5 Tips for Adults Learning to Ski

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Some people might tell you how to learn to ski as an adult is just as easy as learning as a kid. Those people are wrong—and probably learned to ski as a kid and have no idea how tricky it is. As a former instructor and someone who learned as an adult, I’m in a special position to help all you new skiers.

Yes, it’s harder to learn as an adult. You’re not nearly as rubbery as the little ones and you’re a lot further away from the ground. It’s totally possible to learn as an adult and have a fun time doing it. These five tips can help your first season go better and more safely.

Leave Your Pride at the Bottom of the Hill

Learning to ski as an adult can be humbling, terrifying, and a little embarrassing if I’m being truthful. You’re surrounded by people who glide past you (including tiny children) as if it’s the easiest thing on earth while you’re bumbling and falling while standing still. You’re out of control and running out of patience. You might also be scared and insecure and feeling all sorts of unexpected things. But you have to accept looking bad.

I learned my senior year in college. I stood at the bottom of the kiddie hill with about a hundred other students. A few instructors called out, “Everyone get on the lift and ski down this hill. We’ll sort you into the proper class.”

In front of my peers, I had to raise my hand. “I’m in the group that can’t ski down that hill.” I was promptly sorted into the super beginner group where I fell over standing still, fell off the rope-pull, and took out a group getting of the chairlift—all on day one.

Don’t worry what anyone else is doing on that mountain. The only thing that matters is the ten-feet in front of you.

My mom learning at fifty-eight.

Get A Lesson

Do not listen to your friend, spouse, partner, or relative’s promise they can totally teach you to ski. Teaching someone to ski is a really different skill than skiing. Most people underestimate how difficult a ski run is and can’t break down skiing into learnable skills. All they can do is yell out, “make a wedge.” They also get bored quickly and are more worried about enjoying their day than teaching you.

One poor woman I taught was taken to the top of a very long and technical green run by her husband. He gave her a few tips and sent her off. After a few bad falls, they finally had to call ski patrol to carry her down in a sled behind a snowmobile. As she got to the bottom, her husband slid to a stop beside her and joyfully called out, “Did you see me go off those jumps?” As of our lesson, they were still married.

Getting the Right Gear

When I was a poor college student, I bought skis at a garage sale and figured anyone could learn on anything. I’d inadvertently bought race skis twenty years old. Spoiler alert, I sucked and those skis sucked. They were way wrong for a beginner and I hardly progressed that first winter. The next year I bought a cheap pair of beginner skis and actually linked turns without falling.

You don’t have to break the bank when learning. Many ski shops offer rentals for the entire season and specialize in beginner packages. Rent a pair for a season to see if you actually like the sport, and then you don’t have to buy a new pair when you progress.

I spent days on this beginner hill. A lot of resorts offer limited lift tickets that only access one run. This is a great way to learn at a discount.

Spend Some Time on the Flats

Proper balance is key to skiing but can be very difficult to master. Take your skis to a flat place where you feel save and secure. Put on one ski and move around like you’re on a scooter. Switch legs and repeat. This helps you get used to the sliding, slippery motion of the ski. Balancing on one leg on the flats will serve you well when balancing on two skis on the hill. Depending on where you live, you can try this long before hitting the slopes.

Ditch the Poles

Poles get in the way at first. First-timers use them as a sort of crutch but a crutch that actually makes it harder to ski. Poles can throw you off balance and take your attention away from where it needs to be—your feet. I’ve also seen too many people use them as brakes in place of their skis, which can lead to injury. Set them aside and stick your hands out to help you balance.

It’s also much easier to get off the chairlift when you’re not carrying poles. One last tip, to get off the chairlift, scoot to the edge of the chair, place one hand on the seat and one on the armrest and push off. When you lift off the chair, throw your hands in front of you to get your weight forward. Never make a wedge when getting off the chair as this will trip up your neighbor. (Don’t ask me how bad this can go.) Keep your skis parallel as you exit the ramp.

For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!

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5 thoughts on “5 Tips for Adults Learning to Ski

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  1. Lessons can make such a huge difference! Some friends/family members can be good teachers, but I feel like it’s often best if taught by someone the person doesn’t already know. I tried to relearn how to snowboard last year and my brother/friend helped but I just ended up feeling bad taking up all their time. These are all really great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m one of those adults that never learned to ski. My kids took lessons and tried to teach me. If I had your advice, I would have taken the lessons too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are such helpful tips. My younger daughter wanted to learn how to ski during the holiday. I was smart enough not to try to teach her. It worked out much better that she got a lesson from someone else. Now I can work off the basics and give her tips based on what she already knows. These tips All make perfect sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As an adult that learned to ski within the last few years, I agree with all of this! I am so, so glad I took beginner lessons (and I still go back for occasional one off lessons to help myself improve.)

    I still get butterfiles in my tummy on the first lift of the day when I am convinced I’ll have forgotten everything and might fall off when I try to stand up. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good tips! I agree with the lessons, I’ve seen way too many boyfriends/husbands try to teach and it’s always a massive fail with everyone ending up miserable. I’m sorry you got stuck on a tow as a beginner. They are horrible!


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