Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
Let’s get this out there right away. I’m a die-hard skier and, as of late December 2015, this winter has so far been less than epic for me. I crave tree-skiing and powder days, and am patiently waiting for Mother Nature to send them my way. I have, however, recognized that mild weather and soft conditions can cater to the group of people we’re always trying reach at Ski Vermont: first timers, beginner skiers, never-evers.
Years of experience and, frankly, discounted or free ski swag, means I’m set up to ski in any condition and enjoy it. Bring on high winds and negative degree temperatures. I know that means I can find untouched powder in the trees where the wind will be broken by limbs and cliffs. Having introduced people to the sport in these conditions though, I know it isn’t the perfect storm to get a hesitant child or friend excited about snowsports.
Mild temperatures and softer snow simply offer a better experience to first timers, as they can wear fewer layers, be more comfortable and try out their learned skills on softer terrain. There are obviously some risks to warm weather, such as the possibility of diminished terrain and crowded trails, so below, we’ve outlined some tips for families looking to try a new snowsport in Vermont during periods of mild weather.
Tips for Beginner Skiers Taking Lessons during Spells of Mild Weather
Know the Snow: Don’t be fooled by lack of snow in your backyard. Resorts are at higher elevations, meaning temperatures can be 10-15 degrees lower than what you’re experiencing in town. Rain down low, could mean snow in the mountains and Vermont’s 80% snowmaking capacity will take advantage of any opportunities to make snow when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. Keep up-to-date with what’s open and general conditions at skivermont.com/conditions.
Dig Deeper: Now you know what is open, and maybe you’ve chosen a resort to visit with the family, or first timer friend. Be sure to call that resort before hitting the road to understand the conditions of the beginner terrain and capacity for beginner lessons. Open beginner terrain will vary from resort to resort, depending on how early in the season you plan to visit and how much snow is covering the beginner area. Holidays are usually a good time, as resorts expect more beginners and aim to have good coverage.
Book a Lesson: I can’t stress enough the importance of a professional beginner lesson. Leave the instruction to the professionals – they know how to break down the skills better than anyone and it will be a better experience for all. There are so many ways to save on first timers lessons. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month and $49 packages are available throughout Vermont. Vermont kids can even enjoy a deeper discount through the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, who is offering three hundred $20 packages. Ski Vermont also offers the Take 3 beginner packages for $129. Learn all about Ski Vermont’s Learn to Turn promotions at skivermont.com.
Know what to expect! Watch this video all about first time lessons.
Dress for Success: Weather can be fickle, and whether it’s cold or mild, beginners will often work up a sweat learning new skills. Be sure to dress and newbies in wicking layer, whether synthetic or wool, so they have the option to dress up to down. And remember – always wear a helmet. Some rentals include helmets, other do not. Be sure to ask when booking the lesson to make sure kids and friends are safe.
Finally, be sure to plan some other post-ski activities for the whole family. Whether riding Killington or Okemo’s mountain coasters, enjoying the Pump House waterpark at Jay Peak, or enjoying food après, there are plenty of other fun activities and events happening at Vermont ski and snowboard resorts, if the mild weather is a drain on the slopes. Beginners will also like a break between lessons to loosen up and just have fun.