By Lisa Blake

Copper Mountain Ski and Ride School Manager Mike McFarland shares key advice on how to ensure a successful experience for your beginner.


1. Take a Lesson

Trying to wing it often leads to frustration and exhaustion for first-timers. A well-structured lesson introduces beginners to fundamental concepts before they ever start sliding on snow.

“For kids, this is doubly true, because their exposure to these crucial movements is so much more limited,” McFarland says. “They have been alive for less time, so it’s often the case that they have never moved their bodies in such a way.”

A good youth instructor will introduce these movement patterns through games and will identify and quickly correct trouble spots through drills and play.


Children smiling on skis at Copper Mountain


2. Seek Mellow Terrain and Lifts

Copper’s Green Acres bunny slope uses 3-D Terrain Based Learning to help beginners tackle skills like stopping and turning. The area features two lifts: a surface platter loading one person at a time and a small slow-speed double chair designed for easy loading and unloading.

There are five magic carpets (one in Center Village and four in West Village) and the Kokomo High Speed Quad chairlift—new for the 2017/18 season—is designed with a special safety bar and accesses an accommodating flat, wide green run called Roundabout.


3. Don’t Over-ski Them

If they’re really young (under three), limit the ski outing to three to six runs down the magic carpet, says McFarland. “It is hugely important to quit while they still want to do more. If you leave when they are clamoring for more, you will have an eager enthusiast on your hands. If you wait until the kid is saying ‘I don’t wanna go again,’ or worse yet until the child is in tears, you have over-skied them, and they will be reluctant to try again.”


4. Have a Plan

Maximize learning and snow time with these Copper know-hows:

  • Arrive early for lessons; at least an hour prior if you’re renting gear
  • Beat the rental line and arrive by 8 a.m.
  • If you’re heading to a lesson, park in the free parking at Alpine Lot and take the West Village shuttle over to the Schoolhouse
  • The West Village drop-off lot offers free wagons to help schlep gear to the hill


5. Keep it Positive

Monitor the engagement level of your children. If they are laughing, smiling and having fun, they will want to keep skiing. The moment you notice fatigue setting in, switch it up and take a break.

For first-timers, keep expectations low and ski time short. Mix it up with cocoa breaks, snow play and fun skiing games.


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Skiing and riding can be so fun if you start off right.
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