Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in Alaska: “Go With a Pro!”

Thumbs up for skiing!

Never will I forget my first day on skis.

Clunky, heavy boots upon my feet, strapped to equally clunky skis, I slapped and slid my way to an ancient rope tow at Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area. It was 1975, and I was seven. My father was my teacher.

About an hour later, after struggling to figure out what “downhill ski” meant, and after the rope tow nearly ripped the placket from my bright blue ski coat, I plunked my discouraged self on the wet, heavy, Washington snow and announced I was done for the day.

“Good,” my father said, breathing heavily from either frustration or exhaustion at cajoling, carrying, and otherwise convincing his middle child that skiing was fun, “Because I’m done teaching you.”

It must be noted that my father was no stranger to the slopes; a college-level alpine racer and later ski jump enthusiast, his style was beautiful to watch and his technique, brilliant. That my sister, brother, and I had inherited this ability was a given, it’s just that his teaching style was a bit, er, technical.

Eventually all of us figured it out and two of three kids went on to race and become ski instructors ourselves after non-parental guidance, but I’m sure my dad still grits his teeth at memories from the 1970’s. And I don’t blame him, because I do, too.

Fast-forward to the birth of my own two children, and my mission to encapsulate their little feet in ski boots as soon as they could stagger about. However, I took a lesson from my past and progressed no further than teaching the boys how to put on and take off said skis and boots, then walk in a straight line on snow without sliding into the parking lot. My job was done.

It's easy!

Enter programs like Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, a January staple for beginning skiers and snowboarders of almost any age who don’t want their parents or other relatives to teach them. A brilliant maneuver by the snow sport industry, LSSM has been in operation since 2009, and now more than 300 ski areas and resorts are taking part in a wave of skiing and riding education. And it works.

Promoting both sport and physical activity, LSSM is a coast-to-coast initiative designed to get the entire family outside and on the snow, and Alaska has participated since the beginning. Two ski areas currently jump on the annual LSSM lift, and we’ve got all the details so you merely have to show up between January 7 and 31, 2014.

courtesy Alyeska Resort

courtesy Alyeska Resort

Alyeska Resort in Girdwood boasts a solid instructional program, and Learn to Ski participants can receive three beginner lessons, rentals, and a lower mountain lift ticket for only $99. That’s right, under a hundred bucks to shake the winter blues and ski or ride for the first time. Kids must be five and up to ski, and eight and up to snowboard, due to the time commitment of teaching wee ones younger than that. Visit Alyeska’s website for all the details and online booking, or call them at 907-754-2280 for a conversation with the Mountain Learning Center. Psst: There’s a pretty sweet winter family package right now, too.

courtesy KTOO

Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau is also well-known for its variable terrain and excellent instruction, and offer a diverse LSSM series of packages  for adults and kids. Participants choose from three days of lessons, rentals, and a lift ticket for $119, or daily rates that begin at $33 for adults/2 hours of lessons, or $54/all day, adults and kids. There’s even a women’s only workshop (oooooh, me likey). Call 907-790-2000 X211 to speak to the learning center, or visit the area website for a complete listing. This is popular with the Juneau community, so act fast and secure your spot, today.

Live outside Alaska? The Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month website is a wonderful resource for all things learning; from tips for parents to a search tool for participating resorts nationwide.

Straight run or wedge, french fries or pizza, it makes sense to “Go With a Pro” this winter (so you can figure what these terms mean). Even that “downhill ski” thing.

Enjoy, and let us know how it goes – if you can catch us – AK Kid will be learning, too!



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