Booking destination ski lessons can be intimidating. I did it from Florida and had no idea what to expect or even wear. Yet, after writing about my experience, I was determined to prove that it was possible to learn snow sports…even on vacation.
Ski and snowboard lessons speed learning for new enthusiasts and help experienced skiers and riders bring their skills to a new level. They are also a good way to try something new, like telemark skiing or venturing into side- or back-country with a guide. All it takes is a little research to find the right program that fits your needs, budget, and travel plans.
Here’s my advice: First, determine which area of your destination state works best with your travel plans. For example, if you’re driving from Vegas to visit Utah’s southern resorts, then you should focus on schools there.
Next, look for a program that fits your needs. If you’re a beginner, most schools offer a program that will work for you. However, learning a specialty can require more research as those classes are offered only at select resorts.
As for cost, I suggest focusing on schools that fit your budget, while leaving a little room for flexibility. A low priced class won’t always fulfill all of your needs. Spend a little more to ensure you get the right fit. You can offset these costs in other ways, like searching for better deals on lift tickets or lodging.
Here’s a list of Utah’s snow sports schools, plus some insight on special programs or deals they may offer:
Alta – This is a true skiers resort and the Alf Engen Ski School offers too wide a range of classes and clinics to list, including telemark, kids camps, woman only, teen freeride and more. Popular at Alta are the Off-Trail Workshops for advanced and expert skiers who what to improve their skills and ski some of the best snow on the mountain.
“Our Team off Off Trail Workshop Coaches is small and hand selected, we put some of our best out there every day. We love helping people improve but we also love to ski, so there is not much standing around,” says Eric McLoughlin, instructor at Alta’s Alf Engen Ski School. Reservations are not accepted, so show up a little early to get a spot.
Beaver Mountain – Beaver Mountain offers comprehensive selection of classes including a great deal for new skiers called Learn-To-Turn for $55. The package includes rental equipment, a Little Beaver Lift Ticket, and a group lesson.
Brian Head – From beginner to advanced, Brian Head provides a full selection of classes. A nice plus, most include lift ticket and equipment rental. Be sure to make a reservation.
Brighton – Okay, I’m a little biased, this is where I learned to ski and I had a great experience. Brighton offers all the basics plus a cool selection of specialty classes; most of which include a lift ticket. One unique offering is their popular Youth Telemark Camp designed to teach, educate and develop skills in Telemark skiing.
When: Five Sunday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, January 12, 19, 26, February 2, & 9
Who: Intermediate Alpine or Telemark Skiers (on telemark equipment) ages 8-16
Cost: $295 (includes instruction and lift pass for each day of the program)
Parents get $7 off their lift ticket on the days of the child's lessons and half-off an Adult Group Lesson on any of the child's lesson days. Registration forms and more details are available online, or call (801) 532-4731 ext 247 or ext 209.
Canyons – The Canyons Ski and Snowboard School offers daycare, private lessons, group lessons, and specialty clinics from novice to advanced mountain experience.
A cool offering, the Ultimate 4 Kids Classes, have a guaranteed maximum 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio. They also have a selection of programs designed for local skiers such as a pre-school ski program.
Eagle Point – The snow sports school at Eagle Point offers all of the basics at affordable prices. An optional inclusive package is available including a lift ticket and equipment rental.
Deer Valley – Deer Valley added a new clinic to its line-up this year called Steeps and Stashes, designed to introduce strong intermediate to expert skiers to Deer Valley’s lesser-known off-trail terrain. In addition to this class, they boast a variety of classes for all age groups including clinics for men, women and kids.
Park City Mountain Resort - Park City’s course offerings are extensive. They include a range of classes, clinics, and specialties. The National Ability Center has an extensive skiing program for individuals with disabilities.
Their selection of telemark courses is also thorough. They even host all levels of tele’ lessons on Telemark Tuesdays an evening class held under the lights of Payday and First Time lifts.
Powder Mountain – Aspiring snowboarders should check out the Burton Learn to Ride Center at Powder Mountain in addition to their full range of ski and snowboard lessons for all levels. Powder Mountain collaborated with Burton to combine cutting-edge teaching methods, with Burton’s Learn to Ride equipment tailored by age and gender, to maximize your first day on the snow.
Snowbasin - With over 100 instructors, Snowbasin is able to supply classes for all ages and skill levels. Among them are adaptive sports and a clinic taught by women, for women, called Snow Divas. Also check out their weekend camp programs offer in January and February designed for the never-ever skier/rider as well as the skier/rider that desires to continue to develop their skills.
Snowbird - The best word to describe the lineup at Snowbird’s mountain school is “variety.” From side-country camps, to a Chickadee class for 3-year-olds, there is something for everyone.
Solitude – The Moonbeam Ski and Snowboard Academy takes a non-traditional approach to teaching by using fun and games to engage students.
During Learn to Ski/Board Month in January, first-time Utah skiers and snowboarders can take three half-day lessons, complete with equipment rentals and lift tickets, for $165. Contact the Academy for full details.
Photos courtesy of the resorts except as noted. Portions of this post originally appeared on Liftopa.