Remembering back to when my family had its first ski lesson was easy, as it was only just over a year ago. We snapped into our ski bindings and, only a few moments later, took a lift to mid-hill on the beginner’s slope and were told to “pizza” our way down it with very little instruction. Learning how to ski that day was scary, I admit. My tween daughter was almost in tears when she fell for the first time and I was a little unsure about getting back on a pair of skis- ever.
Since that first lesson, we have tried skiing a couple of times and my husband became a natural at it. Maybe it’s because of that first lesson or maybe it’s out of sheer fear of falling, but my daughter and I were still a bit hesitant to try out the easy, or “Green” slopes and stuck to the bunny hill at each new ski area.
As soon as we knew we would be visiting Seven Springs Mountain Ski Resort in the Laurel Highlands (less than an hour southeast of Pittsburgh), we signed up for its Fun-Based Learning program to hone our ski skills. The thought of a ski program that starts on flat snow and gradually moves to small hills and eventually to the Green Slopes was a breath of fresh air and took the fear out of skiing for us.
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What is Fun-Based Learning?
Compliments of terrain-based learning programs that have been popping up all over, learning how to ski can not only be safe but far less taxing than the old-school method that we encountered. Taking into account balance and maneuverability, learning on nearly-flat ground and working your way up allows beginners to start with the basics and gradually progress to skiing downhill making skiing, well, fun.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort wants beginners to have just that- fun! My 13 year-old daughter and I were in for a pleasant surprise during our “Fun-Based Learning” lesson. We honed our skiing skills with the help of a knowledgeable and kind instructor and my daughter felt confident enough with her ski skills to actually head down the “Greens” on our very first day at the resort.
Our instructor was so patient and really knew what to tell my daughter to get his teachings to sink in. Once we had the very basics down, he showed her how to link turns and we played a game of follow the leader to get the feel of turning into a slope to slow us down naturally instead of making a wedge shape with our skis that would tire out our legs on longer slopes.
He also showed us how to switch our weight from one ski to another to help with turning and gave us tips on using a ski lift and never left our sides. By the end of our lesson, my daughter was so at ease with our instructor that they both took another run on a green slope while I stayed at the bottom to film her skiing milestone.
What We Loved About Fun-Based Learning Instruction
- Patient and knowledgeable instructors
- Instruction based on previous experience
- Starting on flat ground and gradually moving to gentle slopes and then to the Green Slopes
- Instruction on not only how to stop safely but how to glide properly
- Moving to more advanced instruction when we felt comfortable with previous beginner skills
- A “Magic Carpet” ride back up the bunny hill instead of having to walk up sideways on skis or remove your skis and walk back up the hill.
What You Need to Know
Beginner group lessons for Seven Springs’ Fun-Based Learning Program last 1 ¾ hours and prices start at $88 for children. To sign up for the class, show up at the Snowsports School starting at 9am and register. If you know you’re visiting ahead of time and want to register before you visit, the Seven Springs website has phone numbers and more information.
Wearing a protective helmet is a must for beginner children, and I know I felt safer with my daughter’s head protected, as proper protective helmets greatly reduce the risk of head trauma.
Dress for the weather with layers and make sure the kids have mittens or gloves. Think about purchasing ski goggles as well, as they greatly reduce sun glare and make the slopes and ski paths easier to see.
Have you tried fun-based learning on the slopes?
Tell us about it in the comments below!
Disclosure: My daughter and I were hosted by Seven Springs Mountain Resort to give you fine folks the scoop on what make its Fun-Based Learning Program so great for families. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and, as always, my opinions are my own.