If it’s your first time on the slopes, it can be a little intimidating, but here are some tips that will help you make the most of your experience.
Dress Warm, Stay Warm
Before you hit the slopes, it’s important to pick the right clothing. It can make all the difference! Jeans are not wise, no matter how cool your child thinks they look. Every experienced skier and boarder will be wearing the same essential items – a warm, waterproof, winter jacket and snow pants, as well as a good pair of mitts/gloves and a toque. If it’s cold, make sure you wear layers and bring extra clothing to change into, in case you get wet. If it’s sunny or snowing, sunglasses or goggles are strongly recommended.
Equipment has evolved over the last decade, making both skiing and snowboarding easier than ever before. While it may be tempting to search out your straight skis from 20 years ago, think twice. Shaped skis will not only help the kids improve faster, they will also save your joints and muscles. But don’t worry, this does not mean you have to buy all new equipment.
Before renting or purchasing equipment, ask yourself how often you think you’ll be going out. Once a year? Every weekend? Then, based on your expected commitment, decide if you want to rent, buy used or buy new.
Skiers will need skis, ski boots and poles, while snowboarders will need a snowboard and snowboard boots. Helmets are usually not required, but are always strongly recommended.
Still unsure? Most ski hills have an on-hill retail and rental shop that can help you with any questions you may have. Not only can these shops offer expert advice, but most will also let you test their skis on the slopes before you buy them.
Take a Lesson
While you may feel it will be easier to “go it alone” or learn from a friend, everyone will benefit from at least one lesson with a certified instructor. Not only will a lesson help you get acquainted with your equipment and the runs, it will also make your experience more enjoyable – you will learn much faster and you probably won’t be as frustrated or sore the next day.
Use your lesson time to learn the basics – how to stop, how to turn and how to put your skis back on after your first fall – but also take the time to ask about slope and lift safety. Ask about the Alpine Responsibility Code and get advice on how to ride both chairlifts and t-bars.
Most resorts will have several different types of lessons to choose from, including privates, semi-privates and multi-week group lessons. Many hills also have special Discover Skiing & Snowboarding Packages that include your lift ticket, rentals and a lesson at a discounted rate.
Enjoy the Ride!
Start with the green circle runs – these are the easiest ones. As you get more experienced, you can progress to the “more difficult” blue square runs, as well as the “most difficult” black diamond runs.
Don’t get discouraged if you fall. Everyone falls their first time. The first day can be challenging, but once you and your family learn the basics, you’ll soon be wishing that these winter months weren’t passing so quickly.
Teresa McKenna is a certified ski instructor and a manager of Oshawa Ski Club in Kirby, Ontario – one of the largest public ski and snowboard facilities in Southern Ontario. For more information, please visit www.oshawaskiclub.com or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org