Top Tips for Teaching a Loved One to Ski/Snowboard


As I mentioned in my last post, skiing and riding with your loved ones is an excellent way to bond. When I do take my niece skiing with me, or my mother asks for her “private lesson,” there are many tricks I like to utilize to make my day more enjoyable. So for those determined to teach loved ones how to ski or ride, or for those who have had less than ideal ski vacations, or for those who would just like to have a more pleasant day on hill with their family, friends below are hopefully some helpful hints.

* Know your limits. When you are skiing with your loved ones, never push the terrain. Set them up for success by staying on runs you both know you are capable of skiing, not just getting down. This allows you to refine skills, shed bad habits, and prepare properly for tackling the next level. It is important especially with small children to have an achievable goal/ending for the day when you start; or EASY STYLE IT as we pros like to say! Don’t go so big you can’t enjoy South Lake Tahoe’s exceptional night life.

* Never push the last run. Even saying those two words is taboo to certain superstitious individuals, such as myself (I always say “two more, skip the last one). Quit while you’re ahead is common skiing mantra as well. Along with not pushing the length of the day, also do not push terrain. Utilize easier terrain to refine skills. Have a reward session in mind too! Take the kids to grab some hot cocoa or Heavenly Donuts, and adults can hit up the Unbuckle Apres Ski Party.

* Have patience and be flexible. Everyone learns at a different pace and there are as many different teaching techniques as there are learning styles. Remember the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result! So if something is not working, change it up. And if you are skiing with small children, skiing itself may not be working. If so, don’t push it just call it a day.

* Make it an adventure! Manage and set proper expectations for the day. Tell your children what is expected of them for the day, such as: “We’ll ski in the morning then we’ll go get burgers for lunch.” That way they know when the day is over and you can always keep them wanting more. Plan your day in advance as well by drawing your path out on a trail map. Then you can follow your progress and check stuff off as you journey through your day. This is a great way for children to learn their way around a new mountain, especially if you have plans to let siblings ski on their own without mom and dad. Another great tip if you trust your children to ski on their own is to limit them to certain runs or chairlifts. For example you could sit out in the sun on the deck at Tamarack Lodge while they make laps on Tamarack chair.

* Have the essentials in your pockets. Fill your pockets with anything you think can be of use to you while out skiing. Either to make your loved one more comfortable or to develop a reward system. These essentials include, but are not limited to: M&Ms, gummi worms, sunscreen, water, an extra layer, tissues, chapstick, jelly beans, Skittles, etc. Think about keeping your loved one comfortable and relaxed (this may include a hot cocoa break with marshmellows, or an adult spike, as a reward).

* Always be positive, and check yourself. There is a lot of power in positive reinforcement but it is often difficult to remain positive if your ski day has taken a turn for the worse. Monitor your tone of voice, your choice of words, and your general mental and physical state throughout the day. If you are tired and hungry, I guarantee your children are too. A person’s mood, attitude, and abilities are directly affected by their current physical state, and skiing takes a lot out of you. Have plenty to eat, drink lots of water (irritability is a sign of dehydration), stop frequently to rest, and if you need to don’t be afraid to separate for a few runs to recharge!


Following the above tips, and remembering that “any day skiing is better than any other day”, should lead you to having a fun day on the hill with your family. If in doubt or feeling overwhelmed, trust your day to a professional at Heavenly Ski and Ride School. The rewards will last you a lifetime!

~ Becky Burns, Gondola Kids Ski and Ride School Supervisor



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