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Go With a Pro:
Skiing Lessons Are for Everyone

Ski liftWhile most people hunker down when the weather report forecasts a blizzard, a growing number of folks are grabbing their gear.

Once the pastime of only the wealthy and athletic, snow sports are now at the fingertips of anyone with an inclination to have fun. New incarnations of skiing and snowboarding, modern gear and advanced teaching methods practically guarantee you'll be giddily making turns regardless of your slope-side expertise (or lack thereof).

Resort programs and beginner's gear make learning easier than ever, clinics and performance products help intermediates break through plateaus, and telemark skiing, freeskiing, freestyle snowboarding and expanding terrain challenge experts in all disciplines.

“Often people are afraid of not having what it takes or that learning to ski or snowboard will be difficult. In fact, all it takes is balance while sliding on snow, and this can be easily learned with guidance,” says Earl Saline, adult director of Winter Park's Ski and Snowboard School and an American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI)-certified instructor. “There is no right or wrong as long as you are safely having fun.”

"There is no right or wrong as long as you are safely having fun."

Kiesa Kay was once a terrified wanna-be skier looking to ski with her daughter and friends. “I tried skiing in my youth and was a hurtling mess. I tried once more in my 30s and ended up flailing backwards and yelling at the feet of my husband's friends. At age 40, I decided to try again -- with a lesson,” says Kay. “The instructor was wonderful. She had me start on a bunny slope instead of a beginner run, and kindly took me step-by-step through what I needed to do. It was a completely different experience. Now I love skiing!”

Taking a lesson from a qualified professional reduces anxiety as well as accidents. More than simply teaching mechanics, instructors tune into your needs, be they technical or experiential. Camaraderie, history and learning about nature and the outdoors are as much a part of the experience as improving snow-sliding techniques.

One Saturday, PSIA-certified ski instructor Jack Sciacca had a large family from Oklahoma with people of all ages and abilities show up for ski lessons. “Some made it off the lift and down the hill; others built a snowman. It's not all about making Olympic skiers. It's helping people enjoy their own experience on the mountain.

“There are no boundaries and it's never too late,” says Sciacca, now director of Monarch Ski and Snowboard School.

But beginners aren't the only skiers and riders who benefit from professional instruction. Skiing and snowboarding are more passion than sport. Shaped skis and advanced snowboard designs, new teaching methods that cater to the individual and the experience rather than mechanics, and increasingly varied terrain at resorts all aid “terminal intermediates” in breaking through to new levels.

“The old perception was take one ski lesson and you're good to go,” says Sciacca. “But lessons enhance your experience at all levels, especially breaking through to new levels.”

“Not only will a pro share favorite stashes, but they can help your skills and confidence skyrocket so you can ski or ride more challenging terrain than you thought,” says Scott McGee, a PSIA Nordic Team member and chief trainer at Jackson Hole Mountain Sports Center. “Particularly at new and challenging mountains or in venturing into new tricks or terrain, with a guide, advanced skiers and riders can master areas they wouldn't have otherwise been able to or even known about.”

also see this section:skier

How to Choose the Right Skis

Skiing Sports Psychology

Expert Skiing Tips

Training Exercises for Skiers

With the proliferation of inbound and lift-access “extreme” terrain -- Telluride, Aspen Highlands, Jackson Hole, Mt. Hood Meadows and Keystone all recently expanded adventure terrain -- a guide can safely open skiers and riders to entirely new mountain experiences.

At all levels, from novice through expert, ski and snowboard camps enhance confidence and capability, as well as immerse attendees in the mountain experience and introduce them to new friends. A multi-day camp with intimate attention on individual needs is one of the most successful ways to overcome fears and blocks.

“Teaching methods are so much more advanced than they have been in the past, whether you're new to the sport or ready for more advanced terrain,” says Mark Dorsey, assistant executive director of PSIA. “They're going to give you what you want.”

More about learning to ski around the Web:

Ski Technique - the perfect body posture

How to Ski - WikiHow

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