How Hard Is It To Learn To Ski as an Adult? (Honest Truth)

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Learning anything new as an adult can feel overwhelming but rest assured, you aren't the only one who wants to pick up skiing later in life.

Though many people grow up skiing with their families, not everyone had the opportunity to take expensive ski vacations in their formative years. Luckily, there are lessons tailored to adults and you can sign yourself up and be carving the slopes just like everyone else.

Ski Lesson

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Approximate Timeline of Learning to Ski as an Adult

Ski Lesson 2
Photo by Simon Hannaford under CC BY 2.0

If you want an idea of how long it should take you to learn how to ski, then it will greatly depend on your previous experience and general athletic abilities. If you're athletic in other areas of your life, skiing may come more naturally.

Not everyone will follow the same timeline but generally, the first few sessions follow the same guidelines. You'll want to learn the basics, such as stopping, turning, and riding the chair lift.

After you have the foundation down, it'll be up to you what you decide to do with it. If you continue practicing and investing time into the sport, you'll inevitably see consistent results down the line.

Adults Learning With Lessons

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Photo by Simon Hannaford under CC BY 2.0

Naturally, it'll be a quicker process if you opt to take lessons. This is because an instructor can show you the basics and watch you perform them while giving you tips and helpful feedback along the way in order to improve your abilities.

You don't want to get into a situation where you're developing bad habits without even realizing it. With lessons, you have someone who can constructively criticize you before sending you on your way with a strong sense of foundational knowledge as you take on the trails on your own.

During your first lesson, you'll likely begin to learn how to stop and gradually turn. These skills may roll over into the second lesson as well, as they're important to get down.

On the second day, you'll likely to riding the chairlift for the first time and learn how to maneuver getting on and off the moving chair.

Depending on how well you did with days one and two, by day three, you can expect to start linking turns and possibly even take on more challenging terrain. Of course, if you need extra time with the previous skills, there's zero shame in that.

The fourth and fifth ski sessions are often just practicing and reinforcing the lessons you've previously learned. You want to get your foundational skills to a point where you feel confident with them, at which point you can put them to use on a variety of beginner and possibly even intermediate trails.

Adults Learning Without Lessons

Ski Lessons 4
Photo by Simon Hannaford under CC BY 2.0

Often, adults may go to a ski resort with a group of friends who already know how to ski. Someone will offer their expertise and will likely be able to show you the basics. However, it likely won't be as thorough as a paid lesson will be.

You can certainly learn how to ski with this method if you don't mind an increased rate of trial and error. Learning with friends or family members can be a bonding experience or it may actually put stress on the relationship as frustrations arise and tensions build.

Either way, getting some form of help when you're first starting is integral to learning how to ski. It can help set you up for future success and it may make your time on the mountain that much more enjoyable when you can share it with others.

The timeline may look similar to the one with the lessons, as you need to get down the same skills. Turns, both wedged and parallel, can be difficult for beginners but they're one of the most integral skills.

Should You Be Embarrassed If You're Learning to Ski as an Adult?

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Photo by Simon Hannaford under CC BY 2.0

Absolutely not! Learning a new skill as an adult should carry no shame. In fact, it's often more difficult than picking up a new sport or hobby as a young child.

While you may need to dedicate more time and patience to learning, the payoff will be immense. It'll truly be something you can hang your hat on once you pick up skiing as an adult individual.

Statistically, it may be true that more children learn to ski every year than adults — that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of room for older people to take lessons and share the slopes with everyone else. Don't carry a stigma onto the mountain with you, as you have just as much right to be there as anybody else.

Some resorts offer lessons explicitly tailored towards adults, so you'll find a group of like-minded people surrounding you. This can be a confidence booster for many individuals, as it shows them that there are others in the same position as them.

It's Never Too Late to Learn How to Ski

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Photo by Simon Hannaford under CC BY 2.0

Some ski schools begin teaching kids how to tackle the slopes as young as 3 years old! This may sound mind-boggling to a 30 or 40-year-old who has never put on skis before.

However, don't let age be a factor in whether or not you go for it. If you've always dreamed of skiing, then now is your chance to make that dream a reality and to go after something you've wanted to try for years.

In fact, adults often get more out of ski lessons than children do. They have the life experience and maturity to make the most of their time with the instructor — which can greatly benefit them as they're putting the lessons into practice.

Don't let the various toddlers who are seemingly naturals on their skis deter you from whizzing down the mountain as well. After all, you may just fall in love with it so much that you bring your own kids to the mountain and begin a new tradition.

Helpful Tips for Adults Learning How to Ski

Aspen Events
Photo by Rich Pearce under CC BY 2.0

When learning how to ski, there are naturally a few helpful things to keep at the front of your mind. Even more so once you're an adult, as your body may not be as nimble and flexible as those of the younger kids who are taking lessons for the first time.

Mentally prepare yourself for falling, as it's nearly inevitable when you're just learning. It's important to get back up and keep on going, as this is the only way you'll learn and get better.

1. Choose the Best Resort (with Lessons!)

If you're opting for the resort route, you'll want to do some research to ensure the resort offers lessons. Better yet, you may want to find one that offers adult-only lessons. It can be a bit of a downer to be in a group with a bunch of pre-teens.

You can even find ski areas that offer reduced rates for beginners, which can save you money on the front end. Having plenty of beginner green trails can be helpful to the learning process, so keep this in mind as you're searching for the resort you want to learn how to ski at.

2. Hit the Gym For Some Conditioning

A key factor when learning how to ski as an adult is that your body just isn't what it was at 8-10 years old. While this isn't a bad thing, of course, you may need to take some extra care to work your muscles out so you don't fatigue yourself too quickly.

Skiing can put a bit more wear and tear on an adult's body than it does on a child's. Practicing a mindful stretching routine can help decrease the likelihood of potential injuries, especially when it comes to overextending a muscle.

3. Opt For Rentals Before Buying

ski rental store

When you're just learning, you don't need the stress of having potentially thousands of dollars worth of gear hanging by a thread if you end up hating the sport. It's recommended that beginners go the rental route while they decide whether or not they want to continue with the sport.

You can rent skis, poles, helmets, and even boots at most local shops. Many resorts have rental places on site, making it both convenient and cost-efficient to get rentals there. Invest in your own gear set up later on if you fall in love with the winter pastime of skiing.

4. Invest In Lessons (At Least a Few!)

While lessons may seem like just another cash grab by the often expensive resort venues, they're actually a worthwhile investment. Many places will provide the option to opt for private lessons, as opposed to ones in a group setting.

Private lessons give you one-on-one instruction from a trained professional ski instructor with years of experience behind them. This can be especially helpful for adults who need extra attention in order to gain their footing.

5. Take Frequent Breaks to Stay Focused

As you embark on this new journey of learning how to ski, taking things slow is important. You don't want to overexert your body without giving it a chance to acclimate to the new movements and to the altitude.

The more tired you become, the less focused you'll be able to be. Accidents are more likely to occur when you're bleary-eyed and distracted. Take breaks as needed and enjoy a snack in between ski outings to keep your energy up.

6. Don't Compare Progress

One of the worst things you can do is compare your progress to anyone else around you, even those without your cohort if you opted for group lessons. Certainly don't compare yourself to younger children who often take to sports much quicker.

Focus on your own progress and the milestones you're hoping to reach. Tracking and charting your goals can help you find a sense of pride in your newfound desire to learn how to ski. Comparing yourself to others can only serve as a means to hinder your progress.

7. Set Your Pride Aside and Have Fun

Ski with Friends

As people age, they often grow more prideful and embarrassed when it comes to experiencing failure of any shape or size. However, it's nearly impossible to learn how to ski without falling on your butt time and time again and this should be accepted before you go skiing.

Holding onto shame and pride will only hinder your learning experience. Allow yourself the grace to fall and get back up again, as it provides you with the opportunity to improve your skills and gain a new hobby.

Article Recap

Skiing is a universally adored sport and it can be incredibly rewarding & fun to be a part of the worldwide ski culture. You may just find yourself counting down the days until your next ski holiday and you'll be able to meet an entirely new group of people while you're on the mountain.

If you have the opportunity to go skiing, whether with friends or on your own, you should certainly consider taking it. A whole new world will be opened to you when you put on your boots and get your skis on.