Learning something new or starting a new sport can be very exciting but also challenging. In order to get down the slopes safely and in style, book yourself into some lessons.
The majority of the ski areas located in New Zealand and Australia have fantastic beginner facilities so you are really spoilt for choice when choosing where to go if you are a first timer.
However, an important note to take on board is that ski lessons are not just for beginners or for the young! If you want to improve your technique, learn how to ride in powder or just get some general tips, a lesson is the perfect place to start.
First things first, you will need to determine what ability level you are so your instructor knows where to take you and what to teach you.
Abilities are generally split into categories. Here is a rough guide to judge your ability on, but you can also use the trail levels to help too:
Never Ever: First time, you've never skied or snowboarded before
Advanced Beginner: You can control your speed and come to a stop, you are starting to link some basic turns on easy green trails.
Intermediate: You are comfortable linking turns in both directions on easy terrain. You are confident on green terrain and are in control.
Advanced Intermediate: Comfortable on all green terrain and some blue terrain, maybe starting to do some freestyle tricks.
Expert: Comfortable on all blues and some blacks. Confident in most terrain and can make carved turns if boarding or parallel turns if skiing.
Advanced Expert: Comfortable on any slope, any time and in any conditions.
All mountains offer different types of lessons with varied prices depending on where you go and what type you choose. You can pick out of either a group or private lesson.
For group lessons you are mostly with a minimum of one or two other snow enthusiasts of the same ability. Sometimes groups can go up to 8 people as well, depending on the mountain.
Group lessons are a great way to meet and share some laughs with other people, especially for kids. However, if you want to focus on something specific or feel more comfortable learning by yourself, then private lessons are the way to go.
Private lessons are actually a lot of fun and are a great way to accelerate your learning. You get one on one tuition with your instructor which and will improve your skiing or riding immensely.
Because you are the sole focus, the instructor will help you fix any bad habits and refine your technique. So even if you are a seasoned skier or snowboarder, there are always opportunities for you to improve and an experienced instructor can help you with this.
They also take you all over the mountain to find the best runs suited to your ability, which means you will probably find a trail you didn't even know existed.
A beginner package includes a beginner area lift pass, lesson and equipment rental all for a discounted and really affordable price. They are a great way to get started in the snow sports world.
Often you can tailor packages to your individual needs so make sure you check out what is available at the ticket desk.
It is important that you feel comfortable with whoever is teaching you so be clear about what you want to learn to keep you and your instructor on the same page. If you aren’t happy with your instructor or the lesson you have bought, don’t struggle through it. Ski school doesn't have normal school classes where you aren't allowed to leave the classroom! Tell them it is not working out and head back to the ski school desk to make some changes.
Every instructor has a NZSIA (NZ ski), SBINZ (NZ snowboard) or similar qualification, which are all internationally recognised. New Zealand is also a winter destination for foreign instructors who are passionate about the mountain. This means that you know that your instructor wants to be there and loves the snow as much as you do as they have taken the time to undergo an instructor’s programme.
Ski school is a lot of fun and so easy to take part in with the great deals and packages that every mountain offers. It is an exciting way to explore the different trails and get the most out of tackling the mountain and undertaking the challenge of bettering yourself. An added bonus is that you get to skip the queues too!
My bet is that you will never think of school as being boring again.