Skiing isn’t all about big gut-wrenching lines down steep faces. For most skiers, it’s about camaraderie outdoors, exercise, enjoying winter and fun. That’s what January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is all about—sharing the joy of the slopes.
“There is nothing more magical than the delicious feeling of gliding on snow, a feeling of freedom un-matched in today's over programmed, electronic world,” says Matt Mosteller, vice president of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies. For Mosteller who grew up skiing in Washington State, he and his wife have passed the joy of skiing on to their two children.
January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month aims to pass on the fun of snowsports to newcomers. Almost every ski resort has learn-to-ski and learn-to-ride programs that combine lessons, lift tickets and rentals into an affordable package. Some offer single-time deals for adults and kids while others package up three days or so. Many resorts offer discounts on beginner lessons during January.
“Free yourself from the technological cord,” encourages Mosteller. “Not only will you smile, but you will also enjoy healthy benefits from getting outside in winter. That is reason enough to try skiing.”
So where are good places for first timer skiers and snowboarders? Here’s a selection of nine resorts to get beginners on the slopes.
A skier learns the dynamics of turning at Nakiska.
Copyright: Kahil April Photography
While the Canadian Rockies can intimidate beginners with the sheer size of resorts sprawled across rugged peaks, Nakiska allows newcomers a way to start out on a hill that is more beginner-friendly with easy smooth groomers for progressing. Views of Kananskis Valley aren’t too bad either from this ski area close to Calgary and operated by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
Four moving carpets get beginners up the hill in Easy Acres, a zone designed for beginners to develop skills. A covered carpet keeps riders comfortable in blustery weather, and beginners can explore the Easy Acres Terrain Park.
In the Goldie Meadows Learning Area, a covered magic carpet lets beginners ride uphill in comfort, even if the weather is marginal. The Mushroom Terrain Park has small terrain features to aid beginners in developing skills.
Snowboarders start out on moving carpets at Arizona Snowbowl when learning.
Copyright: Arizona Snowbowl
Hart Prairie beginner area is designed for those just starting out. In the separated slow zone, beginners don’t have to worry about hot shots whipping by at Mach 9. Two carpets and two chairlifts let beginners perfect skills without intimidation from faster skiers.
Big smiles for the fun of learning to ski.
Copyright: Arizona Snowbowl
Most beginners never get to see the top of the mountain as they are stuck down in the base area. But at Blacktail Mountain, they get to enjoy the views. You drive to the top of the mountain to ski down, and the beginner tow sits highest of all.
What better place to learn to ski than Yosemite National Park? Even the mountain driving is easy for beginners with the free shuttle bus that delivers you right to the ski area. The area caters to those just learning with 85 percent of the hill devoted to beginner and intermediate terrain.
Three carpets and a double chairlift service beginners in the Lake Tahoe area. When beginners get brave, they can ride to the Eagle Rock Summit to ski Vista or Mile Run back down. Both circumnavigate the boundaries to return to the base.
Children's snowboard lesson at Angel Fire, NM.
Copyright: Chris McClennan
By sheer numbers, Angel Fire offers beginners lots of terrain for learning and progressing. More than 60 percent of the runs are green for beginners or blue for intermediates. Night skiing also caters to beginners with lit slopes, and machine-made snowmaking on 85 percent of the beginner terrain guarantees snow.
The Alf Engen Ski School at Alta refines the beginner experience with a series of lessons that progress from the first time on skis to preparing to explore green runs and riding the chairlift to ski beginner runs. Beginners can progress at their own speed through the three classes, taking more than one lesson at a level in order to build more confidence.