It was a cold and stormy night atop Eldora’s Bunnyfair and my 3-year-old self was throwing a major hissy fit.
Tears streaming down my cheeks, I was berating my parents for bringing me there, the forces that created the terrifying slope before me and the dark night sky for being unsympathetic to my fate.
“I HATE skiing! I never want to go again! I want to go home!” I declared before taking off my skis, throwing them to the snow and stomping off down the run.
Flash forward about 40 years and I found myself cajoling my own children down the slopes, trying to convince them that going out in the cold in uncomfortable footwear to learn a challenging new skill would ultimately be fun — in my opinion, the most fun to be had.
Because it’s difficult to convey the many pleasures of the sport, January is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month,” so you can experience them for yourself. Lower prices and group lessons for “first-timers” in January make learning to ski or snowboard a less daunting prospect. For the latest offers, visit bit.ly/2EVgTbk.
At Arapahoe Basin, children ages 6 to 14 get a morning lesson and all-day lift ticket for $100. Those 15 and older pay $125 and also get the rental gear they will need to try out skiing or snowboarding. At Copper Mountain, adult first-timers will get a full-day group lesson for $138.57, the half-day rate.
Powderhorn has the best deal of all, with free ski or snowboard lessons, EZ Rider lift tickets and rentals during the time of your lesson. The program, for beginners 5 and up, is offered every Sunday morning after the holiday season from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
I’ve never met someone who regrets learning how to ski, no matter what the reason they took it up in the first place.
There was a day, not long after my night of terror on Bunnyfair (which for the record is a gentle rolling green nothing like the slope of death I considered it as a child), that I first experienced the pure joy, freedom and thrill of the sport. On that day, the many beginner trails of Eldora (set aside in their own area with four dedicated lifts and a magic carpet) were transformed into a wonderland of independence and exploration.
I saw that same light go on in my daughters’ eyes the days they first “got it.” After dozens of days constrained by harnesses, hula hoops and tip toppers that held their skis together, they were set free to fly down the slopes — their tutus fluttering in the breeze of their own making.
My daughters did the bulk of their learning at Beaver Creek, which has an ideal setup for learning to ski. We did laps on the kid-sized gondola at the base of the resort that serves all short, easy trails. Once beginners are ready for the next step, they can go up on the top, where there is a section of wide-open green trails with postcard-worthy views.
Half of the people who try out skiing or snowboarding for the first time do it to spend time with friends and family who already participate in the sports, according to a four-season survey by the National Ski Areas Association of more than 4,000 first-timers at 30 resorts around the country.
Thirty-five percent of respondents also listed “a desire to participate in an outdoor activity in the winter” as a reason for giving it a try. Picking up on this desire, the “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month” program adopted the slogan, “Because humans weren’t meant to hibernate.” I have to say my favorite first-timers are the 23 percent who said they tried it because they “wanted to experience the thrills.”
Overall, when asked how much fun they had learning to ski or board, more than half of first-timers said their experience was a 9 or a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Considering that on that long-ago night on Bunnyfair I was bottoming out the fun scale, might I suggest that this be the season you not only give the slopes a try – but maybe a couple of them.