Slope Smarts

Slope Smarts: A former instructor offers tips on learning to ski and snowboard
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Western North Carolina’s sophisticated resorts have ski school instructors with training and certifications equal to those anywhere in the country. That’s part of why the South is the nation’s primary feeder market for new skiers and snowboarders entering winter sports. If you’re looking to learn slope-sliding fun this winter, here are some tried and true tips for newbies:

Review the school’s offerings and choose the format and price that are best for you. A small group lesson is often sufficient, but inquire in advance if you and/or a friend or loved one want the most highly certified teacher or the undivided attention of a private lesson.

First-timers are advised to rent their boards, skis and boots, and everything from technical ski bibs and pants (never wear blue jeans!) to gloves and helmets are available to keep you warm and safe.

Avoid weekends; learning is best on uncrowded slopes. If conditions are right, go early or late season. Wait for cold weather with good snowmaking before your trip, but time your lesson to avoid the coldest temps.

A package makes a ski trip easy to plan and less expensive, with options that can include slope tickets, rentals, lessons, and even lodging. Sugar Mountain Resort’s Winter Value Packages, for example, add lodging (some slopeside) through a rental agency, with discounts from 30 to 40 percent on rentals, lessons, and skiing (including all-day lift tickets that permit skiing whenever you want).