Diary of a Never-Skier: Before The First Lesson

It wasn’t until I walked into the offices of Ski Utah that, on the emotional spectrum of anxiety to excitement, I felt myself tip over the centerline. I went from “excitedly anxious” to ski for the first time to “anxiously excited” to ski for the first time. The office was decorated with piles of snow gear and clothing in preparation for Ski Utah’s Discover Winter program. It’s a program meant to remove barriers of entry specifically for adult first-time skiers of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. For me, it meant I wasn’t alone.  

I know, statistically, I can’t be the only 30-something, longtime Utah resident never to have skied before, but I have certainly felt like that was the case many times during the last 20 years. A lot of affluent kids with heli-skiing under their belts went to my Northern Utah County high school, and, even among the middle-class kids, I was a freak. Westminster College, my alma mater, has more winter olympians in attendance than the actual Olympics, so I continued to feel like something of an anomaly. And, no, I have never tried snowboarding either, which might have made me even weirder. Snowboarding made its Olympic debut right on the heels of the first Winter X-Games when a lot of kids my age were hitting the slopes for the first time. Everyone I knew had a snowboard. Except for me. I got over it, to put it bluntly, in the years since. I had missed the proverbial ski lift, and that was OK. 

That brings us to tonight. January is Learn to Ski Month and now there are programs like Discover Winter and deals to be had for new skiers, so there’s probably never been a better time for a never-skier like me to learn. (And who can ask for more than learning on the Greatest Snow On Earth?)

At Ski Utah, Director of Communications Alison Palmintere outfits me with the basics—jacket, pants, helmet, goggles, mask, etc.—like they would with Discover Winter participants. She excitedly informs me of perfect conditions for my first lesson, “The snow will be nice and soft tomorrow.” The excitement is infectious. Palmintere also confirms the oft-repeated proverb that, with skiing, I’ll spend less time on my butt, at least starting out, than people new to snowboarding. I have a feeling I could be the exception to the rule, but the images of tangled skis, twisted ankles and torn knees fade from my mind. It finally occurs to me, this could be fun

I’ll be in good hands, at the very least. Specifically, the pole-wielding hands of the instructors at Alta’s Ski School. Stay-tuned for updates and further entries on saltlakemagazine.com. If you’re a never-skier like me, let me be your test case. If you’re already a seasoned skier, I am open to advice. What did you wish you had known your first time out? Send your wise nuggets of ski knowledge and tips to us @slmag on all the socials. 

Starting Ski Gear:

  • Helmet: Smith “Gage” with Bombshell construction in Matte Black Cherry 
  • Jacket: Stio Men’s “Colter Down Jacket” in Saddleback
  • Pants: TRBN Performance Women’s Pants in Black
  • Goggles: Smith “Drift” with Fog-X anti-fog inner lens in Black
  • Gloves: Hestra Women’s Primaloft Rib Knit – 5 Finger Glove in Dark Navy Print
  • Socks: Darn Tough Vermont Women’s Merino Wool Over-The-Calf, Midweight with Cushion, Snow Socks in Charcoal 
  • (And a Ski Utah Buff!)

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Christie Porter
Christie Porterhttps://christieporter.com/
Christie Porter is the managing editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, writing about everything under the sun, but she really loves writing about nerdy things and the weird stuff. She recently published her first comic book short this year.

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