This year, Gov. Gary Herbert declared January 2019 and Jan. 11 as Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month and Day in Utah. Since 2009, Utah resorts have joined resorts nationwide in an effort to teach beginners to ski and snowboard. KPCW’s Emily Means has more.
Utah is billed as having the greatest snow on Earth, so winter sports are a major draw to the state. But not all locals feel at home on the slopes. This is the 11th season of the Learn to Ski & Snowboard initiative. Ski Utah Communications Director Caitlin Furin says Utah resorts have been involved since the beginning.
The access to skiing and snowboarding in Utah is really better than anywhere, so it’s just an easy activity for families and individuals to participate in in our state; and winter is a little cold sometimes, but being outside and getting fresh air is important for people of all ages, and skiing and snowboarding is a great way to do that.
Winter sports can be a bit of an investment, with the cost of lift passes and gear proving to be a barrier to participation for some. On Friday, a handful of schools participating in Learn to Ski and Snowboard Day are Title 1 schools, meaning a certain percentage of students qualify as low-income. Jim Fearick, a fourth grade teacher at Title 1 school Mary W. Jackson Elementary in Salt Lake City, says of the 45 students who will participate this year, only one has ever skied before. Fearick has accompanied his students in years past to the event. It means a lot to him for the kids to have this opportunity.
Many of them never even make it into the mountains. They even have a hard time getting out the neighborhood so to see them in the mountains and in the beauty of the mountains; and getting the chance to try a sport that they have not a clue of is a great opportunity for them and it’s fun to go up and watch them. they laugh the entire time that they’re out there skiing and falling all over the mountain.
On Friday, his students will be at Deer Valley. But just because they’re not in the classroom, doesn’t mean they won’t learn something—besides skiing—that day.
Something that to them seems totally impossible, they learn by the end of an hour and a half that anything is possible as long as they’re willing to give it a shot and stick it out and have people care about them like the ski instructors do; they also learn another type of exercise that’s out there that they are never a part of. It opens up a lot of eyes to a whole new world playing in the mountains.
Although it can be easier to learn new things at a young age, newcomers of all ages are welcome on the bunny hills throughout January. You can find information about deals on passes for first-timers at skiutah.com