This year's record-breaking snowfall in Utah means lots of cloudy, cold snowstorms. But Mother Nature decided to take a break on the day I took my friend Erica skiing – her first time skiing EVER! Erica grew up right here in Utah, but skiing wasn't an activity that was part of her childhood. Not knowing much about the sport nor having much exposure (despite Utah being known for The Greatest Snow on Earth®), skiing or snowboarding just wasn't on her radar. However, this spectacular winter got Erica thinking about learning and my timely social post soliciting for an adult who has never skied and wants to try sealed the deal.
"Hopefully I won't fall too much and it'll be fun."
On a surprisingly warm, bluebird February day, teas and coffees in hand, we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon. I asked how she was feeling before we hit the road. "Nervous. Very, very nervous," she answered. Her hopes for the day? "Hopefully I won't fall too much and it'll be fun." Sounds reasonable!
Brighton is known for its local's vibe, awesome instructors and varied terrain to keep everyone from the first-timer to extreme expert happy. A perfect place to mark this occasion.
Once we arrived, the process of getting Erica set up with rental gear was a breeze. The staff at the Brighton Mountain Sports Rental Shop took Erica's measurements, were patient during the boot fitting and sent Erica off feeling comfortable and confident in her equipment (which is no small feat if you know the awkwardness that is walking in ski boots for the first time).
Skis and poles in hand, I walk Erica to the "adult first time" ski school area. She's placed in a group lesson with six other adults just like her - first-time skiers and an instructor name Robert Roberts.
I asked Roberts what was fun and special about teaching adult first-time skiers. "Watching the light switch go on when they learn how to control speed and realize they don't have to fall down to learn how to ski."
Roberts has been teaching at Brighton for decades and says, "The lifeblood of this resort are these people, so if I can get half of the people I teach how to ski to come back, I'm really happy."
When teaching apprehensive, nervous adults how to ski, the goal is NOT to get them skiing down an entire run by the end of the day. The goal IS to teach them the mechanics of their equipment, basic speed control and how to get up if they fall.
Before Erica found herself sliding down the bunny slope, she learned about the ski binding and how to click her boots in and out of the bindings, then how to put her skis into a "pizza" (which will help her control her speed). Before any actual skiing happened, I checked in and Erica said, "It's so much fun already!"
"It's so much fun already!"
An hour into the mechanics and Erica gets on the chairlift. As I stand below and watch her pass above me, I can hear an excited cheer. Time for her first run! Looking confident and proud, I see Erica start to make some small turns and figure out not just how to control her speed but also her direction down the run.
At the end of two hours, the lesson is over. I was anxious to see how Erica was feeling. "Still smiling. Didn't fall. Had a great time. Excellent teacher, Roberto." We both accept the concise answer and head into the lodge for lunch.
Three more bunny slope runs in the afternoon helped to solidify the techniques Erica learned in her morning lesson and took us to a perfect time to call it a successful day. Though the resort wasn't closing, we made the decision to end the day on a high note before her legs got too tired (which can lead to a loss of technique and possible falls or injuries).
Rental return was quick and easy, taking less than five minutes. With a huge smile on her face, we headed down the canyon with Erica planning her next ski day!
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