Founded in 2009, Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month has been providing free and or reduced-cost ski and snowboard lessons to eager new athletes at over 200 ski areas and resorts located across the country. In its first year, the initiative taught 20,000 new skiers and riders, and this January, the program hopes to break 1 million total lessons.
Throughout the month of January, various resorts and ski areas are offering different packages or promotions for new skiers and riders. For example, Homewood Resort in California is offering a $69 adult Learn to Ski or Ride Package, which is "specially designed for those who've never been skiing or snowboarding before." The Homewood package also includes a lesson, all-day equipment rental, and an all-day beginner lift ticket.
As the longest running learn to ski and snowboard program in the industry, this 10-year-old initiative has served a crucial role in growing both sports in a way that promotes both having fun and staying safe. And let’s not forget the most important group of skiers on the mountain—the ski instructor’s doing our sport’s most important work.
"The essence of the month is to learn how to ski or snowboard, take lessons from people who know how to teach, and to have fun," says Mary Jo Tarallo, the executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month initiative.
Started by groups like Ski Utah and Ski Vermont, Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month was created to get new skiers to take lessons from people who are certified to teach, like PSIA instructors, and to ultimately spread stoke for skiing and snowboarding within children and adults of all ages and demographics. Today, adults and kids can find deals on lessons in 34 different states.
"The industry has been pretty flat for awhile. Only 2.9 percent of the U.S. population actually participates in skiing or snowboarding," says Tarallo. “Part of the challenge is delivering a consistent message to people and giving them the chance to try."
For Tarallo and Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, one of the most important factors of getting new skiers and snowboarders to try the sports—and to hopefully stick with it—is a proper lesson.
"If you're going to introduce someone to the sport, make sure you give them a proper lesson. I always say to people 'you wouldn't take lessons on how to skydive from a friend or family member, would you?' So why would you do that with skiing or snowboarding? Instructors are ready and able and they also know how to teach, which is the important thing when getting people to try a new sport."
To find out more about Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and to see which resorts and ski areas near you are offering programs, visit learntoskiandsnowboard.org.