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Originally published: 2011-11-18 11:12:40
Last modified: 2011-11-18 11:13:37

Living the Dream

Justin Grimes / (averyjournalist@gmail.com)

Take a lesson

Are you yearning to slide and glide through snow-covered trees, breath in the best of Mother Nature and make turns for the first time? Don’t put off learning to ski or snowboard any longer.

Our High Country winter wonderlands will be in full swing soon and the early season is the perfect time to take up skiing or snowboarding. The crowds are smaller and it costs less before holiday rates kick in.

I’ve put together the following tips and notes to help you plan your fist ski/ride outing.

First and foremost, plan to take a lesson. Your friends or family members might be good skiers/riders and have good intentions of teaching you, but unless they are skilled and experienced instructors, kindly turn down their offer to teach you and plan instead to take a lesson from a professional instructor. 

All three of our High Country resorts, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort, have excellent ski and ride schools. 

Most people can learn how to ski or snowboard (ride), regardless of age and physical acumen. Lessons are the key to understanding the fundamentals of skiing or riding. Statistics demonstrate that those who take lessons return to snowsports more than beginners who don’t.

Do your homework before you go. I’ve put links to our area snowsports schools at the bottom of this column. All three schools offer private and group instruction. Private instruction costs a little more and offers the beginner undivided individual attention and quicker progression and is a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, group lessons can be great fun and are more affordable: you’ll meet other people, share a novel experience and have something to talk about during après-ski sessions. Be sure to look for package deals that include a group lesson, rental equipment and lift ticket; for those on a budget, it’s the way to go.

If you have children in your group or family, I strongly suggest you take advantage of the special children’s programs, they offer a bang for your buck. Our High Country resorts have instructors trained to work with children. Please note that our area programs for children have slightly different age requirements and some offer all day instruction that includes lunch. All the area children programs offer several hours of instruction and are designed for the kids to have fun while they learn, building their self-esteem and confidence and giving them an experience that can lead to a lifetime of snowsports enjoyment. 

Getting ready to go; what should you wear? Being out and enjoying the crisp refreshing mountain air is part of the excitement of skiing and riding. By wearing the appropriate clothing you will stay comfortable and warm no matter what the winter weather conditions may be. Avoid cotton, especially cotton long-underwear and socks. Cotton gets wet and you will freeze.

I’ve noticed over the years that many beginners arrive for their first lesson over-dressed. Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing as the temperature changes throughout the day. The two most important layers are the one closest to your skin and the outermost layer. The best underwear is absorbent and “wicks” perspiration away from your skin. The outermost layer, including pants, should be wind and water resistant or waterproof.

For those on a budget, fleece is a good layer choice; it breathes and wicks. 

Only wear one pair of thin socks in your ski or snowboard boots for several reasons: the boots are designed with insulating qualities; you promote blisters with additional socks and most importantly, you can sense the sensation coming from your equipment more easily with one pair of socks on.

You need eye protection: Goggles or sunglasses; having both is ideal. You also need gloves or mittens (avoid cotton) that should be worn at all times on the snow and a warn hat that can cover your ears. Sunscreen is also a must; remember to reapply the sunscreen during the day.

Technological advancements in recent years in skis, boards, boots and bindings are sure to enhance the skills of skiers and riders at any level. I suggest that you rent equipment as a beginner. The area resorts and snowsports shops can guide you in selecting the proper skis, snowboards and boots and most carry the latest in rental gear.

Take time with your rental boots, make sure they fit or return to the rental counter for a different size. 

Now that you’ve done your homework and have the appropriate necessities lined up, make sure that you arrive to the slopes early. It doesn’t matter which session you choose, all-day, half-day or evening, plan to arrive in time to find your way around, rent lockers if needed, locate the ski school grouping area and so forth.

Remember to drink plenty of water during your outing; the combination of wind, sun, and cold dehydrates us quickly. 

Get the first trip right and you’ll probably be skiing/riding for the rest of your life. Take a lesson, and you can live our dream, too.

Feel free to write to me at (averyjournalist@gmail.com) for more information or guidance.

Links to area ski and ride schools: http://www.appskimtn.com/plan-your-trip/rates/lessons/, http://www.beechmountainresort.com/rates/school.html and skisugar.com/skischool/.