You on the Slopes, Only Better

A lesson with a SnowSports instructor is a great idea for everyone

Everyone can benefit from a ski or snowboard lesson, no matter your ability level

There was a time when conventional wisdom held that ski or snowboard lessons were mostly for beginners or children. But today, with constantly evolving gear, not to mention constantly evolving terrain in Sun Valley (everything on Dollar, big moguls on Baldy and Adventure Trails immediately come to mind), everyone could benefit from a lesson from the pros at the Sun Valley SnowSports School. And no matter your ability level or preferences, there is an option to fit your needs.

Prefer one-on-one attention? Book a private lesson where you will have an instructor’s undivided focus. Are you motivated by being in a group? A clinic will place you with like-minded and like-ability athletes, allowing you to learn not only from your teacher, but from all the tips being given to your peers. And lessons for children are always a great idea. They love spending time with other kids and will enjoy instruction especially tailored to them. Did I mention the Adventure Trails?

Our professional instructors train all winter to make a real difference in your skiing or riding

Our professional instructors train all winter to make a real difference in your skiing or riding

With the busy Presidents’ Week holiday upon us, now is the time to set up lessons. Still not convinced? Here are the top ten reasons to connect with the SnowSports School according to Supervisor Nick Maricich and his team:

  1. Obviously, to improve your technique. Even slight adjustments can make you a better skier or boarder, making your experience on the mountain much more satisfying.
  2. SnowSports instructors are great guides to our mountains. If you have not visited Sun Valley, spending a day with an instructor is a safe, informative way to get to know the trails.
  3. It’s a terrific family activity. Skiing as a family with a teacher, allows everyone to get some great tips while spending quality time together.
  4. Morning lessons get an early up at 8:30 a.m. If you like fresh corduroy, then this is for you.
  5. If your children take a lesson, they will most likely have the opportunity to ski all the terrain that thrills them but not you. And they will do it safely.
  6. If you ski with an instructor, you get to cut lift lines, a bonus during busy holiday weeks.
  7. Spouses really shouldn’t teach each other how to ski.
  8. Connecting with an instructor is often the starting point of a decades-long relationship. Many returning Sun Valley guests ski or board with the same teacher for years.
  9. Old bad habits can be corrected.
  10. All Sun Valley SnowSports instructors take lessons themselves. Teachers consistently participate in clinics throughout the year to work on their own technique and teaching methods. They are then ready to pass the latest information and tips onto their clients.

    A snowboard instructor preps for the season during a clinic

    A snowboard instructor preps for the season during a clinic

And here are some additional tips from our SnowSports instructors:

  • Don’t wait until the last day of your stay to book a lesson. If you take a lesson on the first day of your vacation, you can practice and institute what you’ve learned for the rest of your trip.
  • Believe your teacher when they tell you your appropriate level. They know Baldy and Dollar like the proverbial back of their hands and can accurately judge what level Sun Valley skier or boarder you are. This will ensure you get the most from your lesson.

Today, I rode the chair with Gail from the Seattle area, who had serendipitously just finished the first ski lesson of her adult life. An accomplished skier who is comfortable on all of Baldy’s terrain, Gail could not believe what a difference a few hours with an instructor had made to her technique. “Three other ladies from the Seattle area and I took a bump lesson,” she explained. “The teacher helped me see the run in a whole new way. I chose lines I never would have and had the confidence to go for it. It was a fabulous experience.” Even better, Gail flew in yesterday on Alaska Airlines. With her plane ticket receipt, she took advantage of the free two-hour lesson offered to Alaska passengers by the Sun Valley Company. “We are here a lot,” Gail said. “I can’t believe I never before followed up on the ski lesson, but I surely will from now on.”

The SnowSports team boasts great depth and breadth and supervisors are excellent at matchmaking instructors and clients. In order to do this most effectively, they suggest booking a lesson at least 24 hours ahead. Lessons go out of River Run, Warm Springs and Dollar.

The cadre of SnowSports instructors are not only consummate pros, they are also incredibly friendly and helpful. They want you to improve. They want you to have a breakthrough day. They love Sun Valley and want you to love it, too.


Instructors are excellent at both teaching kids and managing the fun -- here waiting at the start of a Nastar race

Instructors are excellent at both teaching kids and managing the fun -- here children make the most of a brief wait at the top of a Nastar course

Find Your Inner Diva

Day one of DIVAS

Day one of DIVAS -- the terrific coaching team motivates the group

The standard definition of the word di·va  [dee-vuh, -vah] is: Italian, literally, goddess, feminine of the divine, god. The term has evolved in modern times to describe famous female opera singers (no idea why) and then devolved to a term for a woman that must have her way exactly, or no way at all.

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

Danielle Carruth, our intrepid leader

But there is another definition of DIVAS, specific to Sun Valley: Idahoan, “Die Incredible Vimin Alpine Shredders.” And for 90 local women skiers, this is the only definition that matters. Sun Valley’s DIVAS are skiers of intermediate ability and above who take part in an eight-week clinic, skiing one day a week with a rotating cadre of some of the mountain’s best coaches. It’s women teaching women and it’s such a big success, that in its third year, DIVAS has a wait list. According to Snowsports Supervisor Nick Maricich, the DIVAS program is the top women’s clinic in the country and is being emulated by many other resorts. Yay us!

What makes the program so popular? The answer is as diverse as the skiers. In a pre-season questionnaire sent out by DIVAS co-founder and Sun Valley skiing royalty, Danielle Crist Carruth, each woman was asked what she hoped to get out of the clinic. Possibilities ranged from improving bump technique, to improving confidence; from skiing with the girls and making new friends, to getting away from the kids for three hours. I just appreciated being asked what I wanted for a change and chose D: all of the above.

This Monday morning, on day one, I joined 29 other shredders at the base of the Warm Spring Lodge. In my second year of the program, I was excited to be there. My inaugural year as a DIVA was not only a huge boon to my ability to carve pretty round turns, I also met some great people and laughed – a lot. This year, with the goal of finally conquering moguls and pulverizing powder, I took my turn skiing down in front of a slew of coaches, praying I didn’t fall or disqualify myself from the group that also wanted to ski varied terrain.

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

The ski off helps coaches put skiers in appropriate groups

I was placed with five fun women  who shared similar goals. The always positive, extremely helpful and very entertaining DIVAS co-founder Nicky Elsbree was my coach du jour. Each week is themed and the focus on Monday was balance – apropos for women at the beginning of a New Year. For the next two-and-a-half hours, Nicky helped us work on our balance from every angle.

Being a DIVA is an exercise in balance in itself. Most of the 90 women up there every Monday, Tuesday or Friday are balancing multiple commitments, from jobs to children to spouses and volunteer gigs. The three hours we carve out each week for ourselves, carries over to everything else. As one of my fellow DIVAS said on the lift, the valley spread out beneath us, if we don’t get out here and enjoy where we live, we may as well live anywhere. Amen. Skiing with DIVAS forces you to focus, to quiet the never-ending mental “to do” list, to be present.

Nicky Elsbree works on a DIVAS' balance

Nicky Elsbree demonstrates balance

For those interested in adult specialty ski programs, Sun Valley has something for everyone. DIVAS also offers a beginner clinic called DIVAS 101 and the Snowsports School runs popular programs including Mountain Masters, Masters Race, Ski Club and the new men-only program, ARCS.

If you’re here for the winter, or most of it, these clinics are probably the best way to get excellent instruction at a great value, while meeting new friends and enjoying the mountain lifestyle.

Please call the Sun Valley Snowsports School at (888) 490-5950 or email and find your inner diva.