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Best Utah ski school for never-evers?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am hoping to convince my wife to learn how to ski. She is very skeptical, so I am trying to make this as easy as possible. If it does not go well, I may not have a second chance to convince her, so selecting the right ski school for her to learn at is very important. I would like to plan a trip to Utah (I went with two friends last year and loved it!). My question is, which Utah ski school is the best for adult never-evers? I am looking at group lessons, not private, since cost is a factor. A suitable number of uncrowded green runs is a factor as well, so that she will be able to get some practice in addition to the ski school lessons on terrain that will not be overwhelming for a beginner. My initial thought is Alta because I thought their green runs were quite good and weren't too crowded (at least the day I was there), but am open to any and all suggestions. Can anybody recommend a particular ski school (and give some reasoning behind their choice)? Thanks in advance for the help!
post #2 of 21
Buckeye,

At least you are smart enough to not try to teach her yourself! Alta is a great choice! Albion basin is made for beginners and the teaching staff is second to none. Bonus: No boarders. Stay away from Snowbird, there are virtually NO real green runs there and she will be miserable. Brighton is a great place to learn but you will have to endure hoards of boarders, Dude! Park City and Deer Valley have great schools but are expensive. If she gets to where she can handle a moderate, groomed blue run, consider driving the extra 30 minutes to Powder Mountain. They have MILES of ego-building blue cruiser terrain, and they are inexpensive.

Have a great time!

Mtngeo
post #3 of 21
If you do decide on Alta, make sure to stop by the Alta Peruvian (to show her what old time ski lodging is like) and then the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird (to show her the other side of the coin). While you're at the 'Bird, stop in the main lodge and sight see the Tram and the shops.

Wherever you decide to go, make back up plans for alternate excursions (e.g. tubing [snowbird], snowmobile[deer valley], shopping [park city], sleigh rides [canyons/DV], horseback riding). If there is the least amount if hesitancy, reassure her that if she does not like it, there will be other things to do. On trips like these it helps a lot to take "the pressure" off.

If she does well, consider splurging for a day at Deer Valley.

Good luck.
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuckeyeFanDan
I am hoping to convince my wife to learn how to ski. She is very skeptical - I would like to plan a trip to Utah
Ill second the comment that Alta/Albion is a great beginner area but I gotta throw out a caution. The front runs at Alta and the Bird are what the newbie fixates on when they arrive and have scared the living p'ss out of more than one beginner. If your wife gets even the slightest suspicion that your hidden agenda may be to eventually get her on terrain like that, she may dig in her heels and sit in the health club at the Bird for the whole vacation, composing in her mind the discussion she is going to have with you about "such a stupid idea". My suggestion is to not risk spooking her - let her get her 1st few days on skis at some totally non-threatening flat-as-a-pancake local hill. If she figures out that she doesnt like skiing at the local hill, its NBD - you just go home. If she figures out she doesnt like skiing in the middle of a major trip, youve wasted buckets of money and now have a touchy family situation on your hand with no easy way out for either of you. If it turns out that she likes the skiing locally, she'll have a frame of reference and can make a better decision about heading West on a major ski trip. A local intro to skiing can also give her the confidence she needs to understand that Albion is truly NBD and she doesnt need to be worried about either Albion or the seemingly "near vertical" walls on either side of LCC. HTH YOT
post #5 of 21
If cost and enjoyment is really your concern you might try having her learn at Snowtrails. Snowtrails is the only resort in your area that has direct to parallel teaching and the lesson costs are well below surrounding areas even for private lessons. They also have a women's ski program during the week.

If her first lesson is during a weekday she is almost guaranteed to get a half decent instructor.

They have a beginner package where the ticket, the rental and the lesson are included. The initial lesson is an hour and a half but the beginner package includes being able to go back during the day for more instruction if you feel you need it. This is a fantastic bargin.

Learn here and ski there.
post #6 of 21
I suggest either Alta or Solitude. Both have very good ski schools and very good learning terrain.

A caution about learning locally: I'm from Michigan, that's where I learned to ski as a kid. Let's face it, conditions can be less than ideal. If you're wife hasn't learned to ski locally, it's probably because she doesn't think the cold and ice make skiing seem attractive. A close friend of ours couldn't get his wife out skiing here in VT for that very same reason. But last year, they moved to Salt Lake and she took a lesson at Alta. She had such a great experience, she hasn't stopped skiing since, and her ability level has jumped exponentially.

There's something to be said about learning in an inspiring location, with lovely snow, relatively warm weather and blue skies.

Thatsagirl
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsagirl
A caution about learning locally: I'm from Michigan, that's where I learned to ski as a kid. Let's face it, conditions can be less than ideal. If you're wife hasn't learned to ski locally, it's probably because she doesn't think the cold and ice make skiing seem attractive.
Locally you can pick your conditions and save big dollars. At least in Ohio you can. The cost of lessons here is very inexpensive in comparison to the West or East.

You need to consider the altitude factor as well. Never evers struggle physically. Its hell to be on a ski vacation in fantastic surroundings but be totally worn out in a couple of hours.
post #8 of 21
My wife basically learned to ski at Alta 5 years ago. She was not intimidated by the terrain in the Albion basin area, and really had a great time. She's been progressing nicely ever since.

One thing several people have mentioned: don't overlook good snow conditions and crowds as factors. I considered taking her to some of the mid-atlantic areas near where we live, but they are so crowded and icy that she would have fallen once and/or been run over and probably given up.

By the way, we went to Solitude later in that same trip, and she felt like the green runs were a little steep for her. She likes Solitude now, but for a first timer, something to consider.
post #9 of 21
I took the never-ever class at Alta in Feb 2004 and can say nothing but good things about it, but nothing that the other posters havent already said.

If you do decide on Alta, you might consider parking at the Albion base as opposed to Wildcat/Goldminers Daughter side. The lesson will start out of Albion and while the transfer tow from the Wildcat side to Albion is kind of interesting and gave me "somewhat" of a feel of being on skis, when you get to the end of the tow at Albion it has a tendency to have a bit of an incline. Not knowing how to skate or side step at the time, it was mildly frustrating to say the least. I wound up basically having to fall to keep myself from sliding backwards into the center area between the ropes and then get out of my bindings and walk up the little hill.

Glenn

"I know you can fight, it's our wits that make us men."
post #10 of 21
Glenn, just to clarify, you were saying the Alta beginner lesson was great, but you didn't know how to herringbone or sidestep? Can you just elaborate on whether you got taught those things later in the lesson, or if you sliding backwards experience was before the lesson? Just curious.
post #11 of 21

answer to ant's questions....

ant,

All of what you say is correct. I was a true never-ever.

The first time I ever clicked into bindings was at the Wildcat side of the transfer tow. My g/f prefers the trees off Wildcat lift and her mom likes the groomers off the top of Collins lift so they followed me about half way on the tow and then peeled off to head back to those lifts.

Once I got to Albion(after the little incident at the end of the tow) and met up with my instructor, he started off with showing me the proper way to carry skis and how to get in and out of bindings(getting the snow off your boots, etc), next was some basic one and two footed straight gliding and showing me how to wedge to a stop. We then moved on to basic wedge turns. Also during that time frame we worked on side steps, both in a straight line and in a circle and skating. By the end of the first hour we were riding Sunnyside and working on getting my wedge smaller. By the end of the 2 hour lesson I was completely comfortable and I could get around the beginners side of the Alta on my own, albeit still pretty much in a wedge. But that was good enough for me, I was hooked. I am sure there are some things I am forgetting in the time line, but that is the gist of it.

I think if I had it to do over again, I would have only done two things different:

1) I would have passed up my workmates offer to borrow his skis and boots and just rented. While the boots fit moderately well, they were Nordica N75 rear entries and the skis were straight. I think my learning curve would have been better had I been on better equipment.

2) I would have tipped the instructor. I didnt realize that was acceptable until I found this forum. Thanks Bears.

The first was all part of the learning experience I guess and the second I rectified last year. I took a private from the same instructor(not because I felt obligated but because he is a genuinely nice guy and we had a rapport that definitely made my learning easier) and I gave him a nice hefty tip at the end of the lesson.

Hope this answers your questions.

Glenn

"I know you can fight, it's our wits that make us men."
post #12 of 21
So, to get to the beginner area there, you have to put the skis on and go up a drag lift? (you've allayed my initial concers about the lesson though! Instructor sounds spot-on).
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant
So, to get to the beginner area there, you have to put the skis on and go up a drag lift?
Yes and no. If you park at the Wildcat base, then you will use the tow. If you park at Albion, you wont need to. With the exception of the last 20 feet or so, I would say the elevation change from Wildcat base to Albion is at most 30 feet up(I might be off on this, maybe one of the locals can give a more accurate number?). Its so little that you actually have to do some poling to keep your momentum up if you are going the opposite direction. Its just that right at the end of the tow it develops a bit of an incline and its hard to get enough momentum off the tow to get up it. At least that is where I ran into problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ant
(you've allayed my initial concers about the lesson though! Instructor sounds spot-on).
He definitely helped turn me into a certified ski addict in about 2 hours.
post #14 of 21
Regarding the looks of the terrain. Yes driving in the terrain could look intimidating, it's also pretty awe inspiring. Assure your wife that there's some very nice beginner terrain at Alta. The greens at the Albion base are really very gentle. And the easier blues (I'm especially thinking of the easiest route down from the Sugarloaf lift) is a pretty mild blue on which to progress. For the most part, the groomed blues at Alta are not threatening. I recall that a couple over on the Wildcat side got fairly steep in a few places. Definately Park at the Albion base if you choose Alta.
post #15 of 21

My 2 feet of vert...

The Albion area at Alta is definitely your best bet if you go to Utah. (Well, maybe the Navajo area at Brian Head, but that's a couple hundred miles from SLC).

But, seeing as how you are stuck in the middle of the flatlands it seems kinda strange to fly across the country in search of flat terrain. Maybe a weekend trip up to Boyne Country would be in order? Yeah, you might be bored, but if the agenda is to get your wife hooked you could do worse than the miles and miles of flat beginner terrain at Boyne Mountain. It's only seven or eight hours from Columbus.

If money is an issue (and when isn't it?) you might want to look at this program for never-evers: http://newsupnorth.com/cgi-bin/msian...eventid=000725
Rental, Lift Ticket and Lesson for $30
post #16 of 21
My experience in the Cottonwood Canyons, based on mainly terrain... (although I did have a good experience with their ski school for wife and kids also) is Brighton. I would definitely agree with those who suggest that Solitude and especially Snowbird don't have good easier terrain for beginners. Haven't hit Alta (since always have had boarders along when there) so can't compare...

Tim
post #17 of 21

Alta

I was also wondering whether or not to park at the Albion side or Wildcat. I don't understand why all the ski rentals are on the Wildcat side. As a beginner/first timer would I look like an idiot carrying my rental skis from
the Wildcat side to the Albion side instead of using the tow rope.. My wife wanted to know it was was the T-bar kind and I told her I would
find out. It seems like they would rent equipment on the beginner side
also. I imagine most beginners don't jump on the tow rope to the other side.
post #18 of 21
Gapro,

The transfer tow would be hard for beginners, but I just confirmed that you can rent on the Albion side at Alf's. The Albion side is great for beginner's and if there's rapid progress Sugarloaf isn't far away. In addition the Cecret lift has VERY easy runs as long as the beginner can handle the slope (not too steep and very wide) down to cecret from the top of Sunnyside.
post #19 of 21
Most of the replies refer to a resort, not a ski school. Deer Valley has more level three's than the other mentioned resorts combined. Since there is always a " luck of the draw" element to ski instruction, I would go with the odds and take a first time lesson at DV.
post #20 of 21
Except Deer Valley has terrible first-timer and beginner terrain. More difficult terrain dumps into the green terrain, so you have higher-skilled skiers and riders zipping by you. It can be terrifying. If BuckEyeDan's wife is skeptical about learning to ski, this would be the last place I'd bring her. I still recommend Alta. Alta's ski school is highly praised and has a very good image within the ski industry. And their first-timer and beginner terrain is hard to beat.

Thatsagirl
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaprofitt
I was also wondering whether or not to park at the Albion side or Wildcat. I don't understand why all the ski rentals are on the Wildcat side. As a beginner/first timer would I look like an idiot carrying my rental skis from
the Wildcat side to the Albion side instead of using the tow rope.. My wife wanted to know it was was the T-bar kind and I told her I would
find out. It seems like they would rent equipment on the beginner side
also. I imagine most beginners don't jump on the tow rope to the other side.
The ski rental place my Dad always uses is Alta Sports on the Albion side. It is lower level under the restaurant. Never had a problem with them. Step right outside and get on the Sunnyside lift to take you to the green terrain.

I would definitely park on the Albion side for beginners/novices.

The tow rope is no big deal. It is a large rope running between two large wheels on either end. All you do is grab on with your right hand and hold on.
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