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SALT LAKE CITY — January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Utahns have a better opportunity than most to learn to ski and ride the perfect powder that makes Utah one of the top winter destinations in the world.
If you have never tried skiing or snowboarding, this is an excellent time to plan your first trip. Brian Brown, communications manager at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, said, "Utah is a great place to learn to ski or snowboard because most resorts are so easy to get to. Utah's resorts are family focused and employees are dedicated to making your experience nothing less than memorable."
Here is what you need to know to make your first ski or snowboard trip a success.
Gear and clothing
Good gear and clothing are essential for skiing and snowboarding. If you're cold or uncomfortable, it may be difficult to have a good time. According to Mara Gorman of the family ski blog Back to Ski, the basic packing list for every member of the family includes:
- Skis and poles or a snowboard
- Ski or board boots
Soldier Hollow Resort in Midway is hosting the annual Winter Trails Day Saturday, Jan. 10 from 1-4 p.m.
This is a free one day event where people new to snow sports can try snowshoeing or cross country skiing. The equipment will be provided.
- Long underwear
- Ski socks
- Ski pants/bibs
- Ski jacket
- Ski mittens
- Strap for carrying boots "Look for fabrics that wick and can be layered," Gorman said. "Ski jackets that have a removable liner offer the most flexibility."
Avoid cotton because it does not insulate. Hand warmers and chapstick for everyone are good items to have as well.
Renting gear is a good option for most first-time skiers and snowboarders. It's the best way to get newer, professionally maintained equipment for the lowest cost and commitment. Basic rental packages include boots, skis/snowboard and ski poles. You can also rent snow jackets, pants and helmets.
You can rent equipment at most winter resorts or from one of Utah's many ski and snowboard retailers. Search for rental shops near you at www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org/shop-snow-gear.
Learning to ski or snowboard is a lot like learning to ride a bike. Once you've learned how, it's a skill that will stay with you for life. Most resorts offer private and group lessons for all ages and you can learn the basics in one day. Review a resort's website to find the option that is the best fit for you.
In a first lesson, you should learn how to use your equipment and how to go, stop and change direction. Jeff Lifgren, ski school director at Canyons, says, "First-time skiers and snowboarders should expect a safe and fun learning environment. Perhaps most important is learning how to experience that 'Wow!' moment. If a first-time skier or rider has that moment, chances are they will be back."
It's true that skiing and snowboarding can be expensive. However, there are ways that you can avoid paying full price.
Plan ahead — Buy discount lift tickets in advance at www.liftopia.com or from ski rental shops. At some shops, like Ski 'n See, a sliding discount is applied to equipment rentals when you reserve online in advance.
Bundle and save — If you're planning to take a lesson, you can often bundle your lesson, ski pass and equipment rental for a lower price. Canyons and Park City are offering this bundle, starting at $45 for Utah residents on select dates in January. Call Canyons at 435-615-3449 or Park City at 800-227-2754 to learn more and make reservations.
Kids ski free — The Ski Utah 5th or 6th Grade Passport is a great deal for families. For less than the cost of a single lift ticket, fifth- and sixth-graders can ski or snowboard at every resort in Utah, all season long. The passport also includes discounts on lessons, gear and rentals for both the child and accompanying parent.
The term "apres ski" refers to activities you might enjoy after a day of skiing or snowboarding. Consider lodging, dining or visiting the spa at the resort to make your first ski experience even more fun and memorable. Relaxing in a hot tub or making s'mores in your private fireplace can be a great end to a great day.
Many of Utah's resorts offer premium lodging, dining and spa services, and discounts can often be found. For example, Snowbird currently offers a weekday lodging special that includes lift tickets and free skiing for kids starting at $125 per adult per night. Visit www.snowbird.com/specials to learn more.
If you live in Utah, you should try skiing or snowboarding at least once. Use these tips to ensure that the experience is the best it can be.
Allison Laypath is an expert on family travel, founder of the blog tipsforfamilytrips.com and a regular contributor to KSL.com. With her family, Allison especially enjoys road trips, national parks and local field trips. Email Allison at email@example.com.