Why You Should Take A Ski Lesson

Taking a ski lesson is the best way to learn to ski and enjoy your time on the mountain as a beginner. This guide details the benefits of taking a ski lesson, what you will learn, the different types of lessons available at most resorts, specific ski lesson programs in Park City, and what to wear and bring to your ski lesson.

Benefits of Taking a Ski Lesson

If there’s one piece of advice we have for those trying to learn how to ski, it’s to take a ski lesson—and not from your friend or significant other. Take a lesson from a trained instructor who teaches people to ski for a living. In the U.S., only 17.5% of beginner skiers stick with the sport to become core skiers. By taking a lesson, you give yourself a better chance of actually enjoying your time sliding on snow and becoming a lifelong skier. As with any new sport, teaching yourself to ski can be daunting and overwhelming. If you aren’t taught the proper technique, form, and foundational skills, your first day on snow may not be an enjoyable one and, as a result, you may never make it back to the mountain. On the other hand, spending the day with an instructor who is professionally trained allows you to not only properly learn how to ski but also have some fun in the process, and it won’t take long before you’re hooked!

This leads us to our next benefit of taking a ski lesson—learning the proper technique. While you may be able to get down a bunny slope by yourself, you will hit a limit in your progression fairly quickly. Learning to lean forward and properly shift your weight isn’t exactly intuitive, and without proper instruction many people resort to throwing their shoulders around and leaning back in an effort to control their skis and their speed. When you learn the proper skiing technique, you will improve faster and easier, won’t get as tired, and will be able to take on more advanced terrain. Plus, the proper form goes a long way in making skiing more enjoyable.

Another great reason to take a lesson is to alleviate some of the stress that comes from trying a new sport. By taking a lesson, you don’t have to worry about finding the right runs for your skill level and you can let go of your fear of ending up stranded on an expert slope with no way of getting down. Your instructor knows the mountain like the back of their hand and will guide you to trails where you can comfortably learn, and when you’re ready, to runs that offer a healthy dose of a challenge. Additionally, skiing with an instructor helps you to stay safe. Not only will they teach you how to stay in control and avoid other skiers on the mountain, but they will be right by your side if you do take a tumble and need help getting back up.

What You’ll Learn

Every ski lesson will be different, but the skills learned in a beginner lesson will be fairly similar from resort to resort or between different instructors. While your lesson may not look exactly like what we describe or may not encompass all of the skills we’re about to outline, our description will give you a general idea of what to expect during your first few lessons. It is important to point out that everyone learns at different speeds and starts out at a different level. Our description of the progression of learning to ski could take one person a couple lessons but take another individual much longer—and that’s okay! The important thing is that you are taking the time to internalize the correct technique.

If you’ve never skied before, your instructor will first focus on getting you comfortable with the equipment and the concept of sliding on snow. They will teach you how to step into your bindings, carry your skis correctly, and adjust your boots. Before you even put your skis on, your instructor will demonstrate and make sure you understand how to slow down on skis. Keeping you and those around you safe is of the utmost importance when learning to ski and control is the key to safety. After you understand how to slow down, the teacher might have you put on one ski and practice moving around just to get the feel for it. When you do get to put both skis on, the lesson will focus on slowly skiing straight and coming to a complete stop with your skis in a wedge position. Once you’ve got the hang of that, you will stay in the wedge ski position but practice changing direction and making big turns on a nearly flat slope by properly shifting your weight. Typically, all of this instruction is done by riding up the magic carpet (a conveyor belt you stand on) and making your way down a very gentle slope.

A family practices their snowplow turns as they make their way down to First Time lift at Park City Mountain Resort.

Once you’ve shown that you can come to a complete stop and control your speed while using the wedge stance, you’ll graduate from the magic carpet to beginner lifts. But don’t worry, your instructor will teach you everything you need to know to properly load and unload on a chairlift, and we promise you’ll get the hang of it in no time. From beginner lift-accessed terrain, you will continue to work on your turns, especially focusing on initiating wide turns and using these turns to control your speed, instead of relying on the wedge stance to slow you down. As your turns and speed control improve, your teacher will encourage you to begin linking together your turns and keeping your skis parallel in between turns instead of in the wedge stance. This is typically where beginner lessons end. Once you’re comfortable with linking turns and speed control, you can move onto intermediate lessons where your instructor will have you focus on keeping your skis parallel throughout the whole turn and then linking together parallel turns. Eventually, your instructor will introduce the idea of using your edges for better control and precise turns.

Types of Ski Lessons

As a general rule, there are two types of ski lessons—private or group. Private lessons can be either just you and an instructor or it can include family members or friends. Most resorts put a limit on how many individuals can join a private lesson to ensure that the instructor has the chance to give everyone in the lesson one-on-one instruction. During a private lesson, the instruction is personalized to you or your group’s needs. While private lessons are usually more expensive, they can be a more comfortable learning environment because you are either alone or with people you know.

Group lessons are available for both children and adults. Adults will be placed in a group based on their skill level, while kid group lessons are often first split up by age and then further divided by ability. While you can request to be in the same group as someone you know, if you are each at different ability levels, you will most likely be split up. Group lessons tend to be more affordable than private lessons, and most resorts keep group lessons small to ensure each member is getting the attention they need to progress.

Ski resorts offer both private and group ski lessons so you can choose the class format that you are most comfortable with.

Another less common, but valuable type of ski lesson is station teaching. During this type of lesson, you will visit a series of different stations with different instructors who will teach you a specific skill and give you individual instruction. For example, the first station might teach you how to put on your boots and use your bindings, while at the next station you’ll practice shuffling on one ski and then on both skis. The great thing about station teaching is that you can move through the stations at your own speed and you receive one-on-one attention with each instructor, allowing you to learn in a pressure-free environment.

One important thing to note is that ski lessons aren’t limited to beginners. Maybe you consider yourself an advanced skier but only in certain terrain or maybe you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your ski progression. Whatever the case, taking a ski lesson designed for advanced skiers helps you improve your skiing ability, which in turn allows you to better enjoy every part of the mountain. Your instructor will analyze your form and give you pointers on how to adjust and improve your technique so you have better control in different types of terrain. Oftentimes, these lessons are catered to what you want to focus on or improve. Whether you want to get better at bumps, perfect the art of powder skiing, or master the steeps, your instructor is there to help you do so.

Ski Lessons in Park City

Here in Park City, we are lucky to have two world-renowned ski resorts, Deer Valley Ski Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, each have excellent ski lesson offerings. Whichever resort you choose to ski at, rest assured that you or your little one will be in good hands.

Deer Valley

Deer Valley offers a wide variety of ski lessons for both kids and adults. Adults have the option of taking a private lesson or joining an adult group lesson with a maximum of four people. Advanced to expert skiers can join a Steeps and Stashes lesson where an instructor will help you improve your stance, balance, and alignment and will teach you the proper way to ski advanced terrain. Additionally, females have the option of participating in a women’s only clinic with Deer Valley’s female instructors.

Whatever lesson you choose to take at Deer Valley, you will receive personalized attention and constructive feedback. Image courtesy of Deer Valley Resort.

As for the kiddos, plenty of programs exist to keep them happy. The Fawn Club, Bambi Club, and Reindeer Club cater to kids aged 3-6, with each club having a different minimum age requirement. Deer Valley also offers the Adventure Club for kids aged 7-12 years old and the Teen Escape for 13-17 year olds. In each of these programs, kids are grouped by their skill level and no class has more than five students, giving instructors the ability to offer customized instruction to every student. If you happen to be a local, weekly programs are available, including the Friday Afternoon Program and the Saturday & Sunday Ski Experience, both of which are for 7-14 year olds and give your child the chance to enhance their ski ability over the course of the season.

Park City Mountain Resort

Park City Mountain Resort also has a robust offering of ski lessons for adults and kids alike. Adults have the option of taking either a private or group lesson. The private lessons can accommodate up to six people of your choosing, and the lesson is tailored to your group’s skill level and goals. If you’d rather participate in a group lesson, there are three main options. First, is the Never Ever lesson for those who, you guessed it, have never skied before. This lesson focuses on the basics and includes a lower cost lift ticket that only gives you access to beginner lifts and magic carpets. Second, you can participate in a regular group lesson where you will be placed in a class with those of a similar skill level, and finally, there is the Peak to Peak lesson for advanced to expert skiers who want to tackle black diamond and double black diamond runs to improve their skiing on advanced terrain. Park City’s ski lessons for kids are broken up into age groups—three year olds, four to six year olds, and seven to fourteen year olds. Within these age groups, kiddos are further separated into lessons based on their skill level.

What to Wear and Bring to Your Lesson

Once you’ve booked a ski lesson, you may be wondering what you’ll need to hit the slopes. First and foremost, you need skis, boots, and poles. If you don’t want to invest in your own equipment just yet, renting is the way to go. We offer premium ski rentals in Park City at our store locations at Deer Valley Resort and near Park City Mountain. Next, you will need warm, breathable, and waterproof outerwear to keep you dry and comfortable on the mountain. Take it from us, the right apparel goes a long way when you’re skiing. If you don’t have a ski coat or ski pants, don’t worry, we also offer high-quality ski clothing rentals. Another essential item to have is a pair of insulated gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm, and we also highly recommend wearing a helmet and goggles to keep your noggin safe and your vision clear.

Beyond these essential items, all you’ll need for your ski lesson is a willingness to learn, and, most importantly, the ability to have fun! After all, that is what skiing is all about—enjoying your time spent sliding on snow with friends, family, or the person you just met on the chairlift.