Learning To Ski At 65: Starting The Season With A Lesson

A look of stunned surprise comes over people’s faces when they find out my husband is learning to ski at age 65. They assume since we live in Park City, he has skied all his life.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  My husband, Jay, had never slipped his feet into a pair ski boots until after his 65th birthday.  Not skiing the “greatest snow on earth” would be such a missed opportunity!  Especially when the grandchildren come to visit! Since Jay is a late starter, he felt it important to do it right the first time.  Skiing is not for the faint of heart; it’s a rigorous sport. Booking a ski lesson is a great way to kick off every season.

Jay decided on a Max-4 lesson from Deer Valley Resort.

He showed up at the appointed time at Snow Park Lodge and lined up with the other eager adults.  With a Max-4 lesson, the “max” refers to the number of skiers in the class, they limit the skier-instructor ratio to 4:1.

The focus isn’t on the numbers after that. The instructors look at the skill level, as well as comfort level and goals of each individual skier, in order for the participants to get the most out of their lesson.


The day Jay attended there were four beginners and two instructors.

After the instructors carefully assessed the skiers, they didn’t end up with two per instructor as you might think. The three ladies in the class were at the same level – they were all beginners who had just skied two days in a row, and were starting to parallel turn. These ladies were eager and ready for more advanced beginner runs.

Each of the ladies would benefit more from hitting the tougher green (beginner) runs and maybe even some easier blue (intermediate) runs and having fewer people in their class.

Jay’s goals were different. He wanted a series of techniques to master over the ski season and was paired with veteran ski instructor, John Brill. Since there were only two of them, his lesson was shorter and more intense.

After a few runs on Wide West ski run, the two headed to the Silver Lake area and the Judge chairlift.

Judge chairlift? I’d always thought of Judge as a “connector” lift to take skiers from Flagstaff Mountain to get back to Silver Lake Lodge.

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Instructors see ski runs with different eyes.

Instead of seeing a chairlift as simply joining two mountains, this seemingly benign little lift and the sections of runs – bottom of Homeward Bound and Bird’s Eye to Trainer – are a literal beginner skier’s playground.

John Brill found endless possibilities here for his beginner students.

It’s short.

It’s brief enough giving the instructor plenty of “lift time” for verbal instructions.  Ski, coach, repeat. An effective technique!

It’s wide.

The lift lets you out on the bottom of Homeward Bound ski run and this section is plenty wide enough for beginner to execute turns without worrying about trees or tight turns.

It’s sloped.

There is plenty of steepness for beginners to slide and have fun.


What a great place to take a beginner (especially early in the day when there aren’t as many skiers using the lift as a connector).

Jay took Judge chairlift many times that day. Then he showed it to me the next day. Each time he pushed off the chair onto the run, he focused on what his instructor had coached him on, building his skills and confidence as he went.

Want to know a great way to start the ski season?  Take a lesson!

Nancy L. Anderson, CFP is a financial planner in Park City, Utah. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter as well as on her blog on Transitioning to Retirement on Forbes.com.

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