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How long does it take for adults to learn to ski from never ever to competent?

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
MarzNC, I am describing my experiences with private lessons in Poland. One on one. I do not doubt that there are better ones - after all I have finally found an excellent teacher - but previously I would not know how to locate one. You might think I am sounding a bit dopey here, but for a city dweller the whole world of recreational skiing is a very alien concept. all in all, skiing is not a very accessible sport, I think, and not mainly because of money or distance from the mountains.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
MarzNC, I am describing my experiences with private lessons in Poland. One on one. I do not doubt that there are better ones - after all I have finally found an excellent teacher - but previously I would not know how to locate one. You might think I am sounding a bit dopey here, but for a city dweller the whole world of recreational skiing is a very alien concept. all in all, skiing is not a very accessible sport, I think, and not mainly because of money or distance from the mountains.
Ah sorry, I misinterpreted what you wrote.

Completely understand that it's hard to know what to do as a senior who wants to learn to ski. Especially if you don't live in "ski country." I certainly knew very little before I discovered online ski forums about 15 years ago. Only lurked for a few years because so little of the discussion seemed relevant. Finding the Divas made a big difference.

Took me quite a few years even after I was skiing a few times a season to learn how to request a good instructor. Had a bad experience the first time I paid for a semi-private lesson for me and my daughter. That put me off the idea of private lessons.

Only reason I started to learn how to find instructors was because of the knee injury in 2012 (not skiing). I made a decision to work on improving my skiing to both have more fun and to decrease the risk of any future injury. That's when I started learning about PSIA and instructor training and certification, mostly from online ski forums.

I see that there is a Polish Ski Instructor Association. Seem to have a bit of a connection with BASI, which is the British ski instructors organization. You might see what you can learn about how Polish ski instructors are trained. A British instructor who is thinking of working in Poland needs to have pass the BASI Level 2 exam. But I'm not sure how that compares to a PSIA Level 2 exam.
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
see that there is a Polish Ski Instructor Association. Seem to have a bit of a connection with BASI, which is the British ski instructors organization.
Well, it seems that after years of floundering I have found the world of expert teaching. The lessons on the rolling carpet I am taking since February are conducted in a centre that is closely cooperating with the Ski Instructor Association as well as the Skiers Association, quite an elite society. I have an excellent teacher, a former marine and for years special forces instructor. I am one of very few beginner students; the majority who come for lessons are instructors and people in competitive skiing honing their skills, so the teachers there are of the standard to match that level of expectations. So I guess my personal difficulties have now been taken in hand. But this was a stroke of rather extraordinary luck. I still wonder occasionally just how are people like me supposed to go about it in a regular way?
A digression here. Altogether I have felt that the decision to start learning to ski brought about so many amazing gifts to my life. Finding this forum too, was (is) a completely unexpected adventure. Seems like this Zen dictum that things happen in life when we are ready must be true. Thank you so much for all your wisdom and information!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
A digression here. Altogether I have felt that the decision to start learning to ski brought about so many amazing gifts to my life. Finding this forum too, was (is) a completely unexpected adventure. Seems like this Zen dictum that things happen in life when we are ready must be true. Thank you so much for all your wisdom and information!
You're most welcome! Online communities have great value when you find one that's a good fit. I really enjoy the diverse nature of TSD for age, geography, and ski ability.

So I guess my personal difficulties have now been taken in hand. But this was a stroke of rather extraordinary luck. I still wonder occasionally just how are people like me supposed to go about it in a regular way?
The company that operates the indoor ski slope near New York City (Big SNOW) was formed several years ago exactly to deal with the issue of how difficult it is for a beginner to get started. Snow Operating looked at the entire experience, not just the beginner lesson. They came up with a beginner-centered approach that starts with providing better support and guidance for the rental process. Even simple changes like signs that are #1, #2, #3, etc. Initially there were instructors and advanced skiers who thought they were crazy. But didn't take long before they became a key partner of PSIA. The industry knows that they need to encourage a new generation of skiers. Snowboarders too, but the learning process for that is pretty different.

Worth keeping in mind that until the "shaped ski" was invented in the 1990s, learning to ski really did take a lot of work. Skis were much longer, well over someone's head. Leg strength was necessary, along with good general fitness. I skied quite a bit for two seasons while at boarding school (ages 12-14) in upstate New York. There was a ski hill on campus. Even though I was an athlete, had lessons, and a lot of interest, I was not even close to being able to make proper parallel turns on straight skis.

So even in the USA, the idea of trying to teach someone over 50 to ski for the first time is relatively new. While there are plenty of seniors who ski regularly in the mornings midweek at their home mountain, they are mostly people who learned to ski in their youth. I done a few "ski safaris" checking out places I've heard of that are not destination resorts. I always look for the local seniors in the lodge because they know the best place to store ski bags and boot up.
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Worth keeping in mind that until the "shaped ski" was invented in the 1990s, learning to ski really did take a lot of work.
Very true.
So even in the USA, the idea of trying to teach someone over 50 to ski for the first time is relatively new.
Eh, in Poland it is downright revolutionary. I am asked all the time why I should even bother, as you can't teach an old dog new tricks and the like.
The company that operates the indoor ski slope near New York City (Big SNOW) was formed several years ago exactly to deal with the issue of how difficult it is for a beginner to get started. Snow Operating looked at the entire experience, not just the beginner lesson.
Fascinating! You are a mine of information. I am glad that the glass ceiling in learning to ski has been noticed and is opposed.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
.... I am one of very few beginner students; the majority who come for lessons are instructors and people in competitive skiing honing their skills, so the teachers there are of the standard to match that level of expectations. So I guess my personal difficulties have now been taken in hand. But this was a stroke of rather extraordinary luck. I still wonder occasionally just how are people like me supposed to go about it in a regular way?....
Anyone is lucky when they find the right instructor and the right place where they can learn to ski.
Will you be able to continue working with this instructor when you get on real snow in winter?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Fascinating! You are a mine of information. I am glad that the glass ceiling in learning to ski has been noticed and is opposed.
The American ski industry grew a lot in the post-war era of the Baby Boomers after WWII ended. The number of small hills exploded in regions with enough natural snow to have a few slopes open for at least 2-3 months. But those that didn't invest in snowmaking or were just too small to be viable long term business ventures that only made money for a few months out of every year closed down well before the 1990s. There are hundreds of "lost ski areas," especially in the states along the Atlantic coast.

The ski industry is well aware that the average age of pass holders and people who take ski vacations regularly has been going up for a decade or two. If new people don't start skiing/boarding, that is an existential threat. Creating revenue-based activities during the off-season like mountain biking, alpine slides, or high ropes courses helps. But making it easier to learn to ski is considered very important because return business is key for all ski resorts, large and small.

I've been reading about the ski industry in recent years. The two books by Chris Diamond, Ski Inc. and Ski Inc. 2000, are great introductions to how the American ski industry has evolved in the last few decades.
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#liquidfeet I hope so, at least to some extent. Right behind the ski centre building there is a hill with a drag lift with snowmaking in winter months and maybe I can swap some of my carpet lessons for on snow lessons. If not regularly, then at least from time to time. But even if not, I will be adding snow skiing every day to the present schedule, which hopefully will be good in itself.
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The American ski industry grew a lot in the post-war era of the Baby Boomers after WWII ended.
Funny how different the connotations are for the Baby Boomer term. I understand that in the US that was the generation of particularly pronounced advantages? Or at least so it would seem from various online debates I come across on social media.
I am of the same generation, but in Poland it had meant: overcrowded classrooms and scant opportunities for out of school activities. There were simply too many of us. Our priviledged generation are the ones who were children/teens after 1989. But there was no numerical boom then and since then the birthrate has been falling and falling.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#liquidfeet I hope so, at least to some extent. Right behind the ski centre building there is a hill with a drag lift with snowmaking in winter months and maybe I can swap some of my carpet lessons for on snow lessons. If not regularly, then at least from time to time. But even if not, I will be adding snow skiing every day to the present schedule, which hopefully will be good in itself.
Are you going to SkiMondo?

 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Funny how different the connotations are for the Baby Boomer term. I understand that in the US that was the generation of particularly pronounced advantages? Or at least so it would seem from various online debates I come across on social media.
I am of the same generation, but in Poland it had meant: overcrowded classrooms and scant opportunities for out of school activities. There were simply too many of us. Our priviledged generation are the ones who were children/teens after 1989. But there was no numerical boom then and since then the birthrate has been falling and falling.
Well, there weren't any battles on American soil during WWII. European and Asian countries were in a completely different state after the war.

American soldiers who came home, some with European brides, could go to college on the GI Bill, then find work fairly easily, and raise a family comfortably. These families weren't rich, but they did own small homes. In the northeast, people could take the train for a ski weekend or day trip. As the national highway system was built starting in the 1950s, driving the family car for a ski trip became more common by the 1960s.

The American ski industry had started in a few places in the 1930s, but it was the men of the Tenth Mountain Division who built the industry up in more than one region after the war ended. That was the Division that was specially recruited and trained for winter warfare in the Rockies before being sent to fight in Europe.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
You have to remember too, that for European's skiing is a vacation. Similar to some of us NA's going diving. The amenities are not local. I've had this discussion with many Brits when we were in France skiing. They would come to France for 2 weeks a year and that was it. They thought it would be great to go every weekend like we did. I did have to remind them that we didn't have Trois Vallee in our backyard.

As for learning....you learn to ski 1 turn at a time. So whether it's the rolling carpet, 170 vertical ft hill or 3,000 ft mountain, it's 1 turn at a time.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
The ski industry is well aware that the average age of pass holders and people who take ski vacations regularly has been going up for a decade or two. If new people don't start skiing/boarding, that is an existential threat.

I can't figure out why they aren't making it easier for new skiers/riders. Dropping season pass prices is swell, but new skiers don't buy a season pass. Then, they raise single day lift tickets well over $100, which is prohibitive for so many people. Add to it the cost of gear and clothing, it's a wonder anybody starts to ski. And forget a snack! (Well, maybe that's a bit much.)

The first-time skier, or others who are still starting out, are also stuck with uncomfortable or floppy boots, and possibly skis that haven't been tuned. (Not sure about what difficulties riders might face.)

Do the average first-timers have the money to pay for lessons? I think we all agree that lessons are necessary. And do the resorts do their best to recruit and retain good instructors [or do they pay the instructors pennies while using lessons as a revenue source]?

The small local hills that can't make it close down, leaving fewer options for beginners. Thank heaven for the ones that remain, the only affordable option for those who aren't already addicted!

<end rant>
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The small local hills that can't make it close down, leaving fewer options for beginners. Thank heaven for the ones that remain, the only affordable option for those who aren't already addicted!
The American ski industry is constantly evolving. In fact there are actually a few ski areas that are in the process of a major comeback in more than one region of N. America. The Indy Pass is changing the situation for some people who can only ski 4-5 days a season at local hill(s).

But getting into details is probably more than the OP needs to know since she's in Poland.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
I can't figure out why they aren't making it easier for new skiers/riders. Dropping season pass prices is swell, but new skiers don't buy a season pass. Then, they raise single day lift tickets well over $100, which is prohibitive for so many people. Add to it the cost of gear and clothing, it's a wonder anybody starts to ski. And forget a snack! (Well, maybe that's a bit much.)

The first-time skier, or others who are still starting out, are also stuck with uncomfortable or floppy boots, and possibly skis that haven't been tuned. (Not sure about what difficulties riders might face.)

Do the average first-timers have the money to pay for lessons? I think we all agree that lessons are necessary. And do the resorts do their best to recruit and retain good instructors [or do they pay the instructors pennies while using lessons as a revenue source]?

The small local hills that can't make it close down, leaving fewer options for beginners. Thank heaven for the ones that remain, the only affordable option for those who aren't already addicted!

<end rant>

I think some places at least offer pretty affordable packages for new skiers that consist of ticket, lesson, and rentals. I think Wachusett still has a good one where you get everything for under or around $100 and can make it a 2 day for a little more. Once you are wanting to practice on your own though, it's tough for sure. People need to be motivated and likely buy some starter gear versus shelling out for sucky rentals every time. I had a terrible time with rental boots due to my wide forefoot when starting out, some places had rentals that were like buckets but some weren't wide enough for me and I would be in horrible pain. When trying new mountains you aren't sure what it's be until you get there and put stuff on. Then you don't really have any choice if you want to ski. Buying even cheap boots from a Big Box store as I did at first was a huge step up and allowed me to learn in relative comfort before trading up for a real bootfitter.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Eh, in Poland it is downright revolutionary. I am asked all the time why I should even bother, as you can't teach an old dog new tricks and the like.

Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that. I learned at 37 and that was hard enough. I was not a natural at all but kept at it, probably mostly because I love to be in the mountains and love the snowy winter scenery. I will never be a great skier but I have fun. :smile:
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
I think it's knowing where the programs are. Many smaller clubs/hills have beginner packages with lifts, lessons, rentals. They can be 1 day or many days. As I mentioned before you don't need an Aspen to learn how to ski. So I blame the industry for not getting the information out there.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
I learned at a relatively small hill (Berkshire East in MA) but they have grown! They added many new trails. Kids' weekend tickets are now $64, Adults' are $78. Reasonable, but not at all cheap.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Our local mountain offered (some time back) an option that two of my friends participated in. If you completed the session of 5 beginner lessons they gave you a pair of skis out of the rental fleet to keep as your own. My one friend skied them for several years before upgrading last season. I’m not sure if they will offer the program again but I thought it was pretty cool!
 

Après Skier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hi, This is a really interesting question and I am enjoying the discussion. I cannot share personal experience because I learned young and like many took time off and picked it up again years later blah blah blah…

One thing that I have noticed from being a member of Ski clubs: beginners with a background in either ice skating or rollerblading tend to progress quickly, and I’ve read recent articles extolling the virtues of rollerblading for off season preparation. OK, maybe I am more than slightly off topic but still relevant information for someone looking to improve.

My motto is as long as you’re having fun you’re making progress.
 
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