Heavenly Blog

Things a snowboarder should know about learning how to ski

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14 years ago, I unknowingly sold my soul to the ski bum devil. It only took one weekend on a snowboard with K2 Clicker bindings at a 552 vertical foot resort in Northern Michigan to seal the deal. Since then, I have spent ten winter seasons working at ski resorts around the country and snowboarding or thinking about snowboarding 365 days a year. Only snowboarding. I have a one plank mind.

Lately, I’ve found myself looking back at how much I have devoted my life to the ski and snowboard world and it started to bother me that I have never truly experienced the “other half.” I decided it was time to visit the roots of the industry that I know and love so much to see where it all started. To get the true experience, I would have to take a ski lesson.  And to help fellow snowboarders who think they’re ready to take a stab at the ol’ disco sticks, I have compiled a few tips:

Adults do not get the “pizza-french fry” treatment. Over the years, I was lead to believe that the fundamentals of skiing revolved around two basic food groups: pizza and french fries. Wrong. Adults are taught skiing using difficult adult terms such as “wedge” and “parallel” turns, respectively. It’s a lot to take in, but just remember to concentrate on your turns and eventually thoughts of pizza-french fry will fade away, you will be so good at skiing you won’t even need food.

Go Easy on Yourself, Avoid Tarnished Star Syndrome. On a snowboard, you were hucking cliffs, slaying double black diamonds and safely riding chairlifts and skating through lift lines. Day one on skis is going to be a little humbling, be prepared for it. Yesterday you may have been the best snowboarder on the mountain but today, you’re going to be one of the top 10 worst people on skis. It comes with the territory of expanding your horizons; just don’t beat yourself up if you fall one or two (or ten) times while you’re on the bunny hill. I learned this the hard way and may start a support group.

Don’t become teacher’s pet. Again, learned this the hard way. Once my instructor got word that I had been a snowboarder for so long, he apparently decided that I had the most potential and used me as an example in almost every demonstration. “Look at how Margo does this, watch the way Margo does that…” not the best way to make friends in your class. Keep a low profile and focus on your pizza-french fry, I mean wedge and parallel turns and you’ll be just fine. Side note: my instructor was awesome, I just prefer being a wallflower.

Ski gear is from Venus and snowboard gear is from Mars. Skis. You will need two of them and poles, too. Ski boots are less comfortable than snowboard boots and may cause you to walk like an early 90’s rapper; especially going down stairs. It’s possible that part of the reason I have avoided skiing for so long is my fear of ski gear. But, a skier friend of mine pointed me to Patagonia in the Heavenly Village, they have super nice gear that’s in great shape, this is the stuff the pros use. I booked my reservation online the day before at rentskis.com and was able to walk right in and pick up my skis, I didn’t have to stand around and wait like a zoo animal. I informed the rental shop that I was a snowboarder and had a pretty good understanding of going down a hill on a flat object and wouldn’t mind something a step up from ultra-beginner gear.  I scored some snazzy demo skis, so even though I was terrible at skiing, I still looked like a total pro; especially when I wasn’t skiing.

To sum things up; my ski lesson was fantastic. I had an extremely professional and helpful instructor who helped me learn what I needed to in order to become confident skier and to actually want to ski again.

~ Margo Stoney, Marketing Coordinator


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