I have a confession to make. I’m almost 30 and I just learned to ski.
My family ski trip to Breckenridge seemed like the perfect time to add skiing to my list of skills, as well as kick off my year of adventure. So, on my first day in town, I marched down to Breckenridge Ski & Ride School at the base of Peak 9 to sign up for a one-day lesson. The sign-up was easy and included a lift ticket for the day that I could use after my lesson to get access to any of the beginner trails.
I was able to rent my ski gear online from Breck Sports. There are several locations throughout Breckenridge. I chose the location at The Maggie for its convenient location right next to the lift and the meeting point for my ski class. The people at Breck Sports were awesome and incredibly helpful throughout our visit. We rented gear for four days, starting with the day of my ski lesson. Each evening, we returned the gear to Breck Sports where they would store our gear for us until the next day. We didn’t have to lug skis and boots all around Breckenridge! Plus, they stored our snow boots during the day so I didn’t have to worry about where to store my shoes while I was out enjoying the slopes (another huge bonus — otherwise storage locker rentals were $10 a day!)
My Very First Ski Lesson
I was a little nervous and apprehensive as I headed up for my ski lesson. Even though Eric has skied several times before, he came along with me (like the gentleman he is).The instructors began by splitting us all up into groups based on our experience level (Breckenridge Ski and Ride School also offers intermediate and advanced lessons). I, of course, started out in the beginner class.
The lesson began simply enough. We learned how to put on our skis and walk around in them. It was pretty awkward. Designed to go down hill, skis are not so easy to maneuver on flat, packed, slippery snow. We shuffled over to a tiny hill and rode a magic carpet (a moving sidewalk) up to the top. There, our instructor taught us our first lesson in skiing: how to slow down. We practiced several times, going up the magic carpet and down the hill. I had a bit of trouble at first, but I figured it out when I realized that I needed to push the snow with my skis to slow down quickly. I was glad I’d been doing all those squats at the gym!
When our instructor figured we could slow down well enough, we headed up a slightly steeper hill on a platter lift. Eric was dreading the platter lift, insisting that he always, always fell off of them, but I thought it was pretty fun. A platter lift (also known as a button lift) is a long tube with a round disk at the bottom of it. You put the tube between your legs and lean your bottom against the disk while holding on to the tube with your hands. Then you ski uphill with the lift’s help. There’s a bit of a bungee effect with this lift, especially right at the start, so you don’t want to sit down or you probably will fall. Fortunately, neither Eric or myself fell off the lift this time.
Now that we had mastered slowing down (or at least we’d gotten the hang of it), our instructor introduced us to turns. After a few runs down the hill, it was clear that most of our class was getting the hang of turning. My instructor left a few of the students that were sill having trouble with another instructor and took the rest of us up the chair lift to our first green run.
If you’re unfamiliar with skiing, you may not know what I mean by “green run.” All ski trails are sorted by difficulty. Greens are the easiest and most beginner friendly. From there you go to blues, then black diamonds, then double black diamonds. In Breckenridge, the greens are all located on Peaks 8 and 9 (there are five total peaks in Breckenridge, beginning with Peak 6 and going through Peak 10). Peak 9 was closer to the rental house we were staying in, which is why we started there. You can also take lessons and rent gear at Peak 8.
Getting on my first chair lift was a weird but exhilarating experience
We shuffled through the line of skiers waiting to board, up to a row of automatic turnstiles. The turnstiles were designed so that only six skiers at a time could enter and board the lift. When my turnstile opened, I shuffled up to a neon yellow line in the ground, trying to keep pace with the other five skiers in my row. It was super icy and slippery, but I somehow managed to neither fall down nor knock over anyone else. The chair lift swooped in behind us, bumped the back of my knees, and knocked me back into the seat. Here was where the weird part of the experience became exhilarating as we soared up over the slopes in our swinging chair. We watched dozens of other beginners inch slowly down the slopes, many of them falling. A lot. I felt a little less nervous. At least I hadn’t fallen, yet!
The nerves resurfaced as we neared the top of the lift. I knew we would have to ski off the lift, but I was a little worried about doing so in such close proximity to five other skiers. I lifted the tips of my skis, held my ski poles in front of me, stood up, and slid down the hill to meet up with my instructor and the rest of the class. Whew.
It was as we began to make our way down our first real ski run that I realized I maybe had a knack for this skiing thing. Even though I was moving at a snail’s pace, I was having so much fun. When we reached the bottom, we headed back up for another run. This time, I skied a little faster and stopped a little less. I had even more fun!
After a few easy green runs, we stopped for lunch. On our return, our instructor decided we were ready for a challenge. We headed back up the chair lift and made our way towards a steeper, more difficult trail than we had yet experienced.
This is where I fell for the first time
Falling wasn’t so bad. I was wearing padded, waterproof snow gear, and the snow itself is soft enough. Getting up was the hard part. I was on an incline, and no matter which way I positioned my skis, they started sliding as I put my weight on them. I fell a few more times trying to get up. By this time, my instructor had caught up to me and started to walk me through it. He showed me how to place my skis parallel to the slope so I wouldn’t slide. And I stood up. But then I looked down the rest of the slope, and at my husband far below (or maybe he just seemed far), and had second thoughts about continuing. I was sure I would fall again.
I started side-stepping down the slope, determined I would just walk down the mountain if I had to. At this point, Eric called up to me. “Just ski down, it’s not so bad. You can do it!” So I did. And it wasn’t!
I was a little surprised, too, but mainly I was glad to have enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I’m happy that I took the opportunity to learn how to ski, because I discovered it to be something I love doing. I’ll definitely be making plans for another ski trip soon!
Until then, I put together a video of some of the highlights from my week of skiing in Breckenridge. I hope you enjoy it!