It’s your holiday but if you thought school was out, think again. We’re not talking pencils, books and detentions—we’re talking mountains, powder and the most fun you can have on one plank or two. That’s right, ski (and snowboard) school is in session. Read on to find out how lessons can take your ski holiday to the next level.
January 30th, 2020 | by April Eve Day
Find the Fun
Ski holidays are supposed to be fun, but we’ve all seen that person from the lift: Skis in a snowplough the size of an actual snowplough, every muscle in their body tense, looking like they’d rather be anywhere else than on the hill. Maybe they don’t know how to do anything but a snowplough. Maybe they’re a beginner who accidentally went on a black run. Maybe there’s a problem with their equipment. Whatever the reason, they’re certainly not having fun.
The thing is, these are all problems that a qualified ski instructor can solve. They can help you explore the mountain safely on runs that are suitable for your level—ski resorts offer some spectacular scenery and you don’t want to miss out by staring down at your skis all day. They can teach you how to get the most out of your equipment. Wondering what that clip/zip/pocket is for or why your goggles keep fogging up? A ski instructor knows. They also know where the good snow is, where the lift lines are the shortest and where the best restaurants are. They might even take you to different resorts. Holidays are all about exploring, right? But most importantly, they know how to get you out of that snowplough and equip you with the skills that you need to really enjoy your holiday. If you’re a more advanced skier, they can get you off the groomers and into the pow or the park. If you’re a masochist you could even learn moguls. Plus, join a group lesson and hey presto, you have an automatic group of friends at the same level as you, who you can ski with outside of lessons.
No guts no glory
Once you have the basic skills, skiing is all about guts. Having the guts to try that run, go that little bit faster, get around that obstacle. Skiing by yourself, it’s easy to make excuses. Ever gone inside to “warm up” when actually you’re sweating in fear of that black run that you just can’t bring yourself to go down? Ever got right to the top of said run only to make a sharp turn for the cat track? The great thing about having an instructor is that they know what your body is capable of and they won’t take you anywhere you’re not able to go. All you have to do is to master your mind and muster the guts. Better still if it’s a group lesson—nobody wants to be the whiny one in the group who slows everyone else down. You’ll be tackling that run before you know it!
And on the topic of whining…
Let’s face it, snowsports with kids can be rough. You were picturing a Hollywood-esque montage of childlike wonder and eagerness to learn, ending with your little darling whizzing down the slopes to the envy of all the other kids and parents…but what you’ve actually wound up with is a cold, snotty, glove losing, thoroughly un-amused little, ahem, darling. Such is the first few days of snowsports for most families. The question (after you’ve resolved the question of where the hell they’ve left their glove), is why the hell didn’t you put them in ski school?!
Ask any ski instructor and they will tell you that as soon as the parents are out of sight, the kids undergo a strange transformation. They listen to the instructor, they make friends with the other kids, they (usually) keep a hold of their equipment and, most importantly, they actually learn to ski. Embarrassingly, they probably master the skills more quickly than you and they don’t just learn to ski—they learn to be independent too. At the very least, if they’re not old enough for ski school yet, they learn to love the snow. Plus, the ski school takes care of lunch. All that’s left for you to do is get out there and enjoy your own lesson. Invest in a lesson or two and before the end of the holiday it will be the whole family in a real, perhaps slightly less graceful version of the Hollywood montage.
So if you’re looking to have fun, meet new people, conquer your fears and give the kids an experience they’ll never forget, sign the family up for ski lessons. Class dismissed.
Here is an alphabetical list of private international ski schools in the Hakuba Valley: