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I have never skied before, what type of ski class should I take? We generally suggest you start by learning how to classic ski. At its most basic it is just walking with a pair of sticks attached to your feet, but as you learn to glide and get better balance and strength, it will become like easy running, smooth and fun. Good Classic technique is the basis for skate skiing, telemark and alpine (downhill) skiing.
I most want to ski out my back door in untracked snow. Will a lesson help me? Yes! Lessons will teach you how to shift your weight fully for better glide and balance, how to navigate hills safely, how to get up when you fall, and many other aspects of cross-country skiing. Knowledge and technique = tons of fun!
How many lessons should I take? How long does it take to learn classic or skate? To be honest, one lesson is not enough. To become proficient takes many lessons with a lot of practice time in between lessons. Most people can't learn this sport by simply taking one lesson. Watching and imitating others is a method of learning that is useful, however it can also lead to bad technique that can be difficult to change and will impede your ability to get better. Classic skiing is the easiest to learn as a beginner. At the most basic level you can feel yourself skiing and enjoy it. There is always more to learn if you want to glide further and faster or master hills, but from the start you will feel like you are skiing. Skate skiing is more difficult for many people. You see a skate skier going by, gliding easily from foot to foot, (it looks like ice skating), and you think, "that looks like lots of fun, I want to do that!" And it is fun! And it takes a lot more practice to become proficient, as it is not as quick to pick up. There are a lot of hours that need to be logged to feel competent in skate skiing. Becoming better is a long process of enjoying your learning wherever you are in the process of improving. So, to get back to the original question...if you can, take at least 4 lessons a season. More if possible. Practice, practice, practice, and enjoy all of it!
What can I do to get the most out of each lesson? Research has proven that if you practice within 36 hours of taking a lesson, you are more likely to retain what you learn. When you schedule your lesson(s), also add a date and time to your calendar for when you plan to get out to practice what you learned. Learn. Practice. Smile. After your lesson, take a minute to write down what you learned. When you go out to practice, refer back to that list and choose one thing to focus on during your ski outing. Choose whether you'll focus on that one thing during your warm up or during your ski!
How should I dress for the lessons? Dress in layers. For cross-country skiing, a high energy winter sport, layers for the upper body include a wicking base layer, a thin insulating layer, and a windproof outer layer. Often, layers on the lower body are only a wicking layer next to the skin and a thin pair of wind-blocking pants. You will be moving and working hard for an hour to an hour and a half. As you warm up, you can peel a layer and leave it on the side of the track. This is a common practice. Some folks are hotter than others, and some are colder. It can be windy, it can be a bit snowy, or it can be a bluebird day with a warm sun. Use sunglasses, even if there are clouds, as they help see the details in the snow and terrain. Use gloves that can fit in your pole straps. Gloves that are meant for downhill skiing don't work well in cross-country ski poles. As you move around, typically your hands will warm up out there! Bring handwarmers if you're concerned about cold hands in thinner gloves or mittens.
Should I bring water and a snack? If you need to drink while working out, bring your water bottle and holder. Bring a snack and a hot beverage for the ride home after the lesson. Learning takes energy!
Do I tip my Instructor? Tipping is normal in the ski instruction world. If you think they have done their job well, tip them!
What kind of equipment should I get? Where can I rent skis, boots and poles? If you are just learning, go rent from Yostmark Mountain Equipment or Peaked Sports in Driggs. They are both are on East Little Ave in Driggs, also known as Ski Hill Rd, as it is the road to the Alta Track, Teton Canyon, and Grand Targhee Resort. Be sure that each person who is renting skis for a lesson goes to the store. It's difficult to get the right size equipment for people who are not there. Tell them what kind of lesson you are taking, classic or skating, and they will fit you with right size, skis, poles and boots. Please be sure that they are waxed for you before you leave the store.
Do I need to have my skis waxed before a lesson? If you rent, they should wax your skis with the wax of the day. This wax should be good for a week if the conditions remain the same. If it gets warmer or much colder, another wax will be needed. If you own your skis and don't know how to wax, both stores above have waxing services. If you would like to find out how to wax, there are how-to videos on Swix and Toko's websites and YouTube.
What if it is really cold and windy, or it has snowed a lot since the track was last groomed? We have Facebook and Instagram pages that you should check for updates to lessons and where they are being held. Also, check your email and texts. There are many possibilities for why we would cancel a lesson or change the lesson venue: sometimes it snows or the wind blows the track in after it has been groomed or the groomer is broken. There are days when it is not worth being out; struggling with wind and snow isn't conducive to learning and fun. Check on the Facebookand Instagram (@tetonnordicskischool) pagesbefore you arrive for the lesson. We may also text or call you.