private lessons are offered as well.
Recommended Reading: A Mountain Love Affair: The Story of Mad River Glen by Mary K. Kerr is a beautifully produced history of this ski area.
Before attending your first lesson there are a few things to consider that keep safety and comfort in mind. Nationally certified ski instructor, Susan Rodetis, at Sugarbush, offers this advice:
1) Be prepared – Wear layers – the weather can change during the day, and so can your body’s needs depending on your level of activity. Eat well that morning – a good carbohydrate-rich breakfast and avoid heavy food; you’ll need the nutrition to tide you over, but not the heavy food sitting on your stomach. Hydrate – we need a lot of water for sports activities, to support our muscles and to replace what we use up (plus particularly when we “aspire” (breathe) on cold dry winter days, we also lose moisture).
2) Get the proper gear – Kind friends and family might helpfully lend ski gear, but you need qualified technical persons to assure that your gear is in proper working order, that the bindings will release appropriately for your level of skiing, and that the fit is right. Most ski areas have large and well staffed ski shops right at the mountain to fit your needs. And their gear is up to date and reflects the modern advances in equipment and safety, and is well taken care of.
3) Have fun and be mindful – Release the inner child a bit and be prepared for a new adventure. It’s your time now to have the fun of experiencing new sensations. Loosen up and enjoy it. Remember that skiing is a downhill sport, which involves moving forward…as you will. Parts of it may feel strange at first. But there are incredible parallels toward motions and activities we do in our lives, from walking to sports. And, as in life, be mindful of those around us, and some safety “rules of the road”. Overall, with proper guidance and help, you, too, can transfer your accumulated skills over to the joy of skiing and sliding across the snow.
Porter Airlines has direct flights from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport to Burlington, Vermont. It’s a very quick one-hour flight, give or take 5 or 10 minutes depending on headwind. The Green Mountains are a scenic one-hour drive from the airport along route 7, past cosy Vermont towns, or the mountain route, along Interstate 89.
Originally published January 1, 2014 – rates and services may have changed