Tips for First Time Skiers or Snowboarders
If you want to learn to ski or ride, Wintergreen's instructors get high marks. We offer programs for all ages and abilities based on the American Teaching System. Whether your aim is to conquer Potato Patch or hit The Highlands like a pro, our instructors will help you reach your goals.
Let's get started!
Before You Arrive
It's winter and it's cold. But the cold can be exhilarating, if you're correctly prepared for it. Remember Wintergreen is typically 10-15 degrees colder than the surrounding area due to a much higher elevation. We recommend clothing that is waterproof or at least water resistant. Jeans are not the best choice, but can be worn with a waterproof shell over them. Gloves should be waterproof.
You'll be getting exercise and that will keep you warm, so dressing in layers will keep you comfortable all day.
For your feet, one pair of thin socks is all that is needed - too many socks will restrict circulation and affect boot fit. Wool or acrylic socks are better than cotton athletic socks, but make sure the socks are long so they will extend up above your ski boot. Ski and snowboard boots are made with insulation and will keep your feet warm.
Remember 20% of your body heat is lost through your head, so put a lid on it!
Believe it or not, the winter sun is still strong, and reflects off the snow white background. Sun screen, lip balm and sunglasses or goggles will help to keep you comfortable on sunny days.
We recommend looking at the options we have for learning to ski or snowboard and see which best fits your needs. Programs range from Mighty Mites (6-7 yrs), beginner group lesson (8 years & up), intermediate group lessons and private lessons to clinics and specialty programs. We highly recommend the Discover Skiing & Snowboarding, a multi-visit program that will help you become a lifelong skier or rider. The Treehouse for Kids offers a variety of lessons for children ages 3-14 and childcare programs for children ages 2½ and older.
Renting equipment from Wintergreen offers conveniences not found when you rent elsewhere. Additionally, if you experience a problem with your equipment, we can fix it or replace it easily. Unfortunately, we cannot provide that service for outside rentals.
Save time by pre-registering your rentals before arriving at the rental shop. Visit our Rentals page for more information.
Before you leave:
Where Do I Go When I Arrive?
Once you arrive at Wintergreen, head for the Skyline Pavilion which is headquarters for all things related to skiing and snowboarding. The Skyline Pavilion is in the Mountain Village area of the resort, located on Grassy Ridge Road. On the middle floor of the Pavilion you'll find the ticket windows, equipment rentals, the Snowsports School, locker rooms and restrooms.
For children who are or want to enroll in the Treehouse programs, you'll find The Treehouse up the hill from Skyline, behind the Mountain Inn. It's the building with the clock tower on the Blue Ridge Terrace. Everything they need will be at the Treehouse, including equipment.
First, head to the ticket windows. You’ll need to purchase your lift ticket and GLS package (be sure and tell the ticket office staff that you pre-registered for rentals).
Next head to the rental area where you can enter the pre-registered equipment rental line. For proper fitting of your equipment, we will need to know your height, weight (we tighten the binding for your boots according to your weight, so the skis will release if you fall), shoe size and for snowboarders, which foot is dominant - typically the same as which hand is dominant.
Now that you're suited up, head out the back door of the rental area and walk across to the flat learning area and look for the private or group lesson flags. We highly encourage use of no poles for beginner ski lessons.
Here are some of the things you'll learn in your beginner lesson:
- Get comfortable on the snow and in your boots. Snow is slippery and it takes a little while to feel comfortable sliding. And those boots …
- First order of business is to learn to stop. Snowplow and pizza wedges will become familiar terms.
- Next is to learn to get up from the ground. Even the best skiers and riders need this technique.
- Finally, how to turn.
Once these steps are learned, you'll head out on the slopes and have fun. Congratulations!
Why should I take a lesson?
The best way to improve your skiing or riding, no matter what your level, is to take a lesson. Not only will you become a better skier or rider, but you will enjoy the sport much more. At Wintergreen, our professionally trained instructors teach thousands of lessons a year. Our teaching terrain will allow you to learn in a safe environment. Research has shown that it usually takes three lessons before you feel comfortable on the slopes and can really start to enjoy this new sport. Don't give up after one try!
Tips and General Etiquette:
- Have your ticket visible and easy to check.
- When entering any lift line, be sure that you are attentive and ready to follow the maze and load properly. If your are skiing or boarding alone, check for the single lane so you can be paired with others - it's a great way to meet people.
- Many lift lines have mazes that funnel into one loading area. Access typically alternates from one line or side to the next. Pay attention to the posted signs and staff for directions.
- When loaded onto the chair, sit back all the way in your chair and use the safety bar.
- Clanking your skis or boards together while on the ski lift can result in an injury to someone below you. You may even find yourself or your equipment falling from the lift. Plus, the snow might be falling on the skiers and snowboarders below you.
- When you unload the lift, be sure to move away from the unloading zone quickly. You don't want to be in the way of other skiers/riders unloading the lift.
- Consider coming midweek. Classes are smaller, the lines are shorter and the slopes are less crowded. An all around GREAT learn to ski or ride opportunity.
Take a Break. As in any new sport, you're using muscles that haven't been used in a while. Take a break and relax. Get a cup of hot chocolate and warm up. You'll feel much better. Remember to pace yourself and SMILE! This is fun.
Wintergreen offers varied and convenient dining options.
- Pryor's Cafeteria is on The Blue Ridge Terrace - it's fast and easy.
- The Edge is the happening place to be with sit down dining.
- The Lookout is at The Plunge Tubing Park and has indoor and outdoor options. Plus a great chili bar.
- At the bottom of the Dobie slope is Checkerberry Cabin - a great place to stop in for a winter warm up in between runs.
- Avoid the crowds and dine an hour earlier or later.