Skiing is one of the most popular winter activities. It's a wonderful way to get some exercise, spend time with others, and enjoy nature. From leisurely trips down the mountainside to intense athletic events, there's something on the mountain for everyone. Every skier has to start somewhere. But exactly how many ski lessons does a beginner need?
Generally speaking, it takes 3 to 5 lessons before a beginner skier will feel safe and confident skiing on their own. The exact number of lessons depends on a few things:
- Type of lessons
- Length of lessons
- Desired skill level
- Level of fitness
- Quality of gear
Want to know how many specific lessons you or the beginning skier in your life needs? Wondering how to evaluate the pros and cons of different lesson types? Curious as to other potential ski lessons considerations? Keep reading below to get the answers to these questions and more.
How Many Ski Lessons A Beginner Needs
Every skier begins the sport with their own set of goals and skills. No matter the circumstances, starting with a few lessons is the fastest way for a skier to find their ski legs and start having fun. A combination of these factors, as well as time, money, and the issues listed below combine to dictate a more specific number of ski lessons required.
Type Of Lesson
Lessons come in both group and one-on-one instruction. Group lessons provide a good basic overview of skiing technique, with tried and true topic progression. While group lessons are split up by skill level, each group still must move at or near the pace of the slowest learner. Spending all day learning with a group of similarly talented skiers can be great fun.
One-on-one lessons, on the other hand, move as fast or as slow as the beginning skier requires. They are also much more likely to provide more specific technical work on a new skier’s weaknesses. As such, both adults and children see more skiing improvement out of one-on-one instruction per hour.
Choosing group lessons or one-on-one instruction depends on the sensibilities of the skier in question. With group lessons, you might just make some friends. For one-on-one instruction, the time will be tailored to your needs. Overall, a beginning skier will require fewer one-on-one lessons than they will group lessons.
Length Of Lessons
Most ski hills offer a variety of lesson lengths, from two hours to all-day. It might seem that longer lessons would equate to fewer lessons, but that is not always the case. With long lessons, there is a danger of “overfilling the cup” and burning out a new skier with too much information and instruction.
When choosing lesson length, consider the skier's learning style. A dedicated learner can get a lot out of an all-day lesson and might be ready to strike out on their own after a single day. But a younger skier, or someone more carefree, might enjoy a greater number of shorter lessons.
Shorter lessons also afford the opportunity to add variety to a beginning skier's day. Many families, for instance, choose to enroll their children in a half-day morning lesson and then ski together in the afternoons. No matter the skiing group, taking time to practice new skills without an instructor interspersed with lessons is a good way to improve.
Desired Skill Level
Ski resorts rank their ski runs from green circle to double-black diamond. The difference in difficulty between these ranks is very great. Therefore, how advanced a beginning skier wants to become greatly influences the number of lessons required.
If all of your beginning skier desires is the ability to safely exit a chairlift and make it down a green slope in one piece, 1 to 2 lessons are likely enough. That being said, 1 to 2 lessons are usually not enough to avoid common pitfalls in technique that beginning skiers tend to make.
More lessons will provide a better foundation to allow the beginning skier to improve once lessons stop and to eventually ski harder terrain. On the other hand, if the goal is to leave lessons skiing black diamond or harder terrain - 10 to 15 lessons are usually necessary.
Level Of Fitness
Level of fitness and coordination play a role in the number of lessons a beginning skier needs. Skiing, like most sports, uses a unique set of muscles combined with specific coordination to get the job done. A fit, coordinated beginning skier will likely improve quickly and will need fewer lessons.
That being said, skiing doesn’t require you to compete against anyone and the freedom afforded by sliding around on snow is fun for people of any fitness level. With the foundation of good lessons and a good attitude, a beginning skier of below-average fitness should have no problem skiing. In fact, they will even see improvement in strength and balance after just a handful of trips to the slopes.
Quality Of Gear
This caveat is less important than the others mentioned above but does make a difference. Skiing exposes you to the elements of snow, wind, and sometimes rain. It is much harder to learn when you are freezing cold and/or wet. In the same sense, a pair of skis or boots that are grossly missized are much harder to use than properly fitted gear.
While it is far from necessary for a new skier to have top-of-the-line equipment, comfort and fit are still important. Often, gear can be rented locally or straight from the ski school where the lesson is offered. Either way, be sure to have this in mind before heading up to the resort.
Now that we have covered the ins and outs of the number of lessons a beginning skier needs, we will answer a few related questions you might still have.
Do You Really Need Ski Lessons?
To avoid being dangerous to yourself and others while skiing, attending lessons on how to properly control yourself and stop is essential. With pointers from a trained ski-school teacher, a beginning skier will learn the skills and decision making required to make the slopes safe for everyone.
This is especially important since skiing is a popular source of fun for the whole family. Everyone from toddlers to 80-year-olds can be found on the slopes. No one wants to be the skier who is out of control racing down the hill on a collision course. Every experienced skier has seen this happen and it can lead to injury and even death.
How Much Do Ski Lessons Cost?
Ski lessons can cost anywhere from $35 at a local hill to $150 at world-renowned resorts. These prices vary depending on the length and type of class (one-on-one is more expensive). One perk is that the lift ticket price is usually included in the price of the lesson. Often, it is possible to get discounted rates by purchasing lesson packages or by pre-purchasing lessons in the off season.
Can You Teach Yourself To Ski?
Given the caveat of safety discussed above, it is possible to teach yourself to ski. The problem with self-teaching is that it often leads to inefficient technique and comes with much slower progression. Even seasoned skiers will take a lesson from time to time. This is because they know the fastest, safest, most fun way to learn is through lessons.
However, if you are determined to go it alone, go prepared. Watch instructional videos online, read books on technique, or even better, rope a friend or family member into taking you out for some informal instruction. But keep in mind that skiing is dangerous, and if you don't know what you are doing, you may hurt yourself or someone else.
Where Is The Best Place For Beginners To Ski?
Almost every single ski area has terrain appropriate for skiers of all skill levels and offers ski school staffed by excited, experienced skiers. However, the list below includes some of the resorts that offer an unusually high degree of beginning terrain and oversee respected and well-known ski schools:
- Okemo, Vermont
- Deer Valley, Utah
- Big Sky, Montana
- Snoqualmie Pass, Washington
- Beaver Creek, Colorado
Just remember: the number of lessons required for a beginner skier varies greatly based on type and length of the lesson, desired outcomes, level of fitness, and even quality of gear. With this guide, you should have everything you need to start your ski lessons this winter!