• Learn to ski or ride in January
    January 06,2013
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    Iím lucky I didnít kill, or seriously injure, myself or someone else the first day I ever hit the slopes.

    When I learned to ski in the early 80s it was as part of a school group.

    We traveled 1Ĺ hours in a yellow school bus for a day on the mountain. We were supposed to get a half day of lessons and then a half day to apply those lessons to the slopes.

    But I had a couple of skiing friends and carried the ego of a 15-year-old athletic kid who was convinced I didnít need a whole lot of instruction.

    So after being taught how to take the rope tow to the top of the bunny slope, a rudimentary snow plow and how to get up after a fall, I was done listening.

    The instructors didnít care. They had dozens of others who were eager to learn to minister to. So I spent the time with my buddies and dutifully threw myself down when I started to get out of control as my chosen method of stopping.

    The problem came near the end of the morning as I gained confidence ó and therefore speed ó as I started making runs from the top to the bottom of the bunny slope, crashing at the bottom because I still hadnít figured out how to stop.

    Yard sale

    On the final run of the morning, something went wrong.

    I donít remember the details except that as I tried to deploy the snowplow it all went horribly bad and I gained speed and shot down the hill. At a certain point, the snowplow was no longer an option and the mass of humanity at the bottom was rapidly coming into play.

    So, I went to my usual Plan B, and fell sideways, digging everything I could into the snow to slow down.

    But it was too late and I careened across the hard-packed snow like a puck destined for the net.

    Too bad there wasnít a net. That would have helped.

    Instead, I plowed through a crowd of people and their gear like a bowling ball. People and gear went flying.

    There were a few harsh words and lots of apologies. Nobody was hurt, but it took several minutes of trading ski poles before everybody was back to business.

    I scampered away with only my pride bruised, and that afternoon got on the lift and went to the top of the mountain where I continued my lessons with my friends on the green, and later blue, runs far from the crowds at the bottom.

    I taught myself to stop that day without falling down, but there were some spectacular spills along the way.

    Maybe I should have paid more attention when I had the chance to learn from a pro.

    Fortunately, there is a chance for you to not follow my lead and let a trained ski professional help you get started on the slopes.

    Learn to ski

    January has been named Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month nationwide and many of Vermontís great mountains are making accommodations to help people learn to ski and ride, primarily by making it more affordable to try the sport.

    And the month-long opportunity isnít just for those who have never been on the mountain before. It also offers the chance to try a new snow sport, giving lifelong skiers a chance to try snowboarding or other opportunities.

    Letís face it, for some folks, buying or renting the necessary gear and buying a full-priced lift ticket can be a steep proposition for someone who isnít sure if they will even enjoy the sport.

    But the folks running the ski areas know that for a lot of people, just getting them on the mountain to try skiing or snowboarding will push them over the edge and turn them into skiers or riders.

    So, theyíve made it incredibly attractive to give it a try.

    For the month of January ó except for the three days over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend ó folks can try skiing or riding for just $29.

    That cost of entry will set you up with rental gear, a professional lesson, and lift access to the mountain.

    There are some limitations.

    Some areas will restrict lift access to the beginners area, and the length of the lesson varies at different areas.

    Also, each ski area has different age ranges with some areas making the offer for kids as young as 4, while others require participants to be 13 years or older so check different areas if youíre planning to take the family.

    And remember, these packages are for beginners only. You canít sign up for advanced lessons.

    The best way to get details on the different ski areas offering the bargain is to log on to the Ski Vermont website. Just browse to: www.skivermont.com/learn for details on which ski areas are participating and how to contact them to get registered.

    Take advantage of this program if youíve been considering taking up skiing or snowboarding. It beats the heck out of taking out the lift line and risking harm to yourself and others.

    Contact Darren Marcy at darren@darrenmarcy.com or at www.DarrenMarcy.com.
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