Intro to Skiing and Snowboarding 101

Learning to ski or snowboard can have many paths. As a longtime skier, snowboarder, and past instructor, I’ve seen how vast the experiences from one person to another can be. While you could say there is no wrong way, there are definitely ways to make the experience easier, and more affordable.

Ski Lessons for Children

My parents skied in college and so when I was young they enrolled me in lessons during our family ski vacations. While I was too young to fully remember the learning experience, I do remember much of my progression skiing over the years of my youth. I grew up in Chicago so my skiing experience was the equivalent of a week or two a year. I remember loving the lessons with other kids, racing to the bottom of the bunny hill, and then the skill needed to make turns when I advanced to longer skis and steeper slopes.

Bottom line: Enrolling in lessons taught me the right way to ski from the start and in a safe environment; while giving my parents the time to go out and ski together on the trails they enjoyed. A win-win for my family.

Girl learning to ski at Whiteface

Self Taught Teen (learning the hard way)

Snowboarding began for me when I was around 12; my family moved to Michigan where we had a small ski hill behind our YMCA. It was the first time I had ever seen snowboarding and knew it was something I wanted to do. My parents felt differently, so aside from a ride to the Ski Bowl, I had to go this one alone. After saving my allowance I bought a used snowboard, and with a girlfriend of mine, Dayna, got down to the process of learning... everyday after school for 2 weeks.

Without any instruction I had no concept of uphill edge, downhill edge, or how to initiate and execute a turn. I didn't know where my weight should be or my stance, and learned very quickly what catching an edge was - I even had the bruises to show for it. After a very challenging couple of weeks I got the hang of it and learned to turn, stop, and traverse from one side of the slope to the other, and progression up the mountain was quick.

Girls snowboarding at Whiteface

From Student to Teacher

During college I moved to Lake Placid and instructed for a winter at Whiteface. I was amazed how by the end of a 2 hour group lesson, first time skiers and riders (even those claiming to be non-athletic) could learn to turn, stop and traverse; graduating off the bunny hill and on to the next lift (the Bear lift and trail at Whiteface). 

When I interviewed to become an instructor I couldn’t believe how hard it was to take the process of skiing and riding, something I knew so well, and explain step by step how to ski and ride. Whiteface Ski School really had to teach me how to step-by-step instruct skiing and snowboarding. Have you ever tried to breakdown the process step by step to explain it to someone? Now I understood why when I was learning to snowboard as a teen, the boys at my ski area would say “do this and this” and show me a few turns and ride away. It is hard to explain the steps in learning to ski and ride, just as it is difficult to learn - until you understand and actually make that first turn. 

skiing and snowboarding at whiteface

Learning to do it right from the start - now comes with a guarantee 

This year Whiteface Mountain is stepping up their game. They are offering a ski vacation program that is geared specifically for the first time I’ve-always-wanted-to-try newbie skier or rider. They have sweetened their 1-day learn-to program dubbed “Parallel from the Start” by creating a 3-day package at a rate you won’t want to miss. 

While you can still choose the 1-day program which includes a beginner lift ticket, rental and a 2-hour lesson for a great package rate of $129, now for an additional $40 you can really invest in your experience and save big with their 3-day package: 3 days of beginner lift tickets, 3 days of rentals, 3 days of lessons all for $169. And they are offering a bonus – a Free Frequent Skier Card that will give you discounts all year long. 

Here is the information straight from Whiteface:

Learn to Ski at Whiteface

 3-Day Deal

I asked what the “beginner lift ticket” was and learned it does limit you to the lower mountain lifts, however when you are with an instructor you can take any lift and when you are ready you can upgrade to a full mountain pass for $30 (per day). 

Learn to Snowboard

Reasons to Learn to Ski and Ride the Face

  • First - I love this new program, so affordable, 3-days at this price, with rentals and lessons is a great way to see if you like skiing/snowboarding. 
  • Second - The progression of terrain, there is everything from beginner to expert. Once you’ve learned to turn and are off the bunny hill; the Bear trail is incredible to really hone your skills on - wide, level and gentle; then moving up the mountain to Boreen you can really have a mountain skiing experience on this wide, forgiving trail that gently meanders down the hill, ending at the base lodge (then up to Excelsior, and then Follies, and so on…). 
  • Third - How Whiteface separates the learn-to areas for adults and children. Whiteface has Kids Kampus, located on its own side of the mountain with its own lodge, lifts, rentals and parking lot. This keeps the children in their own safe environment and out of the way of teens and adults who are trying to learn as well. The main side beginner slope is for ages 13+ so you don’t have to worry about a train of 6 year olds getting in the way of your lesson time.
  • Finally - All the other great reasons people vacation in Lake Placid during the winter. Plan to spend a week - ski or ride for 3-days of the trip, and check out all the other cool things in the area - ice skate on the Oval, hike or snowshoe an Adirondack High Peak, cross-country ski, have a relaxing spa day, go shopping, dog sledding, tobogganing, tour the ski jumps, and more

All this talk is getting me excited for ski season! Ready to start planning your trip? Browse area lodging options and packages - and don't forget to sign up for Lake Placid's vacation giveaway (it's free, so sign up now!).