Understanding Snow Sports Schools: Tips from Eaglecrest Ski Area

What time is it? It's time to SKI! [image courtesy Eaglecrest]

What time is it? It’s time to SKI! [image courtesy Eaglecrest]

While Alaska’s winter weather seems to be trending toward the stormy side of snowy, legions of eager skiing and riding families are saying emphatically “We’ll take it.” Both Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood and Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau opened for business this week after storms dumped plenty of snow upon runs that remained pathetically bare last season.

With the snow, of course, comes the annual scramble to acquire gear for young snow sports enthusiasts who want to take to the slopes. Get the latest skis, boards, boots, and bindings first, then sit back and let the kids have at it. Or maybe not. We’re huge proponents of ski and snowboard schools, believing in both the physical and mental/emotional benefits that come from having qualified individuals provide gentle guidance in the art of schussing down a slippery hill. Plus, learning to ski or ride with people who are not your parents is, quite simply, way more fun (sorry mom and dad, those days will come later).

How do you know if a resort’s snow sports school stacks up against the industry standards and will provide your skier or rider with quality instruction combined with a healthy dose of fun? I asked my pals at Eaglecrest Ski Area for some help.

Allow plenty of time to gear up before your ski lesson. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Allow plenty of time to gear up before your ski lesson. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

What attributes make a snow sports school ‘good’?

Look for knowledgable staff who know not just the sport, but the features and terrain of their particular area. This means, parents, school staff should know about snow conditions, weather, runs (by name), and the general demographic of the area.

Also important: Make sure the office staff ask appropriate questions about your child and his or her ability, personality, learning styles, and past experiences. Knowing kids is far more than the box that says “beginner” on the school’s form.

Does your child learn better in a group format, or are private lessons the key to success? Especially in the case of beginners new to the whole process of snowsports school registration, staff who emulate patience, consistency, and a willingness to go the extra mile for students are greatly appreciated.


Follow the leader is a great way to learn skiing and communication skills. [image courtesy Eaglecrest]

Follow the leader is a great way to learn skiing and communication skills. [image courtesy Eaglecrest]

How are instructors trained?

Ski and snowboard schools are required to follow curriculums developed and maintained by Professional Ski Instructors Association and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA/AAASI) to ensure a high standard of safe and effective teaching methods. Instructors go through a rigorous training process that begins before snow even falls, with tools and group work to ensure that teachers not only know about skiing or snowboarding, but students, as well.

Parents should always ask if a snowsports school belongs to PSIA/AASI, and if instructors are trained in child-centered methods that earn accreditation. The organization’s website does a great job of explaining instruction methods and the regions where areas are accredited. I was heartened to hear that 90% of Eaglecrest instructors have some level of certification and almost half have some level of children’s accreditation.

Eaglecrest Ski Area offers lessons on an ongoing basis, welcoming families who live in the Juneau/Douglas area, and visitors like us who appreciate the homey, family-friendly atmosphere. For more information about EC’s approach to skiing and riding, and for a listing of kid-friendly events during the 2015-16 ski season, check out their website, HERE.

It’s looking a lot like winter out there, folks. Have a safe and sane skiing and riding season!


Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO


Ski and Snowboard Gear

Eaglecrest Ski Area: Juneau Family Fun


Posted in Alaskan Winter Fun, Big Kid, Little Kid and tagged , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Something kids would really like to enjoy doing. A school not only for kids to learn, but so as those aspirants who want to learn skiing.

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