I never learned to ski growing up. South Jersey, where I was born and raised, is basically flat; so it wasn’t something you just learned, like riding a bike. My husband and most of my friends learned to ski in the Poconos (about a 3-hour ride into Pennsylvania) on ski weekends and family vacations. But my family was more of a summer vacation crew. There was one failed ski weekend in high school where I tagged along, mainly for the boys and the shopping but skipped the skiing entirely. Other than that, I made it into adulthood (not even just adulthood; I made it to my 30s) without ever learning to ski.
How hard could it be for a mom to learn skiing?
When I was 31, my sister in law attempted to teach me to ski. It was a Friday night at Cochran’s. The snow was far more ice than powder and after about 20 minutes, I had to stop because my 2 year-old and 3 year-old needed me.
She tried again the following year at Jay Peak. This time, it was -2 degrees and she was attempting to teach me and my 3 year-old at the same time. I think we went down the bunny hill once making “pizza pies” and there may or may not have been tears. All-in-all, my 3 year-old did better than me. I know for a fact that my sister in law is an excellent instructor, however, we were operating under the worst of conditions. I was basically setting myself up for failure.
When I was 33, we moved to Vermont! My husband, who’d been skiing for years, could not wait to get his season pass and spend every weekend at the mountain (and, believe me, he has). Not only would he ski every weekend, but he would talk incessantly about teaching our boys to ski, signing them up for ski school, and spending every weekend skiing with them.
His excitement was contagious and it didn’t take long for me to be, like, “Hey, I want to have fun, too.” So, I decided I’d learn skiing… or get left behind. Sure, weekends alone in a warm house with coffee and Netflix sound appealing; but I’d definitely rather spend the time with my guys. I’ve since taken two lessons and I’m pretty proud to say I’ve skied four separate green trails (I’m in no rush to move on to the blue trails).
The most important thing, when learning to ski as an adult, is to set yourself up for success. Here are my top tips if you are a mom looking to learn skiing!
If you are anything like me (read: competitive, stubborn, know it all), you are not going to listen to someone you know… especially not your husband. I’m sure if my husband tried to teach me to ski, I wouldn’t listen to anything he said (because, of course, I know more than him about everything). It is worth it to have a stranger teach you. There will be no impatience, no “I told you so,” and no eye rolls. I know, I know: lessons can be expensive; but, look for deals! Many of the smaller mountains will have lesson packages at a discounted rate or offered as add-ons after your first lesson. Shop around and find the best deal!
Schedule said lessons strategically.
Anyone will learn better with individualized attention in a small group (or, even better, one-on-one). Here is how you can get yourself a private lesson without paying for a private lesson. If you are able to, avoid the large resorts and peak times. A smaller mountain will be less crowded with tourists and most locals will already know how to ski. I suggest the Snow Bowl in Hancock, Cochran’s in Richmond, or Pico in Killington.
Choose your time strategically. I suggest a weekday. On weekdays, there will be lots of kids bussed in for lessons, but they will keep the adult lessons separate from the kids. You very well may be the only adult in your lesson. If you can’t swing a weekday, schedule your lesson for a Sunday afternoon. Here’s my theory: a tourist who is visiting for a long weekend will book his/her lesson in the morning on the first day… so, likely Thursday, Friday, or Saturday morning. If someone is visiting for a week, they will likely stay Saturday- Saturday. If they get lessons, they are likely to go with Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. I’ve had two lessons, one was a Monday morning and the other was a Sunday afternoon. Both were one-on-one.
Get a trusted babysitter.
This is important! Us moms can’t just turn the mom thing off. If your kids are around, you will be looking for them, looking at them, wondering what they are doing, or how they are doing. Leave them at home with a babysitter you trust and give your phone to your husband/partner/friend. For my first lesson, my sons were in ski school on the same hill as me. I looked for them and at them every chance I had. It was a bit distracting. At one point, my five year-old was sitting on the side of the hill crying. I skied faster and more intricately than ever before to get to his side. The instructors didn’t even know he was crying. Moms know, though. He was fine, just cold, but it was clear that my mind was not 100% focused on my instructor with my kids around.
For my second lesson, we left the kids with a babysitter and I gave my phone to my husband. I was able to give my instructor my full attention. If a babysitter isn’t in the budget, leave the kids with your husband/partner, a family member, or a close friend. You should probably go ahead and treat yourself to a drink after the lesson, too (might as well if you’ve got a babysitter).
Don’t worry that you aren’t in good enough shape.
If you worry that you aren’t in good enough shape to start because you will be waiting forever. There is no time like the present: Carpe Diem! Of course, if you have a major medical issue, consult your physician before beginning. But, if you’re like me and you’re just worried that you’re too chubby or you don’t want to invest in good ski pants until you lose a little more of the baby weight… get over it. Skiing will help to build your stamina and endurance; and overall, positively benefit your health. The waffle afterward might not help, though. So be it.
Don’t move too fast.
You don’t need to keep up with anyone or prove anything. If you learn skiing for the first time in your 30s, you are tough enough. Stick to the green (beginner) trails until you are ready to move on. Don’t try anything you haven’t learned yet. Don’t try to keep up with people who’ve been skiing their entire lives. It is absolutely okay to take breaks on the side of the trail. Bonus points for finding a friend who doesn’t mind cruising at your pace.