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Ski Tips from the Pros

Ski vacations are a great option for a fun, healthy getaway. However, participating in a sport you have little familiarity with, can be frustrating. Sometimes even the smallest suggestion can change your experience and ability level in a snap.

From downhill racers to ski movie stuntmen, Christy Sports, a specialty ski and snowboard retailer in Colorado, employs well known, reputable skiers. They started as beginners too, once upon a time, and offer some words of wisdom for those vacationing on the slopes:

  • Start by taking lessons. By nature, we try to repeat what we see others do but mimicking someone with bad habits will start you off with a bad foundation. Gordon Wade, Christy Sports' Director of Outside Sales, advises, "Don't let a friend or spouse teach you!" By taking a lesson from an instructor you will avoid unnecessary bickering, the probability of bad tips, or copying bad habits your friend/spouse is not even aware of.
  • Get the right equipment for your personal needs and ability. It is tempting to get equipment that worked for someone else, especially when you do not know much about equipment. Jeff Evans, a competitive mogul skier for over 15 years, suggests buying equipment that will enhance your own ability, not someone else's. Someone that loves to ski the bumps will enjoy and need very different skis from someone skiing groomers. It may also be a good idea to rent equipment as a beginner, instead of buying it. You will quickly outgrow basic equipment in a couple of weeks. 

  • Meet with a boot fitter. People often get boots that are an entire size too big when they are new to skiing. "When a boot may seem too snug, it is often not; it will end up packing out and giving in," says Andrew Couperthwait, manager of the Christy Sports store in Avon.   

  • Pair up with a buddy. It is very easy to get separated from your group in challenging conditions. Be aware and concerned if you do. Bob Dapper, a former Ski School Technical Director for over 10 years, expresses his frustration that "too many lives have been lost because people loose their ski partner. It's important to stop often and wait for one another. On a day with bad visibility, bring a whistle or even wear one of your bright jackets from the 80s!"

  • Wait for your group in visible spot. Avoid stopping in a blind spot. Gordon Wade skis well over 50 days a year and cringes when inexperienced people hang out under a cat tracks and knolls. It's an accident waiting to happen. A safer bet is to wait on the side of a slope in a spot that can be seen from way up above.

  • Quality over speed. Zooming down the mountain might be an adrenaline rush, but it does not define your ability. Making a flawless turn and having the ability to stop at any given moment is something every good skier can do. Jeff Evans bemoans the fact that "people have forgotten the technical entity and just want to huck [engage in extreme skiing] these days." 

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