Confession: I live 15 minutes from Killington and do not ski, it's
oxymoronic I know. People look at you differently, not in a good
way, when you tell them you do not ski and yet live in Vermont.
This was true until two weeks ago. Learning as a kid is easy
because you're young, ambitious and not fearful of falling. I
thought I was well equipped with a background in endurance running,
cycling and mountaineering but don't let me get ahead of myself.
And so my journey begins, learning to ski at age 26 at one of the
foremost ski resorts in the northeast: Killington, a.k.a The Beast
of the East.
Little kids: This fear is two-fold therefore even more worrisome.
First, I pictured myself bombing the bunny slope headed straight
for some unfortunate 6-year-old resulting in a trip to the
hospital. Second, perhaps more due to vanity than anything, I
pictured that 6-year-old weaving in and out of my tracks flying by
me. I figured both scenarios were a high probability, thus, very
Control: Turning has always seemed impossible to me. After all
how do you control something abnormally long that inherently wants
to point down the mountain? Next how do you steer down the mountain
without contorting your body and without tearing an
Falling really was not a fear for me, luckily. This is primarily
due to my history of broken ankles, shoulders and arms. Gravity and
I do not always agree, but what's better than falling on a snow
Killington's learn to ski program is a max five person program.
This is appealing as you are paired with adults of your skill
level. The program cost includes the lesson, rental equipment and
limited access lift ticket. The typical course is a 3-day
progression, however, I chose to just start with one day, you know
to kind of "test the waters" and to see if I was going to like
skiing after all.
Instructors shuffle you into groups and fit you for equipment. You
learn a few technical terms like flex and center of gravity. You
start indoors with boot fitting and walking in the boots. Next you
head to the "indoor gym" of tilt boards, incline boards and balance
boards. On your way out the door you are assigned ski poles based
on height. Then you get to the meat and potatoes of the day, your
My colleague's daughter is not quite three years old and stands
about 89cm tall, she is currently on skis 70cm long. I am a
26-year-old male standing 183cm tall and I am issued skis that are
131cm … pause … calculate … laugh. I look like a grown man wearing
little kids shoes. Nevertheless, I collect my equipment and board a
bus for the learn-to-ski area.
On the snow we start by scooting around on one ski with the
opposite foot propelling along. My first revaluation was the ease
of steering despite how slippery the skis are. Quickly we
transitioned to skiing down a small ten-foot hill without poles.
Next we are off on level ground pushing forward using our ski
poles. This takes all of 20 minutes and is much easier than I
thought. The instructor gave us tips based on performance. By the
end of the first run we were all skiing straight.
The second run, we practiced turning on a gentle slope and
learning how to stop. It was then that it became clear to me that
skiing is all about speed control- learning to move across the
mountain rather than straight down.
The most important component I learned my first day was to look
20 feet ahead when mapping the mountain, rather than straight
The remainder of the session was spent on the magic carpet. This
is more or less a conveyor belt you stand on that brings you 200
feet up a small slope allowing for numerous short runs. Here, I was
able to hone my turns and ability to maneuver around other skiers.
(No 6-year-old casualties, either!)
My first day was a blast. The 3-hour lesson flew by and I found
myself bumming around the learn-to ski area for another hour, eager
to try more. I sign up for another lesson the following morning. I
Advice to other non-skiers: Do not let excuses take hold. You
are not too old, or weak, Killington provides equipment, and the
progression is designed to remove the fear of falling. It's fun to
learn something new and it's wonderful to be outdoors in the
winter. Excuses are all white smoke. The learn-to-ski program is
very easy. While skiing is indeed technical it is not
insurmountable to the average person, so if you're like me, a
non-skier living in Vermont, get out there and try it! You too may