All-Season Tips for Family Fun

Fun on the Slopes: Tips that Build Confidence

Posted on January 3, 2014

Building confidence is very important to a successful skiing or snowboarding experience, whether you’re brand new to either sport, returning to the slopes after an absence, or considering moving up a level in your abilities. Taking a lesson should be your first step. Why? Because professional ski and snowboard instructors are trained to build the confidence that will yield a great experience – they want their students to succeed! If you’re looking for ways to build confidence on the slopes, read on for tips from the pros at Smugglers’ Notch Resort’s Snow Sport University®.

Choose an instruction level that is appropriate and the type of instruction that meets your needs. Most ski resorts outline ability levels on their websites, typically on the section of the site having to do with instruction. The description might have class levels numbered, with 1 being beginner level and 9 being expert, or they might have descriptive names, such as “novice” or “first timer.” If the levels as described leave you confused, call your destination and describe your family’s abilities to aid in proper placement. If you’re an intermediate or expert looking for fine tuning, check in with your destination to see what program might be perfect for you. For example, Smugglers’ offers a wide range of instruction from group to private to special sessions for teens, plus women’s clinics and adult camps. Proper placement means comfort and confidence!

When picking up rental equipment, remember that the rental technicians are great resources. If your boots don’t feel quite right, ask them if the size can be changed or if they have suggestions on how to increase comfort. Try to factor in time to wear the boots around for a bit indoors to get a feel for them – taking that extra time can pay off for kids as well as adults. Make sure equipment fits well and is comfortable before heading out. If you own your own boots, consider a consultation with a bootfitter who can make adjustments that result in total comfort.

When you arrive for an instructional session, feel free to share. Share goals, share concerns, share anything that might impact the experience, whether it’s a private one-on-one or a group lesson. Sharing pertinent information at the outset can allow for proper placement in a group, and ensure an experience that is tailored to your individual goals.

Be in the moment! Adults tend to be more challenged by this than kids! Keep your mind on your experience of learning how to ski or ride. Enjoy your time on a beautiful mountain in the crisp, clear air. If frustration or nerves overtake you, that’s fine – consider sticking with the same level for more time or stepping back a level until you’ve reestablished a feeling of comfort. Learning something new or improving your skills can be a challenge. Celebrate each little milestone that you, or if you’re a parent – your child, meets during the learning experience. Remember, there’s no test – your experience is all about fun!

If you’re a parent, consider your child’s instructor as your partner in developing a confident young skier or rider. Oftentimes, a parent’s ability to relax and ski or ride with confidence is linked to the knowledge that his or her child has acquired the tools to be responsible on the slopes. A good ski school supports many facets of a young skier or rider’s development. First, instruction is offered step-by-step at a pace comfortable to the learner, with a review of the skills mastered before progressing. Second, safety considerations are presented in a variety of formats so that the message is reinforced. For example, at Smugglers’, the skier’s and rider’s responsibility code is incorporated verbally into teaching settings and is included on a special children’s trail map. Third, instructors welcome parents’ questions at the end of the day and offer suggestions about how parents can model or reinforce the lessons learned, either through conversation or fun on-slope activities. It all adds up to confidence and peace of mind!

Keep track of your days on the mountain. Downloading a tracking app to your smartphone helps you keep an ongoing record of your favorite trails as well as your progression in skiing or riding. Smugglers’ makes it easy for families with children in the full-day instructional camps to do a daily review. Each child is outfitted with a Flaik™ GPS that tracks their route, mileage and speed, and can be reviewed at the end of the day through secure log-in. At Smuggs; tracking your runs on the moutain can also be done with the resort's Smuggs Tapped app. Young children may enjoy creating an ongoing journal of their ski and ride outings incorporating photos and trail maps. Whether you track your adventures with technology or by putting pen to paper in a journal, reviewing and reliving your day on the slopes is a fun activity for all ages that is sure to prompt many good stories and memories.

Revel in every run you take! By following these tips, you and your family will be well on your way to becoming confident skiers or riders!
Working together with the expert staff at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, as well as with the families that visit, Karen Boushie, Smugglers’ public relations director, serves as the lead content wrangler for “the view from up here.” If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact Karen at
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