STEVE: Hello and welcome to another edition of Summit Sports Podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com. Many of us are experienced skiers. We know how to tackle the blues, the black diamonds, the deep and the steep. But what about the new skiers? Do you remember what it was like to stare at the mountain or local hill and wonder how you could even begin to ski it? Do you remember being afraid that you wouldn’t be able to stop or that you would run into someone or even break a bone?
On this Summit Sports Podcast we’re going to talk with new skiers and get advice for those thinking about getting into skiing. So, sit back and get ready to remember that first trip down the bunny hill.
The first person we’re going to talk with is Jessica. She’s in our customer service department and this year she tried skiing for the first time.
JESSICA: Well, this was my second time actually trying skiing. I tried when I was younger but I figure now that I work for a ski company it’s best that if I try skiing because how can I talk about ski equipment if I don’t know how to ski or don’t know the equipment I’m dealing with.
STEVE: What were your fears when starting?
JESSICA: When starting, my fears were worrying about the people behind and worrying about the people in front of me because when you’re going high speeds with ski equipment if you’re not in control then other people’s lives can be at stake so not only was I worried about hurting myself but hurting others.
STEVE: Were you worried about them running into you?
JESSICA: Yes because that’s why I quit skiing when I was younger. I got ran over by a seven or eight year old and I was like “okay, I’m done, hot cocoa break,” and I’m never skiing again in my life.
STEVE: What were you afraid of when starting out?
JESSICA: I was afraid of the tow ropes because that’s all I did when I was younger so I’m like, okay I know that I don’t like the tow ropes. I can’t get a good grip on it and I felt like my skis were crossing that first time so I wanted to steer clear of that. I tried the magic carpet for the first time because I was like I don’t want to go too high up and I was petrified of chairlifts. Well, after the magic carpet was going super slow I’m like okay this isn’t going to work, suck it up and let’s try the chairlift. It was easier than I thought it would be, it’s just a matter of your tips are up when you’re getting off and that you have enough room between you and the person next to you otherwise you can collide and fall when you’re getting off.
STEVE: Tell me about the first run down.
JESSICA: The first run down, that was off of the magic carpet so it was a really short run and I was like okay, I can do this. I just had to watch out for the people around me but that was my biggest fear was worrying about the people around me because I didn’t want to get ran over again.
STEVE: For those out there interested in becoming a ski patroller, what does one have to do?
JESSICA: So, first off, I mean, I wouldn't say you have to be an expert-level skier, you should be fairly proficient. If you find a mountain you want to ski patrol at, you should be able to make it down just about anything that, you know, that particular hill or mountain has to offer and then you would just basically get in contact with that ski patrol for that mountain and let them know that you want to be a ski patroller and then that's where that process really kicks off. Once you kind of express interest and you're vetted and you go through that there are two major things that you must complete. The first is what they call an OEC Class which stands for Outdoor Emergency Care. And this is a pretty intense classroom-type situation where it's all learning how to deal with injuries; anything from recognizing injuries to splinting to CPR, things like that, so basically anything you would encounter on the hill and in a lot cases not on the hill. I mean, we have to deal with people that may slip and fall in the parking lot or, you know, there are a lot of different workers at mountain who may get hurt. They may burn themselves or cut themselves and we're basically the first responders who have to deal with that so for me particularly, it lasted an entire summer, it went from May through August. It was basically like a college level course. Had to do mid-terms had to do a final, had to do a written test as well as a practical so you can demonstrate that you knew what you were doing. The other important thing is toboggan handling so if somebody gets hurt on the mountain we need to get them off the mountain as safely and as quickly as possible and that mode of transportation is, 9 times out of 10, it's a toboggan so we either, different techniques that we learn or we do a lot of training and then at the end of the winter you know you take your test like anything else, demonstrate your skills and then once you pass, you're a ski patroller.
STEVE: How are shifts determined?
JESSICA: The resort that I patrol at, they have a formula that they give us based on the number of days they're open each the season that gives us a requirement of the number of shifts and a shift is a morning or a night shift depending if it's day skiing or night skiing, the resort that I work at happens to have both. Yeah, we have to just basically have to get a certain number of shifts and we can sign up whenever we want to go up and it's basically our responsibility to hit the number of shifts that they require.
STEVE: A lot of snowplowing or pizza?
JESSICA: Pizza. That was always on my mind. It was pizza, pizza, pizza. I think that first day out all I did was pizza. It wasn’t until that next day out when I met a co-worker and he was like “Okay, you just bombed that hill, you’re going way too fast, let me teach you a couple things”. So that was what changed me from enjoying skiing to really falling in love with the sport.
STEVE: So, we’ll probably see you out on the hill?
JESSICA: Of course. I bought a new pair of skis and I’m ready to go out anytime that I can and every time that I can.
STEVE: Why did you decide to start skiing?
JAMI: Because I’ve always wanted to. I snowboarded for a little bit but never got into skiing and I work for a ski company and I love to be outside so I just figured I do everything else: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, why not downhill ski?
STEVE: That’s Jami. She’s the manager of the Web Content Department here at skis.com and snowboards.com and she just tried skiing for the first time this winter. What was she most afraid of when trying skiing for the first time?
JAMI: That I was going to fall and crack my head open or poke my eye out with my ski.
STEVE: So, what was it like skiing for the first time?
JAMI: Getting into the skis the first time, I was like nervous because I don’t really know how anything worked but once they were on and I was skiing over to the bunny hill where the magic carpet was, I was like, “oh, I can totally do this,” then I got on the magic carpet and I was like, ok. Everything that I was afraid to do, every time I did it I was like, “oh, it’s kind of much easier than, you know, I really thought it was.” Or I was just totally psyching myself up and freaking out but it was awesome. Even taking falls, I was expecting them to be way worse because they were when I would snowboard.
STEVE: And what about the first run?
JAMI: The first run, I mean, it was on the bunny hill. I mean, it was good. I don’t even think I…actually I probably did fall the first time but once I got down, I was like, “that’s awesome, let’s go back up”, and a few more times on the bunny hill I was like all right let’s go, we went to a green hill.
STEVE: Most importantly, are you going to ski again?
JAMI: Absolutely. I can’t wait. I’m like not ready for winter to end even though I love the water.
STEVE: Thom is a ski buyer here at skis.com and has been skiing for almost 28 years. Thom, what is your advice for first time skiers?
THOM: Anybody that’s getting into the sport, I would really kind of tell them two things. First and foremost, be patient. It does take a little while to get comfortable with kind of the physical dynamics of skiing. It’s not something you do really in regular life unless you have a really strong ice skating, roller skating or inline skating type background. And the other thing is absolutely take a lesson from somebody who knows what they’re doing. There are a lot of friends out there who have the patience to hang out with you for 3-4 runs and then abandon you. It leads to not having as much fun as you should be and you just don’t learn quite as quickly.
STEVE: What is the problem that most new skiers have?
THOM: Generally what I see most new skiers struggling with is primarily balance and finding their edges. It’s very common to see newer skiers sitting back on their skis which throws your balance off. It actually makes it much harder to initiate a turn and it sort of makes the entire aspect of skiing more difficult. By getting into a lesson or being taught by somebody who knows what they’re doing, they’ll notice these things, they’ll help you correct these things a lot quicker and it allows you to progress out of that kind of wedge that really keeps you locked in as a beginner skier and really straighten up your skis, learn to find your edges and learn to carve a turn and progress it a lot faster.
STEVE: A lot of people who haven’t skied are worried about falling, about hurting themselves, things like that? What can you say to help alleviate those fears?
THOM: First thing you have to admit to yourself is every skier out there falls, it doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are. It’s part of the sport and it’s really part of getting better so that’s something that you do need to be comfortable with. But as a beginner you’re not going to be traveling at high speeds so these falls aren’t really going to be too harmful or really anything that after the first one scares you so the best thing to do to get over that sort of fear is to get out there and really start with somebody who is qualified to teach you.
STEVE: And let’s say a friend or a loved one is a skier and you’re not, is it okay for your friend or loved one to teach you?
THOM: Well I have gone against this rule, I would say absolutely not. I have seen more arguments and fights on the ski hill from significant others trying to teach each other. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and most people get more frustrated with themselves then you are with them so it becomes very difficult to teach somebody that you have a close personal relationship with.
STEVE: Well, their first times out Jessica didn’t hurt herself or anyone else and Jami didn’t fall and crack her head open nor did she poke an eye out with her ski. And even then, against Thom’s recommendation, they were trained by colleagues and not instructors. If you are starting out and don’t have the benefit of skiers who have been at it for over twenty years guiding you, definitely take a lesson. If you’re afraid of losing control or of flying down the mountain at high speeds, just remember that you’re going to be starting out on the bunny hill where there isn’t much of an incline so it won’t be possible to get your speeds up that high anyway. Skiing is fun. It’s meant to be fun so just go out there and do it. We’re pretty confident that you’ll enjoy it.
I’d like to thank Jessica, Jami and Thom for joining me and thank you for listening to the Summit Sports Podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com.