For Beginners: The Best Way To Start Your Ski Season

On your first ski day of the season, do you expect yourself to be as good as your last day of last season?

Over the past five years, I’ve made the same mistake on my first ski day out every single ski season and I’ve ended up feeling frustrated. I’m probably not alone in this. Maybe you’ve made the same mistake I have.

Even though I had eight months off, I expect to go out on the first day and just pick up where I left off! Each season, I learn new skills and last season was no exception. Last spring, I worked on carving wide turns on my edges. Halfway down the run, I’d stop and look back up at my tracks, checking for even, S-shaped parallel lines.

After eight months off, do you really think I’d go out the first day and pick it right up? Rationally, of course not. Actually, (I have to admit) yes, I did!

This phenomenon of mental comparison is not limited to skiing. I remember when my husband, Jay, first taught me to play golf. Though extremely patient with me, he was constantly frustrated with his own golf game.

You see, he’d been a six handicap (that’s really good, by the way) when he was younger and played regularly. Then he’d given up golf for 15 years and started back up when he met me.

In his mind, he still expected to have a low handicap all of those years later. After every drive off the tee box, I could hear him mutter under his breath in frustration. I looked on and saw a thing of beauty in his drives compared to mine, as my ball limped down the fairway. Though he was helping me, he certainly wasn’t having any fun himself.

Once he realized he was comparing every golf stroke to the top of his game, he updated his expectations for his golf game to meet where he was in life. As his “inner game of golf” got better, his outer game got better and he enjoyed playing more.

As skiers, we can make the same mental shift; this is important especially when we are beginners, advanced beginners, and intermediate skiers. Early on, we don’t have the years of skiing experience and the muscle memory when mastering new skills.

This year, it finally dawned on me to start my season with a “warm-up, get the kinks out, and enjoy my day” kind of day…or first few days. Instead of comparing my skiing in my own head to my very best day of skiing, I decided to focus on the basics on my first day out. To me, basics mean relaxing on my skis, looking down the hill (instead of down at my skis in front of me) and leaning down the hill.

Instead of self-imposed expectations of “the perfect turn” on my first day out, I enjoyed feeling the wind on my face, taking familiar runs and simply experiencing the thrill of being out on the slopes again. This way, my first day out was fantastic and I capped it off with a big bowl of Deer Valley Turkey Chili at Silver Lake Lodge.  

Whether you are coming to Deer Valley Resort for a week or for the entire winter, be sure to have a great start to your ski season. Remember, every day is a great day when you are skiing.

Nancy L. Anderson, CFP is a financial planner in Park City, Utah who learned to ski at age 50. Find her money tips on her blog Acres of Acorns, and

2 Responses

  1. Ted Johnson says:

    Great advice, Nancy. I actually make notes in a journal of things that work and improve my skiing each trip. Before the next trip, I review the notes. Yes, still need the patient start back but the notes definitely help me.

  2. Ted,

    What a great idea to keep a skiing journal with tips on what worked and what to work on.

    I am going to start one right away. Thanks so much for the comment.


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