Three ski resorts, one each in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire, have set March 9 as the day for first timers to learn to ski and the lessons are being offered at no cost. It’s their way of introducing a new technique called Terrain Based Learning. Newcomers to the sport of skiing and snowboarding gain enough skills during the lessons to begin a lifetime of enjoyment on the snow.
Three resorts, three states
The three resorts that are offering this chance to learn are Jiminy Peak in Hancock Massachusetts, Bromley Resort in Peru, Vermont, just outside Manchester, and the famed old Cranmore Resort in North Conway New Hampshire where the very first ski school in the United States was opened in the 1930s.
This chance to begin to enjoy the snow sports is intended for all ages, child to grandparent. The date for the event is Sunday March 9. All you have to do is register in advance and that can be done online or by phone. See details at the end of this article.
What is this “Terrain based Learning” ?
The people who developed this technique realized that anyone standing on skis or a board for the first time have one thing in common: fear. There is fear of falling, fear of injury (watching extreme skiers will foster that one), fear of making a fool of one’s self, and a myriad of other fears that come when doing something for the first time that is thought to be dangerous.
The answer they came up with was to develop a learning area, set apart from the slopes of the resort, where the grades are gentle and students can develop the sense and feel of sliding. Sliding is, of course, something that humans do every day. In everyday life we call it slipping and everyone knows that leads to falls. Well, in skiing and boarding it does not.
We had a chance recently to go to Bromley Mountain Resort in Peru, Vermont, to see how this program works and were very impressed with the results. We tagged along with a couple, the guy had skied, but only slightly, and the woman had never had skis on in her life. He was trepiditious and she not all sure that she liked the idea.
Students overcome concerns and fear quickly
Starting on level ground and without skis, the instructor described exactly what some of the basic movements were, demonstrated and had the students repeat. Putting skis on, she then had the two students move their feet back and forth to develop the sense of slide, then perform small movements.
Getting to the top of the slope was no scary lift ride, it was done on an enclosed magic carpet and, with an easy out at the top, a slide over to a gentle and level half pipe of snow. First the instructor glided down the gentle slope and then, with encouragement, the students. From a psychological point of view, the student is not faced with the fear of runaway skis on a steep hill, but rather a gentle and short slide. A few trips on the half pipe develops confidence and lessens fear.
The next feature of the learning park is a gentle grade with small bumps, again intended to build self confidence. Students slide over two gentle bumps in the snow to develop a sense of motion during sliding. It is very effective and skiers quickly get the feel of the course. Yet a third feature of the course is a gentle downhill slide with banked curves. The banked curves, of course, help to turn the skiers as they descend the course, further developing that sense of control that helps build self confidence.
At the end of our lesson, after only an hour, our two novice companions were ready to go for bigger things and when last seen were headed uphill with their instructor to make their first descent on one of Bromley’s beautiful novice trails.
- You do not need equipment. This program is done on special short skis and all needed equipment (except a warm coat, hat and gloves) will be provided.
- There is no cost, zip, nada, free. If you miss the program on the 9th you can still take the lessons whenever you want and the cost is only $89. These lessons are available at these resorts now through the end of the season but free ONLY on the 9th of March
- You must pre-register with the resort of your choice but for the March 9 event you must register by phone. For paid registration you may register online or by phone: Jiminy Peak (413) 738-5500 x 3680, Bromley Mountain Resort (802) 824-5522 x 301), Cranmore Mountain Resort (603) 356-5544 x 333, or call them.
- It also includes a discount on additional lessons, lift tickets, and rentals through the end of the 2013-14 winter season.
The offer is limited to the first 150 beginners at each resort. Some other restrictions may apply.