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Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Saint Louis...
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Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Wife and I (both 35) in Vail early March 3 1/2 days. Never skied before and want to make skiing centerpiece of the trip. Obviously need to book a lesson or school, but in my opinion specifics on the options per the Vail site are clear as mud. First thought I'd do the 3-day first time school with equipment, seems like a great deal, but here's the dilemma: What size is the class going to be, and if we catch on to the basics quickly are we going to be stuck with a group waiting for less coordinated skiiers to catch on? I read some reviews about standing around waiting for other first timers to buy goggles. Thought that if things got lame we could bale out of the lesson later in the day to explore, is that possible? Says it includes "beginner lift tickets" I guess that means you can only go to certain beginner areas? After a couple of days I'd like to be able to try out an easy blue, am I being too ambitious? What about "3-D" school which says it's for all skill levels, assume that;s beginners too? Is three days of lessons overkill if I only want to get the basics and be able to ski greens and easy blues without falling? Would it be better if I did a one day first time lesson; is it feasible that I would get the basics and then just go out on my own the second day and practice what I've learned and then consider another lesson for day three? As a first timer, am I going to get really sore and regret being committed to three all day lessons? Conversely, is there a lot of down-time in the group lessons that will get frustrating? I'm pretty easy-going person with tons of patience, but Vail is outrageous and I' nervous about making the wrong choice for ski lessons. Thanks for any advice or input you can give.

Boulder, Colorado
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1. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

you raise some valid points that need some direct answers from the ski school. Call them at call 800-805-2457 and see what they say.

You can always pay for lessons and bail. They won't care as long as they get the $$ but as a beginner I strongly urge you to take at least one day. The beginner lift pass is good for all over the mtn as long as your with the class. Once you leave I believe your restricted to the bunny hill (chair 12?).

Note the best green runs are at top above Golden Peak area. Take the chair up, ski the greens, have lunch at Elk Camp and enjoy the food and views, then at the end of the day take the chair back down to avoid the catwalk trek. Not fun IMO.

Saint Louis...
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2. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Luv2ski: Thanks for the advice. call to Ski school was helpful, and they told me the same thing you did about about the beginner lift pass. I definitely want to ski the top of the mountain and glad to hear there's some worthwhile green slopes there. After calling school, they gave me the impression that "first time" class is different than "beginner" class because they spend time showing you how to put boots and skis on, how to balance, etc, and a lot of hand-holding I don't need. They said you spend a lot of time at coyote crossing? They seemed to suggest that the "3-D" lesson is better, they start you as beginner and then regroup you as you progress. Still not sure if three days of lessons is overkill or we will be wanting to just cut loose and enjoy the slopes... but I think I'm gonna pass on the "first time" classes after talking to them.

what is a catwalk? Is there any other option for a beginner to ski all the way down? born free? we're staying at cascade any advice on easier runs on that side of the mtn? do we need helmets, or maybe better question is what do most ppl do?

Minneapolis...
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3. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

YES you need helmets and YES you need 3 days of lessons (at least). Most of us learned as kids and take lessons for years to get good. Starting at 35 will not be easy. To speed up your learning process have you considered investing in a private lesson? You and your wife , up to 4 people I believe can take a single private lesson together. That way you can get the most bang for your buck.

Saint Louis...
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4. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Planet: I did look and private lessons, but but it's $710 for the whole day, compared to $465/pp w/ lift passes for three days. So if it's just the two of us, I figure cost of one day private lesson plus lift is same money as three day group lesson. There is a remote chance we could get another couple to share private lesson, making it more feasible, but it's unlikely. So as it is now, I can't afford three days of private lessons and unless one full day priv lesson would get me further along than three-day group lesson I can't see how to justify the cost. I want to learn to ski at 35 because I am a kid!

Boulder, Colorado
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5. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Helmets are not required but advisable. Only kids under 12 in a lesson must wear one. They can be rented.

Except for returning via the gondola, Born Free would probably be the easiest route down on the Cascade side of Vail with only 2 spots I believe that are a bit steeper. Unless you're a quick learner and very athletic I would stick to the Sourdough lift (14) and those greens. Take the the Riva Bahn Express (6) down at the end of Flap Jack to avoid a very long catwalk (criss-cross green trails) to the bottom. The free bus will take you over to Cascade.

(The only really nice and long green run on your side is Lost Boy at Game Creek Bowl. But the run-out a the bottom is heck and I've seen many a beginner freak out that last 50 yards to get back to the chair lift.)

To avoid leg burn, which you will experience, ride a stationary bike 10-20 min a day at least 2 weeks prior to leaving.

See online trail map at vail.com and when there check to see what runs are groomed and stick to those. Vail is huge so keep a trail map with you. It's easy to take a wrong turn and suddenly find yourself looking down a steep pitch with bumps the size of a VW and no way out.

Edited: 05 February 2011, 23:53
Saint Louis...
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6. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

Thanks a lot for the tips. I do need to start conditioning as I'm not in the *best* shape. Any other advice for first timer is much appreciated.

Boulder, Colorado
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7. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

http://www.youtube.com/user/LasseLyck

start at chap 1. Not as crazy as it seems.

Vail,CO
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8. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

I'd say bite the bullet and hire a private instructor for you & wife. time is money. You'll get SO MUCH more out of it and could then maybe feel confident to venture out on your own. If not, sign up for a group lesson in your new-found classifcation cuz you won't be a beginner anymore! Yes, you do spend time in group lessons waiting for others.

how athletically inclined are you and your wife?

Lessons are the way to go. PERIOD. Its a big mountian, a hard to learn spot both which create huge intimadating circumstances. You want to have great memories to want to do it again> not nighmares!

Minneapolis...
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9. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

I agree with Vailrealtor completely. After your 1 day private lesson see how you progessed and maybe all you'll want is a half day group lesson or 2 to complete your learning curve. If it's possible the day prior to find out how many folks are signed up for the group adult lesson. Might be a very small group almost private. It's expensive I know I've been skiing at Vail for decades, but to really enjoy the sport you need a certain level of expertise to know you can make it safely down the hill. With your limited time a private lesson makes the most sense.

Minneapolis...
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10. Re: Ski lesson/school choices - need advice

I just had another thought. for you....have you considered snow boarding vs skiing? Initially snowboarding can be more difficult, but once you get the hang of it the learning curve is much faster to get good at it then the learning curve is for skiing. I bet if you're fairly athletic you could pick it up in one private lesson. The fact that you've never skied before actually is a plus for learning to board. People often have trouble learning to board if they've been skiing for a long time. Wouldn't be an issue for you. Plus the snow board boots are so much more comfortable then ski boots.

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