Ski Lessons at Ober Gatlinburg

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January is learn-to-ski month and we have taken ski lessons in January since 2015. We did not take lessons last year because, frankly, I was not ready to drive up Ski Mountain road six weeks after the devastating wildfires of November 2016.

Family skiing at Ober Gatlinburg

Our family skiing at Ober

But this year is a different story. We have gotten over the shock of the fire and we were ready to resume our skiing careers. Plus, our daughter is seven, which is the recommended age to start.  Continue reading »

For your information, they will take younger children, like five and six, but they prefer them to be seven and older. Our son got started at seven and he is 10 now. He loves it and is in the intermediate class. Our daughter is in the beginners.

The classes happen on Sunday mornings. Beginners is at 9:30 and Intermediate at 11:00. The class lasts an hour. The instructors are patient and courteous. Adults are encouraged to join the adult classes for their respective level, which happen at the same time as the children’s.

Mom and son skiing

As you can see, my son is almost as tall as I am and he is only 10.

If you can ski already, you just drop off your child with her class and go have fun on the slopes. There is a designated area where you have to pick up your child at the end of the class.

Our daughter made tremendous progress in just one lesson. She had had one lesson two years ago, so it was not much to build on, but she got over the initial apprehension of the entire routine.

These lessons are a bargain: $160 for four classes and this price includes rental of helmets, skis and poles. It also includes riding the aerial tram if you like that kind of thing. The only other expense is the parking fee, $5, either at the aerial tram or at the resort.

We do not ride the tram. I do not enjoy heights or being in tight spaces with lots of people. We park at the resort and because we get there early we find great places to park. By noon, the parking lot is full at the resort and they put signs at the bottom of the mountain for people not to bother to drive up. Instead, they ask them to park at the aerial tram station and ride the tram instead.

The following year, you receive five vouchers, for an extra visit to the resort, which you can redeem any day you prefer. By the way, you do not even have to sign up for classes for the fee of $160. If you are comfortable skiing, you just pay that fee and it covers your rental and all day fun on the slopes, skiing or snowboarding, but you cannot change the activity in the same day.


2016 Ski Season

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Last year, my son and I started taking ski lessons. These lessons are offered for homeschoolers but we have also met public school children. The lessons happens on Sunday mornings, so it really is an accessible time for everybody. One must be at least seven to start.

Mom and son on the ski slopes

My son and I at Ober Gatlinburg in February 2016

We were both beginners last year. I had been on skis twice before, but without much success. So I really was a beginner as well. This year, we are taking intermediate classes. Riding the chair lift was really scary for me in the beginning, especially when it gets really high in places.  Continue reading »

But practice makes perfect. This year, I no longer feel a panic. Just an amazement that I am actually on that chair again and not feeling terrified.

Skiing is fun. My son falls here and there, but gets up and keeps going. I don’t fall because I somehow got the hang of it and when I feel I am gaining too much speed I slow down. The trick is to always stay in control.

I don’t think we are ready for advanced lessons next year though. The intermediate lessons have been a bit of a disappointment this year. One teacher was too vague, the other too meticulous. I got some more information on technique, but what helped more than anything was to practice what I was taught.

We ski at Ober Gatlinburg, the only ski resort in Tennessee. It is what they call “Southern skiing.” Translation: the terrain changes from slushy to ice from day to day. Most of the snow is man-made and they say this is the best preparation for skiing out West.

We are not yet ready to ski in Colorado, Utah or California. But we are slowly getting there. And they say Ober prepares you for this quite well. So we are on our way…


Wonderful Wednesday – Powder Days

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My son and I are taking ski lessons this year. Ober Gatlinburg offers a special program to homeschoolers in January and February. The age minimum is seven.

My son and I during our first ski lesson

My son and I during our first ski lesson

Oh, the lessons we learned as we went to our first lessons last Sunday! In no particular order, we learned how to:

  • pick up skis, poles, and helmets
  • rent a locker for our own boots
  • return said rentals
  • “park” said rentals so we could go have lunch
  • fall the right way
  • get up the right way
  • get into skis the right way
  • turn left and right
  • stop on a bunny hill
  • come to a stop on an intermediate hill
  • get back up a hill when there is no chair lift
  • persevere through the fear and discouragement
  • stop laughing at people who fall
  • help those who ask for help
  • make a phone call without cell signal

I can’t say enough about this first powder day. The fears we faced and overcame probably rank highest on my list of accomplishments so far this year. Many thanks to my son who was my  teacher in the subject of Perseverance. At seven, he knows how to persevere. He kept falling and could not even get back up. He got so tangled in his skis and poles, the teacher had to walk over to help him many times. And he got up. Again, and again, and again.  Continue reading »

It was just the two of us in the class, so it helped. But that meant I was left to my own devices, which are not many on a ski slope. Thankfully, it was a bunny hill. After falling a couple of times, I managed to stay in control and learned to apply the advice the teacher gave us.

Here’s the tricky part in today’s lesson: the teacher showed us how to turn left and right, but nothing appeared to be moving in her body. And yet, she was turning. She was doing something invisible with her toes… Lifting the right toe if she wanted to turn left and viceversa. The body remained the same, except sometimes she showed us the technique of looking briefly in the direction of the turn.

Boy waiting for the ski lesson

Waiting for the ski lesson

Anyway, #tryJanuary means skiing lessons for me and my son because I despise cold weather. I decided that if we were to spend any time in nature it was going to have to be doing a winter sport, like skiing. Ice skating can be done year round at Ober Gatlinburg – so we can always do that another time. Plus I have been waiting for these ski lessons since last year, when I first heard about them, but my son was still only six. And I really did not want another #dryJanuary…

Even though it has been warm – 57 F or 13 C – they managed to have three slopes opened at Ober that day, just enough for beginners to go out there and have some fun in the open air. Needless to say, my son did not want to leave. After the lesson, we stayed on for another four hours, trying our best to rehearse the moves we learned.

I so look forward to Lesson nr. 2, next Sunday. See you on the slopes!