Ski & Snowboard lessons in USA ski resorts (and guiding)
Skiing & snowboarding are fantastic sports, whether you're just starting to turn, are learning to tackle those intermediate & advanced runs or have multiple years under your belt!
Many people benefit from taking lessons, from complete beginners taking up the sport for the first time up, to people who would just like some tips or to be shown around the mountain with a guide.
There are some significant differences in lessons offered in American ski resorts vs Europe, so we've laid out the basics, so you know what to expect from ski schools in the USA.
Chalets USA offer lessons of all types & can help you figure out the most suitable ski or snowboard lessons for you & your family or group.
Lesson types in USA ski resorts
Most American ski resorts offer 3 main types of lessons for adults & children:
- Group lessons
- Semi-private lessons
- Private lessons
1. Group lessons:
- Great for meeting new people and learning or improving with other people in a fun group environment.
- The least expensive type of lessons.
2. Semi-private lessons:
- Small group lessons, normally with a maximum of 4 people in a group.
- These lessons have different names in different resorts - in Breckenridge it's the "Quad Squad", in Park City it's the "Ultimate 4" lessons.
- Get more individual attention from your instructor than in a group lesson to progress more quickly.
3. Private lessons:
- A great way to learn exactly what you'd like with a dedicated instructor, just for you!
- Take a private lesson either by yourself or with skiers / riders you know.
- Generally more expensive than in Europe, but usually you can have up to 6 people in a private lesson, so you can split the cost between you, if you are similar level skiers / riders.
- Full day or half day lessons available starting morning or afternoon.
Private lessons added benefits:
*Instructors will meet you wherever you like:
- Not sure where to go on the first day? The instructor can meet you at your lodging.
- Staying at a base area without a ski school meeting place? Meet them at any base area.
- If you'd like a lesson after lunch, meet them at an on mountain restaurant, so you don't have to go down to the bottom.
*Instructors will focus on whatever you'd like to work on, whatever level you're at:
- Want to try bumps or moguls for the first time?
- Want to learn to ski in the trees?
- Want to go down that double black diamond run you're too scared to try on your own.
- They will work with you, to accomplish your goals.
*We can request the type of instructor who is right for you or your family.
- Do you specifically want a male or female, of a certain age or nationality?
- Do you want someone who is particularly good with small children, will have fun with your teenagers or who is particularly good at working to build confidence with nervous skiers?
- Just request what is important to you.
*Some people take private instructors for their family or group, as a guide, just so they can ski together in comfort & jump any queues!
- Whether your child is a complete beginner or flying down the slopes, there are lessons suitable for his or her ability level.
- Children's lessons in the USA are typically full day lessons and include lunch with group lessons. The ski instructor will take the children to a restaurant where they will be given a child friendly lunch.
- The instructors also stop for hot chocolate breaks etc. when needed throughout the day.
- Children are grouped according to their age & ability level.
- The children are checked after a short time to make sure they're in the appropriate level group & moved around if necessary.
- Most resorts offer children's lessons day by day, rather than for 6 days at a time.
- This means you can order lessons for a day or a few day, take a break for a day or two and then do some more.
- Some resorts do offer 3 pack or 6 pack lessons at good rates.
- Most ski resorts offer "never ever" ski / snowboard lessons.
- If you've never skied or snowboarded before or if you are proficient in one discipline and want to try the other, these lessons are a great way to get you started.
- They show you how to put your gear together from first steps and then teach you the very basics upwards, so you start off with really good habits (and of course they help when you fall over!)
- You will typically start in a special beginner area, often with a "magic carpet", flat escalator to take you up the hill, so you only have to ski a little way, on a gentle slope to start with.
- If you have skied / snowboarded a little bit or haven't been on the snow for a while, there are also regular "beginner lessons" or "foundation" lessons.
- These lessons teach you the basics, whilst helping you gain confidence as you progress, from the encouraging instructors. You'll get comfortable with how to stop, get up from a fall & ride the beginner lift.
Intermediate & advanced lessons
- Intermediate & advanced lessons are perfect for those people who know how to ski or ride, but want to improve their skills & technique, build confidence or learn how to tackle more challenging terrain.
- Whether you want to advance from blue to black runs, learn how to ski bumps (moguls) or glades, there are lessons for you.
- These lessons tend to have different names in each resort, so do ask us for the most suitable lesson for you in the resort you're going to.
- Many clients ask us if we can recommend guides to show them around their American ski resort.
- Because most of the US off piste skiing is within bounds (as opposed to Europe), ski guiding is a little different in the US.
- One option is to take a private lesson. The instructor can act as a guide and show you around the resort and take you to places you may not want to go on your own or know how to find.
- They can of course teach and / or give you tips too, but they will do whatever you would like. You can just make the most of their experience and knowledge of the mountain, if you don't particularly want to be taught.
- The second option is most resorts offer complimentary hosted ski / snowboard tours.
- These are run by mountain hosts (not instructors), who will show you around the mountain, normally on intermediate level runs, for a couple of hours.
- These tours leave once or twice daily at set times & you just show up ready to go.
- See this article for more information on ski tours in your resort: USA ski resort free tours
- Most American instructors speak great English!
- This makes it easy for our British, Australian, New Zealand etc. clients (especially the kids) to learn easily, make themselves understood when they need something & have a lot of fun!
- They do also have specialists who are available to teach in other languages, please request this when booking lessons.
- Instructors are typically certified by the PSIA (Professional ski instructors of America) www.psia-i.org.
- They have various levels of training & certifications in Alpine skiing, snowboarding & telemark skiing.
- Instructors can also be specialists in children's lessons & freestyle / terrain park skills.
Resort owned ski schools
- Most ski resorts in the USA have one ski school owned & operated by the ski resort, as opposed to several different private ski schools as in many European resorts.
- The ski schools may have several different meeting points in the ski resort, so you can have the choice of a starting point near where you're staying or that is easy to get to, but they are all run by the ski resort.
- As the resorts run the ski school, often the ski school meeting points are right by the lift ticket offices, making it easy to pick up your lift tickets & meet your instructors on your first day.
- This also means the resort works well with the instructors & let's the lesson participants get straight on the lift, avoiding any queueing, to make the most of their lesson time.
We hope this is a helpful guide to give you an idea of what to expect from ski school & lessons in the American ski resorts.
As each resort does offer slightly different products at different prices, please do ask us about what each resort offers and what might work best for you, your group & budget.
We live in the USA, know the ski resorts & accommodation and visit them regularly.
We can give you expert advice and save you time & effort finding the right USA ski holiday for you.
Helen & Rob Brown
UK Tel 01223 655642
US Tel 303 482 1961
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