The Power of Learning
Posted January 11, 2013
Did you know that January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month? Resorts across the country are encouraging new skiers and snowboarders to try a new sport – just like Killington. In honor of National Learn to Month, we sent out one of our own on a 3-day Learn to Snowboard mission. The outcome? Not only did our lucky candidate enjoy the lessons, his progression has been quick and easy. Plus, he’s now hooked!
3-Day Learn To Snowboard Program Participant, David Jackson 2012-13 Killington Communications Coordinator / Snow Reporter of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
I should preface this blog post by saying I got this job because I’m lucky. I was in the right place, at the right time, stumbled onto the right website and had the right skill-set. Lucky. That being said, I’m from Mississippi and have seen more snow in the few months I’ve been in Vermont than I have in my entire life in the South. Part of my job here at Killington requires me to ride the mountain, which is something I’ve never done before, so I felt a “Learn to” lesson was in order.
Realizing I had to get on a board and be comfortable riding trails in a short amount of time, I went out on my own and started falling. Little tips here and there from friends as they passed by on their way up or down the mountain helped, but I was not comfortable, especially on anything steeper than the Learn to Ride Carpet.
So we had the great idea that is this blog post! A lot of people, myself included until a few months ago, have never been around snowboarding or even seen a board in person. I could learn with one of Killington’s many talented teachers, and write about so to ease your hesitation about jumping into something new head first. The wonderful thing about lessons is you don’t dive in; the instructor eases you in, then your speed of progression is all up to you (trust me, the instructors can keep up).
Day 1: Boots, bindings, board and Dangerous Dave
I call him dangerous, but he’s probably the mellowest person I’ve ever met. This is reassuring when you strap a board to your feet for the first time in the hopes of going down a 4200’ mountain. A Bostonian, David has been riding down mountains since he was a knee high tike in ’94. He lived out west for a stint before moving back to the Northeast where he began to look for jobs at Killington and as he says, “lucked out” with the teaching position that he loves. “This board is my tool, and this slope is my office. You really can’t beat it!” The Snowshed Learn to Ride Carpet has been his office for about 3 years. While he’s not one of the most veteran teachers on the mountain, he is as capable as any at teaching anyone anything, from the basics of putting on boots to cruising through tight trees in the glade runs around Killington.
Day 2: From linking turns to carving
There was a definite eureka moment after I linked my first turn. All the work on the heels and toes was now translated into a way to get from the top of a mountain to the bottom, in probably the most fun way possible (my opinion). From this moment Dave watched my movement and suggested trying little things to become more stable and confidant. He would give me a pointer at the top of Snowshed slope, and then we would cruise down. Dave watching me, and me trying my new technique. After I felt comfortable with the ideas, Dave, without saying, started going a bit faster to see if I would keep up. He felt I was ready, and I didn’t even realize it until he pointed it out that we had finished the slope faster than the previous runs.
Day 3: Well, it’s up to you
Dave’s approach to day three is that people feel quite comfortable on the learn-to ride slopes, but forget everything as soon as they get on another trail. If progression is quick and you are comfortable carving by the end of day two, day three starts with a quick refresher on Snowshed Slope, then it’s on to Ramshead Mountain. I was one of the many who lost everything in turn one. The moment I realizes I HAD to turn to avoid the trees my brain locked up and I panicked. But luckily, Dave was right there to assure me that I had the ability, I just needed to take it slow to start out. Half way down the first slope we were cruising again.
The other part of day three is, well, whatever you want it to be. Dave often does little tricks on the way down the mountain, which is nice for a novice to see many of the riding possibilities with a board underfoot. He said students often ask to learn how to do the tricks and he shows them. I personally just want to cruise. The faster the better, so the day was spent doing just that: working on speed and going down bigger and steeper terrain.
Learning a new sport, no matter your age or your ability is possible, so take advantage of Killington’s vast learning terrain. Plus, Killington is offering a sweet deal for first time skiers and rider. For only $29, you'll receive ski or snowboard lesson, rental equipment and a learning area lift ticket.