I can count on both hands how many times I have attempted to roller skate, ice skate, or water ski in my life and admittedly I’m not very good at any one of them. Although I am very athletic, playing competitive basketball and volleyball had not prepared me for my first attempt at snow skiing.
I had heard from many people that it was best to learn to ski out west in the “powder” verses the east coast where it ices quickly. So, I started researching and came upon Utah and Park City. I choose Utah for several reasons, first and foremost the slopes are literally a half hour away from SLC airport. In addition to the easy access, Utah also offers a variety of outdoor winter activities like snowmobiling, tubing, and bobsledding at the Olympic Village. So, for me it was a no brainer – Salt Lake City provided a chance for me to give skiing a go without committing to a solely ski vacation.
All in all, I had a great time learning to ski and would like to share some recommendations that I hope you find useful when hitting the slopes in Salt Lake City for the first time!
- Book a Beginner Lesson: I signed up for an all-day never ever ski lesson which offers the best value for a semi-private lesson. The class starts at 9:30am and ends at 3:30pm, and the class includes all your essential rentals – skies, poles, boots, helmet, and lift ticket. The classes are limited to 5 adults to ensure you get enough attention from your coach to gain the basics. Depending on your ability, you may even be able to ski down the green slopes if needed without proper instruction; but in my opinion you should learn the right way if you truly are beginning, as I was, and master the basics to avoid creating bad habits that may haunt you later in life.
- Ski Park City, not the Canyons: I was staying in the Canyons so I did my class there and struggled the first day on the only green slope I had access to. That being said, I was told to try Park City the next time I skied without instruction and I am SO happy I did. Not only does Park City have over 3 green slopes to choose from, they seemed more suitable for a beginner. These green slopes allowed me to gain confidence, practice the basics and even start to enjoy the mountain!
- Buy the first-time beginners lift ticket: This lift ticket is not advertised anywhere online, nor is it available for pre-purchase but is perfect for a true first timer. This ticket is $86 for the day verses $132 and allows you access to greens (and in some cases maybe blues), which is all I wanted anyways. The down side is you do have to line up to purchase this ticket at the slopes, but to save $50 is well worth it. In addition, if you do decide you are ready for a more advanced run you can upgrade your ticket anytime throughout the day.
- Rent your equipment from Black Tie: Black Tie Ski Rental are reliable, reasonable and convenient. Book in advance online to save and they will arrive at your hotel room door to fit you at the arranged time with everything you may need. Rental lines can be very time consuming, so having a company come directly to you is bang for your buck. Best part is that they open as early as 7:30am and pick up as late as 10:00pm. When you are finished, you can even leave the equipment with the concierge at the hotel, call Black Tie and they pick up from the hotel while you enjoy an après ski!
- Wear sunblock and take chap stick: This may be obvious to those who have skied before but I think it needs to be said. I’m not one for chap stick usually but it is unbelievable how dry the air makes your skin and especially your lips and face. Being surrounded by snow you forget how close you are to the sun and how the snow reflects it on you. So, lesson learned put the sun screen on your face and chap stick in your pocket!
Finally, don’t beat yourself up; skiing is hard and it’s not natural or logical at first. The whole first day I struggled and admittedly was nervous for a day on the slopes on my own. Reluctantly, I pulled myself back to the slopes with aching muscles and a wounded ego and was so happy I did. It’s true what they say, it’ll just click on the second day. I believe the slopes at Park City are better catered to a true beginner which allowed me to build the confidence I needed to start enjoying the scenery and shredding the “greatest snow on earth!”