If you’re returning to the slopes after a hiatus from skiing or snowboarding, coming back might seem a bit daunting. But rest assured, you’re not alone, and there’s a support system in place for you!
Rena Perkins, a snowsports professional at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, observes, “In ski school lineup, I frequently meet skiers who were once avid practitioners of the sport, until something happened to take them away from the mountain. Perhaps it was a move to a non-snowy area; maybe health problems or an injury that made skiing uncomfortable; or perhaps they’ve been caught up in the family whirl of soccer games and ballet lessons. I think I can speak for all snowsports professionals when I say this: I love to welcome a fellow enthusiast back into the fold.”
To ease the transition for skiers and riders returning to the slopes, Rena shares the following tips.
1. Start slowly! When you’re getting back into skiing or riding, remember that you haven’t used a lot of these muscles in this way since, well, the last time you skied or rode. In addition, you developed the specialized balance and motor skills needed to ski or ride over some time when you were first learning; it may take awhile for those skills to become second nature again. In short, you will probably be a little rusty, so let yourself ease back in!
2. Embrace new technology. Shaped and alternative camber skis revolutionized skiing; it’s now virtually impossible to buy a “straight” ski for recreational use. Snowboards are now made to handle to any type of terrain and delight any kind of rider. Ski and snowboard boots are more supportive, and at the same time lighter, warmer and easier to walk in. You will notice that this new equipment comes with a new price tag as well. So before you drop a bundle of cash on untried equipment, take out some demos, available at most shops that rent equipment.
3. Take a lesson. Instructors are some of the most knowledgeable resources when it comes to new technology, teaching techniques and analysis and development of skills. In addition, people who spend so much time on the hill have genuine passion for their sports and enthusiasm for bringing others back to the mountain. A lesson will get you back up to speed while building confidence, which is arguably the most important aspect of skiing or riding well.
4. Go with the right attitude. If you learned to ski or snowboard when you were a kid, you probably had an easy time picking up the skills because you had young muscles and no fear. With age comes wisdom; visions of yourself scuttling around collecting your equipment after a classic “yard sale” can be daunting. We’ve all been there – give yourself a break, relax, and be patient as you relearn skills.
5. Educate yourself. The advent of shaped and alternative camber skis and boards has changed skiing and riding. Gone are the days when your ski tips reached your up-stretched fingertips or you hopped onto your snowboard in a pair of snow boots. Pick up a ski or snowboard magazine or talk to industry insiders like instructors, bootfitters or snowsports retailers. They can show you how your sport has changed, and what those changes will mean for your return to the mountain.
As a final thought, Rena advises, “Take heart, there’s only one thing that every skier and every rider needs to be successful, and that is confidence. So if you are ready and excited to get back into skiing or riding and you can only work on one thing, build your confidence, and everything else will fall into place.”
And speaking of confidence, be confident that there will be a snowsports professional ready to celebrate and support your return to the slopes!